Category: Phish

Phish – Rift

ARTIST: Phish                                        220px-Phish_Rift

TITLE: Rift

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: #51

SINGLES: Fast Enough for You, The Wedge

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m sure Phish fans know this album by heart

LINEUP: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, John Fishman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A concept album that’s not weighed down by the story, instead it gives focus to the band’s song structure.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Phish’s second major label record is a concept album, loosely, about someone dreaming of a fight with their partner. That’s enough of a limitation so Phish can’t just meander and wander, at least in the studio.

What results is a mostly playful album despite the subject matter and tone – constructing dreams and visions at times allows more playful tunes to hide darker subjects. It also spotlights Phish’s vocal ability, which at times is overwhelmed by their jamming.

This record may convince non-fans to give them a chance. The musicianship is incredible, as usual, and the only downfall is their normal one – even with constrained storylines, they tend to meander.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “All Things Reconsidered” is a variation of the theme from the NPR news program.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: As concise as they could be, it’s a good listen beginning to end.

Phish – A Picture of Nectar

ARTIST: Phish                                   a_picture_of_nectar_phish_album_-_cover_art

TITLE:  A Picture of Nectar

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Chalk Dust Torture, Cavern

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Tweezer, Llama, Stash

LINEUP: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman. Gordon Stone played pedal steel and banjo.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Phish’ major label debut is a long, sprawling album full of various styles and genres. Most of it works, but some things sounds like goofs and that detracts somewhat from the flow of it all.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Even though Phish signed with Elektra Records, they didn’t change their approach or style in the least. Their well-honed stage jams again morphed into surprisingly tight, taut tracks.

The musical virtuosity by the band is all over the album. Trey Anastasio’s guitar work is fantastic throughout, and there is a playful spirit, especially on songs like “Tweezer”.

Yet, they suffer from the bane of many bands at this time – since CD’s had a lot more time than vinyl, bands felt they needed to fill most of the available minutes. Thus, there’s some tracks here that are just mindless noodling around, or things that probably sounded neat at the time, but didn’t work out that way.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Nectar’s was the club in Burlington where they first played.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B:  Great at times, indulgent at other times.

 

Phish – Lawn Boy

ARTIST: Phish 220px-Lawn_Boy_cover
TITLE: Lawn Boy
YEAR RELEASED: 1990
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: None
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Reba, Bouncing Around the Room
LINEUP: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, John Fishman.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album, and first one picked up by a major label, from the jam band finds them jamming seriously or being silly.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There are some cuts on this, the second Phish album, that showcase the complexity and ingenuity of this band. And there are some cuts that seem like throwaways. In honesty, the throwaways may be offloading points for some live jams, but on an album, they do seem a bit pointless.

Trey Anastasio and company, when they do play seriously and for real, are locked in and spot on. While “Reba” may go on a couple of more minutes than it should, it’s still a great representation of them. “Bouncing Around the Room” could have / should have given them some radio play (maybe it did on some progressive stations).

There’s a lot of silly gunk here, though, and even with Anastasio and others playing well behind it, the silliness overwhelms. It’s a record you need to skip through.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They won the initial session time at the battle of the bands in Vermont.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. The first copies had a cut from their first album, though.

GRADE: B: The good’s really good, but there’s some silly fluff here.

 

Phish – Junta

ARTIST: Phish

TITLE: Junta220px-PhishJunta88

YEAR RELEASED: 1989

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: (Non-Phish Phreak Division) – You Enjoy Myself, Fluffhead.

LINEUP: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, John Fishman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The for-reals debut record by Phish, independently recorded and released on cassette, sets the modus operandi for the group.

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Not being a Phish-head, I added their catalog into consideration into my library with a little trepidation. I do have a dislike for the self-indulgent and meandering ways of jam bands, and didn’t really know how Phish would handle themselves in the studio.

Welp, I was surprised.

Sure, there’s some noodling, and a couple songs aren’t my cuppa, but this is mostly tight, well recorded, and diverse. They have some serious chops, but unlike prog rockers they’re not taking themselves seriously. They sound like they’re having fun playing. It’s long but it’s a good listen.

 

NOTES & MINUTAE: This was released on cassette, and re-released on Elektra when Phish broke out. For a cassette only recording this sounds tremendous.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  Yes. Elektra appended three tracks (two live, one studio), and well, um, they’re what I feared about jam bands. Fortunately, they’re bonus tracks from the cassette release so I can exile them with no regrets.
GRADE: B+: Much better than I thought it would be, and there are some really enjoyable moments even if I find a couple of songs tedious.