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. Snigglebeach Says:

    I’ll go Kramer style and swim across the east river.

  2. vapebraham Says:

    even i’m getting pissed at your internet, butter. tokens? what the hay?

  3. MiA Says:

    This Piper is ’14 Tahweezer to me

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Sure thing Leo… Will do the Ferry on Friday and be a guinea Pig i guess.. Says it’s the easiest way… Full Bar and tunes on the boat.. Boats run every 15 min starting at 3.

    Saturday maybe hoof it over the bridge.. Leave a car in manhattan for easy escape home.

  5. butter Says:

    hughes net gen4 for off the grid country internet

    its the first service that i’ve been actually able to video stream. 20 GB / Month at high speed, then when you exceed it slows you down to dial up

    then you can buy 2gb for 16$

    i do most of my internet heavy lifting away from home, but for these lp streams i want to use my home theatre and such. the hd really got me this time. i believe sd is around 3Gb a show and i never stream more than 5 shows a month, so sticking to SD i should be fine

    the kicker is i could have added tokens to keep the stream alive last night and was dabbed out and didnt realize what was goin on. had a couple friends over and our Sat night came to screechin halt

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    7.1 sixteens, this is an expiring link so grab it


    all this goes up on reddit.com/r/boardtrades. it is a private subreddit but I’m a mod and can add you once you have a reddit account. however I’m leaving Weds night for a week on the river so I won’t keep links updated while I’m gone or be able to add you there, so…yeah

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    Dang, that Piper is tight. SPAC Twist still my jam though.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    I do think a lot of the composed section flubbery is tone control issues with the rig change, whatever it is. I expect that to improve.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    I use PeaZip for .rars and such but 7zip is also good.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    I liked Trey leading without soloing in that Carini. Very interesting.

  11. voopa Says:

    I’d like to be on that subr C.

    Taking my Aunt to the matinée today…her first show in 2 years. Busy busy!

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    you have to log in to reddit and then PM me at my reddit account, I’m listed as a mod there

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    Reddit is strange if you’re not used to it. Google up a “how to reddit” intro article and install the RES browser plugin if you’re not familiar with it. Immediately unsubscribe from most of the stupid default subreddits which are full of 13 year olds and morons.

    cool kids hang out on /r/grateful_dead not /r/gratefuldead because of cheesy internet drama. /r/phish is an ok place, not bad but won’t replace here for anyone

  14. bob dylan Says:

    Light from 7.4 – ewwwww-weeeeee

    Whatever that fuzzy bass note effect Mike does toward the last minute, I like it.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    once you get used to it reddit replaces 90% of the rest of the internet though

    some of the sports subs are surprisingly good

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    that mike fuzzbomb is fantastic

  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Vape you didn’t like Fuego?

  18. vapebraham Says:

    C: thank you kindly.

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    Nice! Still no read back, listening to the shows or reading of reviews yet for me.

    Looks awesome on paper though. Foam, Divided, Bowie first set compositions. Wondering how the Red faired on the years first run throughs.

  20. bob dylan Says:

    finally joined reddit after years of browsing in kids mode.

    RES already made it worth it. night mode? yes please!

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    absolutely. I’m happy to keep reposting when I can but there will be a lot of times I can’t/don’t keep up. If a few people will just join that sub and help keep the flow going when I’m busy/absent/spaced out

    also we always need uploaders of course. Mega gives you 50 gig free. Just sayin’

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    Reddit without RES and unsubbing from the defaults is like spiritual suicide

  23. [an unrelated] Says:

    The Limb x Limb jam was pretty sweet too.

  24. itgre Says:

    I don’t have a problem with objective reporting. What I have a problem with is some, {wombat}, coming on my boat trying to railroad me. -“life aquatic”

  25. Stoney Case Says:


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