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Phish - Phish [Aka: The White Tape] CD (album) cover

PHISH [AKA: THE WHITE TAPE]

Phish

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3 stars This is Phish's first album, originally recorded in 1986 and distributed as one of their demo tapes during their early shows. It's a studio album, but a low budget one, and the bootlegs handed out didn't ahve the best audio quality. Nevertheless they cleaned it up quite well, but you will notice that the sound quality is limited in comparison to their other albums. It's a very good album, and probably their most experimental and progressive, but doesn't really fall into the prog genre.

The first part of the album is pretty much straight forward rock, albeit laid back rock. You'll hear mostly blues and jazz inspired songs, as well as several songs that would appear in a more developed form on later albums including The Divided Sky, Run Like an Antelope, You Enjoy Myself, Fluff's Travels, the Oh Kee Pa Ceremony and Slave to the Traffic Light. AC/DC Bag being part of the concept album Trey had written for his senior project. This second album "The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday" was never officially released, but live versions of all of the songs (which are superior to the studio versions) are available across the many live albums Phish has released.

The second half of the album is more instrumental, and a lot weirder. Songs like NO2 and He Ent to the Bog are quite trippy in some ways, and funny in others. It's quite psychedelic, and you can hear some velvet underground influence on some of these songs.

If you're a fan of Phish, and want to check out how they sounded when they were just starting out, definitely get this one. I wouldn't start with it though, it's a little bit too out there for some. Junta, Lawn Boy, Picture of Nectar and Rift are essential for prog fans though.

Report this review (#73286)
Posted Monday, March 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Raw Phish vs. Cooked Phish

Phish's White Tape is the first recording effort they did way back in 1984, and marked for a great series of albums by the band. Of course it did, but is it worth it to buy? Well...yes, I would say so. This was of course back when they still hadn't replaced Grateful Dead as the new hip jam-band of the eighties. Instead, they were a bunch of young men who decided to have some fun and make a neat little record. Thus, they weren't as much devling into the experimental side of rock as much as they would later on albums like A Picture of Nectar and Rift. But aye, do not fret yea phellow Phish-head, these younger versions of the amazing musicians you know today are still there, but maybe not as chiseled musically.

Seeing as this was a very low-budget project for Phish at the time, the production is nothing short of mediocre. I mean, a college-studio recorded cassette shouldn't be expected to have the quality of a top notch platinum release. The entire album retains a gritty, non-filtered quality which, as a whole, gives the band a rawer intensity that you see rarely on their later albums, where they prefer to lay back and just jam to whatever the feel like.

It's really interesting to listen to these jams that I know so well from listening to live Phish material on this album in it's original form. A song that really comes to mind is 'AC/DC Bag', a song that lead singer and guitarist Trey Anastasio wrote back in college. To quote from Phish.net: "The lyrics to this groove-rock tune speak of a certain Mr. Palmer, who is most decidedly "concerned with the thousand- dollar question." He is about to be hanged by the AC/DC Bag (the name of Wilson's plug-in, robotized, bag-headed executioner) under orders from Wilson himself." One of the most recognized song perhaps from the album, and is most likely the most played song from it on Phish's live track list repertoire. Usually extended three-times over length wise, Phish does really make the most of 'Bag' when they do play it. It's quite the spectacular jazz-influenced track that holds much water in my mind. 'Divided Sky' is another one of my favorites, yet it's painfully short and I wish that it could have been extended to a minimum of three minutes. The rest of the album is good, but I would say that the other tracks are pretty forgettable.

So, if you are interested in Phish's history or comeuppance, I suggest that you give this a try. Although, I would not go so far as to say it is an excellent addition to a prog-minded fellow.

Report this review (#1355665)
Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | Review Permalink

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