On Fuego

fuego_custom-e4db94af0938af438397d4147bf82958ba2fb334-s6-c30As Phish started leaking their album track by track on the Internet, I heard a lot of production. In fact, when I listened to those “Waiting All Night” and “The Line” from NPR, the production was just about all I heard. My thoughts totally transformed today, however, when I spun Fuego on vinyl for the first time on my home system. The music completely opened up, gaining a richness and depth that NPR’s mp3s could never translate. And above all else, I could hear and appreciate Bob Ezrin’s production as it was meant to be heard. As opposed to adding a glossy layer to the music that dilutes the band’s interactions, Ezrin’s work enhances the playing of Phish, adding dreamy layers that provide just enough aural cushion to support the music and make it pop. But the core of the Fuego’s sound is live Phish. In choosing to record live takes with all band members in the same room playing together, Ezrin retained thePhish’s sound capturing a vivid canvas with which to work. He then stepped to the plate as the temporary fifth member of the band, whose influence is felt on Fuego as much as the other fours’.

Ezrin’s greatest success on Fuego is taking a stylistically diverse set of songs and making them into a cohesive whole. The album possesses a flow from beginning to end, and more particularly, retains a sound throughout that is anchored in its retro, psych-pop production. Musically, Fuego contains a certain dreaminess that comes through in waves on tracks like “Halfway to the Moon,” “Winterqueen,” “Waiting All Night,” “Wingsuit” and the title track, itself. This musical thread provides a cerebral narrative to the album, one that touches on themes of loss, hope and, ultimately, redemption.

artworks-000080207042-wz0gbp-t500x500Though Fuego’s story is told in chapters via one well-executed track after another, its two gems are undoubtedly its bookends, “Fuego” and “Wingsuit.” In fact, these two tracks may just be the pinnacle of Phish’s studio repertoire. Both contain unparalleled work from Ezrin, leaving “Fuego” sounding like a medieval adventure, and “Wingsuit” like a lucid dream. Each possess a strong emotional quality that will undoubtedly translate to the live stage. Though Phish has recorded plenty of great songs over the course of their career, “Fuego” and “Wingsuit” represent legitimate studio tracks that can stand up against the work of other great artists.

Interspersed in the album’s surreal narrative are the upbeat selections “The Line,” “Devotion to a Dream” and “Sing Monica.” “The Line” provides an excellent sonic juxtaposition to “Fuego,” and flows impeccably from the title track. “Devotion to a Dream,” sounds quite good on the album and fits in with the album’s thematic narrative congruently. The overlapping chorus of this one really shines with the Ezrin’s assistance, though “Devotion’s” bluesy, Allmans-esque  palette is one of Fuego’s furthest stylistic stretches. “Monica” is another, and this one barely rounds into place. Its brevity, however, makes it only a speed bump and not a true obstacle to flow. Rounding out Fuego are “555” and “Wombat.” Gordon’s writing contribution to the album, “555” came out as one of its highlights, as the horns and backing singers further the bluesy grit of the song. Upon listening to the album as a whole, “Wombat” didn’t strike me as so out of place. Silly? Sure. With its placement between “Waiting All Night” and “Wingsuit,” it likens one of those tripped out dream interludes make any sense in the morning. But the inclusion of “Wombat” and “Monica” suggest the only place where Phish might have dropped the ball on this album—leaving off “Steam.” Not only is it a more-than-worthy track that could supplant both shorter ones, it absolutely fits the fantasy-like theme of Fuego. But who am I to blow against the wind.

10345776_10152015825926290_960017832947971992_nFuego succeeds where so many Phish albums fall have fallen short, its whole amounts to more than the sum of its parts. Though it is not a perfect record, its sonic cohesion and thematic narrative and outstanding production bump it right up to the top shelf of Phish’s twelve. I am not here to argue that it is their best record, for that is purely subjective, however I will nominate it as their best produced effort, and one that deserves recognition among the band’s strongest recordings. It’s been a while since Phish emerged from the studio with an album that they could hold up not only to their fan base, but to the industry at large and garner acclaim. Fuego is such a record, and the band should be proud.

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3,208 Responses to “On Fuego”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Bob- Agree on JB, had enough of that place. If you are staying anywhere in Manhattan, then the Randall’s options are easy.. Coming from whre I am or where you used to be, and having to get back to the dirty jerz, is kinda a hassle..

  2. vapebraham Says:

    thanks, c, for the 4th in 16. but what do ui do w/ it once it is dl/ed. rar?

  3. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Palmer, first sets

  4. bob dylan Says:

    Jersey Transit > Secaucus
    Secaucus > Penn
    Penn > 42nd
    6 train > One-Twenty-Fiff

    And its still easier than Jones beach fighting for cabs. The cabbies did typically let me burn in the cab and drink beers as long as I shared, so theres that.

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Bob, you shared you beers with the cabbies?

  6. bob dylan Says:

    not like schwilling out of my bottle if thats what you mean

  7. butter Says:

    Yea def no 24 bit recording at home Mr C

    Now I see I can by these tokens for 16$/ 2GB after I exceed allowance, so I actually could have kept feeding the meter and kept the stream alive

    My billing cycle also goes thru the 7th so it was the worst possible timing. I should be good by just buying SD streams. I had a feeling I was getting greedy w HD.. It did look sharp and I’ve put a lot of time / energy / $$ into designing and building sick AV streaming situations around my property

    1st world infrastructure problems

  8. bob dylan Says:

    but seriously, i meant let em puff the OG. wrong island cabbies were always super friendly and liked to puff with us and party.

  9. vapebraham Says:

    used a program called 7-zip to extract. thank you, C!

    anything for 7.1 or 7.5?

  10. bob dylan Says:

    Can someone well versed at guitar playing tell me if the run Trey does at 10:36 in Piper on the sbd is hard to do? or does it just sound hard? When I hear note runs like these, I feel like I’m listening to a different Trey

  11. Stoney Case Says:

    Revived guitar sorcery

    2014 coming up roses.

  12. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    Great trajectory right now for Phish and especially Trey. He did seem to struggle with the technical parts of Fluff, etc. Was that the first real stumbling block of the tour? Either way, it doesn’t bother me as he sounds great. And if he is in fact dialing in a new set up, it should only get better. Jealous of all those catching shows right now. I’m actually kind of wiped out from holiday weekend couch touring -> 4 year old waking me up at 6 am every morning.

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Bob, those are Trey’s signature pull offs, not really hard to do but he does them as well as anyone

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    (Well, they are somewhat difficult I suppose)

  15. Leo Weaver Says:

    @palmer…let’s connect offline this week. I’ll be flying into LGA Friday afternoon (4pm arrival), prob. getting a car from there directly to Randall’s. I have ferry tix for all 3 days, but prob. 6 up to 125th, then bus or hoof it. Staying with sister on E. 83rd so a bit of a haul down to the ferry, not sure it’ll be worth the effort. Trying to connect with as many of you guys as possible while in the city.

  16. voopa Says:

    Another year, another terabyte…

    butter, that poster is sick- thank you!

  17. bob dylan Says:

    I hadn’t heard a run of notes that stopped me in my tracks like that since UIC waves. $$$ to these ears.

  18. bob dylan Says:

    I hadn’t heard a run of notes that stopped me in my tracks like that since UIC waves. $$$ to these ears.

  19. Snigglebeach Says:

    Is Randall’s really that tough a commute. My friends little bro lives in Long Island city. It’s so close I thought I could wing it from there, but u guys got me worried. I’m an amateur in NYC.

  20. Bwana Says:

    Put me in the progressivist (fluffer?) camp. Way more pros than cons starting out on this tour… A running list

    ~New album and no covers = set list variety and more open jam potential in other material

    ~Band coming off Fall Tour, big NYE, album rehearsals, no more HOAHB distraction = more practiced, dialed in

    ~Band showing obvious energy, excitement, and energy

    ~Phresh sights (new CK5 backdrop) and sounds (Trey’s tone)

    ~Type II highlights in each show thus far, including in new material (Fuego) and refreshed old material (Hood, LxL, Split, Waves)

    ~SPAC3: 17 of 20 songs were 2014 debuts (inc JF and EST)

    ~Lingering geekery: no Gamehenge songs yet, no covers other than Bitch at JF

    ~Couch Tour option = Winning

    ~Some flubs in intricate composed songs

    ~Some misses in cohesive jam direction

  21. bob dylan Says:

    sniggle, it will be simple getting there from LIC

    this site will prob help you. seems to have all the bases covered:


  22. butter Says:

    your welcome Voops

    form my brother and I, we wanted to to thank you for the tix for BGCA run

  23. butter Says:

    fed my internet some tokens and took Carini to the dome from last night

    very creative, fresh sounding ideas in this jam… particularly from Trey and everyone else following suit. Fish just chilling kicking back like a great jazz drummer

  24. Snigglebeach Says:

    Bob I was just looking at that. From 125th and Lexington seems to be spot to go. Surely end up the choke point. Prob the place for shakedown along that walk.

  25. vapebraham Says:

    little early to be picking favorites, but 7.4 set II jumps way out as the best set so far. DWD>Twist>Light>Theme is tough to beat. Light>theme is redonk.

    giving 7.4 Split another spin.

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