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PHISH

Prog Related • United States


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Phish biography
: : : Mix of Improvisations, Jazz, Rock, Blues, Folk and Progressive : : :


PHISH, a US band, was formed in 1983 at the University of Vermont by guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio, rhythm guitarist Jeff Holdsworth, and drummer Jonathan Fishman, later joined by bassist Mike Gordon. Jeff soon left the band (he found religion) and Page McConnell joined on keyboards, finalizing the lineup.

PHISH began playing at local clubs in Burlington, and their live shows gained a reputation for extended improvisational jams. Their musical ethos is a playful mix of skilled improvisation, psychedelic rock, folk, bluegrass, funk, a capella/barbershop quartet, and intricate compositions. Some of their original compositions (such as "Theme from the Bottom" and "Farmhouse") tend towards a psychedelic-rock and bluegrass fusion, with more rock and funk elements than the GRATEFUL DEAD and other earlier so-called jam bands. Their more epic compositions (such as "The Divided Sky" and "You Enjoy Myself") are often said to resemble classical music in a rock setting.

They recorded their debut album, "Junta" in 1988, and began touring nationally soon after, playing 150 concerts in 1990 alone.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phish

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PHISH shows & tickets


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PHISH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

PHISH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 74 ratings
Junta
1989
3.95 | 45 ratings
Lawn Boy
1990
3.71 | 48 ratings
Picture of Nectar
1992
4.04 | 49 ratings
Rift
1993
2.85 | 7 ratings
Crimes Of The Mind (with The Dude Of Life)
1994
3.05 | 29 ratings
Hoist
1994
3.30 | 37 ratings
Billy Breathes
1996
3.34 | 33 ratings
The Story of the Ghost
1998
3.00 | 8 ratings
Phish [i.e. The White Tape]
1998
3.13 | 28 ratings
Farmhouse
2000
2.89 | 9 ratings
The Siket Disc
2000
3.32 | 23 ratings
Round Room
2002
2.96 | 22 ratings
Undermind
2004
3.51 | 22 ratings
Joy
2009
5.00 | 1 ratings
Party Time
2009
3.22 | 14 ratings
Fuego
2014

PHISH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.12 | 25 ratings
A Live One
1995
3.69 | 24 ratings
Slip, Stitch and Pass
1997
3.44 | 9 ratings
Hampton Comes Alive
1999
3.93 | 5 ratings
Live Phish 01
2001
4.44 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 02
2001
4.00 | 4 ratings
Live Phish 03
2001
4.60 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 04
2001
3.07 | 5 ratings
Live Phish 05
2001
4.00 | 3 ratings
Live Phish 06
2001
3.67 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 07
2002
4.00 | 4 ratings
Live Phish 08
2002
3.94 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 09
2002
4.39 | 5 ratings
Live Phish 10
2002
4.87 | 12 ratings
Live Phish 11
2002
4.79 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 12
2002
4.00 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 13
2002
3.26 | 8 ratings
Live Phish 14
2002
3.40 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 15
2002
3.57 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 16
2002
3.15 | 4 ratings
Live Phish 17
2003
4.53 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 18
2003
3.57 | 5 ratings
Live Phish 19
2003
4.79 | 5 ratings
Live Phish 20
2003
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live Phish 2-28-03
2003
3.15 | 4 ratings
Live Phish 7-15-03
2003
4.00 | 2 ratings
Live Phish 7-29-03
2003
4.76 | 13 ratings
Live In Madison Square Garden-New Year's Eve 1995
2005
4.50 | 2 ratings
04.02.98 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
2005
4.50 | 2 ratings
04.03.98 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
2005
4.50 | 2 ratings
04.04.98
2005
4.50 | 2 ratings
04.05.98 Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live Phish 12.29.97 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Colorado '88
2006
2.00 | 1 ratings
Live In Brooklyn
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
11.14.95 University Of Central Florida Arena, Orlando, FL
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
10.21.95 Pershing Auditorium, Lincoln, NE
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Headphones Jam
2007
5.00 | 2 ratings
8-13-93 Murat Theatre, Indianapolis, IN
2007
5.00 | 1 ratings
12/1/95 Hersheypark Arena, Hershey, PA
2007
4.80 | 6 ratings
Vegas 96
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
At The Roxy - Atlanta '93
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
07.06.98 Lucerna Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
12.07.97 Ervin J. Nutter Center, Dayton, OH
2008
4.00 | 1 ratings
Hampton/Winston - Salem '97
2011
4.00 | 1 ratings
Chicago '94
2012
4.00 | 1 ratings
Ventura
2013

PHISH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Tracking
1994
5.00 | 3 ratings
Bittersweet Motel
2000
3.46 | 4 ratings
Phish Live in Vegas
2002
4.67 | 6 ratings
It
2004
4.00 | 1 ratings
In Concert: Possum
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Phish: Walnut Creek
2008
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Clifford Ball
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Phish 3D
2010

PHISH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Stash
1996

PHISH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
LivePhish.com 2003 Sampler
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
What I Did On My Summer Vacation
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Greetings From Coney Island In Brooklyn New York
2006

PHISH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Junta by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.08 | 74 ratings

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Junta
Phish Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is the Phish album that you should own first and foremost. Yes it is their first official album and there is a bit of unevenness to it, but it is an excellent example of jazz-rock fusion, an amazing combination of improvisation and structure with the right mix of both. The musicianship is great and the way the band works so well together playing off of each other is most apparent in this album out of all of their studio albums. This is also the most progressive album that they released, with great mood shifting and rhythm stretching tracks that any prog band would be proud of.

There were a few issues of this album, the original having 11 tracks (ending with "Contact") for the original cassette version. The CD version became a double CD set and three tracks were added because of the ample space remaining. Those 3 tracks are live tracks, and personally I liked the album without the bonus tracks. It was the right length and the live tracks have a questionable quality, with the 25-minute jam fest "Southern Pacific" being a good example of what to expect at a Phish live show, but there are better live albums that demonstrate that, so to me, the bonus tracks are more of a distraction. So I don't take those tracks into consideration when giving my final rating for this album since I didn't hear them for quite some time after I first got this amazing album.

There is a lot of nonsensical lyrics in this album, some of them actually written by band members when they were attending school and were quite young. But it's all good because the music is definitely mature and at top quality, so if you aren't bothered by the sometimes silly and lacking lyrics, then you won't have a problem with this. There is a surprising amount of piano in the mix, which is very refreshing and lends itself well to the fusion sound of the music.

"Fee" is rather straightforward rock with a very funny story line. Listen closely and you'll hear a story that sounds like it's taken from a soap opera of sorts, albeit a rather warped soap opera that uses a piece of paper as a murder weapon. The next track is a great example of the genius that you'll find throughout this album called "You Enjoy Myself" and is mostly instrumental except for a few words that appear deep into the track. This is a very good example of structure working with improv and it has some amazing prog elements all through the track. This one goes over 9 minutes and it is a very welcome and enjoyable 9 minutes. The following track also lasts 9 minutes, but there are a lot of lyrics to this one called "Esther" because it is more story based like "Fee" was, but this time the music is ever changing and not so straightforward. The story is very funny even though the humor is quite warped and some might consider a strange horror story about a possessed puppet and a little girl. I love how they barely escape a pack of joggers.

"Golgi Apparatus" has a very tricky reggae inspired hook which sounds like it is under the influence of prog with some scientific jargon mixed up with ridiculous lyrics which will leave you wondering what a ticket stub has to do with anything. "Foam" is based on a rhumba format which ends up getting very complex. "Dinner and a Movie" has simple repeating lyrics but a complex crazily changing rhythm, it is short compared to the other tracks. Just because it's short doesn't mean it's radio friendly. Mostly silliness here.

Following this are 2 excellent show stopper tracks, both over 10 minutes long. "The Divided Sky" is my favorite track on here and one of my favorite Phish tracks. It is a very bright song with some great structure mixed with improv spanning the entire piece, again with an abundance of prog elements and excellent fusion. The harmonies in the very short vocal section are beautiful, but the instrumentals immediately take away the beauty and become very dissonant. But the tune builds and shifts and becomes an amazing piece of work with great build ups and climaxes throughout. You almost hate to hear it end, but then the track "David Bowie" starts, and follows a similar formula. This one consists of the lyrics "David Bowie" repeated several times for the first verse and then "UB40" repeated for the 2nd verse. Don't ask. It doesn't last long though and then it goes into a long instrumental for the rest of the track which is similar to the preceding track, except this on is louder, at times more dissonant and has an amazing build and release pattern that will leave you breathless by the ending.

"Fluffhead" is a satirical short song that makes fun of psychedelic drug songs with some silly lyrics, but it segues into a suite based on that motif called "Fluff's Travels". This is again another great track with multiple themes and movements and a few lyrics. The themes are more pronounced here than in the previous tracks in that the division of the movements are somewhat pronounced even though the music does not interrupt itself. The last track is a return to a more straightforward song called "Contact" which is a simple and silly song about the tires on your car. The final punchline is the added kids chorus at the end.

Yes I love this album and this band. Even though their discography hasn't always been consistent, when they do hit it right, they do it very well. They had a few not so great albums through their career in their attempt to expand their audience, but they always come back to their signature style when it comes to their best albums and their live performances. They also have some other amazing albums, but this one is their most progressive (probably with "The Story of a Ghost" and "A Picture of Nectar" being their next most progressive), but for the most part, they are a prog related band. I would recommend this album to prog lovers first though, because those not into progressive music might not understand it as well on the first listen. I consider it a masterpiece especially because it is an excellent example of structure vs. improvisation in long song formats and also a very good fusion style album even if the lyrics are silly. 5 brightly glowing stars.

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 Joy by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.51 | 22 ratings

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Joy
Phish Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After 5 years with no Phish album and a needed rest for the band to explore their own individual projects, the big question was, would this album reflect an improvement for the band or would it be similar to the last 2 albums which were disappointing, even to Phish phans, to say the least. "Round Room" and "Undermind" were the last albums that we heard, and they were underwhelming, and reflected the fact that something had to happen.

Well, joy of joys, "Joy" proved that the time off for the band was a good thing. Though not as good as the earlier albums like "Junta", "A Picture of Nectar", "Rift" and "The Story of the Ghost", this album was still better than what had come immediately before, and after listening to this album several times now, it seems as if part of the creative and cooperative spark had returned.

Personally, I am more of a fan of the studio albums than the live shows of the band, I'm not fond of the long jams that the band is famous for. Sure I admire the fact that they play off of each other so well, but to just listen to endless jams tends to make each song sound too much the same. I do love their earlier albums, most of them with longer tracks, but mostly because each song had it's own personality and there was a lot more variety. Each song had a life of it's own. The fact that this album has a lot more life to it is enough to raise it a few bars over the last 2 albums, but it is still missing that variation that the older albums had.

There are some great songs here, which help to raise the level of the album. "Backwards Down the Number Line" is a spirited opener with a great guitar solo, "Joy" is the happy number it is titled to be with a nice jazzy hint of improv which is a great set up for one of those long jam live songs, "Sugar Shack" has a more of a funky feel to it with vocals by Mike Gordon, with a great hook in the chorus and would make an interesting sing along for live performance. The 13 minute epic "Time Turns Elastic" is the highlight of the album and is the progressive piece of the album, and it is quite a turn from the "poppiness" of the rest of the album. It has a lot of rhythmic and meter changes with some great lyrics, multiple melodic turns and great instrumental interludes, but the driving force behind this track are the lyrics and Trey's vocals, which almost follows the pattern of vintage Genesis songs.

So, even if it really has nothing that stands out as much as some of the older albums did, with time, the better tracks here can become Phish classics. The biggest standout being "Time Turns Elastic" is worth the purchase of the album, but the stronger songs hold there own also. Because the element of variety and a lack of dynamics exists here, it does not make it to the status of an essential Phish masterpiece, but it is still an addition to your collection to be proud of. It is nice to have Phish back again and maybe, with time, their studio albums will take on the originality that they once had, but in the meantime, this album is a definite relief compared to the two previous albums. 4 stars.

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 Hoist by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.05 | 29 ratings

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Hoist
Phish Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Most of the band's fans agree that this is one of Phish's weakest releases and since I am a phan myself, I tend to agree with this. It is not very progressive and it followed 4 excellent albums, and it was a disappointing release. Phish had gained popularity and was working to expand their audience even more with this albums, but that backfired and fortunately Phish returned to phorm afterwards.

That is not to say this album doesn't have some 5 star songs, but the consistency is sporadic at best. It starts off with an excellent groove and sounds like it is the start of another great album. But halfway through "Julius" things get stuck in this groove and it wears out it's welcome when the entire production lays it on way to thick and the chorus repeats itself ad naseum. The next track "Down with Disease" again shows promise and even though it is a conventional rock song with a hard and somewhat tricky beat, it isn't too bad, at least it's passable. "If I Could" is more of a Alternative Folk style song and even guests Alison Krauss with her beautiful voice. This is one of my favorite Phish songs even though it has nothing to do with progressive music, it is beautiful and sensitive. The strings that make up the climax add to the beauty of this track.

Now the album slips with a short track of noise called "Riker's Mailbox" which has a story attached to it which Phish Phans are familiar with, but it adds nothing. "Axilla Pt. 2" has an annoying chorus but also has a powerful beat that drives the song anyway and a really good and powerful guitar solo, but the song is just weakened by the chorus and that cancels the track out. Next up is "Lifeboy" which is a mellow 7 minute folkish song. Here the singing is too prissy sounding, yet the instrumentals are decent. I have a love-hate relationship with this song.

Moving on, we return to more of the New Orleans style rock sound that dominates the album with "Sample in a Jar" which is a great rocker and another heavy guitar solo which actually works to get the heart beating again. "Wolfman's Brother" is similar but not quite as interesting. "Scent of a Mule" is a silly song that lampoons country music. Usually this works for the band quite well, especially in the album "Rift", but it doesn't work as well here. It's adds a little more variety to this album, but by this time, it is not really a surprise having done the same thing much better in "Rift". "Dog Faced Boy" is boring and the singing is annoyingly naive.

The album finishes up with the only progressive song on the album at over 10 minutes. This is mostly instrumental and features some very tricky rhythms and great improvised guitar, more of what we are expecting from the band. There's even a bit of humor at the end that involves an angelic choir. Unfortunately, this last track doesn't save the album and the few great tracks on the album just isn't enough when so much more is expected. The album is good enough because of the few great tracks, but should not be the introduction to the band. Stick with "Junta", "Rift," or "A Picture of Nectar" as a more representative introduction to the band and then you can move on to "Story of a Ghost" or "Billy Breathes" or "Lawn Boy" from there. Then if you want more, check out there very extensive live discography. This album should be one of the last ones you check out. Only good, but not essential is a great description for "Hoist" 3 stars.

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 Joy by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.51 | 22 ratings

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Joy
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars Over the years, Phish has had a knack for writing their own music. I don't mean in the way of coming up with their own compositions of course. What I mean is, they tend to play whatever they feel like regardless of boundaries or social musical norms. Phish revels in the times where they have a chance to produce more music simply for the enjoyment of both their peers and fans. 2009 was not an exception, where Anastasio and company jumped on the chance the rekindle the light that meant so much to them, as well as to many music listeners in the public. What came from this excitement was a bundle of creative happiness aptly titled "Joy".

Phish wasn't doing too great during the 2000's, especially in the crowd that enjoy them most for their experimental jazzy qualities as well as their ode-like style reminiscent of Grateful Dead. Phish moved more away from this and closer to a pop-rock, alternative rock style that became explosively prominent during the late 90's and of course the 00's. Starting out the year with Farmhouse, whose title track is the most listened song of their discography to date, the disappointingly bland Round Room in 2002, and Undermind in 2004. Undermind seemed to be the temporary breaking point for these jazz giants, as they quickly descended into a hiatus that lasted a whole five years. As I said before, this created an environment where the entire band was ready to participate wholeheartedly. This also made for a very light-hearted album with more odes to earlier jazz bands, as well as a largely inspired tracklist that has some highlights that are much more melodic for Phish.

Joy starts out with perhaps the happiest song, titled 'Backwards Down The Number Line'. This song I've found to pick me up even when I'm in a bad mood. This is sort of expected, seeing as the song follows the happy highlights and feelings from Anastasio's life. At moments, you can almost notice him smiling during the song. That's something that is hard to do, even for a band like Phish. The track immediately after, 'Stealing From the Faulty Plan', is completely the opposite. A very 70's-esque beat and vocals, with some awesome drumming by Fishman. High pitched guitars lead the way, the way Pink Floyd sort of incorporated it in their more arts-y albums, especially '72 and afterwards. The backstory of the song is also the opposite of it's predecessor, this time following the story of Trey Anastasio's sister's death from cancer. Even with this morbid base the song still seems to throw up very jaunty moods and one of the greatest guitar solos ever to rock the band. The title track is a very...well, earnest. What I mean is, the song is the musical incarnate of good memories, ones that you'd remember from your childhood. In fact, the word "happy" is used numerous times throughout.

After 'Joy', the albums descends more into the jazzy Phish of the 80's and 90's. 'Sugar Shack' combines funk elements with bouncy dual vocals making for a very sing-a-long type track. 'Ocelot' is a clear ode to Grateful Dead, with more barreling piano and country feelings. I don't exactly love it, but it's obvious that the band (especially Anastasio) loves Grateful Dead and decided to make a song dedicated to their main influence. 'Kill Devil Falls', by no means a bad track, is perhaps my least favorite. It has a very boring mood that ceases to interest me very well. Again, not awful but definitely the one song that I'd pass. 'Light' has some interesting and unexpected Who-ish elements, especially with the gravely guitar and fluid drumming. 'I Been Around' is basically a little quick, funny song made solely by Page McConnell. I love the song just for it's comedic, almost skit styling, as well as of course Page's piano skills. The microphone effects makes it seem like he's almost right in front of you. 'Time Turns Elastic' is another one of my favorites. This thirteen minute long epic encompasses so much that I love about Phish, that it's hard to explain them all. I suggest that you listen to it for yourself to get really in touch with it, because this song is not only very progressive, but simply good. 'Twenty Years After' is the closer, and very much like 'Kill Devil Falls', is pretty boring. Although more compositionally complex, the songs retains mostly the same features that made me not like the former. Some interesting parts I've found to intrigue me, which at the very least kept me pretty enthralled to listen to it all the way through and come back to it occasionally.

This album is something that I never expected liking so much, but I've found that giving it a chance and a thorough listen, that it is definitely a great album by any standards. Therefore, I give this album a rating of 4.5/5, and suggest that you go listen to it. Maybe it will fill you with as much joy as it did for me.

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 Farmhouse by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.13 | 28 ratings

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Farmhouse
Phish Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Being a big Phish phan, I tend to be a little more lenient towards reviewing their albums. But I agree with most reviewers here that they are not a major progressive band, but they do have elements in a lot of their music and a few of their earlier albums are on the verge of being progressive. Farmhouse is not very progressive, but does lean more towards a rock/country fusion. There is one track on here that I think has some great progressive qualities, but other than that, it is, for the most part, an enjoyable listen. It is not one of their best albums overall, but it still has some excellent tracks nonetheless.

Most of the best tracks are on the first half of the album. They would be "Farmhouse", "Bug", "Back on the Train", "Heavy Things", and "Gotta Jibboo". After that, the songs aren't quite so interesting and tend to lack much direction and substance until you get to what I think is the best track on the album which is "First Tube". I think the problem here is that the length of the songs are too short and are not given the time to be developed very well. Most of these songs do great in a concert setting because Phish does not worry about time constraints as anyone who has attended their concerts can attest. For example, the track "Piper" is so bad, it just sounds like a lazy attempt to try to fill up the album with a lackluster performance that is supposed to represent a live performance. It's painful for a fan of the band to admit this, but the band was about to enter their least interesting period, but at least this particular album still has enough good music on it to be considered a good album.

The best track as I mentioned earlier, is the progressive instrumental "First Tube". This one is just over 6 minutes and it starts out as if it can't even wait to show itself off. Before the previous track even has a chance to fade out completely, a fast, driving drum beat starts out beating a standard 4/4 time and is joined by other instruments to establish a base for the guitar that will carry the melody. The main melody is not in the standard time, and I have sat transfixed listening to this song trying to count out the meter, but having a very difficult time of it. I think it is something like 15/4 + 17/4 or something crazy like that or it may be some strange conglomeration of triplets. Whatever it is, it works very well even as odd as it sounds. The melody is quite catchy and is repeated in a sort of verse pattern. It makes me wish the rest of the album was as good as this and it brings back the glory days when Phish's studio albums were much better. (Their concerts have always been excellent by the way.)

I think the big issue here was that Phish was trying to reach a wider audience on their studio albums and made the mistake of trying to find a sound that would be more accessible. It was a shame that they had to fall to the corporate pressure, but it has happened to some of the best bands. Like I said, this is still a good album, but even with the good tracks, this still can't reach above 3 stars.

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 Junta by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.08 | 74 ratings

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Junta
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

5 stars Whether or not you think that Phish's Junta is a progressive rock album, you cannot deny that it is not an amazing piece of conceptual material. Spanning across the Phish discography there have always been bumps on the road saying whether or not Phish is really 'prog'. Many people restrict them to simply having progressive moments in their music; especially when it comes to tracks on Junta and Rift. Not only is Junta prog, but it also was the turning point of the 90's. And thus the 90's spawned the Phish uprising.

Trey Anastasio and the folks tend to stick around the same line of ten minute or longer pieces to add desired effect when it needs to be done. Being a jam band, they obviously are able to pull these off very well, leaving the shorter tracks in the dust albeit several spaces behind. One track that comes to mind is my personal favorite, 'The Divided Sky'. Originally written for Phish's 1983 The White Tape demo, I have stated before that I wished they could extended this song because of it's large amount of potential. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why this album was enjoyable to me, just because of this one song. But alas, a review does not simply skate over one song and be done. No, there are several other spectacular songs to mention on here, including 'David Bowie' (named after the 60/70's experimental rock singer/songwriter), which is a ten minute long little piece with some interesting sound effects thrown into an overall progressive rock environment to add a unique twist on the entire thing. 'Fluffhead' is a jazzier, and I suppose a less progressive shorter track that follows up Bowie. Using more non- nonsensical a Capella lyrics, the band conveys what they abundantly did in their future works. Some backround guitar slides can get slightly annoying but they are, in the end, easy to ignore.

The rest of the album is not as progressive as these few tracks, but if you are a fan of the jazzier Phish (which I happen to be just as much as the proggy side of them), then I highly suggest this entire release to you. As many people would suggest and have outright said, this release is necessary for any easygoing prog fan.

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 Phish [i.e. The White Tape] by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.00 | 8 ratings

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Phish [i.e. The White Tape]
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

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.

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 Fuego by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.22 | 14 ratings

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Fuego
Phish Prog Related

Review by Pastmaster

4 stars Phish-Fuego

'Fuego' is the twelfth studio album by progressive/jam rock band Phish. I was introduced to Phish fairly recently, a friend played their album 'A Picture of Nectar' for me and I really enjoyed it. That was the first album I heard, but 'Fuego' is the first Phish album I got for myself. After listening, I can safely say that Phish has not lost their touch after all these years.

In typical Phish fashion, this album has many different elements to the music. Anything ranging from jazz, hard rock, jam rock, and blues, creating a great progressive rock album. The opening title track is one of my favorites, beginning with some great piano and unique drumming. There is some hard rock guitar before great A capella. This song never really stays the same, changing from melodic rock parts to experimental drum/keyboard jams. Three minutes through there is an awesome guitar solo, playing over some great drumming by Jon Fishman. This song is definitely the main highlight of the album. '555' is another one of my favorites, having a great combination of blues rock and jazz. It has an awesome bassline and a really catchy chorus. 'Sing Monica' and 'The Line' are two other really good tracks, both being catchy. 'Wombat' is silly, yet pretty catchy. None of the other songs, while good, stand out to me as much.

Overall, I wouldn't call it as good as 'A Picture of Nectar'. It's still a great album, especially taking in to account the fact that these guys have been playing for many years now. If you want some good experimental rock, this would not be a bad choice at all.

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 Fuego by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.22 | 14 ratings

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Fuego
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars That'll do, Phish, that'll do.

The band's 2014 release of Fuego promised many fans a comeback for those in want and need of a new record. For me, at least, on listening, they delivered. Although the band seems to be tightrope walking on their guitar strings and seem to be trying harder to do a bang up job, they do accomplish just that. In fact, it somehow seems that they are trying to revive the progressive flare that the band had back in the early 90's.

The one track that I absolutely adore is the opening title track. It is extremely memorable, and the band has quite a lot of energy going towards it. From the jazz-rock highlighted opening to the downright prog rocking middle and end, this song signifies Phish's reincarnation. But alas, this song is the most memorable, because the rest of the songs follow the same path of the time-weathered sound the band had and has still. Another great thing about the album is that, for the most part, the alternative-style that they had taken on with their early-late 2000's that I never really enjoyed.

So, all in all, this album was not a flop, whatsoever. For an example of something that wasn't as satisfactory is the band Boston's release of Life Love and Hope in the year prior. Now this was an album that the band sort of shriveled up and died, mostly due to their overwhelming irrelevancy in the market. However, even though Phish may be even less known today, they're still able to make a great album to please their fans no matter what. For my rating, I'd give it somewhere between 3.5/5 and a straight out 4. But, for the sake of Phish, I've rounded it to give them the benefit. Here's to them.

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 Rift by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.04 | 49 ratings

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Rift
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

5 stars If you thought that Phish's first three releases were progressive, then this album is the creative peak of the band's specific progressive style. Not to say that this is any better than the album prior to this, A Picture of Nectar, which happens to be my favorite album by the band, but this is definitely more along the lines of what the usual prog-lover would enjoy. This album is more akin to something like an early 80's/late 70's band as opposed to a 90's jazz rock band. Taking that into account, let's dive into the review.

The title track starts well enough, with a very cliche-style Phish sound of racing cowbell and lighthearted a Capella. I started to quickly notice that it had a much more dark and feel, almost like Rift was trying to contain a story within it. It was such a surprise, it hooked me to the rest of the album. 'Maze' is the song every talks about, with it's 'Llama' style quick pounding rhythm with melodic quiverings in the background. 'My Friend, My Friend' and 'Weigh' are two songs that are great jazzy blues numbers, and are A+ style songs for the Phish peruser. 'All Things Reconsidered' is a spin on the National Public Radio's iconic theme-song for their show titled "All Things Considered". It's an actually quite strange mix if you think about it, but nothing really surprising seeing as we're talking about Phish. 'Mound' has probably the best a Capella the members have performed in all of their time. It speaks the story of a "broken old man in a world unkind", and is really actually quite heart-touching. Quite fantastic if I do say so myself. That's all for true highlights that got me really hard, but trust me, the entire album is fantastic.

If you're looking for a highlight of the 90's, look towards the first four album of Phish's studio discography. This album has joined the ranks of the majestic three respectively. Go give it a listen.

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