10 Phish Jams You Should Hear
To celebrate Phish’s return to Redrocks, lets look back at 10 of their best jams over time. This is a list of jams, in no particular order, that any Phish fan should listen to. It is not the “best 10 phish jams”, simply 10 jams that you should hear.
1. You Enjoy Myself (1995-10-31) – Since we’ve been talking about Halloween so much, I decided to throw in one of my favorite YEMs that just happens to take place on Halloween. After tearing apart The Who’s “Quadrophenia”, the band launched into this lengthy version of their famous jam vehicle. While the longest jams do not always prove to be the best, this long jam should be considered among them. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, this epic version of YEM is a must listen for all. Listen at around 19:00 when Mike takes a dive into a muddy bass line that Page interlaces with his looped synths. Trey gets in there making for a heavy delay-loop jam, meanwhile Mike and Jon hold the funky rhythm underneath. Around 21:00, the jam slows right down leading into a wild spacey psychedelic adventure.
2. Run Like an Antelope (1998-11-27) – One of the best Antelopes ever. I doubt there is any discrepancy on that. This jam is simply incredible. Mike slaughters the bass line in this version, and Trey’s tone is incredible in this show. Trey if you are reading this, bring back your old tone. Very nice syncopated jam around 4:00 leading into a ripping solo at 9:00. Listen to this fiery version of Antelope.
3. Halley’s Comet (1997-11-22) – This epic Halley’s from the mothership starts the second set of the show, where the band arrives onstage to find the crowd chanting the words to Destiny Unbound. Trey responds by telling the crowd it sounds like a “death chant”, because he can’t hear, and asks if it is time for the ritual sacrifice. The band jams hard in this funk-laden Halley’s, very ’97-esque. This jam shows off some nice Page loops and killer lead work by Trey. Listen to Trey’s solo around 20:00, absolutely amazing. Over a dark layer, Trey soars above in a modal exploration that leaves the normal confines of a Halley’s. Layered with effects, the band sends the song back to the galaxy in which it came.
4. Down With Disease (1997-12-11) – A classic Phish jam, exhibiting each member’s respective talents. The jam weaves in and out of wildness, into a soft dark spacey section around 11:15, which is something not often heard in a Disease. The jam continues this soft groove throughout the rest of the song, a very interesting version. The entire fall ’97 tour is incredible, and this is just one of many gems from that period. This Disease is a standout version. This particular version truly shows off Jon’s impeccable timing. It really sounds like there’s a drum machine going (16:00).
5. Reba (1995-05-16) – One of my favorite versions of one of my favorite songs. Some amazingly nice syncopated work by Trey in this rendition. The band holds tight taking this Reba in new spacier directions than normally seen (8:15). Amazing work by Page to completely alter the dynamic of the jam. Trey’s lead work around 11:00 is simply incredible. The jam builds up from a soft spacey psychedelic groove to a full out rocker. An excellent Reba.
6. Ghost (1997-11-17) – Phish in the essence of their “cow-funk” era. the jam is very funky, filled with smooth synth runs by Page, loops, and very heavy bass by Mike. Trey glides atop the rhythm, layering effects, in one of the best Ghosts ever. There is no particular highlight of the song, the entire song is mind blowing. Many consider this show to be one of the best shows, and this jam is certainly a highlight. Another gem from the fall of ’97.
7. Bathtub Gin (1993-08-13) – This version of gin is tight from the start within the context of a very loose song. The band moves into a vocal jam early (4:00) showing the exploratory nature of the band at this point in time. ’93 marks one of the most experimental years, with some very outside playing. This gin is no exception.
8. Tweezer>Lifeboy (1994-06-18) – ’94 is probably the best year for Tweezer. Feeding on the now legendary version from the Bomb Factory in Dallas, the band launched into this version mid-second set in Chicago. This is one of my favorite versions (as are many of these choices clearly), exhibiting some amazing guitar work by Trey who launches into a melody around 4:45 that nears upon divinity. He carries the melody through into a ripping solo, which then spaces out and segues into Lifeboy. The transitions in ’94 sound very natural, and this is great example.
9. Mind Left Body Jam>David Bowie (1994-06-18) – From the same show as the Tweezer above, this is my favorite Bowie ever. At 4:45 Trey locks into a melody, which carries the jam to an entirely new level. This jam is incredibly melodic, with great playing all around. At 6:45 the song picks up heading into a heavy rocking exploratory jam. Mike’s fast bass work is absolutely wild. One of my favorite jams, from an outstanding, highly underrated show. Trey talks about this Bowie in this interview. He says that at the beginning of the song, when they play the first note signalling for the high-hat intro, they spontaneously entered what became the “Mind Left Body Jam” (featuring an early introduction of the start of “Frankie Says”). This is an example of how Phish jams have no boundaries, any part of any song can become a jam.
10. Twist (1998-04-02) – After spending time in the studio writing new material, Phish decided to take their new songs on the road in a series of four legendary shows. The Island Tour took place over four nights in Uniondale, NY and Providence, RI. If you haven’t heard all four of these shows, I highly recommend you do so immediately. The entire four night run is magical. This Twist is a perfect example. Completely leaving the confines of the song, the jam enters into places that are unimaginable. The jam is heavy type II, and definitely my favorite Twist of all time. One of my favorite parts in any Phish jam ever is at 6:30. Jon leads the jam as he speeds up the tempo, leading it into all new places. This jam is a journey, and anyone who embarks on the ride is sure to realize how great this jam really is. I can’t say enough about this one. Even though it is last, it could be the best jam on this entire list. Simply put, this is one of Phish’s finest jams ever and it is rarely mentioned among them.
If you have a favorite Phish jam post it in the comments section below.