As an old Deadhead, the thought of discussing Phish can indeed be scary. I have tried to get into Phish in the past but I just could’nt do it. My main problem was the quality of the songwriting. I would listen to live tapes and like some of the improvisations but I found their original songs for the most part to be mediocre at best. The melodies were pedestrian and the lyrics were downright infantile. Compare “All I know is something like a bird within her sang” (The Grateful Dead – Bird Song) with “Won’t you step into the freezer, Seize her with a tweezer” (Phish – Tweezer) and you have the poetic vs. the puerile. But after reading glowing reviews of their tour this past summer, I decided to check them out again. While I still find their songwriting to be uninspiring, I was impressed with the improvisational spaces they would get into. So with that in mind, I want to let everyone know about a web site called Phish Just Jams. The site provides listeners with live recording of Phish with the lyric and composed sections of their songs removed, leaving only their improvised jams. You can filter the jams by year, tour, song and duration and location. What I found particular interesting was the variety of different sonic spaces the band would get into on different performances of the same song. For those people like me who love the jamming but hate the songs, this is the way to listen to Phish.
Link – Phish Just Jams
In keeping with the Halloween season, the clip below is the second set from Phish’s 2014 Halloween show. In past Halloween shows, Phish would perform a classic album in it’s entirety. Past tributes included The Beatles’ White Album, The Who’s Quadrophenia, Exile On Main Street by the Rolling Stones, Remain In Light by The Talking Heads and The Velvet Underground’s Loaded (big props for the last choice, one of the great underrated rock albums of all times IMHO). For 2014’s show they did something different. They paid tribute to an album from the past but instead of some iconic classic rock album they chose Disney’s Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House. Released in 1964, Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House was a collection of narrated stories and sound effects. Phish took 10 of these selections and built instrumentals around them. The songs tend to follow a similar structure: a spoken intro from the original Disney record followed by Phish’s original music that spaned prog rock, jazz funk, dreamy Pink Floyd like soundscapes and hard rock. On some songs, the sampled sound effects are incorporated into the music, notably in Your Pet Cat, The Birds and Martian Monster. Accompanying all this was a stage production featuring a haunted house, dancers channeling their Thriller video moves, laser lights and the band dressed in white tuxedos and zombie makeup. Ooh, scary!!
The set list and times are as follows:
0:01 The Haunted House
8:48 The Very Long Fuse
13:10 The Dogs
23:23 Your Pet Cat
35:25 The Unsafe Bridge
39:03 The Chinese Water Torture
45:57 The Birds
55:20 Martian Monster
Phish 2014-10-31 HALLOWEEN SET 2 – Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House