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PHISH

Prog Related • United States


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Phish picture
Phish biography
Founded in Burlington, Vermont, USA in 1983 - Hiatus between 2000-2002 and 2004-2009 - Still active as of 2018

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

PHISH was formed 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.

See also: WiKi

PHISH Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy PHISH Music


The Baker's Dozen Live At Madison Square GardenThe Baker's Dozen Live At Madison Square Garden
JEMP Records 2018
$105.12
A Live One - Vinyl (4 LP, 180 Gram, Red / Blue Vinyl, Includes Download)A Live One - Vinyl (4 LP, 180 Gram, Red / Blue Vinyl, Includes Download)
JEMP Records 2017
$73.67
$66.37 (used)
Junta Deluxe 3LP EditionJunta Deluxe 3LP Edition
JEMP Records 2013
$40.10
$47.96 (used)
FarmhouseFarmhouse
Elektra / Wea 2000
$15.98
$1.88 (used)
Big BoatBig Boat
JEMP 2016
$6.18
$7.95 (used)
JoyJoy
Jemp 2009
$10.80
$3.98 (used)
Billy BreathesBilly Breathes
Elektra 1996
$23.99
$1.88 (used)
A Picture Of Nectar (Deluxe Vinyl)(Limited Edition)A Picture Of Nectar (Deluxe Vinyl)(Limited Edition)
JEMP Records 2015
$40.03
$29.09 (used)
RiftRift
Elektra / Wea 1993
$27.63
$2.24 (used)
HoistHoist
Elektra / Wea 1994
$11.74
$1.24 (used)
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Undermind by Phish (CD, Jun-2004, Elektra (Label)) USD $3.00 Buy It Now 58m 29s
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PHISH A Live One Rock & Pop 2 Disc Set CD1995 Elektra130 Min Factory Sealed USD $34.29 Buy It Now 17h 33m
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Billy Breathes by Phish (CD, Oct-1996, Elektra (Label)) USD $4.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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More places to buy PHISH music online Buy PHISH & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

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 | 85 ratings
Junta
1989
3.94 | 55 ratings
Lawn Boy
1990
3.74 | 58 ratings
A Picture Of Nectar
1992
4.03 | 60 ratings
Rift
1993
2.85 | 8 ratings
Phish & The Dude Of Life: Crimes Of The Mind
1994
3.11 | 39 ratings
Hoist
1994
3.47 | 50 ratings
Billy Breathes
1996
3.39 | 41 ratings
The Story Of The Ghost
1998
3.06 | 13 ratings
Phish [Aka: The White Tape]
1998
3.44 | 16 ratings
The Siket Disc
1999
3.21 | 35 ratings
Farmhouse
2000
3.40 | 33 ratings
Round Room
2002
3.10 | 32 ratings
Undermind
2004
3.58 | 29 ratings
Joy
2009
4.40 | 5 ratings
Party Time
2009
3.35 | 21 ratings
Fuego
2014
4.10 | 12 ratings
Big Boat
2016

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

4.16 | 30 ratings
A Live One
1995
3.71 | 28 ratings
Slip, Stitch and Pass
1997
3.52 | 12 ratings
Hampton Comes Alive
1999
4.00 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 01
2001
4.50 | 9 ratings
Live Phish 02
2001
4.00 | 5 ratings
Live Phish 03
2001
4.56 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 04
2001
3.13 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 05
2001
4.00 | 4 ratings
Live Phish 06
2001
3.68 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 07
2002
4.17 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 08
2002
3.94 | 8 ratings
Live Phish 09
2002
4.38 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 10
2002
4.85 | 14 ratings
Live Phish 11
2002
4.80 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 12
2002
4.00 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 13
2002
3.29 | 9 ratings
Live Phish 14
2002
3.41 | 8 ratings
Live Phish 15
2002
3.63 | 8 ratings
Live Phish 16
2002
3.15 | 4 ratings
Live Phish 17
2003
4.50 | 7 ratings
Live Phish 18
2003
3.58 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 19
2003
4.76 | 6 ratings
Live Phish 20
2003
4.00 | 3 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
4.64 | 17 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
3.00 | 1 ratings
Colorado '88
2006
2.50 | 2 ratings
Live In Brooklyn
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
11.14.95 University Of Central Florida Arena, Orlando, FL
2007
4.00 | 1 ratings
10.21.95 Pershing Auditorium, Lincoln, NE
2007
4.00 | 1 ratings
Headphones Jam
2007
4.67 | 3 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
4.00 | 1 ratings
At The Roxy - Atlanta '93
2008
3.00 | 1 ratings
07.06.98 Lucerna Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic
2008
4.00 | 1 ratings
12.07.97 Ervin J. Nutter Center, Dayton, OH
2008
4.33 | 3 ratings
Hampton/Winston - Salem '97
2011
4.00 | 2 ratings
Chicago '94
2012
4.00 | 2 ratings
Ventura
2013
4.00 | 1 ratings
Amsterdam
2015

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
4.43 | 7 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)

0.00 | 0 ratings
A Sampler
1993
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
4.00 | 1 ratings
Breath & Burning
2016

PHISH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Billy Breathes by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.47 | 50 ratings

BUY
Billy Breathes
Phish Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Billy Breathes' is Phish's 6th regular studio release, and is also the album that helped to connect the band to a wider audience. It turned out to be the band's biggest seller, even if it was less commercial than the previous album 'Hoist'. Most of this is due to the single released from the album 'Free', which is the first on the album. Some of the music on the album had already been perfected in concert performances, which is a technique Phish often uses.

This is a pretty good Phish album, though not their best, it still has some great music on it. It starts out with the very popular 'Free' and continues in the upbeat, rocking vein with the next track 'Character Zero'. Both songs are quite straightforward rock tunes, and are enjoyable, but not really progressive. Following this is 'Waste' which is a slower and more acoustic track, with that unique Phish-Folk feel. The song does build to a strong chorus and bridge, but remains driven by acoustic piano and guitar throughout. From that, we move to the next song that rhymes with the previous. 'Taste' starts out with a quick piano riff and a clacking cowbell. This one is more complex with an almost tropical feel as it builds as it goes along until it reaches a great climactic instrumental ending.

'Cars Trucks and Buses' is an instrumental that has quite a sly organ riff/melody and an infectious beat. The intermediate section is a great improvised jazzy piano solo supported by the rest of the band which ends the song. 'Talk' ends the first half of the album with another mostly acoustic tune that once again hints at Phish's version of prog-folk.

The 2nd half of the album is more of an experimental feel. It starts off with one of my favorite Phish tracks 'Theme from the Bottom'. It is the most upbeat song on this side of the album and probably most accessible, but it has the vibe of the best Phish classics like 'Chalk Dust Torture' or 'Maze' It is more progressive, slightly, and is much better developed. It starts off quiet and builds in intensity to the chorus, then follows an alternating pattern until the last half where it gets heavier and remains intense to the ending. The last half of this track gives you a good idea how tight this band is, especially in their concerts, where they act as a single unit to create amazing improvised music unlike any other band out there. Then suddenly, near the end, all of the music drops off as the band harmonizes together in a ridiculous, but catchy vocal riff.

After this, the album turns quite soft and mellow. Next is 'Train Song' written and sung by Mike Gordon. It is a solo guitar and vocals, with Trey doing some harmonies, but the lyrics are silly and complex at the same time. Later, a xylophone joins the guitar. This song sounds simple, but is strangely complex. 'Bliss' is another short track which features a solo processed acoustic guitar with a nice echoing effect. Next comes a very complex and progressive 'Billy Breathes'. Remaining in the soft, acoustic vein, two vocal melodies start to form, sometimes contrasting and sometimes coming together. Again, we get that folk-ish feel in a more progressive context. Soon a weird horn (?) joins with a banjo as more vocal layers harmonize and contrast with each other. Halfway through, piano, bass and electric guitar compliment each other in an atmospheric and lovely instrumental section.

Two very short tracks follow. 'Swept Away' is strummed acoustic guitar and Trey's vocals with a little harmony. 'Steep' moves from this quiet song to a more dischordant track which is a little unsettling, and two vocal melodies work against each other. Strange, processed noises ensue as things get psychedelic. Eventually, this all flows into the closer 'Prince Caspian'. A strummed electric guitar and piano takes us out of the noise mode into a more peaceful feel. Things flow for a little while, then vocals start again, this time with a more conventional sounding melody. Drums join in and things meld together nicely as intensity increases. The melody is nice here, but the lyrics are a little too repetitive. Nevertheless, it is a nice closer that seals that album together.

Again, this wasn't their best album, but it was better than the previous album, as it pulled the band back to their original feel. Overall, you get a good mix of straightforward rock and progressive folk with a little bit of an experimental and psychedelic feel. It is not so much of a jamming record, and is a little light on the progressive side, but it is still challenging enough to keep the progressive listener interested, yet accessible enough to not be over indulgent. Great album.

 Big Boat by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 12 ratings

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Big Boat
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars Big Boat is a bit of a return to basics for Phish. Two years later after Fuego (2014), an album that was nothing short of a re-invigoration for Phish, the band decided once again to team up with famed producer Bob Ezrin- who if you don't know has worked with the likes of Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Kiss, Hanoi Rocks, and others- and have crack at a second round.

Phish, like any other band, has a formula. This formula goes something like this: 3-4 bouncy, eclectic tracks, 2-3 rock n' roll and/or hard rockers, 1 (maybe 2) 10 minute + epic, and throw in a few slow ballads for good measure. Over the years I've found myself very comfortable with this formula, as Phish is able to follow it without replicating previous creative choices to an insulting degree. It's obvious there's a difference between these set tracks on each album- 'Down with Disease' is different from 'Character Zero', 'Sample in a Jar' is different from 'Theme From the Bottom', etc. But this time around, of all times, Phish decided to turn the tables (at least slightly), presumably to turn down the tedium. There is a few more funk rock tunes on here than were present on Fuego (which really condensed them into the bombshell that was '555'), but most of them are pretty good. 'Friends' was an absolute anomaly for me on the first listen, because it actually had sole vocals and songwriting attributed to drummer Jon Fishman of all people (this doesn't happen too often if I'm correct). It serves as sort of the theme for the album, and rightly so. It's a loud, thundering song that sets an adventurous mood quite well for the rest of the experience. 'Home' is a McConnell track, and unfortunately not his best work. Balanced between bland, linear pop rock and overwrought noise, it's a tough listen even for what should be an easy listening song. The only notable fast-paced track is 'I Always Wanted It This Way', another McConnell one, but this time a strange Foster The People-esque indie rock song with a synth-pop beat. It's really so strange for Phish that I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it, but it's not too horrible (definitely not among the band's worst).

The slower/bouncier songs are where I believe Phish shines and always have shined. I've already talked about 'Breath & Burning' in my review for the promo single, but I do stand by my opinion that it is rather good. 'Tide Turns' is one of my favorites, with a confident horn and brass section parroted by Fishman's powerful drumming. The pseudo-epic 'Miss You' is very similar to Billy Breathes (1996)' 'Waste', albeit stretched out for two or so more minutes. I prefer Waste's quiet atmosphere to this, but it rings true of Phish's talent for writing good cheesy songs. The only truly quiet ballad is none other than 'Running Out Of Time', a wonderful ditty that takes some elements of CSN&Y to create a wonderful song worthy of some of Phish's best.

Now for something a bit closer to home for some of you reading this. Phish has created a variety of epics and suites over the years- some 25 minutes ('Union Federal'), some 10 ('Demand'). They contain some of Phish's most prolific work: their most creative atmospheres, best musicianship, best lyricism, best everything. As Phish progressed these epics became less of jams and more substantial, moving pieces of art. I believe this transition might have hit it's peak in 2002, where the band included four different epics, all with their different qualities and attributes. After Phish reconvened subsequent to their hiatus, they compressed all of their talent into one specific song. This was none other than 'Time Turns Elastic', a suite written by Anastasio that was originally 29:38 but was compressed down to 13 for Joy (2009). It was a crowning achievement for the band, with each movement shining in their respective ways and bringing out all different kinds of emotions. I've been hard pressed to find an epic that surpasses it in quality (except 'The Divided Sky', personal-taste wise in that regard however)- the title track for Fuego didn't, so all that's left to this date is whatever's on Big Boat. For that, we have 'Petrichor', a song I've been eagerly waiting to hear since the track-list for Big Boat was announced in September. And I must say, it comes close. Veeeeerry close. But not quite.

'Petrichor' has a much floatier atmosphere than the dark-tinged 'Time Turns Elastic', but has the advantage of a full- blown brass and string section to accompany it. It gives off a strong film-score vibe than many of Phish's previous works, which depending on your feelings towards that certain genre, could appeal to you in different ways. The quadruple-edged blade that is the full-band vocals of Phish adds brilliantly to the almost Floydian-like atmosphere, the latter which makes itself loudly and proudly pronounced specifically towards the second half. Like I say with great epics, I believe personal experience is the only way to truly get a feel for it. Sorry if that's a cop-out.

Another quick note: The production is fantastic, as usual. Bob Ezrin made a point to have this album be as if not more crisp and clean than Fuego, making this interesting divide between the quasi-amateurish Fuego and Big Boat. He is truly fantastic and I wish him more luck in the future with his endeavors.

After all this fanboy jargon, I think a TL;DR is necessary. Big Boat is a mature, billowing album that delivers Phish in a satisfying and new way. If this happened to be Phish's last effort, I'd be completely fine with that. But I know that's not the case, because Phish aren't ones to give up in the long-run. Here's to many more phases of phun, boys.

 Live In Madison Square Garden-New Year's Eve 1995 by PHISH album cover Live, 2005
4.64 | 17 ratings

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Live In Madison Square Garden-New Year's Eve 1995
Phish Prog Related

Review by sinslice

4 stars A historical document to treasure

Itīs no news that live performances of Anastasio and his comrades in the nineties have been legendary, and NYE 1995 is an excellent example, perhaps along with Hampton - Winston / Salem 1997, Hampton Comes Alive, A Live One, between others. While itīs true that there are a lot of live events and is difficult to hear and thresh them all. It is also true that the songs performed here are part of the best stage of the band.

I'm usually somewhat skeptical about improvisation, except for King Crimson, Phish, and some more. Here is a group of excellent musicians in very good shape, fully inspired, with great coordination, good production and clear sound. Of course McConnelīs keyboards and Anastasioīs guitars, excels, and Squirming Coil, Runaway Jim, Mike's Song, You Enjoy Myself, Weekapaug Grove prove.

Not much more to add, 216 minutes almost no waste. Maybe at times it becomes a bit monotonous the progressive ear, like in Maze or Weekapaug Grove, so 4 stars seems appropriate. Without losing sight that there are very good perfomances more recently, as Atlantic City 2013, to give an example. Sorry for my poor English

 Breath & Burning by PHISH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Breath & Burning
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

— First review of this album —
4 stars 'Breath & Burning' is the first single from Phish's (currently) upcoming album Big Boat, and was released as a promotional single. As most promos go, this single should be, for all intents and purposes, a song that encapsulates the general sound of the album to give you a taste of the upcoming experience.

If this rings true for Breath & Burning, then this is a good sign for what's to come. This song is more in the vein of early 90's Phish (counting Junta), with it's doodling pop rock sensibilities, except incorporating the more clean-cut lyrical and musical quality of the current style of the band. McConnell's soft bluesy keyboards coincide well with the more receded drumming of Fishman, the two band members who I've noticed have changed the most throughout the years. Gordon's thumping bass and Anastasio's acoustic sound very similar as to how they always have, so comforting territory there. As for vocals, Anastasio holds up, however on my wishlist is more acapella from the band- one of their many quirks I've grown fond of over the years.

Well signified by it's artsy cover with clouds and baby blue sky, this track can be described with such emotional adjectives like free and floating. This is definitely more in the territory of innocent, Fuego Phish than of the acid-fueled nonsensical band they were known to be two decades ago. Whether this is good or not completely depends on your feelings of the different eras the band has gone through. If their more recent stuff is to you liking, this definitely will be too.

Breath & Burning is a good sign of what's to come on this new album. I'd say for Phans or just easy listeners, keep your ears up. There might be some good stuff ahead.

 Round Room by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.40 | 33 ratings

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Round Room
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars Phish were onto something early in the new millennium- an epiphany if you will. Whilst their well and highly acclaimed 90's albums featured highly eclectic songwriting with zany and nonsensical lyrics, they were able to claim success with a slower, more cooled-down version of their rock. This latter statement is of course in reference to Farmhouse, the 2000's album featuring pop-rock songs that were slightly bogged down by the sappiness of that darned "mainstream" taste. The album was slightly panned by critic for lacking the acid-fueled pseudo depth from Junta or Lawn Boy, but it attracted more every-men to join the Phish circuit. A follow-up album was quickly set up and on track.

Hark! The palindrome year of 2002 rolled around in the form of the spherical Round Room. Like Farmhouse there was many of the same typical rock songs for your casual ears, but something was different this time a"round". The album featured many new epics that are much more intricate than what would be expected. These songs are structured very similarly- with a slow, almost minimalist first half and a raucous second half-, yet are unique in all of their own ways. It's hard to place a finger on it but it's almost as if these songs, mainly 'Pebbles and Marbles', 'Seven Below', 'Walls of the Cave', and 'Waves', feature more depth and meaning than those of any prior Phish album. A controversial opinion maybe, but just a listen to the aforementioned 'Walls of the Cave', with it's creative rhythm patterns set up by drummer god Jon Fishman, and beautiful yet simplistic lyrical abilities of Anastasio and Page McConnell, it is hard for me to deny it to myself. Of course, the shorter songs are good too; like I said they are indeed callbacks to Farmhouse, ranging from slow ballads to jazz-funking, puffed up powerhouses. A noteworthy mention is the track 'Mock Song', which as a fan of the band I felt was a fun poke at their past work, mainly the meaninglessness of their lyrics and such.

Round Room is something that eases you in. It doesn't take multiple listens to enjoy- just let go of any prior notions and sink in. By that time that path of enjoyment has already paved subconsciously for you. And the neatest thing of all: you did it all yourself.

 Hoist by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.11 | 39 ratings

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Hoist
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

3 stars People who like and follow the band Phish seem to forget this one, something that I'll admit I've done on several occasions. A mid-90's album that sort of rehashes and mellows down the art-rock style they developed on Rift, Hoist is an album that inspired a similar playing style of a blend of soft rock epics, shorter more eclectic pieces hailing to their earlier days, and blanket rock-and-roll. This particular style is one of my personal favorites of the band, and in my opinion led to some fantastic songwriting that was able to remain simple yet still have that edge of complexity (see Billy Breathes). Highlights of Hoist include the hard rocking 'Down With Disease', incorporating some funkiness spewed by Gordon, the mellow epic 'Lifeboy', and 'Sample in a Jar'. Perhaps my favorite track is the eclectic closer 'Demand', which subtly shifts moods several times throughout, from boisterous to more avant-garde to extremely climactic-so much so that the song ends with a literal crash and the sound of mourning a Capella. It is slightly worth noting that there is a lyrical reference in the song to 'Squirming Coil', a track on the 1990 Lawn Boy album.

Hoist is mainly a skip-able work of Phish. It has an overall sense of clunkiness and doesn't have the best flow as an album itself. As for individual tracks, there are some definite keepers that not only I found interesting but were indeed added to the vast Phish live repertoire. Mediocre? A bit. But I still suggest that it deserves at least a try, no matter if you are a 'phan' or a prog-enthusiast or simply a fan of rock.

 The Siket Disc by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.44 | 16 ratings

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The Siket Disc
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars The Siket Disc is the one and only instrumental album recorded by the American band Phish. It was released via mail order to Phish fans in 1999, but didn't hit stores until 2000. It is a very quaint little collection of rather obscure music recorded during Phish's Story of the Ghost sessions in 1998. It is a very underrated work that features some pretty good material.

As aforementioned, the album consists of only instrumentals, so Anastasio's vocals are not involved in any way. However, this does lend a pro to the album where it allows him to show off his guitar skills with more prowess. The styles of the tracks revolve mostly around lounge music, with some hints of progressive rock; the entire album is extremely laid-back, and does not over-exert itself to a great extent. The album opens up with 'My Left Toe', which recycles a continuous two notes which makes for a very irritating melody and an unpleasant experience for me. However, it does lead into possibly my favorite track on the album, 'My Name is Slick'. This song subtly combines funk and lounge-jazz which makes it very fun to come back to when you're working or just want to relax. The first side ends with 'What's The Use', a Floydian-inspired epic which use blunt, 60's psychedelic humdrum with deep and echoing guitar chords to make for an interesting space rock jam (this track is probably the most appealing to prog fans who generally enjoy long tunes). 'Quadrophonic Toppling' and 'Albert' are both short but sweet guitar/bass led songs. The former features a very hypnotic bass line by Mike Gordon, even with it featuring only a few different notes. 'The Happy Whip and Dung Song' is perhaps the most vibrant the album gets, featuring the slow muddle seen on 'What's the Use' but more chaotic guitar playing.

This album was slightly hard to critique, due to it being so minimalist in nature. A factor that has made it not too popular, but in my opinion adds very well to a certain aesthetic that it gives off. It is indeed very different from other Phish albums, but for a hard to explain reason it is one of my favorites. Mostly I believe it is from the slow and very simple style that has the instruments being lightly played instead of extremely intricately, and still being able to be fun and enthralling. I would highly suggest however that you listen to it before you obtain it, because it is really a "different-cup-of- tea" kind of experience.

 Billy Breathes by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.47 | 50 ratings

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Billy Breathes
Phish Prog Related

Review by aglasshouse

4 stars I first saw this album's cover and was slightly unsettled by its unfortunate cosmetic it was sporting. This factor is most likely the main reason it took me a substantial amount of time to listen to it, and only then it was because my friend very graciously gave it to me as a gift. To me this really says something, because to me an album's physical presentation may be just as if not more important financially than the actual content of the album. But, unbeknownst to me, Billy had something in store for me, and it wasn't disappointing as he lead me to believe.

Phish was already gathering steam from their getting signed on in '89 and the release of their first album in the same year. The albums that were released from that year till '96 were, as their dedicated fan-base of "Phish-heads" proclaims, some of their best material. Amongst these were the aforementioned debut, Lawn Boy (1990), Picture of Nectar (1992), and Rift (1993). Others like Crimes of The Mind (a collaboration with The Dude of Life) (1994) and Hoist (1994) were less impressive but still added a few songs to the band's repertoire to be extenuated into long, superfluous jams played in their vastly increasing number of live shows.

1996 came around, two years after their last album, titled Billy Breathes. This was a year before what can be undoubtedly described as one of if not the best year of Phish's career, where Phish as a whole made around 10 million dollars from their performances played seemingly every day. Billy Breathes was the last album to add to the collection of songs that would be played, and it really deserves it.

Billy Breathes contains perhaps the most heartfelt and diverse music Phish has ever performed. It blends perfectly aspects of classic american rock, jazz, acoustic, ambient, and of course the ever-present Phish tomfoolery. There are a few short but sweet acoustic guitar-led songs that utilize beautiful ambient soundscapes, such as 'Bliss' and 'Swept Away'. The shorter songs also do a very good job at piecing together into a larger song if they're placed side by side in the tracklist. Prog litters the album, and although not thorough, it is noticeable. 'Theme From the Bottom' is a very nice piece, and an early ode to Picture of Nectar with it's lyrics and composition. The title track is very similar to it as well, though has more folk than past Phish did.

Before I spoil anything more I suggest that you buy Billy Breathes. It is one of Phish's best works if not THE best. If Phish isn't your taste, I'd still suggest this any day for it's creative ability to draw you in with talent alone.

 Junta by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.08 | 85 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.

 Joy by PHISH album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.58 | 29 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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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