Archive for 1993

Rift – The Concept Album

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 4, 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.

Weekend Nuggets: The Palace Theatre ’93

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 24, 2009 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOADS OF THE WEEKEND:

img_0645This weekend we have two soundboard copies of a classic two-night stand in Albany during May of 1993.  Both are beautiful relics of a bygone are; standout shows from the “speedjazz” era of 1993.  Enjoy!

5.5.93 The Palace Theatre, Albany, NY SBD < LINK

I: Rift, Guelah Papyrus, Foam, Sparkle, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, It’s Ice, Glide, Maze, Golgi Apparatus

II: Runaway Jim, My Friend My Friend > Manteca > My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart, Weigh, Big Ball Jam, Ya Mar, You Enjoy Myself*

E: Amazing Grace, Cavern > Take the A-Train > Cavern

*Jam with Aquarium Rescue Unit and the Dude of Life.

5.6.93 The Palace Theatre, ALbany, NY SBD < LINK

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Mound, Split Open and Melt, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, All Things Reconsidered, Llama, Fluffhead, Possum, Lawn Boy*, Why You Been Gone so Long**, Tennessee Waltz**, Fast Train**

II: Suzy Greenberg, Tweezer, Tela, Uncle Pen, Big Ball Jam, The Squirming Coil, Mike’s Song > Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da jam* > Rocky Top*, HYHU > Cracklin’ Rosie > HYHU, That’s Alright Mama**

E: Sweet Adeline, Contact, Tweezer Reprise

*With Dick Solberg on fiddle. **With Dick Solberg on fiddle and Jeff Walton on acoustic guitar.

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VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:

“Mike’s Song > H2” 3.31.92 Columbia, MO

“Weekapaug” 3.31.92

Relix From the Roxy & Weekend Nuggets

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 22, 2008 by Mr.Miner

l85470k65maIn recent news, Phish has just released an 8-CD box set chronicling their amazing three-night stint at The Roxy Theatre in Atlanta during February of 1993.  Most everyone is familiar with the famous 2.20.93 show containing the classic second set segue fest, melting tastes of many songs within a Tweezer and a Mikes Groove.  With teases galore demonstrated the band’s playful direction and exuberance at the time, this one is a true relic from the analog age.

images5However, few are familiar with the two shows surrounding this classic.  For a taste of the first night and a sampling of the sound quality on this release, Relix Magazine is sponsoring a free download of “Funky Bitch w/ Jimmy Herring” from 2.19.93.  Grab it now for a SBD copy of this special guest appearance!

2531310729_779cfb7cbfOnce digging deeper into the first show, one will discover a smoking “Split Open and Melt” as well as an entertaining “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” during the first set.  Yet, the set highlight is certainly the closing “David Bowie,” including a “Moby Dick” jam in the intro and frighteningly tight section of grooving improv.  The second set unveils an extended YEM excursion and a guest appearance from guitarist, Jimmy Herring on “Funky Bitch,” “My Sweet One,” and “Llama.”

The third show, 2.21, also includes its share of standout jams.  The front-runner is the second set sequence of “Stash > Manteca > Stash” with the first set closing Antelope right behind.  With a bluegrass-style “Good Times, Bad Times” encore, Phish continued their silliness before Reverend Jeff Mosier joined them on stage to close the show with a bit more bluegrass.

With crystal clear sound quality, and eight full CDs (including the 6.24.00 Atlanta Tweezer as filler!), this proper box set will not disappoint.  Jump over to Relix’s download to check out the free “Funky Bitch” and decide for yourself!  Expect more archival releases like this in the near future as the Phish business is having a comeback of their own.

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rumorSUMMER TOUR RUMORS: They keep rolling in from multiple sources.  In addition to the Bonaroo and four night Red Rocks run that I previously reported, word has it that Phish will be visiting The Gorge for three nights and Shoreline for three nights this summer.  These additional rumors enhance the credence of my theory that we will see a tour comprised of multiple mini-runs.  If we are to believe what has been floating around, Phish is up to 11 shows this summer already, and we haven’t heard anything about the east coast yet!  The excitement just keeps coming- stay tuned!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE WEEKEND:

7.31.93 Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta, GA < LINK

Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta, GA

Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta

Following Phish’s legendary run at The Roxy, they next returned to Atlanta that summer on 7.31, standing on the brink of their hallowed month of August.  A standout Mike’s > Leprechaun > Weekapaug provided the centerpiece of the second set.  The Mike’s features prominent jamming on Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker,” while Leprechaun was played for its third and final time ever. With some ripping classics like Split, “Foam,” and “Mound,” and some old school ’93 covers of “Daniel Saw the Stone” and “Highway to Hell,” this show will be a nice addition to your digital collection. Enjoy!

I: Rift, Sample in a Jar, Ya Mar, Split Open and Melt, Mound, Foam, Nellie Cane, The Divided Sky, Cavern

II: Wilson, Runaway Jim, It’s Ice, Maze, Sparkle, Mike’s Song > Leprechaun > Weekapaug Groove, Purple Rain > HYHU, Daniel, Highway to Hell

E: AC/DC Bag, Freebird

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VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:
“Split Open and Melt” 7.31.93 Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta, GA

Classic Phish: 12.30.93

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 15, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Once upon a time, there was one analog tape- one set- that I played twice as much as all my others.  It was just that good.  Forward, backward- I played it over and over and over again.  This is the story of that tape.  After stepping up their game in August of ’93, concluding a very successful summer tour, Phish took the fall off from touring.  The next time the band hit the stage, they embarked on their customary December New Year’s Run tucked into the Northeast.  It is this New Years Run that produced 12.30.93, one of the best Phish shows in history, and the outlandishly over-played analog tape of my yesteryears was the second set of this show.

Coming on a brisk snowy night in Portland, ME, this show cemented Cumberland County Civic Center as an ultimately Phishy venue.  With the stage designed as a massive aquarium for the New Years’ Run, Phish dove deeply on this evening.  Still regarded as one of the marquee performances of the band’s career, 12.30.93 was an instant classic, and its absence in the Live Phish series boggles the mind.  Wasting no time at all, the band opened up with a thick and grooving David Bowie that incorporated some masterful teasing of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”  This initial jam of the show was so locked and patient, clearly illustrating the level of synchronicity the band felt on this night.  The show would only grow from this point forward.

Bowie’s greeting gave way to a typical first set series of non-improvisational songs, with a Curtain > Sample, and a Forbin’s > Mockingbird both highlights of this string.  Before closing the set with an a capella Freebird, the band stopped off for a short Bathtub Gin that featured some thematic and flowing improv before moving into some chugging uncharted territory.  Peaking pretty wildly, this Gin balanced out the dark Bowie that opened- but in reality, this was all just warm up.

Improving exponentially each year in the early ’90s, Phish commanded your attention every night at the end of 1993.   Something to behold and now listen to, with a total commitment to the entity of Phish, the band blossomed so fast, like one of those scientific time-lapse clips, from the years 1991-1995.  Coming at the end of a huge year of growth for Phish, they were about to play one of the best sets of their lives.

Like they did for almost every single Summer show in 1993, Phish came out for set two and opened up with their newly discovered instrumental cover of Deodato’s arrangement of “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”  Coupled with a new light rig that debuted over the summer, allowing Kuroda to both move and change colors of lights for the first time, people were getting the first glimpse of the new, more futuristic look of Phish.  These new lights, now contained indoors for the first time ever, upped the ante of the Phish experience.   “2001,” as it became known, was simply a three minute intro to each set during 1993- a little space-funk to get things moving.  This time, the band immediately launched into the New Years Run’s Mike’s Song.

Crisply moving through the initial couple minutes, when the jam dropped, the place exploded, and Phish moved into one of the greatest Mike’s ever played.  Period.  Enough cannot be said about the quality and sheer perfection of this jam- pure Phish.  With the classic focus on the second jam of the song, (inexplicably dropped in later years), it was here that the Phish tapped into existential forces and simply channeled the universe’s energy.  With all band members just going off as one, this Mike’s defines the ethos- the fundamental spirit- of Phish.  Ranging from bliss to terror, this jam does not let up for one second, before it seamlessly moves into Horse > Silent.  Only twelve minutes long, this Mike’s is potentially twelve of the best minutes of Phish’s career.  Listen yourself before you tell me I’m exaggerating.  It’s amazing how “compact” Phish jams were back then, so much madness in a short amount of time- no nonsense playing.

photo - wolfgangsvault.com

Phish 1993: photo - wolfgangsvault.com

The dream setlist continued with a mid-set Punch You In the Eye.  Coming in an unexpected slot, Punch picked the dark energy in the building right back up again.  Directly following the tightly executed version, the band dropped right into McGrupp which dissolved into the beginning of Weekapaug, closing the “dream” Mike’s Groove.  This Weekapaug features prominent Trey shredding throughout, and the band members just firing like the pistons of a automobile.  This is some full-on no-hesitation jamming that illustrates the style of Phish at the end of one of their greatest years of improvement.

A then typical Fishman segment of Prince’s Purple Rain came next before the band closed the set with a rare and majestic Slave to the Traffic Light.  Busted out in Cincinnati on August 6, of ’93, Slave had been tucked away for two years and 241 shows.  Played only one other time, at their first Red Rocks show on 8.20.93, the band, supposedly responding to a front row request, played their delicate jam vehicle as the emotional crescendo of this set of pure Phish fire.  The song, being so rare at the time, got the full treatment with one of the more emotionally intricate and directed builds of all-time. This is ten minutes of sonic bliss.

After sets like this, encores mean nothing, but if you’re keeping score, they played a Rocky Top, and a Good Times, Bad Times to end this version of 12.30- the best night of the year.  So you can see why I kept listening to that analog tape over and over and over again- this set will hold up to any set ever played to this day.  If you’re not yet convinced, download it below and let Phish convince you.

LISTEN TO THE 12.30.93 MIKE’S SONG NOW!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.30.93 Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland, ME <<LINK!

This is an amazing matrix recording of one of the best Phish shows of all time.  If you don’t have this, grab it now!

I: David Bowie, Weigh, The Curtain > Sample in a Jar, Paul and Silas, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, Rift, Bathtub Gin, Freebird

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Mike’s Song > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Punch You in the Eye, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Weekapaug Groove> Purple Rain, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Rocky Top, Good Times Bad Times

(The songs aren’t labeled by name, only track number.)