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Phish - Billy Breathes CD (album) cover




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3.46 | 53 ratings

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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.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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