With their ever-expanding use of technology coupled with their desire to hype up Festival 8, yesterday Phish posted a “gallery” of 99 outstanding albums as the splash page on their web site, introduced by a Festival 8 invitation with the simple instructions: “Phish – Play the Last Record Alive.” Much like the Save the Date map that preceded this haunted galleria, albums have already been “killed off,” with Medeski Martin & Wood’s Shack Man, Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes, Huey Lewis’ and the News’ Sports, Talking Head’s Fear of Music, and Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man quickly getting the axe- literally. And much like the wild-goose chase of their Save the Date map, this list of albums could be just that.
With a list of 99 records, Phish put almost every Halloween suggestion ever made on the table and then some. The site includes many albums we all know, and most likely quite a few we don’t all know, giving us time to familiarize ourselves with some. With a reputation of playing more obscure albums, some of the most popular recordings like, Led Zeppelin’s I or IV, The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” or “Electric Ladyland” seem unlikely for Halloween. This gallery of possibilities also contains contemporary classics such as Radiohead’s Kid A, U2’s The Joshua Tree, Rage Against The Machine’s Evil Empire, Nirvana’s Nevermind, and Pearl Jam’s Ten. Although we’ve never seen Phish tackle a modern-day work in full, maybe this will be the year. In my gut, however, this also seems unlikely.
With defining albums of many genres and eras, along with several obscure gems, the gallery also hangs some records for humor of the imagination- see the offerings from Pork Tornado, Hall & Oates, Kiss, Metallica and Black Sabbath. (Some great albums, yes. Real possibilities, no.) At this point, it’s very difficult to take anything from Phish at face value, making me think this could be ploy to increase interest, boost lagging ticket sales, and divert attention from fall tour speculation.
But what is going to happen with this gallery? Are we going to know what the album is beforehand?! I seriously doubt it. At the same time, I don’t even want the possibilities narrowed to five- that would be incredibly anti-climactic, as the audience has traditionally known nothing about the bands’ musical costume when walking into the venue on Halloween night. While “The White Album” and Quadrophenia weren’t revealed until the set began, Remain In Light and Loaded were unveiled via “Phishbills” handed out as everyone entered the arena – but never has there been any level of knowledge before hand. This album elimination is a clever idea, but I think they should stop at a certain number to maintain the suspense of the evening. Is it going to be one of two options walking in? That would be strange.
Personally, I loved not knowing Remain In Light, and Loaded when Phish bust them out – it was like a genuine costume; a mystery to me. Each album had at least one song everyone knew (“Once In a Lifetime,” “Sweet Jane” and/or “Rock and Roll,” making it just familiar enough, but making the musical journey a genuine trip. Knowing the album well made for an entirely different – completely surreal – experience with Dark Side, but that was Dark Side. While knowledge of the album note for note can bring enhanced appreciation, it can also carry preconceptions. Would I like to know the album when they play it – for sure. But I’m not gonna chase down every album on this list that I don’t know – and there are many – in the hopes of discovering the music that might transpire, though I’ll definitely download a few. Whether this gallery is a trick or a treat, Phish has certainly exposed us to a plethora of classic albums, a great resource in itself. And in the end, their choice is most likely on the screen right now – but who knows if it has been killed already? Halloween is all about the rising of the dead, is it not? With the masters of trickery at the helm, the suspense never ends.
Jam of the Day:
This set opening “Wolfman’s” highlights Phish’s ambient jamming they added to the mix during of Fall ’98. Moving out of the funk and into spacier textures, this little-known version kicked off a significant second set in Greenville, SC. The half-empty, brand-new arena was the perfect locale for a mid-week throwdown. (Note: Yesterday’s “Reba > Walk Away” is fixed.)
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
9.28.99 Oak Mountain Amp, Pelham, AL < Torrent
9.28.99 Oak Mountain Amp, Pelham, AL < Megaupload
On the topic of mid-week throwdowns, here we another that celebrated its ten-year anniversary just yesterday. After a rainy afternoon in the lot, Phish lit a fire inside the southern amphitheatre, bringing hot dance grooves right off the bat. Opening the show with”Wolfman’s,” “Sneakin’ Sally” and “Tube,” Phish set the plate with a hearty dose of funk. “Harry Hood” made a rare appearance as the first set closer, while “Tweezer > Makisupa” and a blowout “YEM” sealed the deal on a great evening in Alabama.
I: Wolfman’s Brother, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Tube, Ginseng Sullivan > Roggae, Maze, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Harry Hood
II: Farmhouse, Heavy Things, First Tube, Tweezer > Makisupa Policeman, Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself
E Halley’s Comet > Tweezer Reprise
Source: Schoeps CMC 641 > Apogee AD-1000 > DA-P1