Possible Musical Costumes
After many of the expected, and a few of the unexpected albums have been axed from the list, the speculation continues to run in high gear. None of the albums we have mentioned have received the axe, so we feel that we are on the right track. Today, we’ve compiled a full list of albums that we feel could make the cut. We’ve narrowed it down through a number of different criteria. Some albums on the list were decoys, albums Phish most likely would not play. Others, such as the albums by bands they have already covered on Halloween, were obvious no-goes. Here are our picks (we have included the ones we have already mentioned, with brief descriptions):
1. Blind Faith – Blind Faith
As we have already mentioned, this would be a great pick. There are phenomenal musicians on every instrument, hence the band being dubbed the first ‘super-group’. Trey has said he is a big Clapton fan and this album exhibits his playing like no other. Also, Phish has never covered a Blind Faith song. The entire album is incredible and I still hold this as one of my top picks, although I don’t think it is the most likely.
2. Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes/Blood on the Tracks
Again, both possibilities. Trey has said he would like to do the Basement Tapes in the past (2003 interview with Relix), and again recently on a radio interview. The instrumental music on The Basement Tapes is superior to Blood on the Tracks, as The Band is Dylan’s back-up. Blood on the Tracks would be mostly Trey singing and for that reason I don’t think they will choose it. For the same reason I left Van Morrison off the list. It is hard to choose an album that focuses on a single musician. I don’t feel these albums will become the musical costume yet they should still be considered.
3. Brian Eno - Before and After Science
This album fits all the criteria and could very well be the choice. Trey has professed his love for Eno’s work on numerous occasions. Eno is largely considered to have pioneered ambient music, making Halloween the perfect time for the band to pay tribute. A day that is traditionally filled with ambient noises from the dark would provide the ideal canvas for Phish to paint their own ambient picture. If you have not heard this album, I highly recommend it. The one aspect of this album holding it back is the connection and similarity to the Talking Heads. To many, it would seem like Phish was covering another Heads album, and this may lead them to stray away from choosing it.
4. David Bowie - Scary Monsters/Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust
Phish has a long history with David Bowie, and it would feel perfect if it were to all come together with a Halloween set that relived his weird antics. All three albums seem possible with Ziggy at the head of the pack. He is also the only artist with three albums. The odd music would provide the perfect atmosphere for a weird, fantasy-like Halloween. Trey would destroy Mick Ronson’s leads and Page would have his hands filled playing Rick Wakeman’s (most notably the keyboardist for Yes) parts.
5. Frank Zappa – Apostrophe/Hot Rats
Both of these are big possibilities. Trey and Jon have both said how much Zappa has influenced them both. Zappa would undoubtedly put each musician to the ultimate test, and would involve Trey’s compositional skills to fill the instrumental gaps. The band could also bring out extra musicians as they did in the past with Remain in Light. This is a tall order, and as I mentioned before, is unlikely to happen in a short period of time. With the band apparently flopping between albums it would appear time is running out. That said, it is also very likely that Trey and Jon are familiar with a great deal of the music on both albums making the job significantly easier. It is also possible that the band has been fooling us and has been learning this album for a while now.
6. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
This album has everything needed to become the musical costume. Only one factor holds it back, and that’s the length. Running over an hour an a half would create a problem as that is a ton of music to learn. The White Album was lenghty, however, as Trey has said it was practically part of his genetic make-up. If they could pull this off, it would be an incredible experience. Telling the story of the Rael’s journeys through New York would be similar to the narrative-like feel of Gamehenge. Trey also mentioned in a radio interview yesterday that, in the past, part of the decision behind choosing the album has been based on a particular band member’s ability to replicate the playing of one of the musicians being covered. For example, Trey mentioned Jon’s ability to mimic Keith Moon’s style when they covered Quadrophenia. I have no doubt in Jon’s ability to replicate Phil Collins’ drum parts. This should be high on everyone’s list, regardless of the length. We will be at a festival after all…
7. Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?/Electric Ladyland
While I think these are both possibilities, I don’t think they will make the final cut. To cover an entire Jimi Hendrix album would be a self-fulfilling endeavor for Trey. We all know about Trey’s love for Jimi and the influence he has had on Trey’s playing. The backing musicians are less than stellar, and would hardly present a challenge for the rest of the band. There’s not even a piano. While I would love to see Trey bring Jimi’s magic back to life, I just don’t think it’s realistic.
8. King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues in Aspic
In the past, Phish has generally brought something new to the table, other than The White Album. If they were to do this album, it would definitely shock quite a few people. I think it’s possible, but if you’re familiar with Robert Fripp’s guitar playing, it does not seem overly likely. Known for a very original style of picking, Fripp does not use any conventional guitar techniques. Trey would literally have to reinvent his playing to take on this album. That said, Trey said he likes to get inside the heads of the musicians he is covering, and really understand the space they were in at the time of recording. For those of you who don’t know, “Daves Energy Guide” is an admitted take on Fripp’s guitar-style. One might even say it is a direct lift from the album “Discipline”. If this is the album, I will be very happy and it could very well change the future of Phish, much in the way Remain in Light did in ’96.
9. Led Zeppelin - I/IV (Zoso)
I think these are the overall favorites to become the musical costume, and for that reason, I don’t think either will make the cut. However, as much as Trey loves Jimi, he loves the other Jimmy almost as much. These albums provide the opportunity for Trey to play guitar-God, and for the rest of the band to shine as well. Jon has said his first experience with drumming was attempting to emulate John Bonham, and that he basically learned to drum from it. Page would most likely sing, so he would have a new challenge to face. Mike would have John Paul Jones’ lines to master making this a challenge for the entire band. I would have to say that IV is the more likely of the two as it contains the songs Phish has covered less often. To get a taste of what it would be like to hear Trey play “Black Dog”, check out the version from Bonnaroo ’04.
10. Michael Jackson – Thriller
For those of you who don’t know (I feel like this is common knowledge) Eddie Van Halen played the guitar solo on “Beat It” – clearly the reason for Trey’s love for the song (he has teased it on multiple occasions – 10.21.95, 10.29.95). The entire album presents a challenge for the band, as Mike would be locked into disco-mode from the start, Jon would become a drum machine. More importantly, who would sing? I don’t see it happening. For a classic PT discussion in support of it, click here.
11. Neil Young – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere/Tonight’s the Night
While seeing these covered would make me very happy, I don’t think it will happen. Neither album evokes the type of spirit that I think would be necessary for Halloween, more specifically a Halloween festival. Trey is clearly a big Neil fan, and playing his album would be very fun, for Trey. Like some of the other albums, it doesn’t present enough of a challenge for the rest of the band. Possible, but unlikely.
12. Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers/Exile on Main St.
I think these are both major possibilities. Since they have played “Loving Cup” so many times, I think “Exile” is less likely. Sticky Fingers would be a great album to cover, but I feel like Phish will avoid it. The songs are too well known and I think the band gets a kick out of bringing new music to their fans’ ears. Again, unlikely.
13. Rush - Moving Pictures
Another of my top picks to become the musical costume. Phish has never covered a Rush song, however, Space Antelope has. In Trey’s basement back in the early 80′s Trey and friends took a stab at “Hemispheres”. This would fulfill the role of introducing fans to new music, as I doubt a large number of Phish fans are big Rush fans. It would also be the perfect backdrop to a spooky night. Rush’s dark, complex, compositions would add a strong effect to the eerie surroundings. While Rush is only a three person band, there is enough overdubbing used to leave room for a fourth musician. The music is challenging, original, and fits the vibe of Halloween. It doesn’t get much more perfect.
Listen to Trey’s band Space Antelope play “Hemispheres”.
14. Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic
For several reasons I think this is one of the most likely albums. Way back at UVM, Trey’s sign saying “Bass Player Wanted” also included “Guitarist and singer into Steely Dan, Allman Brothers”. Eat a Peach was axed yesterday, leaving Steely as one of Trey’s oldest and most significant influences. This album is doable, yet a very tall challenge. The entire band will have to master some very complex music. I think it is very possible, and I would be very happy to see this album covered.
15. Van Halen – Van Halen
A lot of people seem to be crossing this one off the list early. It’s not my first pick, but I think it would suit the event very well. Opening with “Runnin’ with the Devil” on Halloween would be perfect. The album presents a challenge the band definitely could take on. However, again, this album largely focused on a single musician, making it less likely.
16. Yes – The Yes Album
This is probably my personal favorite from the entire list of albums. I would be extremely happy to hear the band cover this one. It presents a huge challenge to every member. Jon has said Bill Bruford was one of his earliest influences, and it would be incredible to see Jon play his drum lines. Steve Howe is one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and Tony Kaye and Chris Squire are also some of the best at their respective instruments. The dark compositions would create the perfect effect for Halloween. However, this album presents a few questions. For one, who would sing Jon Anderson’s high pitched vocals? Second, and perhaps most importantly, can Trey learn “The Clap” in such a short period of time? Unless he already knows it, which is very possible, I think it would take a great deal of effort to learn it from scratch.
We have taken Pet Sounds off the list for a few reasons. First, I have a hard time seeing the band reaching the level vocal of harmony required to achieve the full effect. Second, while it is one of the greatest albums ever, and likely the reason why they included it, it does not pack enough of a punch. It’s too much of a feel good ride, and I don’t think that suits the Halloween vibe at all. That said, the Pink Floyd albums also did not make the cut. While I think Phish could surprise everyone, they have already played Darkside and I don’t see them doing the same band twice.
Check out this video of “Gin” from Halloween ’89.