We’re honored to present a second playlist from our favorite radio DJ, Mike Newman. You can hear plenty more of these great tunes, along with his unrivaled knowledge about them, on BBOX Radio every Wednesday from 12-2PM or on his show Beyond Beyond is Beyond at East Village Radio on Thursdays, also from 12-2PM. In addition, this busy man will also DJ our December 30 event at the Cakeshop under the alias Unicorn Pudding, while also putting out his own psych rock compilation in early 2012. Here are some words from Mike to lead you into the music…
Hey there, I was super-psyched DGB asked me back to do another playlist…especially a proggy one! So I chose some of my favorite prog-rock tunes and before I knew it, I had three hours worth of musically-decadent delightfulness. So strap yourself in and enjoy all the peaks and valleys and changes and effects and organs and sublime bizarreness, as we enter the prog zone…
01. Yes – Sound Chaser
02. Caravan – In The Land Of Gray And Pink
03. Jethro Tull – …And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps
04. Made In Sweden – Winter’s A Bummer
05. Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Tarkus
06. Bo Hansson – Lothlorien
07. King Crimson – Happy Family
08. Sensations’ Fix – Fragments of Light
09. Man – Many Are Called, But Few Get Up
10. Secret Oyster – Oysterjungle
11. Magma – Udu Wudu
12. Jon Anderson – Flight Of The Moorglade
13. Nektar – Astral Man
14. Pancake – Cakey Funk
15. Hatfield And The North – Shaving Is Boring
16. Genesis – Watcher Of The Skies
17. Fruupp – Jaunting Car
18. Focus – Janis
19. Eloy – Floating
20. Gentle Giant – The Advent Of Panurge
21. Camel – Aristillus
22. Cressida – Asylum
23. Happy The Man – Knee Bitten Nymphs In Limbo
24. Van Der Graaf Generator – House With No Door
25. Triumvirat – The Walls Of Doom
26. T2 – In Circles
27. If – Sector 17
28. Khan – Stargazers
29. Soft Machine – Out-Bloody-Rageous
“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.