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Phish Junta album cover
4.07 | 95 ratings | 18 reviews | 45% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc one (62:27)
1. Fee (5:23)
2. You Enjoy Myself (9:47)
3. Esther (9:21)
4. Golgi Apparatus (4:35)
5. Foam (6:50)
6. Dinner And A Movie (3:42)
7. The Divided Sky (11:50)
8. David Bowie (10:59)

Disc two (60:00)
9. Fluffhead (3:24)
10. Fluff's Travels (11:35)
11. Contact (6:42)
- Bonus tracks on double-CD edition:
12. Union Federal (Live) (25:31)
13. Sanity (Live *) (5:22)
14. Icculus (Live *) (4:24)

* Recorded live at Nectar's, Burlington, on 5/3/88

Total time: 122:27

Line-up / Musicians

- Trey Anastasio / guitar, vocals
- Page McConnell / piano, organ, vocals
- Mike Gordon / bass, vocals
- Jonathan Fishman / drums, trombone, vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Jim Pollock (CD cover, the one included on this page)

MC Self-released (1989, US)

2xCD Elektra ‎- 61413-2 (1992, US) With 3 bonus Live tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PHISH Junta ratings distribution

(95 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(45%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PHISH Junta reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars To start, I am not a phan (and that will be the last substitution of "ph" for "f" in this review). I bought this review solely based on ProgArchives reviews. This leads me to a number of conclusions: this is not an entirely progressive rock album (though there are many great progressive rock songs), there are no deeper meanings to the lyrics ("the tires are the things on your car that make contact with the road" cannot be interpreted at a deeper level), and Trey Anastasio is not one of the greatest guitarists (he is very pleasant, I will admit). Junta has a number of great moments and an equal number of mediocre moments. I leave it to you to choose which you want to emphasize.

You Enjoy Myself, The Divided Sky, David Bowie, Fluffhead, Fluff's Travels. These are the prog moments. This is also some of the happiest music you will ever hear (especially You Enjoy Myself and The Divided Sky). Put these tunes on at work and you will definitely feel less hatred for whatever you are doing. Though pleasant, these are not simple pieces: plenty of time changes and extremely tight playing from Phish dominates these tracks. There's no doubt, these guys have talent, and are a very tight group when they decide to be. The keys and guitar are especially on the same page--most noticeably on The Divided Sky. They can also construct a complex build, as David Bowie clearly shows. They also have a pure Yes-like positivity that is most notable on Fluffhead.

Fee, Esther, Golgi Apparatus, Foam, Dinner and a Movie, Contact. These are the non-prog pieces. There are some decent instrumental breaks to look forward to (Esther and Golgi Apparatus especially), but overall these, in my opinion, are ininspired and lackluster at best, and silly and irritating at worst.

Plenty of great and mediocre material. If I could produce it, I know exactly what I would do, and it would involve keeping the prog and releasing only one disc instead of two. If you like inane, easy listening jazz/rock, you will enjoy this album. If you like great prog melodies and instrumentation, you will enjoy parts of this album. If you enjoy deep, intense prog, you will regret buying this album. Just know ahead of time what you are getting into, and you'll be fine.

Review by MovingPictures07
4 stars Despite not directly being progressive rock, this album is very unique, creative, and has many progressive tendencies. On top of that, it's really enjoyable. This is the real Phish, not the band that their later studio efforts elucidate.

I will not highlight each track, but I will say safely that this is a very excellent addition to any prog collection. Songs like the Fluffhead suite, You Enjoy Myself, David Bowie, the Divided Sky are all innovative, enjoyable, and feature very good musicianship and explorative song structures. They are all generally happy in nature (though the lyrics may not be) and these songs are all progressive rock songs in spirit, uncovering new ground and managing to create something special.

Other songs like Fee, Esther, Golgi Apparatus, Dinner and a Movie, and Contact are all more straight-forward but no less enjoyable and very often feature instrumentation and developments that are far beyond typical rock songs. These aren't just jams either, these are hippie-esque artistic pieces of music that transcend the conception of Phish being a plain old jam band.

This is one of the best prog-related discs you can own, but the 2nd CD is a bit more uneven than the first, especially with the last two tracks being random excerpts from live shows. Good songs nonetheless, but the uneven distribution of songs and the occasional long, disjointed feel is what keeps this album from perfection.

Nonetheless, this happy, piano-filled, catchy, and quite progressive offering is among Phish's best work and features most of their best and most progressive compositions they've ever written. If you have any doubts about why they are on this site, this album should convince you.

A fabulous mixture of jazzy, funky, progressive, and uniquely Phishian compositions that often go way too overlooked because of Phish's reputation and later works. If you own one album by Phish, make it this one (Lawn Boy being a close second).

Review by FruMp
2 stars This album is not for everyone, definitely not for oldschool prog fans. I've seen quite a bit written about this album where poeple say they delve into lots of different genres. I don't really think they do, most of the elements that appear to come from other styles are used in quite a gimmicky manner and hardly measure up to the real deal. Speaking of gimmicks - the vocals, man they are awful, the lyrics are incredibly shallow and juvenile and the vocal delivery is cheesy as hell.

This album is to prog what ska is to hardcore punk, fruity, silly, naive, upbeat and with no idea of how to party. If that's your thing then you might enjoy, seasoned prog fans should approach with caution.

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Junta' - Phish (4/10)

I find this to be a very difficult album to review for one simple reason. Much like a feudal society, there are alot of songs ranging from poor to mediocre (the peasants) yet a few tracks which blew me away (royalty.) This is a band I knew nothing about before buying this record, and simply purchased it in the faith that I would enjoy at least part of it. With all the comparisons between them and the Grateful Dead as being the new quintessential jam band, I couldn't help but pick this one up.

For those that know nothing about these guys, I would place their sound somewhere between college rock, psychedelic music and jazz. There are plenty of other little influences thrown in for good measure, of course. The album starts off with a relatively laid back track led on by some pleasant jazz chords and some vocals that would sound out of place in a ska or alt-rock band. It is also during the first track where Phish's quirky lyrical sensibility is discovered. Suffice to say, singing about a chimpanzee getting a paper cut on his nipple then tumbling off of a boat into shark-infested waters certainly isn't Shakespearean. There is an obvious Frank Zappa influence on these guys though, covering more than just the words and bad humour. Alot of the superior parts of the album tip the hat to old Zappa greats like 'Hot Rats.'

The places where this album really shines is during the structured instrumentals. 'You Enjoy Myself,' blew me out of my chair when I first heard it. While I may not be able to get into all of this band's music, I can say with conviction that they are talented musicians. Sweeping arpeggios set to jazz tones and complex riffs are definately plentiful here. The more involved, longer tracks on the first disc are apparently where Phish threw all of their brilliance into; from a musicians perspective, they are about as tight and intelligent as you can get for the style.

If all of the tracks on 'Junta' measured up to the success and quality of 'You Enjoy Myself' or 'The Divided Sky,' I would not be surprised if this became one of my favourite albums. However, there is a bit too much here that ranges from being boring or silly to plainly unlistenable. The first disc is actually quite solid, and has all of 'Junta's high points. It's the second disc however, that really drags the album down. With the possible exception of 'Fluff's Travels' and even fleeting moments of the twenty three minute improvised jam 'Union Federal,' disc two works out to be a maladjusted mess. The troubles start coming into full view with 'Contact,' a song which explains to the uneducated listener, the definition of 'tires' and what they can be used for. Don't get me wrong, I understand fully that these guys are trying to be funny, but it gets a bit ridiculous when that's the only sort of lyric you opt to write. The worst part is saved for the very last, where they take an excerpt from a particularly dazed live performance and tack in on. While the sound quality is understandably poor, the music and performance is practically unlistenable. Going from being virtuoso jazz-influenced musicians on tracks like 'You Enjoy Myself' to incessantly snickering in between verses and screaming incomprehensibly into the microphone leads me to the conclusion that they were under the influence of narcotics while performing. They must have also been under the influence when they decided to include those on their studio debut as well.

I can draw alot of comparisons between this and Porcupine Tree's debut, which came out around the same time. There are flashes of brilliance, but they are bogged down by alot of tracks that don't need to be listened to more than once to realize they aren't worth the time. However, despite my harsh criticisms, this debut has in fact suceeded in the sense that I am now intrigued by this band and their vast potential for making great music. As a result, I will be keeping a look out for other albums in their discography.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Back in their early years, prog rock was much more prevalent in the music of Phish than after Warner Elektra got their evil mitts on this band. And they wer very good at it. The prog is on high display on this album in You Enjoy Myself, which turns into an R&B jam halway through, Foam, a sort of deranged samba, The Divided Sky, David Bowie, and especially Fluff's Travels. Anyone who wonders what this band is doing here should simply listen to this album.

"Junta" also features a lot more of their fabled jamming than any of the Elektra studio albums. Union Federal is a twenty five minute space jam that starts out meandering, but gels toward the end (no wonder the Deadheads love them). Speaking of The Dead, they were obviously a heavy influence on Phish, and Trey Anastasio's guitar often sounds like a certain Mr. Garcia.

My only complaint: the last track, Icculus, sounding sort of like Flo & Eddie era Zappa, goes way too far to get to a bad pun.

Review by siLLy puPPy
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.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Latest members reviews

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 the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1358217) | Posted by aglasshouse | Friday, January 30, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars some serious progressive jazz-rock, funky, fusion hybrid done in a slightly playful way. Phish's music has always been more upbeat than your usual prog, mixing in all different kinds of genres and being highly influenced by Zappa (as many jam bands are, whether they know it or not). this first alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#140120) | Posted by mysticboogey | Sunday, September 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Phish is an incredible band that has dipped into all sorts of genres of music. On this album, the genre is clearly prog/jazz with lots of jamming, complex time signatures, and all around virtuosic playing. Fluffhead/Fluff's Travels is probably the best song on this album. It's a 15 minute m ... (read more)

Report this review (#72482) | Posted by Gianthogweed | Tuesday, March 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Phish is progressive, kind of. They mix elements of Funk, Jazz, Bluegrass, and Prog. Their first album, Junta, is a two-disc set and it's their best album. The best song for me is The Divided Sky, which starts with a wonderful intro, then stops after ca. 1 minute. Then comes the strange chant "Di ... (read more)

Report this review (#58822) | Posted by | Thursday, December 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Amazing that this album came out in 1988, right after the 80's wasteland. This album is as essential as many 70's prog masterpieces, but often gets overlooked because of its vintage and the settling of their sound seemingly after signing with Elektra (though retaining the extreme verstility an ... (read more)

Report this review (#46050) | Posted by Green and Funky | Thursday, September 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars ther was dark side of hte moon...then ther was junta... this album is basically phish in a nutshell .. a combination of intricate instrumentals that make u think they are less then gods but more than humans.. ive been listening to junta for abut 3 years now and im still discovering melodies th ... (read more)

Report this review (#41910) | Posted by | Sunday, August 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Prog is all about pushing the limits of music and that is exactly what this album does completely. At this time prog was heading down a more digital path and it's great to hear that a band can take it back to what's it all about. This album accomplishes so much (I guess it is a two disc set) b ... (read more)

Report this review (#40989) | Posted by Shane Wallace | Saturday, July 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first, most progressive, and argueably best studio album to come from this great band. Junta is a must have for any prog fan. An absolute masterpiece with superb musicianship and outstanding compositions. Lots of interesting guitar play by Tre, who is a rare and remarkable talent. And ... (read more)

Report this review (#37155) | Posted by SonicTemple | Tuesday, June 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is a modern rock masterpiece unlike any other ever created. This album is without a doubt the phinest album in the past quarter of a century. The musical talent of the band is on full display in songs such as You Enjoy Myself, Davided Sky, David Bowie, and others. This album is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#33641) | Posted by | Monday, May 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars How can a human being compose that! And even more remarkable - how can anyone play that!?! Listen to YEM, ESTHER; DIVIDED SKY, FLUFFHEAD/FLUFFS TRAVELS. This is a Masterpiece of modern Art in Music. Demanding and fascinating at once. ... (read more)

Report this review (#33640) | Posted by | Sunday, March 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars To say that they are talented musicians and that the music on this album is expertly crafted and executed is entirely true, but misses much of the essense of it that compels me to listen to it again and again with enjoyment. There is an element to Phish, not unlike Zappa or Steely Dan or eve ... (read more)

Report this review (#33639) | Posted by | Thursday, January 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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