We’ve been recalling some memorable Dead shows recently, but today it seems appropriate to reflect on more than one memorable Phish show that took place on this day. During the spring of ’90, ’92, ’93 and ’94, the band was debuting a wide array of new songs, and moving through distinctly transitional phases that would alter the dynamics of their improvisation. For example in ’92 speedjazz was taking hold as the dominant style of jamming, whereas in ’94 wildly outside psychedelia would be the emerging theme. These shows capture the band during these transitional phases, and foreshadow the types of musical evolution that would take place as the years progressed. The shows today all feature multiple highlights, some well-known, some more or less unknown. Today is just one of those days where there are highlights aplenty…
“The Landlady” > “Possum” (4.29.92)
“Split Open and Melt” (4.29.93)
“You Enjoy Myself” > “Fast Enough For You” (4.29.94)
“Mike’s Song” (4.29.94) *features a segment reminiscent of the “Mind Left Body Jam”
“Uncle Penn” (4.29.90)
On this day 39 years ago, a show that holds personal significance took place. Two of my all-time favorite bands – the Grateful Dead and the Beach Boys – came together for several songs at the Filmore East in New York.
Parts of the show have been released on Ladies and Gentlemen, the Grateful Dead, but interestingly none of the collaboration between the two bands were included. The streaming on Archive.org is disabled, and thus, many fans are unaware that these two bands ever graced the stage together. A SBD copy of the show circulates, and captures the performance of these two great Californian bands perfectly. Check out the three songs the bands played together below, or download the show to hear both the Dead’s performance, as well as three songs performed by the Beach Boys alone.
“Riot in Cell Block #9“
“Okie from Muskogee“
“Johnny B. Goode“
Don’t you wish sometimes you could tune into the radio and have it play hours of uninterrupted music (that you actually enjoy)? Well, that’s exactly what we have for you today. It’s healthy to step outside the world of Phish to explore other types of music that expand your own personal musical sphere. Phish fans are often tangled up in the ‘jam scene’, and as a result, are shielded from hearing other great bands and genres they might also enjoy. Hopefully today’s selection will introduce you to some bands your unfamiliar with, and some that you will come to enjoy as much as we do. So sit back, relax, and enjoy these great tunes! (Be patient while it’s loading, the file is in 320kbps to provide you with the highest quality sound)
“Ambient Alarm Clock Series Vol. 1“
Here’s the tracklist for today:
1. Kin Ping Meh - Fairy Tales [Kin Ping Meh]
2. Frank Zappa – Apostrophe [Apostrophe]
3. Little Feat – Mercenary Territory [Waiting For Columbus]
4. Genesis- Get ‘Em Out by Friday [Foxtrot]
5. Tame Impala – Runway, Houses, City, Clouds
6. Yes – Siberian Khatru [Close to the Edge]
7. Cornershop – Chamchu [Judy Sucks a Lemon For Breakfast]
8. Jerry Garcia Band – I’ll Take A Melody [1983.11.25]
9. Dungen – Stadsvandringar [Stadsvandringar]
10. Rubblebucket - Came out of a Lady [2010.4.17]
11. Pavement - Cut Your Hair [Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain]
12. Mike Gordon – Another Door [The Green Sparrow]
13. Assembly of Dust – Revelry (ft. Martin Sexton & Tony Rice) [Some Assembly Required]
14. Ornette Coleman – Singing in the Shower (feat. Jerry Garcia) [Virgin Beauty]
15. Captain & Tennille – Love Will Keep Us Together [Love Will Keep Us Together]
16. Talking Heads – Pulled Up [Talking Heads]
17. Television – Marquee Moon [Marquee Moon]
18. Neil Young – Goin’ Back [Comes a Time]
19. Bubble Puppy – Road to St. Stephen [A Gathering of Promises]
20. Derek and the Dominoes – Jam III [The Layla Sessions]
It was 33 years ago today that the Dead rolled into Springfield, MA on the brink of what would arguably become the finest year in their long spanning career. Only the seventh show of the year, in many ways, this show and the ones surrounding it, laid the path for the legendary month of May 1977 that would follow.
Riding on a breadth of new material, the band debuted “Fire on the Mountain”, “Terrapin Station”, and “Estimated Prophet” at the start of the 1977 spring tour. In this show, The band plays only the third performance of “Fire On The Mountain”, and paired with “Scarlet” it is executed masterfully. In 1977 the Dead were moving with a funky new groove, the early stages of which can be heard here. As the Dead altered their psychedelic focus toward a more effect-heavy sound, a new style of jamming emerged from it. Those spaced-out, groove-heavy jams are heavily present in this show. Jerry is just sailing over the band’s rhythms, and with the use of his new Mutron-III Envelope Filter his solos sound more vocal; like an angels voice pouring its soul into every word. It’s a great show from beginning to end, and foreshadows the groundbreaking month the band had ahead of themselves.
Nothing like throwing on some good ol’ Grateful Dead as we welcome the warm spring weather. Enjoy the weekend, and check back Monday for a special edition of Ambient Alarm Clock!
Check out the great “Fire on the Mountain” from this show (posted below).
Yesterday we talked about Phish and their ability to put their own stamp on a cover song. As was mentioned, this is largely due to the band member’s wide spanning musical tastes. Trey has hinted, in interviews over the years, at some of the influences that led to ideas for Phish songs. And, those that he has not hinted at can be heard just by listening. Phish represents so many different musical genres that it’s almost inevitable that some of their influences will show through in their own music.
This is nothing new, artists have been lifting chord progressions, rhythms, melodies, licks etc. for ages. Some are more apparent than others, and some go as far as copyright infringement. Many will remember the ordeal that occurred years ago when the Stones released “Has Anybody Seen My Baby”, only to find out later that Keith Richards had very obviously lifted the melody from K.D. Lang’s “Constant Craving”. Or as any educated music fan knows, Zeppelin blatantly stole “Whole Lotta Love” from the Small Faces’ “You Need Lovin’”. Or similarily the “Lemon Song”, which is direct lift off both Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killin’ Floor”. Some say that Robert Plant stole his entire singing style from Steve Marriot of the Small Faces.
While Phish are most often compared to the Dead, their music hardly resembles the Dead’s. Instead, Phish cited a much wider, and deeper, source of influences. All of these various artists contributed to Phish’s sound, or songwriting, in some way. We’ve talked about the influence Genesis had on Phish, and as many of you know, it was quite substantial. But there are others who have played a role in developing Phish’s sound, such as Zappa, Ravel, Jimi Hendrix, and even Leonard Berstein (West Side Story). Today, we take a look at some of these major influences, and their specific effects on Phish’s music.
Maurice Ravel, the French composer known for such classic as “Daphnis et Chloe”, “Miroirs” and “Le Tombeau de Couperin”, has played a large role in Trey’s songwriting. Many of Phish’s songs emulate the underlying textures of “Le Tombeau de Couperin” – Ravel’s dedication to those lost in WWI. In an interview with a Japanese journalist in 2000, Trey said he had been listening to Ravel daily, and had become obsessed with him. He goes on to say:
“[Ravel] probably had mostly an influence on a tune like “The Inlaw Josie Wales” or the end of “Dirt” where there’s a little bit more….there’s a piece of his music that’s called “Le Tombeau de Couperin” and that kind of cycling, well, it’s just one of my favorite pieces of music ever. I’d love to write music like that. It’ll never be that good (laughs) – but sort of like that. “
Anyone familiar with Ravel’s music will understand the connection when hearing songs like “YEM”, the orchestrated section of “Fluffhead” or “Guyute”. Ravel’s ability to create these incredible aural pastures is one of his great musical accomplishments, and Trey has attempted to resemble this sound in some of his own writing. Perhaps the best representation of Ravel’s influence on Phish is the introduction to “My Friend My Friend”. To me, “My Friend” very much resembles the third movement in “Le Tombeau de Couperin” called “Forlane”. Listen to Katherine Scott’s rendition below and then listen to “My Friend My Friend” and compare.
“My Friend My Friend” (1995.7.3)
But also, the second movement, “Fugue”, is quite similar to “The Chase” section in “Fluffhead”. Give a close listen below and hear for yourself.
“The Chase” (1989.10.1)
If you want to explore the Ravel connection further, check out the similarities between the intro sections to both “YEM” and “The Curtain” and compare them to the first movement in “Le Tombeau de Couperin”. As Trey has said, when he went off into the infamous cabin he mentioned at Coventry to write “The Curtain”, he was listening to nothing but classical music. So, you can see where a great deal of this comes from.
Every Phish fan knows there’s a huge connection between Phish and Zappa. The quirky lyrics,the humor, the rock compositions, are all a result of Zappa’s heavy influence on Trey and Jon. I won’t go into this one too much, as I’ve already written an entire article on Fishman’s Zappa picks, which talked a lot about the band and Zappa. But it is worth mentioning one song in particular and its similarity to “Reba”. “Dina-Moe Hum” is undeniably, the main influence behind “Reba”. I’m sure you will all instantly realize how familiar these two songs sound. However, what’s even more interesting is that another of Zappa’s song resembles the jam in “Reba”. “Son of Orange County” has the same chord pattern as the one in the “Reba” jam, which Zappa used to grace with an E Lydian solo (Trey uses a D Lydian solo).
“Son of Orange County“
Jimi’s influence is mainly attributable to Trey’s playing, but some of his writing also resemble Jimi’s composed numbers. One of the most noticeable examples, and again you will all instantly recognize it, is in Jimi’s “1983″ off Electric Ladyland. The descending lick you hear at the end of “Bouncing Around the Room” is a direct lift off a similar repeating riff (2:34) in “1983″ – one of my all-time favorite Jimi songs.
“Bouncing Around the Room” (1993.3.22)
We’ve talked about the Genesis connection shortly after Phish covered two of their songs at the Rock Hall of Fame induction, so this one won’t go on too long. But as Trey has said he was obsessed with the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway while he was in highschool, and that it played a large part in the creation of the Gamehenge saga. Trey’s early attempts at recording resemble Genesis a great deal, most specifically with regard to The Lamb. Check out “Waiting Room” off The Lamb and compare it to Trey’s original version of “Fluff’s Travels” off The White Tape, and I think you will hear the connection. Trey was experimenting with all sorts of abstract sounds, which would lead into compositions, very much in the same way Genesis did. And, to further substantiate the connection, Genesis also has a song called “Duke’s Travels” off the album Duke; however, it bares no resemblance to “Fluff’s”.
One of the most compelling aspects of Phish is the diverse selection of musical genres they manage to fit into a single show (or album). The band members’ eclectic musical tastes each bring something different to the table, – Mike and his bluegrass, Trey and his indie/classical/rock mix, Page and his jazz, Jon and his Zappa – altering the band’s sound based on their various influences. Some songs noticeably resemble these influences, while others simply incorporate aspects of their respective styles. And, what this all leads to is a band that fulfills our every need. We can come away from a show having heard jazz, bluegrass, rock, and psychedelic jamming – few other musical acts offer such a wide variety of genres and tastes. Phish represents everything a music lover needs, all in one package.
A wise man once told me that no band should ever cover a song unless they have something to new to bring to the table. I’ve always felt Clapton was a master of taking a great song and making it even better. It’s surprising how few people know that “Cocaine” is actually a J.J. Cale song. Check out one of my all-time favorite covers that I just had to include – Clapton’s take on Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” performed at the Bob Dylan 30th anniversary concert.
Phish are very similar. When they decide to play a cover, they never just play it. They bring their own sound to the song, creating something entirely new. Miles Davis had the ability to take the cheesiest of cheesy songs and turn them into these beautiful pieces of music (I urge you to listen to Miles’ version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time“). The way he would take these great melodies and recreates them with his signature sound is one of the reasons I adore Miles so, and similarly one of the reasons I adore Phish. Being able to take a great song and make it better is a remarkably rare talent, found only amongst the greatest musicians. Jerry, Jimi, Eric, Duane, Miles…they all had it. And so does Phish.
Today we present some great covers Phish have played over the years, highlighting the unique sound the band brings to each song. There are so many great versions of so many great songs it was very hard to choose amongst them all. Some of the more obvious ones were left out (Halloweens, Dark Side, Big Cypress). Enjoy!
“Emotional Rescue” (1997.11.21)
“When the Circus Comes to Town” (1998.7.9)
“Boogie On Reggae Woman” (1999.9.18)
“Timber Ho” (1997.11.16)
“Ya Mar” (2003.8.2)
“Good Times Bad Times” (1997.8.10)
“Loving Cup” (1995.12.9)
A PTer going by the alias “Am_I_Winhoused” shared the following pictures yesterday, showing Tom and Trey in the midst of a writing session. It’s great to see them back together, and hopefully this session will yield some new songs for the upcoming tour! Check out the slide show, or click the thumbnails below to see the images.
“Dave’s Energy Guide” – song? phrase? lick? – is a subject of constant debate, and largely misunderstood by the vast majority of Phish fans. Many people confuse “DEG” for the Dead’s “Mind Left Body Jam”, “Delay Loop Jams”, or a vast array of different licks and phrases often played by Trey. The truth is, “DEG” has nothing to do with the “MLBJ”, “Delay Loop Jams” or any other random lick. It comes from a short phrase written by Trey and his friend Dave Abrahams one summer while attending guitar camp.
The story goes like this: In the early 80′s, when Trey and friends attended a King Crimson concert at Princeton University, they were immediately taken aback by both Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew’s guitar playing (listen to “Frame by Frame” off Discipline). Having just released the Discipline album, and having added Adrian Belew to the lineup, King Crimson had developed a unique new sound following their seven year hiatus. With drumming master Bill Bruford back in the lineup, the band was pushing forward into a very new wave sound that departed from their years prior to the hiatus.
That summer, while attending the National Guitar Workshop, Trey and Dave sought to recreate the type of alternate picking techniques used by King Crimson on Discipline, for a camp performance. Dave explained the piece further in an interview with Charlie Dirksen from the Mockingbird Foundation:
“We put the pattern together with one of us playing 5-6-5-7 and the other one playing 5-6-5-6, so they would go out of synch and eventually come back together in synchrony after 22 repetitions. This is a standard King Crimson trick. There were also a few shifts where we’d go into harmony, etc. I don’t know if it had a name, but it wasn’t called “Energy Guide” or “Dave’s” anything. We played it twice, and messed it up both times. It’s really easy to drop a note and if you lose track of where you are in the pattern, God help you. Some kid went up on stage and played an acoustic solo piece he had written, and we decided our thing was formulaic B.S. We left the hall shivering with delight.”
And so, the song was born. However, it was not until later that the song played that summer at guitar camp became what some of us now know as “Dave’s Energy Guide”. The first known performance was on 5.3.85 (also Page’s first show), and featured an extended intro section. It also appeared on Trey’s 1985 Christmas gift, but only included the first section. What is clear is that in the early years, “DEG” was intended to be performed as its own song – Trey even indicated that it would be available “on records and cassettes” eventually. It started on its own, had multiple sections, and was even given its own title. However, to anyone with any knowledge of King Crimson, “DEG” is a direct lift off the song “Discipline”. Thus, it is easy to see why the song was dropped from the band’s catalog.
Listen to “Indisciplinarian” (a studio edit from the Discipline sessions recently released by Robert Fripp via his website) and notice the similarity. Also notice the incredible guitar playing, Tony Levin’s bass playing, as well as Bruford’s masterful drumming.
“Dave’s Energy Guide” (1985.5.3)
As Dave said in the same interview as above:
“At some point Trey formed Phish and the next time we played together he showed me another part to the DEG song, whatever it was called. He said he had walked into a party and seen Fishman sitting on a couch playing this diamond-shaped pattern on the guitar. Trey seized on it and incorporated it into the song. Meanwhile, I had written another part, but I don’t think that ever made it into a Phish rendition of DEG. When I finally got up to Burlington to see them perform it, Trey hung a yellow diamond-shaped sign (promotional material for Con Edison or something) on the mic stand. It said “Energy Guide”.”
In the late 80′s, the song was played frequently, appearing on its own as well as in jams. Often coming out of “Cities”, “DEG” would emerge, adding a burst of energy to the jam before returning back to the original theme. However, following the summer of ’88 the full song was played only once, appearing otherwise in excerpt form during the midst of particularly exploratory jams. Often coming during “Cities”, “Bowie”, “Reba”, “Stash” and “Possum”, or even during covers of the B52′s “Melt the Guns”, the quotes became limited to short segments representative of the original song.
“Melt the Guns” > “DEG” (1987.4.29)
“Split Open and Melt” (1989.11.30)
The 90′s did, in fact, see one full appearance of the song on 6.28.95 in the middle of a menacing “Tweezer” jam.
But there are so many slight teases, or brief quotes, that go unmentioned and undocumented. For example the incredible “Bowie” from 7.25.93 or the equally as rockin’ “Bowie” from 3.18.93 – both of these jams have extended quotes of the second “DEG” section, but are not mentioned on phish.net or anywhere in TPC. I wish I had written more down, but there are endless “Rebas” and “Stashes” with very apparent “DEG” quotes.
As the years have passed, “DEG” quotes have become much less frequent, appearing very rarely if at all. However, the song has not died entirely. As recent as last year’s Red Rocks run, Trey can be heard teasing the song’s theme at the end of “Fluffhead” on 7.31.09. This gives us hope that someday, just maybe, the band will lock into a full-on “DEG” tease as they did in the 80′s, appeasing us Fripp fans who are dying to hear it.
Hopefully, this article has clarified your understanding of “DEG” and will help you identify the song’s theme in future listening. And for those who were already aware, hopefully you enjoyed some of the great jams the song was featured in.
Charlie Dirksen from the Mockingbird Foundation has asked for your help in creating a complete record of all “DEG” teases. So, if you happen to come across a “DEG” tease (and after today there should be no confusion as to what that entails) that is not reported on phish.net, please comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact phish.net via their website.
Sometimes, something so subtle can drastically alter the course of a song, making it stand out among other versions. It can be a tease of a cover or one of their own songs, a slight change in a section, or as Monty Python would say “something completely different”. These moments depart from the song’s frame, altering the course with a simple riff, or a collective realization of a tease. All of these irregularities draw our attention, and make these versions memorable for their unique qualities.
Often, these unique aspects of the song come as such a surprise that we feel truly removed from whatever it is we are doing, and find ourselves in one of those truly Satori moments – moments where the perfect state is reached and realized. Some notable examples are the “Divided” from 11.19.92 which includes a tease of “Those Were the Days” (recently released by livephish), the “Reba” from 7.3.94 featuring an extended “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” quote (discussed in our most recent Sleeper Show article), the famous “Tweezer” from 7.15.98 with the “California Love” tease or even this year’s “Boogielope” from 12.30.09. Songs such as these can become memorable versions simply based on these unique qualities, apart from their phenomenal jams.
Today I’ve chosen to share some of these particularly great songs that standout for one reason or another. I hope you enjoy this selection as much as I do.
“David Bowie” (1989.11.30)
This early version of “Bowie” contains a “Contact” tease in the intro section, as well as a tease of Coltrane’s “Mr. PC” (7:18). Jon immediately picks up on the “Mr. PC” tease and switches to a jazz rhythm to accompany Trey. The synch!
“Mike’s Song” > “Faht” (1993.8.16)
A wild “Mike’s” with numerous teases including Jimi’s “Who Knows”, Santana’s “Gypsy Queen” and Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”, as well a “Faht” segue.
“Split Open and Melt” (1997.8.10)
The jam in this version leads into a full-on quote of King Crimson’s “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic (Part II)” around 10:00 in.
“You Enjoy Myself” (1993.3.14)
This one goes out to Mike over at EVRadio! The extended “Owner of a Lonely Heart” quote, as well as the various other teases (“Spooky”, “Low Rider”, “Oye Como Va’, “We Will Rock You”, “Welcome to the Machine”) should suit his rockin’ taste.
“Weekapaug Groove” (1991.12.31)
“Weekapaug” is known for its various teases and quotes. This one, featuring a lengthy “Lion Sleeps Tonight” segment, stands out among many of the rest.
“Runaway Jim” (1996.8.7)
A jam on Santana’s “Gypsy Queen” propels the song into a truly great section of improv.
An early “Tweezer” with a tease of Jimi’s “Who Knows” – a constantly reoccurring theme in Trey’s guitar playing.
“You Enjoy Myself” (1993.7.16)
The song segues into “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” during the opening segment offering a moment of true spiritual beauty.
Ever since the late 80′s, “Sneakin’ Sally” has played a prominent role in Phish’s career. The song was written by New Orleans native Allan Toussant (also the writer of “On Your Way Down” along with many other classics), and first appeared on Robert Palmer’s 1974 debut album by the same name. This is common knowledge to most. However, what is less-commonly known is that on the recording, Palmer is backed by Lowell George (from Little Feat) and The Meters. When the album was released it did not include liner notes, and thus, no one really knew who was behind this great music. The truth is, Robert Palmer was like a “pet” to Lowell George. He saw the potential in him, and with the help of The Meters, allowed Palmer’s voice to shine brightly, propelling him to great stardom. I grew up on this record, and songs like “Hey Julia” as well as his version of “Sailin’ Shoes” are very dear to me. Robert Palmer was, and will always be, a voice of pure soul.
For Phish, the song appeared regularly in early setlists, and contained some of the earliest vocal jams (see 3.11.88). The 80′s versions stuck mainly to the songs’ format, and remained that way until much later in the band’s career. “Sally” appeared at nearly a quarter of all shows until 1988, and was even included as part of a demo tape the band recorded to distribute in order to gain more gigs. Check out the version from the 1987 demo tape below.
“Sneakin’ Sally” (1987 Demo Tape)
Following 1988, the song took an extended absence from Phish shows. It was played at Ian McLean’s Party on 5.28.89 before taking a 920 show hiatus. It famously reappeared to kick off, and subsequently close, one of the most legendary nights in Phish history, 12.30.97. And, what better timing could there have been for the song to return? Amidst the deepest phase of Phish’s cow-funk era, what was perhaps their earliest attempt at playing funk, returned to the setlist much to the delight of fans in attendance. The jam was stretched out for the first time, and was a solid indication of things to come.
Since its return, “Sally” has only been played 17 times, with many of these occasions being quite memorable. “Sally” is one of those songs that so many fans are chasing, eagerly awaiting their chance to finally hear it performed live. When the band drops “Sally”, it’s a rare and welcome treat that often leads to some incredible musical moments. Often stretching out beyond the funk, “Sally” has, on more than one occasion, reached great improvisational heights. Today, we revisit some of these special moments in anticipation of this summer’s looming “Sally” drop! Lucky for us, more than one of these versions is captured in high quality video.
“Sneakin’ Sally“ (2003.7.23)
I thought we’d start with this beast of a “Sally” since its somewhat lesser known. The jam morphs into a spacey, energy-building jam, that transcends the boundaries of mere funk.
“Sneakin’ Sally” (1987.8.29)
A standout early version from The Ranch in Shelbourne, VT from the days when “Sally” was a setlist staple.
“Sneakin’ Sally” (1998.8.8)
A funked out “Sally” from the spacey summer of ’98.
“Sneakin’ Sally” (2009.8.7)
One of the defining moments of Phish 3.0, thus far…
“Sneakin’ Sally” (1998.10.31)
This is a great version. The funky grooves give birth to an ambient layer of sounds that fade into “Chalkdust”.
“Sneakin’ Sally” (1998.4.2.)
“Sneakin’ Sally” (1997.12.30)
“Sneakin’ Sally” (1998.10.31) *incomplete
And now a little tribute to the great Robert Palmer…
Today marks the 16th anniversary of Phish’s third visit to Toronto’s Masonic Temple, also known as The Concert Hall. But among Toronto natives, and rock aficionados, this building holds legendary status, and is known by its proper name – The Rock Pile. Constructed in 1917, and perched upon the corner of Yonge St. and Davenport, the building acted as an official Masonic Temple before being converted into the Concert Hall. In 1968, the building was converted into a nightclub, The Rock Pile, and quickly began displaying some of the best acts on the music scene.
The venue was intimately small, with a capacity of 1,200 people, and was painted completely white inside, with a white cloth draped from the ceiling for lighting effects. In its first year of operation, the Rock Pile hosted classic acts such as Country Joe and the Fish, Procol Harum, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy. In 1969, however, the venue would make its mark on the rock world bringing in legendary acts such as The Mothers of Invention, Spirit, the Grateful Dead, The Who, and Led Zeppelin.
The Zeppelin shows, one in February and two in August, were perhaps the defining moments for the venue. On February 2nd, Led Zeppelin appeared at the Rock Pile as a little-known blues act for their first Canadian performance. At the time, their only notable feature was their guitar player, Jimmy Page, who had made an impression in his brief stint with The Yardbirds. The posters for the event actually read, “Led Zeppelin featuring Jimmy Page”. Nonetheless, Toronto music fans appeared in large numbers, with many left ticketless outside due to the venue’s small size. The club’s promoters were clever enough to book the band for two more shows in August, when they would return to North America for their summer ’69 tour. By the time the band returned for the two shows in August, they were peaking on music charts, soaring through radio waves worldwide. Check out this early version of “How Many More Times” from the Rock Pile on 2.2.69.
“How Many More Times” (1969.2.2)
This venue holds a certain personal significance, as my father promoted and ran the soundboard for many of these famous shows. In my possession, is the soundboard recording of the February 2nd, 1969 Led Zeppelin show, never before transferred or circulated. My father ran the soundboard that night, and plugged a reel-to-reel recorder directly into the mixing board. I plan to have it “baked” and transferred at some point, and hopefully be able to share it with all of you sometime in the future. And so, to have my favorite band grace the stage of a venue that I had heard stories of throughout my childhood is, to say the least, special.
Phish’s history at The Rock Pile began on April 27th, 1993. Trey, being a Zeppelin die-hard, had no doubt heard the legend of The Rock Pile. Having worked in a record store selling Zeppelin bootlegs, its even more likely that he had come across the recordings of the Toronto shows, which are well-known in Zeppelin trading circles. The band returned to the venue again on August 9, 1993 where they were met by the Dude of Life for the first time in 234 shows. Both of these performances display incredible versions of “YEM” where Phish was, no doubt, feeling the presence of the great musicians who had graced the stage at The Rock Pile before them.
The show 16 years ago today, the band’s third and final visit to the venue, was by far the finest of the three. Only the third stop on the much-loved Spring ’94 tour, the band had debuted “DWD”, “Wolfman’s”, “Julius”, “SOAMule”, and “If I could” only two shows prior. Early versions of some of these songs can be heard in the show from Toronto. Building on the mounting energy of 1993, this period shows the band pushing personal boundaries, allowing the greatness of 1994 to take form.
The band pounds out the opening “Axilla” immediately charging the small room with a noticeable energy. After “Guelah” and “Poor Heart” the band splashes into a heavy-hitting version of “Stash”. The jam blazes along, with Trey firing out licks Page-style (no, not McConnel), before arriving at a point where the music truly begins to shine. The jam takes a sharp turn, leading into a quiet, sparse, chaotic section. Out of this chaos emerges several measures of beautifully melodic music, before returning to the song’s theme. “Fee” > “Antelope” anchors the first set and contains a nice little cadence leading into the transition. “Antelope” features a rockin’ solo from Trey where he is really in a great space. Not overplaying, not “shredding”, but simply dancing across the fretboard crafting melodies at a whim.
The second set immediately reels the crowd in with the “The Curtain” followed by only the second full-version of “DWD” (the jam having been played on NYE ’93). “DWD”, although early, shows its potential as a jam vehicle with another beautifully melodic solo from Trey. This show is special for exactly that reason, Trey’s guitar playing is incredibly melodic the entire way through. The fabulous AUD, and the size of the venue capture this in a special way. The early “Wolfman’s” continues to carry this vibe and shows some great interplay between Mike and Trey. An overlooked, and phenomenal version of the song.
The band has fun with “Sparkle” before launching into the highlight of the show in the magical combination of “Mike’s” > “Lifeboy”. The jam angles straight for one of the classic ’94 Phish techniques, moving as a unit and leading into a strangely-outside section of psychedelia. Finally winding its way back into the ending section of the song, the jam explodes into a ferocious solo from Trey. As the music fades out, “Lifeboy” emerges bringing a level of spiritual beauty to a show already shooting for the stars. “Coil” builds on this energy, featuring one of Page’s finest solos on the song. The set ends with “Cavern”, leaving The Rock Pile glowing with an energy not seen in many years. The encore wraps up the show with a combination of bluegrass and barbershop numbers performed without amplification, closing off a very memorable night of Phish in the legendary venue.
“Mike’s Song” > “Lifeboy” (1994.4.6)
Set 1: Llama, Guelah Papyrus, Poor Heart, Stash, The Lizards, Sample in a Jar, Scent of a Mule, Fee -> Run Like an Antelope
Set 2: The Curtain > Down with Disease, Wolfman’s Brother, Sparkle, Mike’s Song -> Lifeboy -> Weekapaug Groove, The Squirming Coil, Cavern
Set 3: Ginseng Sullivan, Nellie Kane, Sweet Adeline
 Without amplification.
Notes: The encore was performed without amplification. This show was originally scheduled for The Palladium and was relocated at the last minute due to damage to that venue from the previous evening’s New Kids on the Block concert.
“You Shook Me” Pt.1 (1969.8.18)
“You Shook Me” Pt.2
Our last post featured a two hour “podcast” that took listeners through some of the most memorable Phish jams. We received such a warm response, and had such a great time doing it, we decided to put together a bonus “podcast” for today. As we become more familiar with the technical side, you will be able to access these podcasts through your itunes. For now, just enjoy the music, and download the mp3 files we have available for the moment.
Today, we shift our focus over to some memorable Grateful Dead jams. While it may be hard to navigate through Phish’s various “best jams”, the Dead make it nearly impossible. The playlist today highlights a few well-known moments along with some personal favorites. So, sit back and enjoy these spectacular jams.
Here’s the playlist for today:
“Intro”, “Nobody’s Jam” > “Phil’s Jam” > “Jam” > “The Other One” (1973.6.22), “Drums” > “The Wheel” (1976.10.3), “Jam” > “Ship of Fools” (1974.6.23), “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot” > “Franklins Tower” (1976.6.14), “Dark Star” > “Attics of My Life” > “Dark Star” (1970.6.24), “Comes a Time” (1977.5.9)
“Classic Dead Jams Pt. I“