Archive for Albums

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.

Hey, Remaster This!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 8, 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!

Bar 17

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 30, 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.

unk

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


The Next Phish Album

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 29, 2008 by Mr.Miner
unk

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.

unk

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

The Siket Disc

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on September 17, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Phish is a live band whose musical essence lives in their on-stage improvisation.  Because of this truth, their many attempts at studio albums throughout their pre-1997 career, never truly captured their live sound.  With 1996’s Billy Breathes, they had finally succeeded in making an industry-accepted and widely acclaimed studio album, yet it still didn’t reflect their live sound.  In the days following Phish’s Winter 1997 Europe tour, where they had fully completed their funk transformation, the band stepped into Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY with a new approach to their work.

Having discovered a looser approach to their live jamming, the band decided to bring that approach into the studio.  Throughout 1997 and 1998, they would be in and out of the studio for sessions of straight improvisation.  Phish had no preconceptions of what would come out of these Bearsville Sessions, and the goal was just to create.  After the sessions, the band went back and listened to their jams, and began to write songs around the most interesting and catchy sections.  This was how The Story Of the Ghost came to be. On the album, the tracks existed as shorter ghost-like apparitions of the songs they represented, often fading in and out without any hard endings.  A true concept album, The Story of the Ghost came closest to representing their live sound.  However, when the band released their favorite outtakes from their sessions of March 11-15, and September 29-October 2 of 1997, on an instrumental album The Siket Disc, a new level of studio and live sonic resemblance emerged.

Page went back and listened to the material not used on their official release, selecting portions of music he found particularly interesting.  These portions were then brought to engineer, John Siket, who mixed the selections- but there was never any other music played on the album.  No overdubs, no retakes, just snippets of live Phish- in the studio.  Totaling nine instrumental, bordering on ambient, tracks, The Siket Disc was a instant favorite of fans favoring more abstract Phish soundscapes and darker psychedelia.  When it dropped less than a month before summer tour on June 3, 1999, many fans wondered if these live outtakes would somehow be incorporated into the upcoming tour.

Needing to wait no longer than two sets to find out the answer, late in the second set of Bonner Springs’ tour opener, Phish started a dark ambient jam out of Bug that built into layered sheets of distorted sound, eventually segueing into the beginning of Stash.  Phish had just debuted “My Left Toe,” the first track of The Siket Disc. This abstract jam would work its way into setlists all summer long, providing dark intros, and outros for jams- the most glorious coming in an dark-turned-blissful extended exploration at Star Lake on 7.21.  In addition, the post-apocalyptic sounds of “What’s the Use,” the album’s most impressive track, regularly worked into sets as well.  With such precision, melody, percussion, and subconscious bass work, it’s hard to believe that this “song” is really just a jam.  Transforming into a composed piece, this heavy musical segment was awe-inspiring to see live, and helped define the 1999 sound.

“The Name Is Slick,” evokes the feel of a late-night smoky jazz club, and it’s choppy guitar licks came straight out of Trey’s repertoire.  The track’s melodies appeared live both before and after the disc’s release.  The “Slick” melodies are particularly prominent in the Great Wood’s Split from 7.12.99.  “The Happy Whip and Dung Song,” a track sonically resembling a crazed psychedelic merry-go-round, made one live appearance in Alpine Valley’s huge second set of 7.24.99, out of the end of Mango song.  The only other track off The Siket Disc to appear live was “Quadrophonic Toppling,” a soundscape that came at the end of the gargantuan 40 minute Big Cypress “Sand,” cementing its place in the annals of Phish history.

Mere snippets of improvisation, The Siket Disc, brought forth studio-set Phish jams, that when compiled into an album, transports the listener right into the middle of Phish jams.  With no context surrounding the deep musical segments, it’s not necessarily an album for Phish beginners; but when you know what’s going on, it emerges as Phish’s most creative and interesting album to date.

1.4.03 (Weekapaug >) What’s the Use

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

Miner’s Picks: Summer ’96 & Miner’s Picks: Fall ’96 (links below)

Because these didn’t make it up to the site until the end of the day yesterday, I wanted to give you a chance to download this great music.  Totaling 15 hours, it covers most all essential 1996 Phish, as they moved toward a new sound.  I am giving you second links right below here, but the track listings, and original links, are in the previous post. Enjoy!

MINER’S PICKS: SUMMER’ 96 PT. 1

MINER’S PICKS: SUMMER ’96 PT. 2

MINER’S PICKS: FALL ’96 PT. 1

MINER’S PICKS: FALL ’96 PT. 2

MINER’S PICKS: FALL ’96 PT. 3

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In other news, with all the Phish hubbub these days, Scott Bernstein, of Hidden Track fame has started a Phish portal site called You Enjoy MyBlog.  With links to articles, videos, and audio downloads, its a place for all things Phishy. Check it Out!

Gordeaux and The Green Sparrow

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 13, 2008 by Mr.Miner

While Trey’s weekend has captured the headlines in Phishland, our very own secret agent, Mike Gordon, has been on mission of his own, out on the road touring behind his new album, The Green Sparrow.  With most every song on the album led by prominent big round melodic bass lines, Gordon is certainly the musical lead and centerpiece of his band.  While teaming up with a host of different musicians on the album, he is currently touring with guitarist Scott Murawski, keyboardist Tom Cleary, drummer Todd Isler, and percussionist Craig Myers; and reviews have been stellar.  The album has a distinctly Gordeaux feel to it with quirky lyrics, smooth rhythms, and a very listenable vibe.  The vocals sound particularly good, as Gordon shows off his range and control on tracks that he dedicated a year to writing.  A shift away from the calypso feeling of his previous collaboration with acoustic guitar craftsman, Leo Kotke, on Sixty-Six Steps, The Green Sparrow is definitely a rock and roll album strewn with Mike’s eccentric and unique funk bass lines.  With an eighteen-month creative process behind the album, The Green Sparrow exists as Gordon’s most developed and focused solo effort.

Some tracks that are typical of the albums large rhythms and smooth harmonies are the opening track “Another Door,” “Dig Further Down,” and “Radar Blip.”  Although Gordon seems intent on keeping this band together regardless of a Phish comeback, it would be hard to imagine that a few songs would not leak into the Phish repertoire.  Ironically, the three Phishiest songs come right in a row on the album in “Pretend,” “Traveled Too Far,” and “Andelmans’ Yard.”  A collaboration with Trey, Page, and Bill Kreutzmann, “Traveled Too Far” seems like a shoe in, and defintely has a place for Phish to explore the rock/bluesy textures of the song.  I can hear Phish playing “Pretend,” a love song to an an unknown woman, as a mellow and groovy stop late in their set, with lush vocal harmonies and a Trey solo at the end.  It would be great to see them adopt “Andelmans’ Yard,” an upbeat funky song with which Phish could really create cool jams in the vein of Undermind‘s “Access Me.”

It is interesting that little has been heard from Gordon’s tour, though people who have seen shows have nothing but good things to say.  On the road through the first week of September, everyone still has a great chance to see him as he will be hitting venues, literally, all over the nation.  Gordon is one who loves to tour, and on more than one occasion, has referred to Phish tour as a “mission” he was on, and how it never grew tiresome, regardless of the stresses it put on his bandmates.  That being said, he is surely happy to be touring again, as his circuit is hitting New Mexico, Nebraska, Minnesota, Oregon as well as all the big markets.  (New Yorkers- Highline-tonight!-8.13)  Take the time and check it out, it really highlights Mike and the sound is infectious, and unlike previous solo albums, very danceable.

Mike Gordon Band 8.5.08 in Richmond, VA- sleeveless.

(This is the best clip I could find- the audio is not that hot.)