On Fuego

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 26th, 2014 by Mr.Miner

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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The Path of Joy

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 11th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Indio (G.Lucas)

As summer tour slowly approaches, it is natural to speculate what lies ahead for Phish. With new Anastasio / Marshall material expected, as well as other new Trey songs (e.g “Show of Life, “Liquid Time”), one wonders how their last batch of songs will pan out. While Joy gave us “Light” and “Backwards Down the Number Line,” it remains to be seen if any other songs from the band’s 2009 comeback album will have a lasting impact on shows.

After Joy’s two jam vehicles, no other song from the album provided serious repercussions in 2009, unless you compile all the minutes of show time that “Time Turns Elastic” ate up. While often incorporated into first sets, “Ocelot” still has yet to transform into something greater. Phish has stretched the song out within its playful structure more than a few times, but never used it to explore new territory. Miami’s version provided the first glimpse of something slightly more creative, hinting that “Ocelot” may yet come out to play. But without a second set version to date, the intention to push the piece outwards just doesn’t seem to be there.

Trey and Tom (Relix)

“Kill Devil Falls” speckled ’09 setlists with healthy doses of innocuous, straight-forward rock and roll. Although Phish twice took the song into original terrain, and Bonnaroo’s version provided one of June ’09′s highlights, the jams hardly had to do with the actual song. The composition essentially ends before the band revs up a rock groove, rebuilding the piece into a quasi-”Birds of a Feather” jam. While some may enjoy the blues-rock textures, the song adds little to the overall contour of a Phish show. When the desire strikes Trey to play “Kill Devil Falls,” “Birds” would be the more engaging choice to reach a similar musical plane.

The statute of limitations has almost expired on “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan.” When the band debuted this song at Jones Beach last summer, it seemed they were unveiling the next dirty jam vehicle into the mix. And each time Phish played the song throughout the year, everyone kept expecting the next version to be the one that took a jump into the dark side. But Phish never as much as hinted at jamming this “Stealing Time.” Every single rendition likened the album version, and at this point, the song slides in below “Character Zero” in intrigue and improv. Trey seems content keeping this one as a boisterous first setter, but I’ll be the first to celebrate an extended jaunt through the blank space were my mind should be.

Jones Beach '09 (W.Rogell)

Aside from Joy’s title track, a poignant ballad which works quite well as the landing point for jams, “Time Turns Elastic,” is the album’s only other piece that Phish infused into 2009 setlists with any regularity. Unfortunately, Trey’s meticulous orchestral composition bombed horribly as a rock song, chewing up valuable set time with anti-climactic, over-indulgent prog-rock. The composition works beautifully in the symphonic setting, but by the end of the year, whether smoking a spliff or taking a piss, many fan adopted accompanying activities to enhance the near-twenty minute lull the song represented during a show.

“Sugar Shack” and “Twenty Years Later” appeared five and four times, respectively, but neither song did much when they showed up. “Twenty Years Later” provided a surreal landing point for SPAC’s “Number Line” Philly’s “Disease,” but the song itself remained a straight composition. This piece, however, illustrates the fact that a well-placed song doesn’t have to be a jam vehicle to enhance a show. Perhaps the band will play place a greater focus on “Twenty Years Later” in 2010, but it doesn’t seem like the most likely scenario. While a clever and catchy song, “Sugar Shack” never found its niche in 2009, unable to jive with its surroundings songs. Probably best used in the first set, Phish placed it in Camden’s second set and Indio’s third set, doing nothing for either frame’s continuity.

12.29.09 (W.Rogell)

“Light” provides the glaring exception to this jam-less trend, emerging as one of the year’s most diverse and dynamic vehicles for improvisation. Providing both a philosophical and musical ethos for Phish’s modern era, the band merely scratched the surface of this song’s potential during fall tour; more intergalactic journeys coming soon. Interestingly, “Light” didn’t really fit into the Americana, blues-rock vibe of Joy, and it transformed into the most psychedelic piece off the album by far. “Number Line” took two notable jaunts last summer, but its significance completely disappeared once fall rolled around. The de facto theme song of 2009, “Number Line’s” 2010 destiny is unbound.

While Joy excited the community as Phish’s first album back from retirement, most of the songs provided little improvisational influence on 2009 Phish. Some of these event-less singles may prove to be more in 2010, but when the dust settled last year, Joy’s songs didn’t contain very sharp teeth. While providing solid musicianship and quality songwriting, the pieces often left improvisational gaps in Phish’s live show with similar, vanilla incarnations. Although we have yet to see the best these Joy’s songs have to offer, more rhythmically-angular and musically-open songs would be a welcome addition come summer tour.

It was Joy to reunite in 2009, but something tells me that the mystery of 2010, looming only a month away, will be far more riveting.

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Jam of the Day:

Free” 6.30.99 II

From the opening night of Summer ’99, a “Free” the way they oughta’ be.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

5.17.94 The Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA < Megaupload

5.17.94 The Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA < Torrent

The Arlington Theate

An under-circulated show from Spring ’94.

I: Suzy Greenberg, Maze, Mound, If I Could, Scent of a Mule, Ginseng Sullivan*, Dog Faced Boy*, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil

II: Runaway Jim, Glide, Tweezer** > Lifeboy, Uncle Pen, Big Ball Jam > Sample in a Jar, Hold Your Head Up > Love You > Hold Your Head Up, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Highway to Hell

*Acoustic and without microphones

** w/ Earache My Eye jam (Cheech & Chong)

Source: AKG 461

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The Bearsville Sessions

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on February 17th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Bearsville Studios - Bearville, NY

Over the span of two years, Phish spent three different chunks of time at Bearsville Studios, in Bearsville, NY, recording music that would eventually be used for The Story of the Ghost. After The Island Run, Phish’s surprise four-night extravaganza in the spring of ’98, the band returned to Bearsville to record on their forthcoming album with the daunting task of whittling down a list upwards of 40 songs. A particularly creative period in the band’s history, The Bearsville Sessions finally resulted in two albums. Not only did Phish release The Story of the Ghost in the Fall of ’98, but later Page went through the tapes, selecting his favorite instrumental outtakes for what would become the ’99 release, The Siket Disc.

Famous for their improvisational nature, the band went into the studio and jammed, later selecting their favorite segments and creating songs out of them. Much like “The Blob” process used to create Billy Breathes, Phish was left with much more music than they could use at the time. Below are the complete studio outtakes from the band’s Story of the Ghost sessions from April – June 1998. Some songs emerged later, some not until 2009, and some haven’t. So enjoy this portrait of an experimental era in Phish history.

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The Bearsville Sessions, Spring ’98- The Complete Outtakes < Torrent

The Bearsville Sessions, Spring ’98 – The Complete Outtakes < Mega

Disc #1  1. Fishman Tune (possibly Tooth and Nail or Knock You From Your Shrine), 2. Gordon Tune/bass riff, 3. Unknown (possibly Turbo Kicking In), 4. Roggae, 5. What’s The Use? (with lyrics), 6. In A Misty Glade, 7. Meatstick (On A String), 8. Unknown Fishman tune (possibly Say The Same For Me), 9. The Cataract Song, 10. My Left Toe, 11. The Happy Whip And Dung Song, 12. Black Eyed Katy/Moma Dance, 13. Rebirth, 14. End Of Session, 15. Never

Disc #2  1. Sleep, 2. Farmhouse, 3. Bittersweet Motel, 4. What’s the Use?, 5. Limb by Limb, 6. NICU (no lyrics), 7. Water In The Sky, 8. Wading In A Velvet Sea, 9. Brian And Robert, 10. Somanatin, 11. Vultures, 12. I Saw It Again, 13. Ha Ha Ha, 14. Tube, 15. Guyute, 16. Dirt, 17. NICU (with lyrics), 18. Limb By Limb

Disc #3  1. Ghost, 2. Samson Variation, 3. Frankie Says, 4. Roggae, 5. Shafty, 6. What’s The Use?, 7. Fikus, 8. In A Misty Glade, 9. Meat, 10. Meatstick (On A String)

Source:  DSBD, (5.7.98)

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Jam of the Day:

Stash > Cities” 6.30 I

Just getting warmed up in Christiana’s first set of Summer ’98.

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A Glimpse of Joy

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on September 1st, 2009 by Mr.Miner
PHISH-Joy-cover-art

Joy

When talking to Rolling Stone in March, after Hampton, Trey confidently said that Phish has yet to make their best studio album.  And after giving Joy a number of listens over the past couple days, it is pretty clear that Phish has still not crafted that elusive “best album yet.”  On the heels of their two post-hiatus records, both of which carried a coherent musical vibe, Joy translates as a hodgepodge of styles, with its unity lying in its lyrical themes rather than musical connectedness.  Whereas you could listen to “Round Room” or “Undermind” and get the sense of a conceptual piece of art, Joy leaves you feeling like you have listened to mix tape.  While each songs is produced quite well and hold their individual merit, when the dust settles, this record may be Phish’s least cohesive studio offering since Hoist.

Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Opening with an enhanced rendition of “Backwards Down the Number Line,” Phish introduces the theme of the album right away.  A reflection on life’s experiences and lessons learned, friendships and the passage of time, growing older while staying young; these introspective topics paint the portrait of a mature band reflecting on their past while still building an exciting future.  The initial track musically benefits from Steve Lillywhite’s studio production, featuring rich vocal harmonies and a mix that accents Page’s leads as much as Trey’s.  A lyrical tone-setter, ending with the line, “The only rule is It begins,” this is also one of the more impressive studio translations.

“Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” follows up the opener with a healthy dose of psychedelic blues-rock.  This infectious song, which begged for exploration all summer long, sounds just about the same as we’ve come accustomed to hearing it in the live setting.  With not much added or taken away, the track delivers what we expected- a rocking single.  A song that will likely see more attention when brought indoors, for the time being we can only imagine.

Merriweather (K.Pusey)

Merriweather (K.Pusey)

Phish seamlessly integrated the song “Joy” into their summer shows, using the poignant ballad as welcome respite from darker places.  But the version on the album lacks the heartfelt warmth that has come to define the very song.  Coming off a bit thin with an acoustic guitar and more pop-like, sing-songy lyrical cadence, the raw emotional weight of this song is compromised in the studio setting.  I truly love this song, and I thought the studio version would ooze enchantment.  It doesn’t.

The album continues with arguably its most impressive track in Mike’s “Sugar Shack.”  With its quirky rhythmic changes and darting melodies tightened in the studio, this track pops off the album with as much spunk of any.  A completely unique song, both musically and lyrically, its inclusion does nothing for the overall flow of the album.  The fourth track in a row that bears little musical relation to the other three, this is where the mix-tape vibe really kicks in.  With no obvious meaning, this songs seems to sit on its own, out of relation with the others on the record; but from a musical standpoint it just may be the most intriguing.

Hartford (A.McCullogh)

Hartford (A.McCullogh)

A return to the bluesy feel comes next with “Ocelot.” Seemingly the most light-hearted song on the record, this song could suggest a lyrical metaphor for recovery- a secondary theme of the album.  Written from Tom Marshall’s perspective, Trey “pranc[ed] with the beasts who parade every night” and “silently slouch[ed] through the forest by light,”  but doesn’t want him to be “the only one left on the block,” but instead to reunite with friends and family to “hide in the heard and float with the flock.”  Musically crisp and clean, “Ocelot’s” folk fusion provides one of the most playful moments on Joy.

Joy’s patchwork continues with “Kill Devil Falls,” a song whose live performances have begun to evolve, but whose composition is still far too pedestrian for a legitimate Phish song.  The Chuck Berry-infused rocker tangentially fits with the album’s loose blues-rock framework, but its benign musical template leads nowhere engaging.  Lyrically in sync with the album’s vibe, Trey promises that he’s learned his lesson and “this time is gonna be different,” but yet, allows for human flaws, following up that line with “Until I do it again.”  All in all, this track is bound by simplicity, and sounds like any band could have written it.

6.16.09 The Fox (B.Kisida)

6.16.09 The Fox (B.Kisida)

The most original and enchanting moments of the entire album come during the minute-plus intro to “Light.”  With an ambient build up that was only suggested at Wallingford, CT’s Classic TAB performance last October, Phish introduces this powerful song with the only “new” music on the album.  This soulful build into the song’s initial explosion sets the tone for the openly-expressive piece.  Referencing his own path from addiction to recovery, the most personal lyric on the album may be “I’m left in the now with a wondrous glow- I think I’m still me, but how would you know?”  Reflecting on the deeply introspective journey he undertook to get to today, Trey’s words are sung with a certain vulnerability that has seeped into to his later work.  The lyric, “And finally waiting for nothing at all” also carries a significant meaning- things have finally come to fruition- the time is now.  Creatively bursting with energy and finishing with a layered vocal round, “Light” is my personal favorite track on the album, and one that is infused with the promise of the future.  “The light is burning brighter now…Guide us to our goal…”

Hartford (A McCullogh)

Hartford (A McCullogh)

The album’s theme of reflection comes across playfully in the short ditty, “I’ve Been Around.”  Evoking memories of the last song at a high-school dance, this Page-scribed interlude references the ebb and flow of life; with its high times and its low times, the mysterious journey is never dull.  Sometimes we “throw it down a while” and sometimes “the town throws it down on “us.”  Coyly congruent with Joy’s greater meaning, “Ive Been Around” serves as a Phishy lead-in to the album’s conclusion.

While traveling a path that features four to five minute songs, the band’s decision to insert “Time Turns Elastic” into the mix here is a bit questionable.  Clearly the album’s centerpiece, Trey’s lyrics- both literal and metaphorical- carve out the meaning of the song and its relation to the album’s central themes.  But with so many intricately composed sections, this prog-rock epic doesn’t jive with Joy’s simplicity.  Doing little to unify the record musically, “Time Turns Elastic” may have been better released as a single rather than part of this whole.  (But I bet if you asked Trey, he’d say it is the key to the album.)

Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Gazing back over the landscape of their lives, the retrospective piece “Twenty Years Later” closes the album in dramatic fashion.  Following the words, “the morning [of life] has passed, and “its a new day.”  Soaked with the air of redemption, this song’s slower, lush soundscapes give it a more ominous feel- “Inside this silent sea, all are free, all are free, second time around.”  It was a wise choice to rearrange the original order of the album’s songs, placing “Twenty Years Later” as the natural conclusion to counterbalance “Backwards Down the Number Line,” while providing an eerie denouement to “Time Turns Elastic.”

Interestingly, Joy is an album that contains consistent lyrical themes, but little musical cohesion.  While the words carry consistent themes, the music jumps around with little to no connection, creating a studio album that leaves something to be desired.  Questing for the album that is far bigger than the sum of its parts, Phish will live to record another day.  Representing their return to the studio, Joy has both its successes and shortcomings, something we’ve come to expect from Phish’s recorded work.  While pleasant to listen to, nothing on Joy will blow you away; the polar opposite of the band’s live dynamic.  Four guys who were born to play live, Phish will always be master improvisers, but will they ever make that timeless record?  The answer remains to be seen.

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Cities > Maze” 8.5 Shoreline II

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A late second-set highlight at Shoreline, this is the only time either of these songs were played during the second leg of summer.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.11.2009 Toyota Park, Chicago, IL < Torrent

8.11.2009 Toyota Park, Chicago, IL < Megaupload

3831060420_86a7994870

Official Chicago Poster

This mid-week stop in the Windy City connected the western and eastern parts of the second leg of tour.  While there are several legitimate musical highlights throughout the second set, the overall presentation of the show seemed awkward and disconnected.  “Number Line,” “Carini,” Jibboo,” and “Hood” stand out in this oddly constructed frame, following up one of the most uneventful first sets of tour.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Sample In A Jar, Ocelot, Paul and Silas, Windy City*, The Curtain With, Train Song, Gumbo, Heavy Things, Time Turns Elastic

II: Backwards Down the Number Line > Carini > Gotta Jibboo, Theme From The Bottom, Wilson, 2001 > Chalk Dust Torture, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil

E: Loving Cup

* debut

Source: Schoeps CCM4V’S(din)>Lunatec V2>Benchmark AD2K>Sound Devices 722 (24/48) (Taper – Z-Man)

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The Story of The Story of the Ghost

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 22nd, 2009 by Mr.Miner

tsofg2When Phish went into Bearsville Studios in March of 1997, they knew they were going to record, but they didn’t necessarily know what. In addition to some demos that Tom and Trey had made, they decided to go into the studio to jam, and what would come out would be anyone’s guess.  After five days in Bearsville, NY during March, and five more in September, the band had a large amount of material to work with.  After the March sessions, they selected their favorite segments of improv and began writing songs around them- lots of songs.  Taking this unique approach to songwriting, much like “The Blob” from Billy Breathes, what would eventually emerge over the course of a year was Phish’s seventh studio album, The Story of the Ghost.

Phish largely reversed the process, focusing on what they do best, and based songs off their creative improvisation.  Remember in Summer ’97 when the band came out with an arsenal of new tunes?  These were Anastasio / Marshall songs written just before, and recorded during, these sessions; “Ghost,” “Limb by Limb,” “Piper,” “Dogs Stole Things,” Twist,” “Vultures,” “Velvet Sea”- I could go on.  But the songwriting that resulted from the Bearsville Sessions was one of the most interesting eras of the band’s career.  Songs such as “Birds of a Feather,” “Meat,” “Roggae,” and “Frankie Says,” all resulted directly from the group’s studio improvisation.  Phish returned to Bearsville in September of ’97 for more experimentation.  Then came more songs- “Fikus,” “Shafty,” “Black-Eyed Katy”- and when all was said and done, they had enough material not only for The Story of the Ghost, but also for the all instrumental Siket Disc, released in ’99.  The Siket Disc was made entirely of outtakes from these same sessions.  And there are still songs from these sessions we have never heard.

Bearsville Studios, Bearsville, NY

Bearsville Studios, Bearsville, NY

When Phish took their abundance of material back into the studios in April 1998, they had some deciding to do.  With over forty songs from which to choose, they had to whittle out an album.  Phish had flirted with the “concept album” with Rift and Billy Breathes, and would make a more outright attempt this time around.  Aside from “Guyute,” and the radio-friendly “Birds of a Feather,” all the tracks resembled an apparition of its whole self that we had come to know live.  Snippets of the entire picture faded in and out like ghosts passing in the night.  With two to three minute musical passages, Phish created their most flowing album to date, piecing together a musical collage.

The sound of the album mirrored the band’s looser live sound of the era, led by Gordon’s round, prominent bass grooves.  The clearest examples of this are found on “Ghost,” “Meat,” “Fikus,” “Shafty,” “Roggae,” and “The Moma Dance.”  The musical character of the album was both funky and sparse, creating a spacious rhythmic palette throughout.  “Guyute” was the one song that didn’t really fit in with the album’s vibe, though the fact that they finally recorded the complex composition offset its somewhat awkward placement.

Fall '98 (T.Wickersty)

Fall '98 (T.Wickersty)

At the end of the album, an insane “Moma” groove fades into the mix as the band begins to sing the lyrics right over the liquid funk.  Just as “Ghost” brings the album in, “The Moma Dance” completes its circle, as the band layers the lyrics to “Ghost” over the crack-like groove.  This is the perfect ending to a pretty perfect album; the only thing is, that it is not the ending.  Phish added the two-minute ambient verse “End of Session” to close the album.  This passage must be significant to the band, perhaps marking the literal end of their recording sessions, because it doesn’t necessarily fit.  A beautiful snippet in its own right, its music diverges from anything on the record, and comes after the album’s natural conclusion.  It translates like a “hidden track” that Phish decided to label, and perhaps that is the point.

Trey recently stated in Rolling Stone that he wasn’t convinced Phish had yet made a great album, upping the expectations for their 2009 installment.  Yet, looking back through Phish’s catalog, Rift, Billy Breathes and The Story of the Ghost jump out as valiant attempts.  With each of these albums, the band furthered the conceptual framework of what they were trying to do.  While Rift had an overall story behind it, Billy Breathes took an idea and began translating it to music, painting a certain mood.  However, when Phish dropped The Story of the Ghost in Fall of 1998, they released the most artistically coherent album of their career.

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Check out The Phish Archive of reviews and articles about The Story of the Ghost from 1998.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

9.30.95 Shoreline, Mountain View, CA < LINK

9.30.95 Shoreline, Mountain View, CA < TORRENT LINK

shoreline-amphitheatre

Shoreline Amphitheatre

This performance at Shoreline marked the fourth show of the band’s massive Fall ’95 slate.  This show marked the beginning of the band vs. audience chess matches which ran throughout the Fall and would eventually end in a 1-1 tie on New Year’s Eve at The Garden.  Highlights include the first set “Reba” and “Antelope,” while the second set brings a hot “Runaway Jim” and a sinister “Mike’s” jam that segues into “Keyboard Cavalry”- not to mention Fish’s first glorious cover of Elvis.  Trey also dedicated “Blue and Lonesome” to Jerry Garcia, in his amphitheatre, only months after he had passed.  (Here is a link with an overlay of “Steal Your Face” on Shoreline as pointed out on yesterday’s picture- pretty cool.)

I: My Friend My Friend, Cars Trucks Buses, White Rabbit Jam*, Reba, Uncle Pen, Horn, Run Like an Antelope, Blue and Lonesome**, Sample in a Jar

II: Runaway Jim, Fog That Surrounds, If I Could, Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Keyboard Cavalry, Weekapaug Groove, Suspicious Minds# > HYHU, Cavern

E: Amazing Grace, Good Times Bad Times

* The Band vs. Audience chess match is introduced.  Page and a tourhead named Pooh played a 3-4 move intro to set up the board during the White Rabbit jam.  #First time played.  **Dedicated to Jerry Garcia.

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The Definitive “Split” of ’93

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on April 20th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Trey, 1993 (A.Dines)

Trey 1993 (A.Dines)

Sixteen years ago today, Phish was in Columbus, Ohio playing the second show of a two night stand approaching the end of their Spring 1993 tour.  The setting was the ornate Newport Music Hall, and one of the jams from this show would live on forever as a part of Phish history.  The band busted into “Split Open and Melt” as the third song of the second set, and soon engaged in some incredibly compelling improvisation.  The jam stood out to the band so much, that they decided to bring it into the studio.

Most everyone is familiar with Phish’s 1994 official release, Hoist.  The last track on this album, “Demand,” is a brief musical poem with elusive meaning, ending with the lyric “Driving home to Mom and Dad / To spend a weekend with no cares.”  Then, as the music ends, we hear someone get into a car, shut the door and pop in a cassette tape.  As the subject starts the engine, we hear a ridiculously ripping “Split Open and Melt” jam playing in the fictional car.  And here is where our stories intersect- that jam after “Demand” was plucked directly from our show in Columbus sixteen years ago.  The car drives off to the soundtrack of the intensely building jam until we hear it crash, giving way a layered live mix of “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” and thus ending the album.  Creating a sonic collage, and juxtaposing their stripped down studio work with their layered live psychedelia, Phish clearly chose this jam with intent.  On its anniversary, let’s take a look back at a jam so utterly breathtaking that the band decided to add it to an album.

41075wa00kl_aa240_At the onset of their 1993 “speedjazz” era, Phish engaged this “Split” jam like a lioness attacking an innocent zebra, proceeding to tear it to shreds.  This was a time where jams didn’t take time to settle, but started, earnestly, before the lyrical refrain even ended.  Trey’s licks began firing early and often as Page was all over the piano like a madman- both being held together by a lightning quick groove.  Fish and Gordon provided the super-glue for this stunningly tight musical conversation.  Trey’s licks became more condensed, often referred to as his “machine gun” playing, as his guitar acrobatics pushed the jam forward.  This amphetamine-laced music was led by Trey’s absolutely shredding guitar; far moreso than later Phish.  Moving at such a break-neck pace, this was the day where Phish left your jaw on the floor in a whole different way.

phish-hartford-4-30-93Building the momentum of the jam behind Gordon’s strapping basslines and Fish’s masterfully absurd beats, Trey progressed from notes to screams of tonal terror, creating a terrifying balls-to-the-wall soundtrack to an intense sci-fi movie.  The band slaughtered this jam, all four at once, like four lionesses shredding that poor zebra until there was nothing left.  Trey’s dissonant wails led the mission, as the band tore through the jungle, never missing a collective hit amidst the maddening psychedelia.  Mike’s playing was equally impressive as he molded basslines to complement the melodic themes while also leading the insane rhythm.  Page’s piano work was that of a true jazz player, using his instrument to achieve a drone effect in the jam while simultaneously playing dizzying right-hand lines. This was a piece of improv where all four members absolutely clicked during an era when the result was completely mind-bending, “can -you-handle-this” type of music.

Mike has referenced this jam as a moment where the band “got it” and figured out what they were trying to do musically.  It is no coincidence that after this spring tour in 1993, which finished only two weeks later, Phish went on to crush Summer ’93; a tour that is still revered to this day as the epitome of an era.  Taking Mike at face value, this “Split” jam- sixteen years ago today-kick-started one of the most well loved eras in Phish history.

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LISTEN TO 4.21.93 “Split” NOW! < LINK (Roll over, click play)

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

4.21.93 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH < TORRENT

Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

Newport Music Hall

Here is the complete show in which this famous “Split” was performed.  A classic show of Spring ’93, this one was definitely a high point of the tour.  On-point jamming characterized this evening and it featured many other highlights beyond “Split,” including a raw “Mike’s Groove” at the end of the night.

I: Buried Alive, Poor Heart, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, Maze, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, Rift, Punch You in the Eye, I Didn’t Know, Run Like an Antelope

II: Possum, Mound, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Big Ball Jam, Mike’s Song > Great Gig in the Sky > Weekapaug Groove, Gumbo

E: Sweet Adeline, Cavern

Source: Unknown

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Rift – The Concept Album

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on February 4th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

Almost 16 years to the day it was released (2.2.93), Phish’s fourth studio album, Rift, still holds a unique place in their history.  It was this album that began to lift the band from college gymnasiums and their own van to the long sought-after success of tour buses and a legit crew.  Though many of the songs on the album had been played already, when Phish put them into a particular order, coupled with symbolic cover art, representing every song on the album, their first “concept” album emerged. (“The Horse” was not depicted on the cover, though they would intentionally take of this with their next release, Hoist.)

pnt-4Narrating a restless night’s dream sequence of a man in a strained relationship, Phish took their studio intent to a whole new level.  While future albums would include more production value, Rift’s conceptual collection of songs still holds the trophy, in many fans’ minds, as the quintessential Phish album.

As the man on the cover falls asleep, he drifts into a first dream thinking about the “Rift” that has come between him and his love.  Via tense, driving music and lyrical symbolism, Phish recreates the frayed nerves and impassioned thoughts of the strained lover.

I spied wings of reason, herself taking flight
And upon yonder precipice saw her alight
And glared back at me one last look of dismay
As if she were the last one she thought I’d betray

As he describes the physical separation of the two, the man comes to understand what has driven her away.  As she looks at him with disdain through in his fantastical dream state, the man assumes the blame of his betrayal.

b000002hc5The second verse shows him futilely trying to convince himself that his life is “So much better” without her, yet he is still “struggl[ing] with destiny, and “gasping” as “defeated he f[alls] of the edge.” Clearly showing signs of second guessing his decision, the dreamer is consumed by “moments like these,” remembering back to that “terrible night that shocked and persuaded [his] soul to ignite” for her.

“Fast Enough For You” is his second dream of the evening, and finds the man wishing things were different and as they once were.  “If time were only part of the equation,” he wistfully laments.  The album’s two interludes of “Lengthwise” are to be taken quite literally, as the dreamer is lonely, sleeping diagonally trying to fill up the physical and existential space she has left in his bed and in his life.

As the night moves on and he moves into a deeper sleep, his dreams get darker with the onset of “Maze.”  With music that perfectly matches the hectic lyrical confusion of the song, the man feels himself as trapped, while others laugh at his utter dismay.  To be taken in the context of his relationship, the man is “embarrassed with failure” and “tr[ies] to reverse the course that [his] tread [has] already traversed.”  Burdened with regret and plagued by helplessness, he is completely overwhelmed by his emotional state, hearing voices inside his head telling him he’s lost it” and he’ll “never get out of this maze” that he has created for himself.  His inner struggle mounts.

“Sparkle” brings in some musical relief, but when looked at lyrically, the song isn’t so happy.

The pressure builds, you buy a gift
You’re hoping that your dread will lift
It glitters on her like a glass
You shudder as it comes to pass

Circa 1993

Circa 1993

These are desperate thoughts of someone trying to rectify a wrong, possibly with a “glass” wedding ring, hoping this could be the answer.  The lyrics expound on the topics of  apology, confusion and shame- emotions that plague our cosmic dreamer, while he hopes for the best.  Phish was clever here, creating a dynamic where, ostensibly, people think it is a happy song about laughing endlessly, when in fact it’s not.  The laughing is of the self-defeated nature.  As things don’t pan out as he’d hoped, he can no longer can think of words to express himself and he is left hopelessly laughing while he emotionally “falls apart.”

“Horn” is a beautiful composition, yet tells a story of bitterness and retribution.  Our dreamer seethes:

Now that you’ve deceived me, and played my name around
And hung those nasty flyers, on all the buildings in town
Dribbled my possessions in a ring around the earth
And bought and sold my self-control for less than it was worth

We are brought into yet another fragile mind-state of the man, this time resulting from frustration and anger.  Self-control gone, this dream represents the emotional roller coaster of his recent life.  He thinks of how she has beaten him down, yet he still yearns for their mundane past, wishing to tell her, “I’ll pick you up at eight as usual, listen for my horn.”

As he drifts into deeper sleep, the music constantly shifts, representing the various dream states that permeate one’s full nights sleep.  “The Wedge,” comes next, with him reminiscing about days gone by, and thinking:

That it’s the ocean flowing in our veins
Oh..that it’s the salt that’s in our tears
Oh..cause we could have come so very far
Oh..in at least as many years!

hw77Albeit melodic and bouncy, the lyrical path is still one of a love almost lost, and the bittersweet emotions that surround this delicate time.  Looking back over their relationship, he can’t fathom it has come to this.

The subsequent nighttime interlude comes in the form of the paranoid nightmare of, “My Friend, My Friend,” formerly titled, “Knife.”  With the opening verse, we see a picture of someone who believes his friend will murder him and marry his love.  Rife with Shakespearean overtones, and parallels the deceptive plot of betrayal in MacBeth, this song is the darkest, thematically, on the album.

My friend, my friend he’s got a knife
A statement from his former life
When he was easy but alone
Beside him was an empty throne
But what of silver silken blade
Affix his gaze, his features staid
Grasps the handle, clips the cable
One steps up, sits at his table
My friend, my friend, he’s got a knife
My friend, my friend, he’s got a wife

Musically, this song is a memoir of Phish’s composition-focused days, as the intro was composed as part of a whole with passages that would later become “Guyute.” The composition gives way to an eerie groove, darkening the texture of the dreamer’s subconscious, and illustrating his self-imposed paranoia.

“Weigh,” one of two Gordon scribed songs on the album, brings an episode of comic relief to the night of terror, as the dreamer ponders the absurd notion of beheading his lover so he can weigh her head.  His other wish is to:

…gather all your razors and pick all the
Little prickly hairs so I can weigh them

Leave it to Gordeaux to consistently redefine the absurd.

hw99“All Things Reconsidered” is a semantic and musical play on the theme of NPR’s show “All Things Considered.  This lyric-less piece’s symbolism comes shining through in its title.  The music brings us on a meandering path of introverted thought through the head of the dreamer as he rethinks his relationship from an internal perspective.

“Mound” becomes a glimpse into his bleak future reality that will exist without his love.  Foreseeing himself as a “broken old man” who “burie[s] all his memories of home, in an icy clump that lies beneath the ground,” this represents a self-prophecy of what he might become if he doesn’t reconcile his relationship with the woman he loves.  Approaching the mysterious mound, potentially symbolic of his future grave, and looking back over the happier parts of his life, the song goes:

He went over to the mound
Reclining down his final thoughts
Were drifting to the time this life had shined

“It’s Ice,” one of more musically and lyrically complex songs on the album, narrates the deep inner struggle going on within the dreamer.  As he looks at his his reflection, he confronts his alternate self.

He meets my eyes, to my surprise
He laughs in full light of my frown
My double wants to pull me down

The song continues to chronicle a fierce battle with himself as to which way his life should to go in light of his current circumstances.  Each part of him is personified.

Slipping on the friction slide, my skin peels to the bone
The flesh I leave behind, is something that is not my own
I beg my mirror image for a moment with my soul
He’s leaning back, time to attack, to see who’s in control

Potentially sparked by the grim foreshadowing of the previous dream of “Mound,” our character engages himself in a struggle for his destiny. This represents the most significant part of his part of his sleep and the album, as he will emerge from this inner-battle with the revelation that is “Horse > Silent.”

The lyrics of “The Horse” speak for themselves, though they can have two very different meanings:

It’s time I sling the baskets off this overburdened horse
Sink my toes into the ground and set a different course
Cause if I were here and you were there
I’d meet you in between
And not until my dying day, confess what I have seen.

Despite all the subconscious madness he has persevered through the night, he ends with revelations.  He can’t live without her, he must “set a different course.”  Or, alternately, he realizes that his efforts have been in vain, and that his desperate nature has led him to cling to a lost love.  The “different course” he must set is without the woman plaguing hus dreams. Regardless of which meaning you ascribe to the song, he realizes his destiny, which is foretold in “Silent In the Morning.”

…you’ve found your voice
It brings me to my knees
The volume just increases
The resounding echoes grow
Till once again I bask in morning stillness, I love so

The imagery of bringing him “to his knees” can symbolize in devotion or helplessness.  The final lines are the emotional peak, as he is resolute in reuniting with his estranged love, or conversely forcing himself into more promises he knows he can’t keep.  Ultimately, he knows he’ll be better without her; he’d rather “brush her off” and move on.  The poignant final lines of the song are sung in a round.

I will not dismiss you, shelter you, speak with you
Smile at you, trust in me, he’d like to brush you off, and I’d agree

The “morning” is not only symbolic of the end of his dreams, but also the dawning of his newly intentioned life, one way or the other.  Through the darkness the dreamer quests for a new beginning with hope and redemption.

Though Phish has created quasi-concept albums after this in Billy Breathes, Story of the Ghost, and somewhat less so, Undermind;   Rift remains the strongest example of perfectly executing a coherent musical narrative.  Lyrically rich and musically diverse, the album remains as the last relic of the “old” Phish.  Starting with “Hoist,” Phish would put much more money and production into their albums, working with famed producers from Steve Lillywhite to Bryce Goggin.  While each of their future albums took on a certain character of its own, you will find few that will argue with Rift as the most intriguing Phish album of all time.

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1993 RIFT PROMOTIONAL VIDEO (Must see!)

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PHISH THOUGHTS TICKET EXCHANGE:

0af84b4652dadb9e49d12904a54de7e14gOK!  We’ve worked out a few kinks, and the PHISH THOUGHTS TICKET EXCHANGE board is ready to roll.   The board is something that the public can look at, but you must send an email request to ticketexchange@phishthoughts.com with your email address in the subject line, and a funny joke as the text in order to add an entry.  An invite to the board will be sent to the email you provide. Remember this is a trading board, but also a place you can buy face value extras from fans who have them!

If and when you complete a successful transaction, please, as a courtesy, send an email to ticketexchange@phishthoughts.com with “Great Success!” in the subject line and the details of the transaction in the text.  This is so we can track transactions.

I must make a disclaimer that I am not responsible for any of the transactions that go awry on this board.  It is a community resource that must be used with respect.  If we do so, there should be no problem. You can click here or the link above until I find a place for a permalink!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

6.25.97 L’Aeronef, Lille, France < LINK

phish-prague-97Out of the of many adventurous outings that made up Europe Summer ’97, this one was one of the best.  The first set was filled with new songs that had yet to make their US debut, while the second set is one of the best of the entire summer.  The first half was dominated by a monstrous and funked out “Disease” that became the norm for Summer ’97, with a pre-US “Piper” wedged in the middle.  This show marked the first ever appearance of “Meatstick,” with the band improvisationally chanting/singing the chorus over a tight chugging jam.  The set ending Antelope also smokes.

I: Oblivious Fool, Dogs Stole Things, Taste, Billy Breathes, AC/DC Bag, The Old Home Place, Theme From the Bottom, Wading in the Velvet Sea, I Saw It Again, Limb By Limb, My Soul

II: Down With Disease > Piper > Down With Disease > Meatstick* > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Makisupa Policeman > Cecilia^ > HYHU > Rocko William > Run Like an Antelope+

E: Guyute

*New original.  ^Simon & Garfunkel cover, sung by Fish.  +Trey introduces the whole band and crew.

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Hey, Remaster This!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 8th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

In 2001, during Phish’s first hiatus, the organization devised a long-overdue revenue stream by releasing entire remastered shows in 3-4 disc packages.  They would call the series “LIVE PHISH,” and it would highlight stellar shows from the band’s career.  While most of the shows chosen are certainly quality choices, I have often wondered why other gems were left out.  While it is difficult to argue against any of the choices (except 7.8.00 Alpine?), a strong case can be made for some other shows to be remastered and sold.  Here are a few.  (You can download each by clicking the link.)

12.6.97 The Palace, Auburn Hills, MI < LINK

Fall '97

Fall '97

To this day, I have no idea why this show has not been remastered and released.  Someone needs to call Phish headquarters and inform them that they missed the boat with this one.  Arguably the best start to finish show of Phish’s beloved Fall ’97 tour, this show is straight fire.  With some of the most adventurous and creative improv of the fall, this show vaulted into my top five Phish experiences ever before I had caught my breath after the show.  Both sets came correct on this night, with set two being one of the outright highlights of post-1996 Phish.

The first set seemed like it started in reverse, opening with the patented set closers, Golgi and Antelope.  As the Antelope dropped, the band entered into their Fall ’97 dance grooves, and the show was off and running.  A well improvised “Bathtub Gin” made way for a creative segue into “Foam,” a relative rarity at this point.  The end of the set brought a smoking “Maze” along with some non-jammed Phish classics.

Jamie Huntsman

photo: Jamie Huntsman

The second set was another story all together.  Opening with one of the best Tweezers ever played, the band sat in some dinosaur funk before Trey opened up the universe with one lick of his guitar.  (If you know this jam, you know that lick.)  The band progresses into some of the greatest playing you’ll ever hear, locked-in and launched for the spiritual realm.  After this psychedelic space travel wound down, the band transitioned into the furious groove-based jamming of “Izabella.”  Without stopping once, the band played the entire set weaving one song into the next.  When they were done, everyone in the building  knew that was IT.  This is a definitive piece of Phish history, and no soundboard has ever leaked.   I’m still waiting for this one to pop up in Pollack-covered silver case.

I: Golgi Apparatus, Run Like an Antelope, Train Song, Bathtub Gin > Foam, Sample in a Jar, Fee, Maze, Cavern

II: Tweezer > Izabella > Twist  > Piper  > Sleeping Monkey  > Tweezer Reprise

E: Rocky Top (single song downloads, Paul’s rmstr)

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6.30.98 Den Gra Hal, Christiana, Copenhagen < LINK

In a three-hour welcome to Europe’s Summer ’98 tour, this show kicked off the two week party in proper fashion.  Taking place in a small barn in Scandinavia under a purple night sky, Phish tore apart this venue for three nights straight.  This first show, however, had no slow points from the opening “Limb By Limb” to the closing “Mike’s Groove.”

Den Gra Hal, 6.30.98

Den Gra Hal, 6.30.98

This special show marked the debut of “Moma Dance,” “Roggae,” “Brain & Robert” and the reworked Ghost, and was infused with magnificent improv around every corner.  Opening with Limb, Ghost, the band wasted no time in jumping into some full-on improvisation.  (Coming off the Island Run, one can understand the band’s desire!)  Soon to follow was the first set combo of “Tube,” “Stash > Cities.”  Okay,  the band meant clearly business here!  Carrying on for considerably longer than usual, this initial frame also included a “Guyute,” “Funky Bitch,” and a closing Bowie.  The explosion of the first set had the crowd buzzing as they drifted outside into the cool Copenhagen summer night.

The second set continued in the pattern of the first- lots of big jams!  They came out with the debut of “Moma Dance,” reworked after the surreal 12.30.97 encore, complete with instructions on how to do the Moma “dance.”  After tearing through the third ever Birds, the band sat into a impressive segment of music that read,”Wolfman’s > Frankie Sez > Antelope.”  Combining divergent styles of  precise music, this portion flowed quite well, with standout versions as bookends.  After continuing with “Yamar,” “Ha Ha Ha,”  the band ripped into a club-grooving rendition of “Mike’s Song.”  A well-paced version that allowed all band members to shine in the musical space, this Mike’s provided a fierce highlight at the end of a superb evening. (Obviously the 7.1.98 “Tweezer >2001″ would be the filler on this release!)

I: Limb by Limb, Ghost*, Water in the Sky*, Bouncing Around the Room, Tube, Stash  > Cities, Roggae**, Guyute, Beauty of my Dreams, Funky Bitch, Train Song, David Bowie

II: The Moma Dance**, Birds of a Feather, Wolfman’s Brother  > Frankie Says >  Run Like an Antelope, Lawn Boy, Ya Mar, Ha Ha Ha, Mike’s Song > Swept Away > Steep, Weekapaug Groove

E: Brian and Robert**

*rearranged  **debut

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12.7.95 Convention Center, Niagara Falls, NY < LINK

From the storied month of December ’95, the only Live Phish release, excluding New Year’s, is Binghamton.  While the “Halley’s > NICU” jam highlights the show, with the support of the somewhat forced “Timber > Tweezer > Timber,” there are a slew of shows from this month that leave this one in the dust.  One such show, often overlooked due to its proximity to Albany’s 12.9 edition, is 12.7.95 at the Niagara Falls Convention Center.

1995-12-07gnWith top ten versions of “Split Open and Melt,” “Reba,” and “Mike’s Song,” this show is chock full of maniacally tight late ’95 jamming.  One of the best-ever Split Opens began the second half, and set the course of dizzying improv that would follow.  Needing a breather directly after the opener, a stop in “Strange Design” led into a developing version of “Taste (That Surrounds).”  The connected playing in the Split flowed right into this jam, providing one of the most inspiring 1995 renditions.  Tapped in and not letting up, the band took an upturn to bliss with a stirring and quickly-paced “Reba.”  Absolutely firing from note one, this jam plainly illustrates why December ’95 is such a revered month in Phish history.  And then a thirty-minute “Mike’s > Weekapaug” topped things off in perfect fashion.  The urgent and demonic textures of the twenty-minute Mike’s lifted the venue to an psychedelic peak.  Favoring the more improvisational second jam that was scrapped in later years, the band creatively sculpted a masterful Mike’s that outshines many of the more popular versions from this month.   Skipping any interlude and jamming directly into Weekapaug, the band delivered the audience a superbly executed surprise segue to end the night.

All of this and I haven’t even mentioned the first set.  The two pairings of “The Curtain > AC / DC Bag,” and “Demand > Rift” provided some alternative spice to the opening frame before they delved into a mid-set Slave and the then-rare “Guyute.”  Bursting with energy and chops throughout the night, this one is a deserving candidate for the treatment of Fred Kevorkian (the engineer who remasters these releases.)

I: The Old Home Place, The Curtain > AC/DC Bag, Demand, Rift, Slave to the Traffic Light, Guyute, Bouncing Around the Room, Possum, Hello My Baby

II: Split Open and Melt, Strange Design, Fog That Surrounds, Reba, Julius, Sleeping Monkey, Sparkle, Mike’s Song > Weekapaug Groove, Amazing Grace

E: Uncle Pen

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12.9.94 Mesa Amphitheatre, Mesa AZ < LINK

The Nights Before Mesa

The Nights Before Mesa

This is a show that needs to be released for three reasons, “Antelope,” “Tweezer,” and “YEM.”  The second to last show in a marathon Fall ’94 saw the band hitting on all cylinders on their 45th show.  While the entire night was strewn with typical late-’94 shredding, these three aforementioned versions stick out like an elephant in a strawberry patch.  Easily one of the most intense and definitive Antelope’s ever played, this fifteen minutes of fury closed the opening set on as high of a note as possible.

In a fall of redonkulous “Tweezer”s, only a week after the famous Salem Armory version that peaked with a “Norweigan Wood” jam, Phish set out to one up themselves.  Early in the this “Tweezer” jam, Trey initiated a barely coherent chant that when listened to closely repeats, “Let’s say good bye to Salem!”  He made no bones about recognizing the monstrosity of Salem’s version as well as the band’s desire to go even deeper this time around.  The result is a near half-hour epic exploration into the depths of Phish’s imagination, peaking with a “Slave jam.”  This version is Phishiness in its purest form, progressing through many divergent stages of improv to reach salvation.

I: Llama, Foam, Guyute, Sparkle > I Didn’t Know, It’s Ice > If I Could > Run Like an Antelope

II: Wilson > Poor Heart > Tweezer* > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Julius > Big Ball Jam, Cracklin’ Rosie, You Enjoy Myself > Suzy Greenberg

E: I’m Blue I’m Lonesome**, Foreplay**-> Long Time**, Tweezer Reprise

*With “Slave to the Traffic Light” jam. **Acoustic    (not the greatest source, but worth it!)\
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Honorable Mention

10.22.95 Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL

5.22.00 Radio City

5.22.00 Radio City

An outstanding Fall ’95 show that featured an incredibly fluid second set.  A true psychedelic journey.  Extended jam sessions came in “Possum > Catapult,” “Tweezer” > Makisupa, and a late set Slave.

I: AC/DC Bag, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, The Sloth, Runaway Jim, Weigh, NICU, Fast Enough for You, It’s Ice, Poor Heart, Sample in a Jar, I’m Blue I’m Lonesome, Stash

II: Golgi Apparatus, Possum > Catapult, The Curtain > Tweezer > Makisupa Policeman > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars, Life on Mars?, Uncle Pen, Slave to the Traffic Light > Cavern

E: Sweet Adeline, The Squirming Coil

11.15.96 Kiel Center, St. Louis, MO.

This was a classic along the path of Fall ’96.  The second set was “brought to you by the letter ‘M’ and the number 420,” Trey joked before the Weekapaug.  Set two would become known as “The M Set,” as every song featured a prominent M in the title, creating a Phishy twist on a quality night.  A surprise appearance by John Popper as “the dirty old man” in the debut of  “Mean Mr. Mustard,” and on harmonica for Weekapaug added some zest to the end of the night.  A great Melt and Mike’s highlight the set, as well as the cool opening combo of “Makisupa  > Maze.”

I: Wilson, The Divided Sky, Bouncing Around the Room, Character Zero, Punch You in the Eye, Prince Caspian, Ginseng Sullivan, Train Song, Chalk Dust Torture, Taste, Cavern

II: Makisupa Policeman > Maze, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Split Open and Melt, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, My Mind’s Got a Mind of it’s Own, Mike’s Song, Sleeping Monkey, Mean Mr. Mustard*, Weekapaug Groove#

E: Funky Bitch#

*First time played;Trey announced that the show was brought to you by the letter “M” and the number “420″.  #With John Popper on harmonica

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What shows do YOU think should be released on LIVE PHISH? Respond in Comments below!

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Bar 17

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on October 30th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Combining elements of classical music, jazz improvisation, and signature searing guitar lines, Bar 17 exists as Trey’s most musically mature and accomplished solo album to date- yet not so many people even know it exists.  Released in 2006 after the Mike & the Italians (GRAB) tour, and featuring more virtuoso musicians than you can shake a stick at, this album is filled with gems, and could be quite the Phish feeder come next year.  With some songs you certainly know, and other you probably don’t, everyone should familiarize themselves with this album before March.

Due to the awkward release time in Trey’ career, during his post-70 Volt Parade days of 2006 in which he toured as The Trey Anasasio Band with Tony Hall on bass, Jeff Sipe on drums, Ray on piano, and backup singers Christina Durfee and Jennifer Hartswick.  Towards the end of this year, in his fall tour, Trey’s inconsistencies on stage became apparent, and while he was playing some of the songs of Bar 17, his newest album never got the musical exploration or fan credit it deserves.  Putting together a collection of over 40 musicians who guest star on various tracks, Trey included everyone from John Medeski to Peter Apfelbaum, Dave Grippo to Marco Benevento, and Mike Gordon to Tony Markelis in his project.

The result is a coherent set of emotionally driven songs that move fluidly from the beginning of the album to the end.  Featuring a string quartet on multiple songs, arranged by Orchestra Nashville’s Don Hart, collaborator on Time Turns Elastic, Trey infused this album with classical influences that blend with his striking guitar tone as if they were meant to go together.  With a mature vibe to the album, some of its pieces wind up in wailing walls of sound and guitar textures that you never saw coming.  It is these types of compositions I think we will see Phish feature prominently in their return.

“What the heck is on this album?” you might be asking.  Well, lets look at the album’s highlights.

Host Across the Potomac: Featured prominently on Mike and the Italians tour (I much prefer that name to the silly acronym of GRAB), this song contains a driving groove during its verses and a sublime resolution in its lyrical and symbolic chorus-  “The time has come, for desks and chairs to be elevated.”  A song that stood out in the summer and fall of 2006, it seems odd that this one was dropped for the time being.  This could very much reemerge in 2009.

Crash Photo

Warfield: Crash Photo

If You’re Walking: A whimsical tune with a catchy melody and percussive beat, this one is a pleasant listen with musical lyrics.  Possessing a mellow groove for Phish to springboard off of, they could develop some interesting jams from this if they chose to play it.  This one doesn’t necessarily have that Phish “sound” that many others on here do, but it could be a welcome addition with jam plugged into the middle before the lyrical reprise.

Bar 17: The title track begins with the a string quartet and a very subdued feel.  Yet as the gorgeous composition progresses, the laid back textures give way to some slowly building guitar work with elements of jazz improvisation highlighted by Trey’s emotive tone.  One of the highlights of the entire album, this was brought out a few times in the fall of 2006.  With an eight and a half minute album version, live versions could be stratospheric.  The diversity of feels contained in this song, along with its soaring poignant peak, could translate Bar 17 into a latter day Phish epic.  This seems likely if you ask me.

Let Me Lie: This song has received its proper due in my coverage of Trey’s recent tour.  It seems to be a new Phish ballad with some improvisation taboot.

What’s Done: This is another song that starts in a very down-tempo place, yet is accented by ripping guitar phrases behind the drone beat.  A song that builds into  “My Bloody Valentine”-eqsue walls of sound and distorted guitar dissonance, this once could be an absolutely psychedelic masterpiece if Phish took it under their wings.  With a climactic lyrical chorus that fits congruently with the musical texture of the song, this one integrates a heavy Pink Floyd influence in creating its massive sound.

Goodbye Head: A compositional masterpiece that was all over Trey’s shows in 2006, he noticeably left it out of his most recent tour.  A tune that 100% sounds it was written specifically for Phish, its uplifting musical path is blissful.  With lyrics of childhood awe written with his daughter, Eliza, Trey has put together the next truly masterful multi-part composition.  With several non-repetitive segments of composition, this one seemed like a perfect fit for Phish when they weren’t around.  A fusion of the precision of Divided Sky with the flowing, tension releasing jam of Reba- we can only hope that this one is being practiced in The Barn over the next months.

A Case of Ice and Snow: A stunning song that was featured prominently on Trey’s Northern Exposure Tour, it appears as an acoustic track on this album.  When performed over the past weeks, A Case of Ice and Snow provided a highlight of many of the shows it was played in.  With an  surreal guitar improvisation, and powerful lyrics, I’m beginning to become convinced that this one will land squarely in late second sets of Phish shows in next year.  It would be breathtaking.

Gloomy Sky: An almost-ambient soundscape with a diverse instrumentation, this song’s music describes the comfort of watching through your window as the rain falls on a gray afternoon.  Boasting beautiful harmonies and appropriately delivered lyrics, this song is one I’d personally love to see Phish incorporate- though I’m not sure everyone would agree with me.  It’s a piece that lends itself to patient, layered improvisation that could land you in another universe without even realizing it.

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Shoreline '03 - photo: unk

Shadow: An “adult-contemporary” sounding song with extremely layered vocal tracks, it provides a slightly more upbeat feel while still retaining the classical-sounding vibe of the album.  Trey’s guitar sprinkles melodies throughout the song before jumping into a spirited guitar solo over the refined backdrop of a string quartet.  Backed heavily by an orchestral arrangement, the vibe of this song would be hard to reproduce with a four piece- even if they are Phish.

Cincinnati: A rarely-played TAB fan favorite found itself onto the last track of Bar 17. This song features a delicately composed introduction, giving way to a impressive horn arrangement and the most driving jazz-rock fusion grooves on the album.  Topping the album with triumphant lyrics and a composition that could find a place in Jesus Christ Superstar, Trey exits his most accomplished album with a more uptempo feel than is characterized throughout.

Honestly, what I am most excited for in Phish’s return is the large amount of new material that we will experience.  Sure, I am extremely psyched to see them drop Tweezers into the abyss, bust mind-expanding Bowies, and rage to twenty-minute YEMs.  But this comeback is not about nostalgia; it is not about the past.  This comeback is about now- where the band members are at this point in their lives- and the music they play will most definitely reflect that.  I can’t wait to discover what pieces Phish will choose to unveil, and am more excited to see where they will take them.  While Phish will certainly sprinkle their classic jam vehicles throughout their shows, the parts that will be the most exciting will be the parts uncharted and unknown.

Isn’t that what this is all about anyway?

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.16.08 Trey and Classic TAB, Roseland Ballroom < LINK

This one comes by popular request, as Roseland was the only recent Trey show not posted to Phish Thoughts during the tour.  With a lack of audience sources, I wasn’t able to readily find one while on the road.  But thanks to Ginseng Jeff, my man behind the music, we have a 320kbps copy for your enjoyment.  A solid tour opener, this opened the door for the smoking seven shows that followed.  Enjoy this last installment of Trey’s Northern Exposure Tour!

I: Sand, Cayman Review, Let Me Lie, Gotta Jibboo, Dragonfly, First Tube
II: Alaska, Last Tube, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Valentine, Drifting, Brian and Robert*, Chalkdust Torture*, The Way I Feel, Spin
E: Heavy Things, Burlap Sack and Pumps

*acoustic

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SATURDAY (3/7)  HAMPTON TICKET CONTEST: I have been contacted by Dr. Trip, who is running a contest on his blog for one free Saturday night Hampton Ticket.  The contest details are here! You have to purchase $25 dollars of merchandise form his site to be eligible.  WIth the ticket madness going on, I’d thought I’d pass this opportunity along.

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“Sitting in Limbo” (full song) Richmond, VA

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The Next Phish Album

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on October 29th, 2008 by Mr.Miner
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Richmond - photo: unk

With the abundance of new material showcased on Trey’s just-completed tour, combined with the knowledge that he and Tom Marshall have a host of other songs we have yet to hear, a new Phish album is certainly on the rise.  With no shows scheduled between now and Hampton, the open months could be possibly cleared out for studio time.  However, the band could decide to let their multitude of new songs develop a life of their own before laying them down on a record- a trend that has held true for most of the band’s career.  Yet, with Round Room and Undermind, this pattern flip-flopped, as they recorded the former without debuting any of the tracks, and the latter after playing only three.  Which way will they go this time?  It is an intriguing question.

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photo: unk

In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this summer, Mike was very transparent in the fact that a new Phish album would happen- one way or another.  Mentioning that Phish had already been in contact with producer Steve Lillywhite, who worked on their most acclaimed album, Billy Breathes, the new album “rumor” was very much substantiated by Gordon’s candor.  Lillywhite has been currently working on a U2 project in Europe, with an album that is slated to drop in early 2009.  A collaboration with other legendary producers Brian Eno, and Daniel Lanois, this team effort could potentially free up Lillywhite for Phish sooner than later, but more likely than not, keep him in Europe.  If they wanted to record, there are obviously other great producers.

Yet, if there is one thing we have come to know about Phish, it is not to have expectations.  Whether talking about a show, a setlist, an album, or simply a jam- with no expectations comes no disappointment.  Personally, I’d like to see Phish take that time off to learn Trey’s new songs, and some of Phish’s old ones, and practice their bums off up in The Barn.  Seeing songs live before hearing them on wax certainly curtails any expectations you might grow for them, while allowing the songs to naturally evolve into what they will become.  Once their jams have some sort of pre-recorded direction- more often than not, the band will follow that predestined place.  A perfect example of this phenomenon is “Walls of the Cave” from Round Room, a song that, in my opinion, has never reached its potential.  Given the ability to grow naturally, without the album version, the improvisational “silent trees” section might not have wound up being virtually identical every time.  But because that was the way they recorded it, I suspect they had a natural proclivity to go right there.  Knowing where the jam was going before it even came out to play, the excitement and freedom of the song was limited.

Shaun Krouse

Richmond - photo: Shaun Krouse

When you think of all the potential songs that might be on the forthcoming album, it could easily become a more mature studio masterpiece.  Just to name the songs we are aware of “Greyhound Rising,” “Light,” “Backwards Down the Number Line,” “Valentine,” “Peggy,” “Gone,” and “Ruby Waves.”  And those are just Trey’s songs.  With much material yet to be debuted, and more yet to be written, this album, whenever it is recorded is going to surprise people both inside and outside the Phish community.  All that being said, here’s to hoping they just play now and record later!  Phish albums are great, some better than others, but the studio will never be the magic carpet that the stage is for the production of Phish music.

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HAMPTON SIMULCAST PETITION UPDATE: Fan, Greg Doucette started a petition that I posted on here a few weeks back to get the Hampton shows simulcasted around the nation.  So far his petition has reached 10,000 signatures- a great start- but he really wants to get it doubled to 20,000 people before he presents it to Phish and their management.  It is even getting media coverage! Even if you have tickets and are going to Hampton, think of all the people that won’t be able to fit in the building that are dying to be a part of these epic nights.  Take a minute and sign the petition for the good of all!  It is linked right here:  CLICK HERE TO SIGN SIMULCAST PETITION!!

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DOWNLOADS OF THE DAY:

11.21.97 Hampton Coliseum REMASTER < LINK

Preview: Ghost RMSTR< roll over and press play

11.22.97 Hampton Coliseum REMASTER < LINK

Preview: Tweezer RMSTR<roll over and press play

Ok- back to the Phish music.  Here we have the classic 1997 Hampton weekend remastered by Paul Shapera Gwynne-Craig, the man behind the recent remaster of 12.6.97 that everyone has been raving about!  He has put hours into making these sound as crispy as possible and uploading them for the Phish Thoughts community.  He is currently working on another Phish masterpiece- 12.28.98- so look out for that coming soon!  Until then, enjoy these mint sounding Hampton shows from the annals of Phish history!(single song downloads)

HAMPTON COLISEUM, Phisheads.com

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