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Columns > Dan Alford - Audio Files

Published: 2007/05/23
by Dan Alford


Quick Picks:
STS9 Podcast, The Best of Boulder- Not as good as Best of the West
Page & Plant- No Quarter- Worth digging it out for another listen
Grateful Dead, Tapers Zone- The GD camps weekly free Vault downloads. This is a real treasure trove!
MMW, 6/29/06- A preview of MSMW takes over midset!
moe. 2/10/07- The surprise acoustic set rocks
A reminder that Im now dishing out tunes for Stormy Mondays every other Monday in the Hidden Tracks section of Come check it out.

Phish, Binghamton, NY 11/23/92

This fantastic show came at the end of my first multi-night run of Phish, a run that also included Albany and its ahead of its time Tube sunk in the middle of a stellar second set, and the old Bailey Hall, a small circular theater at Cornell. That show had the debut of Faht, and an early Big Ball Jam in Tweezer, followed by Teal and YEM. The next night, a Monday night, landed the band in a nice little theater, with what appeared to be volunteers rather than security who were nonetheless skeptical of the long haired crowd. But the show, the show was just about perfect. Everything crackles with energy, and the set list shines. Well, to be fair, its not so different from others at the time, but listening to later material, its easy to forget that every night included runs like SOAM, Rift, Guelah, Divided Sky.

But its the performance that makes this really outstanding. Everyone is equally involved in the creative act, Page driving with deluges of piano notes, Trey playing perfectly clean lines, Fish clipping sharp curves and Mike popping and singing on bass. The Foam early on is a standout, as is the afore-mentioned Split Open and Mound. The first set closes with a very cool, first ever Vibration of Life intro to David Bowie. Trey takes the time to explain the whole concept before setting up the low, throbbing pulse with Mike, and afterwards he even explains why good theaters, presumably like this one, have curved walls and how to get more bass during your concert experience.

The second set has a hot Stash and a nice suite of Weigh > Mikes Groove at its core. In concert, the Hydrogen included leg lifts, and the Weekapaug spins off into a sweet jam that teases Makisupa before descending into a Big Ball Jam, and screaming back into the Groove. A unique night, Mimi Fishman was on hand for Lengthwise, creepily dedicated to her by her son. The song falls in the middle of over ten minutes of great banter, and features Mimi on vacuum. Kevin Shapiro seeded this show, so take that as an extra stamp of approval. Worth hunting out.

Phish, Shepherds Bush Empire, London, England 7/11/96

Though Ive seen this show downplayed by tour heads in attendance, as a recording it really stands the test of time. The show opens with a tight, Jim & Cavern pairing, followed by a tight, shiny Reba. All three have doses of Treys circular figures that hell continue to revisit throughout the rest of the show. Mike sounds fantastic on the Reba, as does Page. Both the edgy, bristling Stash, and strong renditions of shorter material such as Sparkle and Sample round out. The Harry Hood that opens the second set is the highlight of the show, perfectly played all the way around, but the hometown Terrapin and a tight YEM also make strong showings- especially Mikes unreal solo in the latter.

1996 is often dismissed, and I admit to doing so myself in the past, but Ive found myself gravitating to the year time and again since Conventry. Theres a confidence in the band, the same confidence that allowed them to break their own mold in 1997 & again even more drastically in 1998. The difference here is that they had not yet shed the confines of songs, and the creative juices that would lead through vast territories of space funk were instead bottled up, only to erupt in a number of heavy, dark jams, particularly in the second half of the year, jams that are still intensely interesting eleven years later.

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