Show #60: 7/23/88

Saturday, 07/23/1988
Pete’s Phabulous Phish Phest, Underhill, VT

Set 1: Jam,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent[1] >  Fly Famous Mockingbird[1],  Mike’s Song[1] >  I Am Hydrogen[1] >  Weekapaug Groove[2],  The Lizards[1],  On Your Way Down[1],  AC/DC Bag[1] >  Possum[1],  Walk Away[3],  Bold As Love[1],  No Dogs Allowed[4],  The Sloth,  Fire[5]

Set 2: The Curtain With[1] ->  Dave’s Energy Guide[1] ->  The Curtain With[1], Wilson[1],  Terrapin[6],  Run Like an Antelope[1],  Satin Doll[7],  Blue Bossa[8],  La Grange, Alumni Blues[1] >  Letter to Jimmy Page[1] >  Alumni Blues[1],  Peaches en Regalia

Set 3: You Enjoy Myself[1],  Contact[1],  Harry Hood,  Dinner and a Movie,  Slave to the Traffic Light[9],  The Ballad of Curtis Loew,  Good Times Bad Times

[1] Unknown additional percussionist.
[2] First known performance; Unknown additional percussionist.
[3] First known Phish performance; Unknown additional percussionist.
[4] First known performance.
[5] Peter Danforth and Dave Grippo on horns.; lyric changed to “Move over, Rover, and let Cameron take over.”
[6] Fish trombone solo.
[7] Peter Danforth and Dave Grippo on horns.
[8] Peter Danforth and Dave Grippo on horns, “Vincent” on trumpet.
[9] Peter Danforth on saxophone.

Teases:
· Fly Famous Mockingbird tease in The Lizards
· Peaches en Regalia tease

What a great show we have for #60. Pete’s Phabulous Phish Phest. So many firsts and great playing. Coming off the killer 7/12/88 show, you could tell that the laidback vibe of a friend’s house would just add fuel to the fire and everyone was in for treat. This show as played in the small town of Underhill, which is located midway between the backside of Mt. Mansfield and Essex Junction. So close to Burlington but far enough away. The show kicks off with a soundcheck jam, most likely due to soundcheck being played in front of attendees. The soundcheck jam is great 1988 Phish and sounds like it could have come out of a Possum or AC/DC Bag. They then go into a narration-less “Forbin’s>Mockingbird” that’s very tight for the lead-off spot. A little slow on the “Forbin’s” but still amazing. Then we get to a real first highlight: the birth of the “Mike’s>Hydrogen>Weekpaug” sandwich. We had heard Hydrogen a few times in 1987 after once in ’85 and ’86. It seemed like it just need to find its place after getting paired with “Fluff’s Travels” excess. Clearly, this is it. It’s almost as if the band had worked on this pairing for a LONG time before this magnificent debut. Hearing the first version, it’s like drinking your favorite beer the first time. You had no idea it was there but once you get a taste, you’ll never be without it again. It all just works. The “Mike’s” here is hard driving with gorgeous bass lines from Mike and when it hits the ending notes and segues into “Hydrogren,” it’s effortless and provides the perfect breather before the moment that is the first “Weekapaug”. Now at some point prior to this gig (Trey pinpoints it as some time in 1987), the band had to have been cruising through Rhode Island. We don’t have any shows there on record but in many interviews, the band recalls writing the lyrics on a road trip in Rhode Island with “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)” by The Four Seasons on the radio and riffing on that. The music apparently came later at a 11-hour jam session at Trey’s cabin in Plainfield by Goddard. It’s a bit slower than you’re used to here and Mike’s signature bass riff hasn’t quite formed yet but still it’s a super funky 6-and-a-half minutes and totally worth a listen if only to see where the funk began. So you have the first ever “Mike’s Groove” and we’ll get used to it as they are about to play it A LOT. Heck, they even play it the next two shows in a row but we’re not there yet. After a nice “Lizards” that unfortunately gets cut off, we have the first recorded “On Your Way Down”. An Allen Toussaint song by way of Little Feat, it’s nice showpiece for Page to get down and dirty with his voice, much more so than “Jesus Just Left Chicago”. It’s pretty much the same as the band does it now. It’s still a rarity but made its last appearance at the Gorge in 2011. “AC/DC Bag” gets it’s funky intro back, which I think the band should restore. It segues into its partner du jour “Possum” and it’s a fun danceable 1-2 punch still. Missing some banter according to Phish.com (in fact a lot of this recording is missing important banter, we get a new cover in the James Gang’s “Walk Away”, another Page song. Really it’s amazing how many of the covers are sung by Page. Clearly he was meant to be in the band. This is emphasized by the fact that “Bold as Love” follows with Trey nailing the tone of Hendrix once again. Someone shouts a request and Trey says that it’s one of his favorites and dedicates the song to Marley. it turns out to be “No Dogs Allowed” from the musical Gus The Christmas Dog, written by Trey and his mom. While this is the first known performance, I would think with how polished it sounds and that it’s a fan request, the song thad probably been performed by Phish before. Either way it’s a delight with excellent group vocals and very fun lyrics, much in the vain of “Contact”. I really would love a bustout sometime of this tune. It also has fun jazz bridge of course. The meat of “No Dogs Allowed” though is the outro, which would later be merged with “The Divided Sky” to form the piece we known today by that name. This version has a few more notes, less of the long sustains that would become a signature. The band sounds really dialed in here though and it’s a fantastic version, a must-listen. We get a nice tight “Sloth” to follow and the set closes with the first appearance of horns on Hendrix’s “Fire”, which also features Cameron McKinney on vocals.

Set 2 opens with “The Curtain With”. Unfortunately, we’re missing the banter that the ban announces their upcoming Colorado tour. I have a feeling this energy is what fueled the upswing from the Nectar’s run to Sam’s Tavern and this show. Knowing you have gigs in another part of the country will excite any band. This version wouldn’t be too noteworthy except it’s very tight until the jam which takes the “With” portion for a very nice walk. Then at about the 12:30 mark, Mike’s leads the band towards “Dave’s Energy Guide” and they all bite getting on the same groove to take it full and build up into it for about 8 minutes until they wind down back into the “With”. It’s a very early look at the band moving as whole, which is glorious for only 5 years into the band’s career. “Wilson” still has the original arrangement and doesn’t move closer to the tune we known now. Fish gets the spotlight on “Terrapin” and shows he’s making strides to being a performer with clearer pronunciation and confidence. It also is the first time “the dress” is mentioned as Trey asks Fish to show it off. Pictures make it unclear if this was the premiere of the dress but maybe. We also don’t know if it’s the donut dress or another dress but still having it’s very much another huge “first” for this show. “Antelope” makes a glorious return after the brief “Cantaloupe” appearance last show. Nothing outstanding but well-played. We get a nice jazz break with horns on the pairing of “Satin Doll” and “Blue Bossa”. Of note, most believe this is the first appearance of Dave “The Truth” Grippo, who would later be an important member of the Giant County Horns and played in the Sneakers Jazz Band, noted in the last blog post. IT’s always interesting to hear Phish with horns and this early version is a real treat. Phish gets back to rock with a fun “La Grange” and “Alumni>Letter>Alumni”. Set 2 here closes with “Peaches en Regalia” but Phish.com says this is not from this show and sounds like it may have been tacked on as filler.

Set 3 opens with “You Enjoy Myself”. It doesn’t seem like much but it really feels like the birth of the modern “YEM”. After the stepping stone of the “YEM” vocal jam becoming a jam and not just a screaming match, at Sam’s Tavern, this, running at about 20 minutes, hits the movements like any good “YEM” should. It’s well played and shows a glimpse at the band’s future of being such a finely tuned machine. A nice funky “Contact” follows giving way to “Harry Hood”. This “Hood” is great with a very nice buildup and fine interworking play from all 4 musicians. “Dinner and a Movie” returns and continues to get tighter. The final highlight of the night is “Slave to the Traffic Light”. Building off the success of the last version, Phish again takes it all the way down and builds. The band brings it all the way down almost ending the song and Trey and Mike also play off each other in the breakdown. It’s not as immaculate but they have Peter Danforth join on saxophone and it gives the tune a feel like Branford Marsalis on the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World” from Without a Net. It’s a very unique treat and again the song continues to make strides as a heavy hitter in the Phish arsenal. The band ties things up much like a regular show. They cool it down with “The Ballad of Curtis Lowe” but then send them home on fire with “Good Times Bad Times”. Mike then thanks Peter for having his party. We thank Pete for the party as well so we could have this awesome night as Phish brought the house down and unveiled a lot of surprises. This was also the longest Phish show at 4 hours and 7 minutes until Big Cypress I believe. Really a historic night for Phish, I’d love for Kevin Shapiro to release the master tapes so we could get all the banter and an ideal copy of this show. Phish.com lists them as existing at least. This really is must-listen Phish up there with the Colorado ’88, which looms on the horizon…

No posts this weekend because it’s my birthday! Big week coming up though. I’ll see you back here on Monday. Thanks for reading!

Show #40: 2/24/88

Wednesday, 02/24/1988
Gallagher’s, Waitsfield, VT

Set 1: Funky Bitch, Fluffhead, The Curtain[1] > You Enjoy Myself, I Didn’t Know[2], The Lizards, Wilson > Peaches en Regalia, Golgi Apparatus > Slave to the Traffic Light, Corinna,Fee > David Bowie

Set 2: Mustang Sally[3], Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley[4], Sanity, La Grange, Harry Hood

[1] First known Curtain without “With.”
[2] Fishman on trombone.
[3] John Carlton on vocals.
[4] John Carlton on drums and Fishman on trombone.

Back in the Valley again, we get part of a wild night at Gallagher’s. The tape unfortunately does not include “Funky Bitch” or “Fluffhead”. It instead kicks in towards the end of the first “The Curtain” WITHOUT, meaning it does not contain the “With” section at the end. The show doesn’t really pickup until a very nice “Slave to the Traffic Light”. It has a nice closing jam and shows that the band is FINALLY learning what to do with the song. Second set is where the action is. Trey gets into it with a heckler and tells hime to come sing the song. They play “Mustang Sally” and it’s not that bad. The singer really tries to get into it. The more interesting note is that the only other person to guest on “Mustang Sally” with Phish? The one and only Bruce Springsteen. There’s some Phish trivia for you. Trey then introduces him as John Carlton and that this “man of many talents” will slide over the kit so Fish can “play his bone” on “Sneakin Sally”. Apparently Carlton was in a Vermont band called Blue Rose, according to Phish.com. No other history is available about this band. The result hover is surprisingly good. It’s actually an interesting listen to hear “Sneakin’ Sally” with trombone. I recommend checking it out. How do you combat an insane set of events? With “Sanity”, so the band busts that out. The other highlight here is a very fine “Harry Hood” to close out the recording. So, some highlights in this brief recording but worth a quick listen.

Show #35: 1/27/88

Gallagher’s at the corner of Route 17 and Route 100 in Waitsfield, Mad River Valley, Vermont

Wednesday, 01/27/1988
Gallagher’s, Waitsfield, VT

Set 1: Funky Bitch, Mustang Sally, AC/DC Bag -> Possum, Jesus Just Left Chicago,Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues,Take the ‘A’ Train, Good Times Bad Times

Set 2: Wilson, Slave to the Traffic Light, Corinna > Fire, Fluffhead, Divided Sky, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, You Enjoy Myself, The Sloth > Whipping Post

Set 3: Fee > The Lizards[1], Suzy Greenberg, Golgi Apparatus, Bike, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Camel Walk, Harry Hood

[1] First known performance.

So where in Vermont do you go after you’ve successfully slayed the Burlington bar scene? Why to the apres-ski scene, of course! And so, it was here in Waitsfield, VT during January 1988 that Phish made their triumphant debut in the world of apres-ski. Waitsfield, of course, is exciting to me because it’s my hometown! I might have even been privy to catch part of one of these early gigs. Gallagher’s was one of two apres-ski bars across the street from each other in Waitsfield at this intersection. The other was Mooselips, more of a local dive bar than Gallagher’s. My mother once did a show at Gallagher’s and were friends with the owners at the time. The club was upstairs in the larger spec while there was a restaurant downstairs named Mother Macree’s. I remember the place being packed often. It has a barn type feel with a post and beam structure. I remember a pinball machine by the stairway between the two businesses. I also remember the restaurant having a killer brownie sundae and interesting historic pictures of Waitsfield. Anyway, would have love to know why the owners booked Phish in the winter of 1988 but alas we may never know. Gallagher’s closed. The space then became the new John Egan’s Big World Pub and Grill, with a renovation to open it up, then it also closed and the building currently sits vacant. Of course, most Phish fans would be exposed to the charms of the Mad River Valley years later in 1994. But that’s another story…

The show however has some nice highlights. Set 1 is mostly cover, which makes sense breaking in a new town and a new room. The “AC/DC Bag>Possum” is a highlight though as is “Jesus Just Left Chicago”. Set 2 has a solid “Wilson”. Building on the success of the 11/19/87 “Slave”, the version has another excellent early peak. “Fluffhead” is interesting because it drops the complete suite and goes back to the simpler version despite the longer running time. “Curtis Loew” is quite beautiful as usual here. “YEM” is well-played. “Whipping Post” is noteworthy for the Page organ jam that begins about 8 minutes and 30 seconds into the song. Set 3’s biggest note is it has the debut of “The Lizards”, one of my favorite Phish songs and favorite Gamehendge song, maybe in part due it debuting in my hometown. I actually could be a douche and say “I come from the land of Lizards”. Unfortunately, the recording starts off with the intro and then cuts to the “If I Were A Dog” outro. It’s my favorite part so it’s enough for me but it would have been nice to hear the whole song. This snippet however demonstrates that even as a first time, the song was just as strong as later versions and complete at this time. Trey plays his solo beautifully and showing master of his tone. He introduces it as a new song called “Where have all the Lizards gone?”. “Bike” is a fun entry. Fishman finally speaks and sounds excited to perform. The performance is a step in the right direction but Fish mumbles a little too much on some of the verses. “Camel Walk” gets loopy especially on the “Strut Your Stuff” lyric. The show then ends with the evening’s main attraction “Harry Hood”. Less of a peak but some really fun interplay at about the 7 minute mark with almost an early Plinko style. Page really grooving and Trey filling the gaps. I usually like a more subtle and building “Hood” but the fast flurry of notes by all members (Including Fish) is quite amazing here. A nice little show in spaces I vaguely recall. Wonderful.

Shows #33 and 34: 11/18-19/87

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November 1987 Promotional Photo. Credit: Phish.com

Wednesday, 11/18/1987
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Slave to the Traffic Light, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu >The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Flat Fee, Wilson > Peaches en Regalia, Take the ‘A’ Train, Golgi Apparatus > Divided Sky > Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Good Times Bad Times

Set 2: I Didn’t Know[1], You Enjoy Myself, Fluffhead, AC/DC Bag

[1] First known performance.

Thursday, 11/19/1987
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters -> Sparks, Funky Bitch, You Enjoy Myself,Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Harry Hood, Fire

Set 2: Timber (Jerry), Fluffhead, I Didn’t Know, Fee, Corinna, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues

Set 3: Jam, Suzy Greenberg > Possum, Divided Sky > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Dinner and a Movie[1], The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Whipping Post, Harpua, Take the ‘A’ Train, Camel Walk, La Grange, Bike[2], Slave to the Traffic Light

[1] First known performance.
[2] First known Phish performance.

Ah, the end of the early years. Or at least as they’re grouped on the Spreadsheet and PhishTracks. These are also the last known gigs at Hunt’s. Hunt’s proved to be an important incubator for these early years, almost in tandem with Nectar’s. While Nectar’s gets all the credit because it is still around and the band played there for much longer, the availability of Hunt’s is just as crucial. Before I get into reviewing those two shows, I would like to let you in on an idea I have, one that sparked the whole genesis of this blog.

You might see the full title includes “The Phishsonian Presents”. The Phishsonian is a concept I have for a museum/retail space in Burlington celebrating the history of Phish. I’d love to work with the band to display old artifacts and photographs and just have an official presence in the city. People can learn old landmarks and about Burlington’s history. What does this have to do with Hunt’s. Hunt’s is housed in a building called the Woodbury Armory, located at 101 Main Street in Burlington. The Armory had a fire a few years ago and has sat dormant but a recent project is reviving the building, attaching it to a new hotel. The redesigned Armory will have retail space. I’d love for this retail space to be the Phishsonian, the official museum of Phish. This project could bring in fans from around the world, have special events, and teach Vermont youth about the music industry, something I wish I had growing up there. It would also contain all of the fans’ journey as well. The Mockingbird Foundation, The Phellowship, Surrender to the Flow magazine, would also be part of the story. The largest part would be capturing fan interviews. We’d love to create the largest Phish fan interview repository, so we have everyone’s favorite shows and wild stories, giving the biggest picture of our phenomenon. If you want to know more, this page will begin to have concepts and more information. You can also write me anytime at thephishsonian@gmail.com. I’d love to get this in front of Jason Colton, Kevin Shapiro and the band’s management but for now, it’s just a dream.

Anyway, on to the music. 11/18/87 you can mostly throw away. If you do want to check it out, Set 2 is where the highlights are with a well-played “You Enjoy Myself” and the first “I Didn’t Know” and “complete” Fluffhead. Other than that, the energy is just very flat. Also, all of those highlights (except for firsts) can be found the next night. 11/19 just has better energy, a better setlist, and just overall better “vibes”. It also is a nice soundboard recording that, except for some isolation moments, really sounds quite good for the age. The show kicks off with a very nice “McGrupp”, notable for the first with a Page solo. Page nails his part here. The song segues beautifully into “Sparks”, which the band continues to beautifully play. Fishman nails the drum parts more than we’ve heard so far. Funky Bitch is alright. The “YEM” is a great short early specimen. “Sally” is fun. The “Harry Hood” is the highlight of the set. The band absolutely demolishes the peak with Page and Trey locking in together to bring it home. Only wish it didn’t have some of the isolation moments during the peak. Trey shreds “Fire” to end the first set.

The 2nd set is once again where the money is because this is one of the best “Timber (Jerry)”‘s there is or ever will be. It starts off innocent enough with Trey hammering out the rhythm while Fishman plays actually a different, more tribal pattern. And then it just goes OUT THERE. Trey shreds the song to pieces. There’s nothing left to do by the end but throw out a chorus to wrap it up. Seriously, a MUST-LISTEN jam. The 2nd ever “complete” “Fluffhead” follows and it’s a beauty. Clearly, they’d been working hard on all the parts. From “Fluffhead” to “The Chase” to “Who Do? We Do!” to “Clod” to “Bundle of Joy” to “Arrival”, it’s all there and all nailed. The outro solo is also a gem. Not to say those parts wouldn’t creep out as their own songs again, they still make a few appearances but it was clear, “Fluffhead” was finally a complete work. They follow it up with the 2nd ever “I Didn’t Know”. The song is not yet the Fishman showpiece it is today, whether it’s vacuum or trombone solo. It’s a fun song with a neat vocal arrangement. A great breather here. The set continues to mellow out with a standard “Fee”, still sans megaphone, a light but pretty “Corinna”, and a standard “Alumni>Letter>Alumni”.

Set 3 opens with Trey introducing “the Mike Gordon band”, a funny thought now that Mike has his own band, which is unofficially known as “the Mike Gordon Band”. Anyway, this prompts a short jam, in which, Mike riffs on James Brown-like quotes over the band. This leads into a nice, slow “Suzy Greenberg”. A fast moving “Possum” kicks the set up a notch. “Divded Sky” comes next, still in it’s short form. It’s not a good version here with the band hitting some confusion in the escalating scales section. You want a real Trey flub, here it is. They manage to finish it though and then tear into “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars”. The anger oft he flub comes out in this “BBFCFM”. The band then debuts “Dinner and a Movie”. Interestingly enough, it does include the slow off-beat prelude but kicks off right into the hard driving groove. If you’ve heard the song, it really doesn’t do much else and the nearly 8 minutes hear, really push the boundaries of good taste. Page does a pretty version of “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” to bring the crowd back in it. “Whipping Post” kind of goes nowhere and is not as fiery as previous versions. Interestingly, we get the debut of the 2nd half of “Harpua” next, still without any context of Poster Nutbag. It’s a sign of things to come but not fully realized yet. “Take The A Train” again displays the and’s jazz chops ably, despite Trey introducing the song as “Fuck Your Face”. “Camel Walk” is a little weird as Trey plays the chord profession in an odd fashion. It’s as if he’s trying to make the Holdsworth-penned tune his own. It doesn’t quite work and the song doesn’t sound quite right. “La Grange” is a highlight with the band nailing the changes and Trey showing off on guitar. Fish comes out to debut his cover of Pink Floyd’s “Bike”. Unlike his recent string of debuts, he actually knows most of the words and the song seems to fit his singing style at this point in his career. The set ends recorded 1987 on a high note with a very well played “Slave to the Traffic Light”. I’ve been a but hard on the band so far saying “Slave” hasn’t hit the peaks right yet. It doesn’t quite build how I like it but you can’t argue with how beautiful Trey plays and has those long sustaining notes, which will become his trademark. It’s a great early “Slave” and the perfect way to say goodbye to 1987.

Hopefully tomorrow, we’ll bust into 1988 with a show from my hometown! I’d also like to thank Twenty Years Later for a shout-out the other day. He’s doing a cool thing, reviewing 1994, exactly 20 years after the show. I’ll be doing that a few years from now but still a very cool concept. Be sure tog et in touch if you want more info about the Phishsonian and how to get involved. Thanks for reading!

Show #27: 8/21/87

Fishman and Marley!

Friday, 08/21/1987
Ian McLean’s Farm, Hebron, NY

Set 1: Dog Log, Peaches en Regalia, Divided Sky, Funky Bitch, Harry Hood, Clod, The Curtain With, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone, Shaggy Dog, Wilson, Camel Walk

Set 2: Mike’s Song -> Hold Your Head Up[1], Harpua[2] > Bundle of Joy[3] > Harpua -> Golgi Apparatus > Sparks[4], Flat Fee, Fee, Skin It Back -> Low Rider Jam -> Back Porch Boogie Blues -> The Sloth

Set 3: Big Black Furry Creature from Mars[3], McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters -> Stir It Up Jam, Makisupa Policeman Jam[5] -> David Bowie[6] > Sanity, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

[1] First known Phish performance.
[2] Restarted after the opening lyric.
[3] First known performance.
[4] Extended intro.
[5] Freestyle reggae rapping from Trey.
[6] Unfinished.

We’ve reached what many believe to be the peak of Early Phish, the period from 1983-1987, Ian’s Farm. Or the shown know as Ian’s Farm. The actual full title of the gig is Ian McLean’s party (or pig roast depending on who you ask) at “Connie” Condon’s farm. Nobody seems to know who “Connie” Condon is though I bet Ian McLean does. He’s still friends with the band and was acknowledged as in attendance at SPAC last summer. Hebron is located in the Glens Falls/Saratoga Springs area so it’s interesting that 25 years later he still lives there. It’s important to note this is the first recording that was not in Vermont. While most likely the audience is friends, there might be people in the crowd that helped spread the word of the band. When listening to this show, take a few moments and imagine seeing the band on a farm in the warm summer. Surrounded by friends and family, it’s an intimate gathering. According to legend, there were many dogs as people. Throughout the recording you can hear their barking, as if they too wanted in on the fun. The friendly attitude seeps in the songs as it feels less rushed than the previous two nights at Nectar’s. You can feel it in the song selection as well. There’s less emphasis on the covers and besides the lone request of “Harpua”, more of the band just playing in the groove.

The show doesn’t start off too excitingly but is a fun listen. “Dog Log” is well-played. Probably the best call for an opener over with how many dogs were at the show. “Peaches en Regalia” rips. The shortened “Divided Sky” is played very well and sounds fully sketch, despite being unfinished. “Funky Bitch” rips. But the real fun starts with “Harry Hood. The band feels relaxed on the tune by now. It’s been worked in enough to fit like an favorite pair of pants or an old baseball mitt. The barking of dogs fits the recording, giving the song a Pink Floyd Animals feel. “Hood” also has the now standard spoken “Thank You Mr. Minor” instead of the old singsongy edition. But the end jam, Page hits the keys just right and there’s a tenderness in the playing that hadn’t been heard yet. Trey also has finally found the phrasing; with his playing interlocking well with Page and Mike. Trey’s arpeggios at the 11:30 mark are spellbinding. The ending is not to be missed as it’s all tied together into the “You Can Feel Good” refrain. It’s so good, Fishman comments “That’s why I’m in the band”. “Clod” gets the extended treatment with a very funky breakdown beginning at the 3-minute mark. Fishman gets in some very good cowbell into the jam. “The Curtain With” comes next and just plain cooks. Hitting all the changes. Trey milking the notes just right in the “With” jam and getting the best out of his tone. Page creating the right feeling with the perfect painting of chords. I’m getting hot and bothered just listening to it. “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” gets taken for a walk and the band gets OUT THERE. After the 2nd verse, the band gets into some deep type 1 and just enjoys to the end. They don’t even go back into the song. Trey teases his guitar to keep the dogs barking. In thinking about the dogs, we get another fun version of “Shaggy Dog” (with backup dogs!) . “Wilson” is still not the powerhouse we know today, this version does come closer to the version found on Trey’s thesis. Also has a weird, dark breakdown at the 4-minute mark. Trey also doesn’t do the signature “Blat Boom” offering a more low-key quick one-off instead. A very oddly intro puts the band into “Camel Walk”. The band plays with keys and tempos and arrangements in a weird way. At least, interesting to hear the band play with the song here as they close set 1.

Set 2 opens with “Mike’s Song” and here it lives up to its name as the jam is led by Mike’s bass. He even leads Trey into a “Ring around the Rosie” tease at the 4-minute mark. It’s the first real time we’ve had such a strong performance from Mike but he really is in the zone here and Trey just sits back and lets him own the jam, which is brilliant to hear. At the 9:45 mark though, we hear Trey finally take the song back, leading Mike into a speeding chase the feels like they’re both going down the wormhole, twisting around, not knowing where they’ll land. The landing point turns out to be a sinister version of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up”. Today the tune is known as Fishman’s entrance song but somehow it ended up being the odd ending to this killer “Mike’s” jam. In the pause, trey plays with some effects that sound like the solo towards the end of “Esther” on Junta. It only makes sense that in a show full of dog’s barking we get a “Harpua” by request. This version’s a little different because we don’t get a story about Harpua and Poster Nutbag (to be explained later) and also we don’t get the end of the song. We get the first part but as it’s only the second performance, it’s a little rough. So much so, that they stet the song twice, work on the acapella intro a few times over the chord progression, and Trey slows the song down so that he’s actually speaking the lyrics at one point. Not the best version but an interesting listen to the beginnings of a Phish classic. In the middle, we get the debut of the last part of “Fluff’s Travels” in “Bundle of Joy”. The tune actually doesn’t seem too out of place joining the “Harpua” jam but is clearly more comfortable in it’s current role of building the tension to the “Fluffhead/Arrival” moment. The ending of “Harpua” gets quite funky and danceable, which is not something I usually say about that tune. I like it but I’d rather have the current “rock opera” ending. “Golgi” follows and is pretty good. “Sparks” gets an extended intro while Fishman apparently “squeezes urine from his bladder” as Trey puts it. A fan calls for “Fee” but they need to wait for Fish.  At one point, it almost sounds like Trey wants to play Tom Petty’s “Here Comes My Girl” but it moves into “Sparks”, which features a lot of flourishes from Trey to give it that Pete Townshend feel. Trey gives the audience the option of “Fee” or “Flat Fee” first. Trey decides on “Flat Fee”, a jazz number he wrote in an exercise with his mentor Ernie Stires. I love “Flat Fee”. I’d love to see it brought back. Apparently, Trey teased it before Jones Beach 2009. Maybe this summer finally. Phish really needs to bring back the jazz influence that had in the 80s and early 90s in my opinion. “Fee” finally gets played by request, still sans megaphone and a standard version. The set ends with a huge jam segment. It kicks off innocently enough with “Skin It Back”. Trey rips off some hot licks at about the 2-minute mark. The jam is going along great but at the 7-minute mark Fish pushes the tempo and Trey answers the call with fast flying fretwork. The jam breaks down and lands into jamming on War’s “Low Rider”, led by Mike entering the bass line. Trey gets into the fun as well, yelling for his dog Marley, and singing the chorus of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” over it. It’s a cool moment after the madness of the “Skin It Back” jam, almost like a hidden outro on an LP. It’s short lived however and the band picks up the tempo again and Trey plays the opening licks of “Back Porch Boogie Blues”. The pace quickens as the song develops almost reaching boiling point before cooling down. It’s cool to see the band push tempos and stay together. Mike starts with the bass line to “The Sloth” and it ends the jam.

Set 3 opens with a debut. Trey says it will be a song from Melanie entitled “I’ve Got a Brand New Pair of Roller Skates; You’ve Got A Brand New Key”. Thankfully, it is not the song and we get the first “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars”. I like this version because it feels more punk rock and less noisy than other versions. It sounds like it could be a real punk tune here. Trey’s opening riff is on point. Solid debut. Next is “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters” introduced by Trey as the “Gala Event” with another “Hold Your Head Up” intro. Still waiting to start up, Trey teases the Dead’s “Slipknot!” much to the dismay of some attendees. “McGrupp” is interesting because it’s heard in it’s final form with the lyrics sung to the tune instead of spoken word. It’s a great version with a pretty Page solo at the 5:30 mark. It segues nicely into the “Stir It Up” jam, cued by Mike with the bass line. What follows is a really nice jam on the chord progression with none of the vocals. A short pause and then the band fires up the “Makisupa” chord progression to keep the reggae vibe going. Trey proceeds to rap over the band, book ending “Dog Log” with lines about stepping in doogie doo and the mouse house. Besides that fun, the jam doesn’t really go anywhere but with Trey playing with effects over the top. It does however transition very nicely into David Bowie with Trey playing the riff. It’s a very low key intro with a slow playing of the chords before speeding up to normal tempo as Mike drops bass bombs. There’s also nice “Tom Sawyer” tease to enjoy. The jam also has some fun flourishes and ends with Mike hitting the bass line for “Sanity”. They asks the crowd to “sing it out!”. The set ends with “an original song…by a slave” and the jazz arrangement of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” sends the audience to bed. A silly ending to a phenomenal show. If you haven’t heard this one, hit up the PhishTracks link above and enjoy. Next we head back to the Ranch in Shelburne!

Show #7: 10/30/1985

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1985-10-30

Wednesday, 10/30/1985
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Harry Hood[1], Dog Log[2] > Possum, Slave to the Traffic Light, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, I Wish, Revival, Alumni Blues[3] > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Prep School Hippie, Skippy the Wondermouse
[1] First known version.
[2] First known public version.
[3] Lyric referenced pumpkin pie.

“This is Phish. They are bad.”  So begins the 7th show in our series as Phish returns to Hunt’s for the first time on tape since March 4th. This show has a lot of good banter. The band is still in its odd 5-piece configuration at this point with two guitars and keys. This show holds a soft place in this author’s heart it marks the debut of my favorite Phish song, “Harry Hood”. Trey introduces the song being about “a story of the man who lives directly across the street from us right now. This is the story about his trip across the globe to the sunny beach of Greece and it all starts as our friend Brian places a carton of Hood milk in the refrigerator door.” This is significant because the origins of the song actually do come from Greece. On the aforementioned trip to Europe in the summer of ’85, Trey, Fish, and Brian Long decided to take LSD and swim in Greece. A fast moving storm came in and they almost did not escape unharmed. Somehow after this incident, Trey wrote the music to “Harry Hood” on that beach. The remarkable thing about this version of Harry Hood is how it hasn’t changed much in 29 years. The song structure is intact. While many Hoods would have better peaks and more blissful jams, the fact that the bare bones for he song were in place from this first performance on is pretty incredible. One minor difference is the “Thank You Mr. Minor” line is a little more light and “singsongy” than the angry intonation it would have on later performances. Someone who sounds like Fish chimes in, “We’re gonna get sponsored if it kills us. One day they’ll pay us to play that. I know it. Not Yet!”

The band decides to keep the debuts coming and slides into “Dog Log”. “Dog Log” is fun tune that’s seriously about stepping in dog shit. The tune has a fun intro that finally shows off what Page is adding to the band with some fine organ coloring over the opening rhythm. Other than that a simple reading of the song but more noteworthy “Dog Logs” are coming for sure. The band segues from “Dog Log” into the first recorded, second ever “Possum”. Now, this “Possum” is a little different than what you’re used to using for a piss break at today’s shows. It’s got a slower rhythm, some different guitar parts, and some weird harmonies over the lyrics but the core elements are there. It’s also of note as Jeff sings lead goals and Page has a solo.

Before going into “Slave to the Traffic Light”, Trey thanks those who came to seem them at Goddard College over the weekend, referencing a Halloween gig they played and that “it’s good to be back in the real world.” “Slave” is dedicated to their friend Brickle; it’d be interesting to know who that is. Besides that, this is pretty standard early “Slave”. The band kicks into dance mode with the first recorded version of Robert Palmer’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley.” An early staple in the band’s career due to it’s very danceable groove, the song has recently seen a big comeback in the band’s repertoire. Starting about 5 minutes in, the band shows off their combined vocal chops is very nice vocal jam that is on par with many future “Sally” vocal jams. Not bad for very really on in their career. “A dance song” is announced and someone retorts, “Hey, hippies have a right to dance too.” The band then launches into the only recorded version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”. Jeff holds down the lead vocal and it’s just out of his range. There’s some good guitar parts but you can easily see why it was dropped from the lineup after just two performances.

The covers keep coming with the band’s version of the Allman Brothers’ “Revival”. Trey and Jeff easily handle the dual guitar parts in the intro and Trey plays very tasty leads over Jeff’s rhythm. It’s a gorgeous cover and makes me wonder why we don’t have more version of it. I’m fairly sure the band probably played it more than was able to be recorded. I’d consider it a must listen if only to hear Jeff’s technical prowess at the time. Jeff thanks the crowd for coming out but Trey then hopes everyone is listening to Peter Becker’s radio show on WRUV on Wednesday nights. Wonder what prompted that. The band then kicks into the slow shuffle of “Alumni Blues” with a great drum build-up by Fish to lead into it. After that it’s a fairly standard “Alumni>Letter>Alumni”.

Following it however is a big Phish rarity, “Prep School Hippie”. One of my favorite “old” tunes, having, like Trey, attended a New England prep school, I can relate to the lyrics. I hear it and think of me and my friends, who would listen to and go see Phish. “Big tent kegger at the frat or watching Jerry shake his fat” might be one of the best lyrics Trey has ever written. The song also has a nice jam between the last verse and the outro refrain of “I can’t wait ’till I’m 21 to dip into my trust fund!” It’s a song I’d love the band to bust out sometime, if only to hear “trust fund” in 4-part harmony one last time. The recording closes with “Skippy the Wondermouse”, making me wonder why the band back and forth between “Skippy” and “McGrupp”. To me, “McGrupp” is the much better of the two songs and to “fall back” on “Skippy” seems like a step backward but as a much later song would state, “you’ve got to take it with you if you’re going forward” and at this point the band was very much going forward.