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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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Buy PHISH Music


FuegoFuego
ATO Records 2014
Audio CD$6.01
$9.49 (used)
FarmhouseFarmhouse
Elektra / Wea 2000
Audio CD$20.82
$0.01 (used)
HoistHoist
Elektra / Wea 1994
Audio CD$11.03
$0.01 (used)
A Picture of NectarA Picture of Nectar
Elektra / Wea 1992
Audio CD$16.98
$0.92 (used)
Round RoomRound Room
Elektra / Wea 2002
Audio CD$0.88
$0.01 (used)
RiftRift
Elektra / Wea 1993
Audio CD$16.99
$2.01 (used)
Niagara FallsNiagara Falls
Box set
JEMP Records 2013
Audio CD$14.40
$22.15 (used)
JuntaJunta
Elektra 1992
Audio CD$31.81
$3.99 (used)
Billy BreathesBilly Breathes
Elektra 1996
Audio CD$17.92
$0.17 (used)
Lawn BoyLawn Boy
Elektra / Wea 1992
Audio CD$16.99
$0.01 (used)
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A Picture of Nectar by Phish (CD, Feb-1992, Elektra (Label)) US $0.95 [0 bids]
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More places to buy PHISH music online Buy PHISH & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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PHISH shows & tickets


  • Phish at The Forum, Inglewood on 24 Oct 2014

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)

3.97 | 63 ratings
Junta
1989
3.96 | 41 ratings
Lawn Boy
1990
3.63 | 45 ratings
Picture of Nectar
1992
3.99 | 43 ratings
Rift
1993
2.85 | 7 ratings
Crimes Of The Mind (with The Dude Of Life)
1994
3.05 | 25 ratings
Hoist
1994
3.30 | 33 ratings
Billy Breathes
1996
3.33 | 30 ratings
The Story of the Ghost
1998
3.00 | 8 ratings
Phish [i.e. The White Tape]
1998
3.18 | 24 ratings
Farmhouse
2000
2.89 | 9 ratings
The Siket Disc
2000
3.29 | 22 ratings
Round Room
2002
2.94 | 21 ratings
Undermind
2004
2.93 | 18 ratings
Joy
2009
2.27 | 13 ratings
Fuego
2014

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

4.11 | 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
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

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

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

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

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

3.00 | 2 ratings
LivePhish.com 2003 Sampler
2003

PHISH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Junta by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.97 | 63 ratings

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Junta
Phish Prog Related

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars PHISH is a band originating from the great state of Vermont, USA where a bunch of enthusiastic young musicians decided to get together and jam when they weren't studying at the University. The amazing thing about this band is that all four members ? Trey Anastasiio (guitars, lead vocals), Mike Gordon (bass, vocals), Jon Fishman (percussion, vocals) and Page McConnell (keyboards, vocals) played together for over 20 years before they took a break, so no lineup changes in a band for that duration indicates that these guys love to play together and their music definitely has that vibe on their debut album JUNTA (pronounced JUHN-tuh). This album originally came out in 1988 on cassette only and was independently released but it caught on fast in the underground college scene and was quickly officially released in 1989. Since then the album has become a classic and has gone platinum.

This is an eclectic album to say the least where everyone can find something to like and more often something to hate. The songs zigzag all over the musical map and it often seems like another band has taken over and inserted a song into the roster. The very first track "Fee" immediately made me think of the ska punk band Sublime, but wait, this song was recorded the very year that that band formed on the opposite coast, so who knows where this one came from. The musical trajectory then takes a bold and daring turn into the realms of progressive jam rock. In fact a majority of these tracks, especially the longer ones sound like they may be equally inspired by the jamming talents of the Grateful Dead, the zaniness and jazz-fusion of Frank Zappa and the dual guitar assault of a slightly warped version of the blues rock of Wishbone Ash or the Allman Brothers. There are times I feel a Steely Dan vibe in the mix as well. The lyrics verge on the ridiculous, the mundane or downright silly. The song "Contact" is a little dittie about how tires make contact with the road with a clear Jimmy Buffett style musically speaking.

Being the eclectic puPPy that I am I actually quite like this album. It tugs on many of my musical (in)sensibilities. It has the progressive prowess of the best instrumental wankers out there and a nary-a-care zaniness that would make Zappa himself a proud uncle. The Grateful Dead has never really been my psychedelic cup of tea but the way PHISH sew all this together is done with a nice sense of style and passion that oozes youthful energy in the college scene. Although this album has its ups and downs and glaring contradictions, I find myself enjoying it for most of the ride. The album was originally released without the tracks "Union Federal," "Sanity" and "Icculus." The newer versions contain them and I highly recommend these bonus tracks because "Union Federal" alone is a 25 minute sprawling prog jam that is one of the best tracks on the album. Over the years I have only heard a smattering of PHISH songs that have sparked my interest but this debut album has quite a few that meld all my craziness into one semi-cohesiveness. Recommended for eclectic heads who don't mind a plethora of disparate influences in the pot where any particular ingredient can boil over when least expected.

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 Fuego by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.27 | 13 ratings

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Fuego
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Review by smuggledmutation

1 stars Only for the die-hards.

I don't know. Gonna get a ton of rage for saying this but, these guys are really showing their age. There's no creativity anymore, and very little energy. I have to be brutally honest as a HUGE Phish fan. I love this band, always have. But I love their raw creative side. The older stuff. Their past few albums have been going down similar paths of each other. And if thats what makes them happy at this point in their musical careers than sooo much power to them. But any inclinations that this album would take up a lot of time at a Phish show would most likely turn me away from buying a ticket. I did however enjoy the female accompanying vocals, most likely an idea of it's Pink Floyd producer who worked on this album. But man I can't get into this side of Phish no matter how hard I try.

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 Lawn Boy by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.96 | 41 ratings

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Review by Knapitatet

5 stars The Jam Band scene occupy a sort of middle ground for me and many other Progheads. The musicians are immensely talented, the music is ambitious and the compositions are often excellent. However it is also true that most of these bands are more inspired by Country and Bluegrass by way of the Grateful Dead, than the Jazz Fusion and Prog Rock that Phish employed. I was heavily into Phish during High School and i hold this album as their best. There is an energy in this album that i found lacking on "Junta", and "Picture Of Nectar" was a rather tedious attempt by Trey Anastasio to sound like his hero, Santana. After the following album "Rift" however, i do not care one bit for Phish. It was the earthly Jazzy Prog sound, that attracted me to their music in the first place and as for their mythical live performances, it is hard to care about them when neither Phish nor the Jam Band scene which they are a part of has ever made any real attempts to market themselves or itself outside of the USA.

Speaking of Trey Anastasio, i have long heralded him as Rock 'N' Rolls most underrated Guitarist, and this album only adds to that belief. "Reba" and especially "The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony" are brilliant and sees him employ both the beautiful washes he is known for and some seriously nimble fingered Dixieland picking. The title track and "Bouncing Around The Room" are very harmonius and a testament to both Anastasios incredible feeling and the Bands compositional brilliance.

At the end of the day,any Phishhead will tell you that no studio album can do the band justice, and while that may be true i am not as dedicated as most of their fans. I simply like good music, and this is a Cozy, Jazzy, Folksy little record wich i rank as one of the best.

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 Live Phish 14 by PHISH album cover Live, 2002
3.26 | 8 ratings

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Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

3 stars A Great Halloween Phish Show, 10/31/1995

Being a Phish fan in the 1990s was an exciting undertaking. After its modest beginnings in the late 1980s, by the mid 1990s Phish had enjoyed a groundswell of support and an almost unthinkable level of popularity. All this resulted almost entirely from excitement over their live stage shows, where the band took this popularity as a license to experiment however far they wanted to go. And in the mid 1990s, they took it very far indeed.

Trey Anastasio (guitar, main singer, main composer), Jon Fishman (drums, occasional novelty vocal feature), Page McConnell (keyboards, almost always acoustic or analog), and Mike Gordon (bass, occasional lead vocals) were the central figures of the "jam band" scene - a term that I feel does disservice to the adventurousness of what they were doing. They didn't just "jam" - and furthermore, when they did "jam", it was hardly ever a laid-back solo fiesta, it was spontaneous group composition, complete with development and twists and turns. Another thing they did was perform interesting covers; and sometime in 1994, they got the brilliant idea to use Halloween as an opportunity to put on a "musical costume" and devote an entire set to covering a classic album. Nowadays, bands do this all the time; old bands will even come out of retirement to do a tour recreating that one classic album they had in them. But in 1994, I had never heard of such a thing before.

On Halloween 1994, they decided to cover the Beatles' White Album. While this was a bold and interesting idea in theory, in practice it became a pretty tedious exercise by the end of the set, especially since key pieces like "Revolution 9" were not playable onstage, yet they dutifully faked/forced their way through such moments. Learning from this experience, they made 1995's Halloween show a much more engaging one -- and covered The Who's Quadrophenia album.

The template for such Halloween shows was to perform three full sets, each over an hour long, and have the second set be the "musical costume" set. The first set on this night opened with the old obscurity "Icculus", a ridiculous (ha) mostly spoken number that I can't adequately describe here. This silliness out of the way, they dive right into one of their signature pieces, "The Divided Sky", an extended, complicated piece that I often recommend to prog fans. Following a series of shorter songs, the first set ends with three more extended pieces: "Guyute", a tightly composed multi-part piece about an evil pig; "Run Like an Antelope", my pick for "song I always hope they play" due to it's incredible intensity the band always generates without fail during the long tension/release improvisational section; and finally "Harpua", a silly story song about an epic battle between a dog and a cat, where the story changes a little each night to suit current events or any in-joke the band was enjoying at the time (very much like Zappa's "Yellow Snow" suite, come to think of it).

After a set break, the band tackles the "Quadrophenia" album. Wisely, they added a horn section for this segment of the show, and also gave a lot of the lead vocals to Page McConnell, whose higher voice suits the Who's vocal range much better than Trey's does. As the Who's most progressive rock album, it's a lot of fun to hear Phish reproduce the depth of the studio recording live on stage. "Drowned" went over so well, the band kept it in their set for occasional use in future shows. Jon Fishman's obligatory solo spot, however, nearly derails the whole thing, as he strains his way through "Love, Reign O'er Me". In a way, though, his struggle (as a singer, he's definitely the Ringo of the band) through the song makes it all the more poignant, as Roger Daltrey's rage-with-vulnerability is re-imagined as a vulnerable freak show act... sacrilege to fans maybe, but certainly compelling and kinda fun too.

Set three is mostly taken up by a lengthy (40 minute) rendition of concert staple "You Enjoy Myself" - this song is always played identically for the first 5 minutes (the composed part), and then goes into a long funk jam, often with visual aids (Mike and Trey on trampolines), ending with an a capella "vocal jam" that also varies from night to night. 40 minutes is a bit long for such a song (20 minutes seems to be ideal from my experience), but I'm sure it was a gas if you were there in the arena. Then, slowly bubbling out of the dying strains of the vocal jam, the band eases into a groovy version of ZZ Top's "Jesus Just Left Chicago" and the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" (which they handle quite well). The old Phish standard "Suzy Greenberg" sees the horn section return to the stage, with the horn players each taking solos. Finally, it wouldn't be a Who show without "My Generation", so this song puts an appropriate, if sloppy, cap on the marathon show.

Three stars is about right. A great Phish show, and I'm glad they released it on CD (I had long enjoyed my cassette copy), but really, this is not the place to get acquainted with Phish, nor is it a truly essential album for the average person reading this. If you're a confirmed fan of the band already familiar with some live recordings and albums, by all means bump this up to a four. And if you're a fanatic, well, you need this pronto.

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 Rift by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.99 | 43 ratings

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Rift
Phish Prog Related

Review by pearty

5 stars Ah, the early 90s. What a great time for weird music that was somehow 'commercial.' This was my introduction to Phish, and it led me to become a rabid fan...until they started making really horrid albums (Farmhouse, for example). As a diehard Rush fan, this was initially a challenging listen, since it was counter to almost everything I knew about so-called 'progressive' music. However, once I learned to listen with uncorrupted ears, I uncovered the brilliance of this band. As I learned later, their previous albums had already hinted at their musical muscle (You Enjoy Myself, etc.), but on Rift, a new maturity took over and made these bizarre little nuggets more cohesive.

From the opening moments of the title track, all the way through to the end, what I heard were quirky pop tunes set on their ear, with each musician using a very unique (to me at the time) approach to their respective instruments. In particular was Jon Fishman's drumming, which was in my mind the impetus for this madness. I had never heard such a great groove performed on cowbell and woodblock! Later on, his intro to Mound completely slayed me with his messing with the traditional blues beat. Even better still is how the whole band transitions from the intro to the body of the song. Another cool moment on an album full of them.

Unlike any other Phish album, I cannot find any track that I dislike, not even Lenghwise, since it's too short to be annoying. This was Phish's perfect storm of lightning in a bottle (and any other cliches you can think up). The only problem with perfection is it is very difficult to repeat. Unfortunately for Phish, every subsequent release has slid further and further from this high (pun intended).

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 Lawn Boy by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.96 | 41 ratings

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Lawn Boy
Phish Prog Related

Review by Starhammer
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "Bag it, tag it, sell it to the butcher in the store..."

Not to be confused with the bath loving Scotsman of Marillion fame, this is Phish, the renowned jam band from Vermont. And they are renowned, but mainly for their menagerie of live albums. In comparison their studio efforts are often looked upon as mere blueprints for potentially glorious architecture, and this sophomore release features many concert staples.

I am by no means a Phish fan, sure I enjoy their music and own a couple of their live releases, but I don't worship them like many of their die-hard followers. And so I am somewhat surprised at how much this album has grown on me over time! It's quirky, its loveable, and the lyrics are to literature what Dagmar Krause is to vocals. Don't expect that just because this is a studio recording it loses the groove of the live setting as there are plenty of intricate moments, as well as extended improvisation on the longer tracks.

The Verdict: A excellent starting point for any Phish collection.

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 Undermind by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2004
2.94 | 21 ratings

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Undermind
Phish Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Phun but phorgettable

Having regrouped in 2002 and released the hurriedly prepared 'Round room' album, Phish recommenced touring, although their activities were much less prolific than in their earlier days. Once again, this album would prove to be a closing chapter in the band's history, the members embarking on another hiatus after its release.

The lengthy jam founded tracks which dominated 'Round room' are absent this time, the tracks reverting to the tighter arrangements which are common to most of the band's studio (but not live!) albums. The track lengths range from a few brief link pieces to some more adventurous 6+ minute tracks. The opening "Scents and Subtle Sounds (Intro)" and the following title track feature the light pop rock and catchy melodies which the band thrive upon.

The first of the longer tracks is the Beatles-esque 'A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing', a pleasantly psychedelic song with spacey early Floyd guitar effects and retro echoed vocals. The Beatles feel continues on 'Army of one', a song which benefits from some fine organ playing supporting up front lead guitar. 'Nothing' probably offers the best summary of both the album and the band as a whole, being an enjoyable slice of light power pop with a strong melody. As with so many Phish songs, 'Nothing' is inoffensive, fun to listen to, and largely forgettable.

The final longer track is 'Secret smile', a rare song of genuine emotion from the band. The atmosphere of the piece is accentuated by some fine strings and a delicate vocal. This is probably not a song for the band's famed live shows, but on record it does stand apart from its peers.

Overall, a decent effort from Phish, worth hearing if only for 'Secret smile'.

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 Round Room by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.29 | 22 ratings

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Round Room
Phish Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Phriends again

Following the release of the "Farmhouse" album and "The Skillet disc" of left overs in 2000, Phish took their first extended break since their formation. Two years later, the band were back, initially as a live act. As was their normal practice, they indulged in lengthy rehearsal jams in the studio, this album being put together in just three days and consisting entirely of edits from those jams. Unlike previous albums, the band did not use the jams to inspire tighter compositions, they simply extracted what they thought were the best bits from the jams. The most obvious thing about this album is therefore the unusually long nature of some of the tracks, with three running to 10 minutes or more.

To call these jams though is in reality stretching it a bit. There are defined compositions here, both musically and lyrically. The opening "Pebbles and marbles", which runs to over 11 minutes, is a mix of jazzy noodling and lyrical pop. It certainly builds nicely, with some appealing piano and lead guitar. The track is rather out of character for a Phish studio album, finding more in common with their famed live performances. As such, it leans much more towards prog than the bulk of the band's studio output.

Thereafter, things tend to resort to more orthodox Phish, the following "Anything but me" for example being a pleasant if utterly harmless soft ballad. The album is a mix of toe-tapping pop and those softer ballads, "Friday" almost being a continuation of "Anything but me". It does feature some nice lead guitar backed by organ though.

The next piece of interest really is "Seven below", an 8+ minute loose jam which drifts along nicely if rather inoffensively. "46 days" is one of the better tracks, and was one of the first from the album to be performed live. In terms of the music, the song is basic American rock, with nods to bands such as the Allman brothers and something of a retro feel. On the downside, "Mock song" may have resulted in a decent Phish song had it been developed, but as it stands it is a real low point on the album.

The album closes with a couple more tracks running to 10 minutes +, and a three minute interlude between them. The two long tracks appear to be successions of shorter ideas for songs, linked by extended jams. As such, they come across as a bit disjointed at times, the simpler pop melodies being at odds with the track lengths.

With an overall running time of over 70 minutes,prog fans may expect this to be the holy grail of Phish albums. To that extent, this is a bit of a let down, being a hurriedly put together set of rehearsals and work in progress jams. On the other hand, the music is generally enjoyable and from time to time it is even impressive.

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 The Story of the Ghost  by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.33 | 30 ratings

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The Story of the Ghost
Phish Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars Phrankie says "relax"

This 1998 follow up to the acclaimed "Billy breathes" saw Phish indulging themselves even deeper in the studio jams from which their album tracks would emerge. In this instance, not only did the sessions lead to this album, but also to "The Skillet disc" released a year later. The process this time involved the band listening to playbacks of the lengthy jam sessions, and composing songs based on parts which appealed to them.

The opening "Ghost" reminded me of the 70's bands Hot Chocolate and 10cc, with a soft funky beat and dual lead vocals combining to create a highly commercial piece of pop. "Birds of a feather" continues the 10cc style, the added brass intermingling with lead guitar and repeated vocal harmonies in an ever increasing cacophony of sound. Things take an unfortunate but marked dip with "Meat", a Steely Dan like jazz funk number.

The longest track on the album by far is the 8 minute "Guyute". The track sets out as a light pop orientated piece before bizarrely breaking into a Fairport Convention like guitar led jig. From there it mutates again into a retro style guitar thrash, somewhere between "Orange blossom special" and "Sabre dance". While certainly the most interesting track on the album, for me it only works up to a point, perhaps because it falls into the old 10cc trap of clever for clever's sake.

Unfortunately, there are just too many of the understated soft pop outings here for my tastes, "Fikus", and "Limb by limb" being further examples. "Frankie says" is presumably some sort of tribute to "Frankie Goes to Hollywood", the word "Relax" being prevalent in this song. The link is purely lyrical though, the song being far more downbeat than the target of the homage. "Brian and Robert" is a strange title for more of the same.

"Water in the sky" moves into distinctly country rock territories, but it does at least lift the pace and offer something with a bit of spirit for a couple of minutes. "Roggae" is presumably a clever amalgamation of rock and reggae or something like that. In the end though, it simply returns us to the bland pop.

"Wading in the velvet sea" has a pleasant soft refrain, but the over-repeating of the title is unnecessary. "The momma dance" is a further indulgence in repetitive light funk, the album closing with the brief "End of session".

In all, a disappointing Phish album, which appears to indicate that the band have had all the vitality sucked out of them. This is nothing more than a collection of bland songs with primarily funky foundations. The only exception of note is "Guyute", but even this is below par.

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 Billy Breathes  by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.30 | 33 ratings

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Billy Breathes
Phish Prog Related

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Through a Phish's eye

The rather unnerving fish-eye image on the front cover of this album and the unappealing title may cause the casual music fan to pass this 1996 release by. Among the (Phish) informed though, this album is highly regarded. (With apologies to Mike Gordon of the band, whose face it is on the cover. It is the way he is photographed which is the issue! On the other hand, this is the first time any member of Phish has appeared on a front of an album.)

While born from the usual jams in which the band specialise, especially in the live arena, "Billy breathes" is an unusually tight Phish album, and it is without doubt this aspect which led to it becoming one of their best known releases. The opening "Free" is simultaneously light and heavy, up front piano combining with feedback on the lead guitar and an anthemic refrain of the title to form one of the band's most appealing and accessible numbers.

While the first couple of tracks are pretty powerful, overall, there is a slightly softer feel to this album, with a bit more emphasis on acoustic instruments. This is particularity so on tracks such as the delightful "Waste", one of the band's most sensitive performances.

As usual with Phish, there is not much here which is prog or even prog related really. The closest we get is probably the brief instrumental "Cars trucks buses", which features some nice Booker T. style organ playing and a slightly jazzy riff. One thing which does stand out here is the vocal harmonies, with tracks such as "Theme from the bottom" boasting some fine Crosby Stills and Nash type vocal arrangements. This track, which is the longest on the album also has an impressive instrumental break.

In all, an album which sees Phish presenting what is probably their most cohesive album. The diversity (or eclecticism if you prefer) which can make other Phish albums hard to digest is largely kept in check here, in favour of a succession of pleasantly accessible pop flavoured songs.

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