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!

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Show #31: 10/14/1987

Wednesday, 10/14/1987
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Peaches en Regalia, Take the ‘A’ Train > You Enjoy Myself -> Golgi Apparatus > Slave to the Traffic Light > The Chase[1] > Fluffhead -> Dave’s Energy Guide > Possum

Set 2: David Bowie, AC/DC Bag > Divided Sky > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Clod > Makisupa Policeman

[1] First known performance outside of Lushington.

Always interesting that not much is known about what Phish did for almost an entire month. There’s only 3 known shows between the last review and this show and one of them was found to actually be from February 1988. This got me very flustered as I thought I had missed a show and listened to the wrong one in prep. Fortunately that was not the case.

This tape is incomplete. Phish.com has “TMWSIY>Malkenu>TMWSIY” opening again but I’m not sure that is accurate and the “Peaches” opener on Phish. net makes more sense. The keyword for this show is “flow”. The band doesn’t take many breaks between songs, which is interesting for an 80s tape from a bar. The show also has a lot of segues. It almost seems like they’re learning proper construction at this gig. The tape drops into the middle of “Peaches en Regalia” and while the quality is about a B-/C+, it still captures the feeling well. A great “Take the A-Train” follows with fine solos from Trey and Page; excellent bass work by Mike here. A tight early “YEM” follows. the band really sounds dialed in on this one and it hits all the right notes. No real bass and drums or vocal jam here as it segues into “Golgi”. Mike’s all over this “GolgI” with really bright notes filling out the tune and the band just nails it. The last chord of “Golgi” is used as the first chord of “Slave to the Traffic Light” keeping the set moving. The “Slave” is pretty standard but interestingly, it does not peak or end, opting to just go into “The Chase”. “The Chase” gets closer to being in “Fluffhead” by leading into at least as the rage of the set continues. “Fluffhead”s well played if nothing else but it does have a tape anomaly at the 7:30 mark that dampers the amazing segue into “Dave’s Energy Guide”. It’s right as Trey plays the line and you can hear the band’s hard transition but the power is lost in the degradation. “DEG” then slows down and rolls into the rollicking groove of “Possum” played at a faster pace, more fitting of modern versions. “Possum” is also marred early on by a hot mic, making it hard for Mike to sing the verse. “Possum” grooves hard and when finished, Trey announces a short break. But the wall-to-wall music of “A Train” through “Possum” is impressive and shows how hard the band was firing at this point. Amazing.

Set 2 opens with “David Bowie”. This is a classic “Bowie”, again showing the high caliber the band was playing at for this show. After a pause, we get the 2nd “song suite” of the night. Trey introduces “AC/DC Bag” as “Hold Your Head Up” jokingly and then we get the funky intro riff to “Bag”. This “Bag” is pretty groovy if standard with excellent work by Page. During the ending, it gets cut short as Trey rips into “Divided Sky”. Still the shortened version, the band plays it at top speed uncharacteristically AND also plays underneath the chant lyric, which is odd and obviously did not stick. Replacing the last chord seems to be a theme of the evening, as if Trey wanted to play a set like the “Abbey Road Medley” as once again, he forgoes the end of “Divided Sky” to play the opening riff of “McGrupp”. “McGrupp” is short with no jamming and also goes right into “Clod”. Nothing flashy in “Clod” but it sounds good before dissolving into “Makisupa Policeman”. “Makisupa” begins to get weird but the tape cuts out before blast off. All in all, a very tight show with great playing. I don’t know if fans today would enjoy it due to a lack of jamming but the band was on fire. Next, the second ever Halloween gig.

Show #29: 9/2/1987

Wednesday, 09/02/1987
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: AC/DC Bag, Fluffhead, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Divided Sky, Wilson, David Bowie, Lushington[1] -> Possum, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Makisupa Policeman, Timber (Jerry), Shaggy Dog, You Enjoy Myself

[1] No lyrics.

This is a complete throw away show. No redeeming tracks or quality. The only highlight would be the isolated portion of Page’s piano during Fluffhead. The quality is poor due to multiple generations and there’s no standout tracks. This is one you can definitely skip without missing anything important. NEXT!

Show #11: 4/1/86

Early Phish. Photo credit: Phish.com.

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1986-04-01/

Tuesday, 04/01/1986
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Quinn the Eskimo > Have Mercy[1] > Harry Hood, The Pendulum[2] -> Dave’s Energy Guide, Icculus[3], You Enjoy Myself

Set 2: Help on the Way[1] > Slipknot![1] > AC/DC Bag[3], McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters[4] > Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues > Dear Mrs. Reagan

Encore: Not Fade Away[5]

[1] First known Phish performance.
[2] With Zenzilé Madikinea. Madikinea recited revolutionary poetry.
[3] First known performance.
[4] Spoken in Dylan-esque fashion.
[5] First known Phish performance; with The Joneses.

Another tape. Another night at Hunt’s. The booker must have seen something in this gang. Would love to know who that is and pick their brain. This show was Hunt’s Festival of Fools. It was a split bill between Phish and The Joneses. The band’s would switch of 45 minute sets for 4 total. They then encored together. The show here’s a typical bar show but at much better quality with some surefire highlights and debuts. But we also have two full sets! So exciting for more history on tape.

The show opens with Bob Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo”. For a long time, this was marked as the songs debut until it was discovered that they had played it at least once earlier on 4/6/85. The song does not differ much from the version the band plays now, except for the extra rhythm guitar of Jeff, having last performed it on 10/31/13 in Atlantic City. It’s a great-off lead-off tune, getting the crowd energy up. One drawback, however, is that the crowd jokes the Phish is now the “Bob Dylan Band” for the rest of the evening. This leads into another cover, the Mighty Diamonds’ “Have Mercy”. “Have Mercy” is an interesting tune because it’s only been performed 13 times in the band’s history, 3 of those coming since the band’s return in 2009. Trey dedicates the tune to Pam as it starts up. So, thank you Pam for all the glorious shows with “Have Mercy” in them. Have Mercy’s interesting because it’s the first time we hear the band working on harmony fully. The three-part harmony of “Have Mercy” is not very easy and they don’t perfectly execute it but for a band that’s become known for barbershop, it’s an interesting first step. The tune out of side of that is not very noteworthy and will appear in a few more upcoming sets. Interestingly enough the seque from an authentic reggae tune to their own reggae jam, the opening of “Harry Hood”. Also of note, “Hood”‘s starting to become the monster we all know and love. The tension and release and peaks of the end are starting to take shape. It’s beautiful to again hear how powerful the band is even in the early years.

The band brings back South African poet Zenzilé for another performance. The song is uneven as the band plays a dirty blues groove underneath his poem. You can tell how loud the crowd is that they early were not on board. I, personally, am not really on-board at all. The instrumental track sounds like a fun jam but the crazy yelling over the top just distracts from the song. The band kicks into “Dave’s Energy Guide” as he finishes adding to the craziness. Zenzilé yells “Which side are you on?” as the dissonance of the song plays up. “Dave’s” continues the energy and it really is a ripping version that moves hard and fast with Jon’s driving drums.

The band takes a breather as a short Jazz jam with Page, Mike, and Trey. Fish says “We thought we’d play some seining for you as Trey [takes] care of his guitar.” Trey retorts, “Bob Dylan performing for you here. The Bob Dylan Band, ladies and gentlemen!” The jazz jam is quite good and shows how tight they are as a trio. Trey again, “The Bob Dylan Band just blowing my mind here on a Tuesday night!” The jazz jam ends and then gives away to an important moment in Phishtory. “This next song is written by one of our favorite bands, Sneeze Blood Eyeball,” says Trey but by the opening chords it’s time for the people to read “Icculus”! The version actually sounds very similar to the one just performed at Madison Square Garden, especially since Phish used their old instruments for that set. It’s however much shorter with less buildup then future versions but still funny nonetheless with the jam fake out.

Trey then mentions the 45 minute set length and invites the Joneses to kick them off stage whenever they want to. Trey then dedicates the next song to Peter, who’s here “all the way from Washington”. At 3:35, Mike plays a bass riff that sounds like part of the future “Mango Song”. After a long pause, the band finally launches into “You Enjoy Myself” to close the first set. This version is much better than the 2/3/86 debut, tighter and with a better groove. We’ll be taking about “YEM” a lot over the next year or so as it was played a lot even night to night in the 80s. Written during the trip to Europe, the lyric “Wash Uffizi Drive Me to Firenze” was allegedly inspired by a wild cab ride in Florence. Also, a German named Jurgen, also commented tot hem that “When I’m with you, you enjoy myself!” Whatever sparked the tune, thankfully it happened. This version still omits the “Boy Man God Shit” lyrics BUT does have the birth of the “YEM” vocal jam. It’s short but marvelous that it’s there.

Set 2 kicks off with the Grateful Dead’s “Help on the Way>Slipknot!”. It’s the only known version by Phish and while it does reach glorious heights, it almost feels like a backward step for the band. I’m sure it helps keeps patrons in the bar but the band’s original material feels much more fun and fresh. Grateful Dead covers, at least to me, feel tired already and it’s only 1986. Luckily, a debut takes the “Slipknot!” segue from “Franklin’s Tower” and we get the first-ever “AC/DC Bag”. Trey’s trips to Gamehendge are now infiltrating their sets and man are they coming together well. The first “Bag” has a funky intro that gives the song a sinister overtone. Other than that, it’s pretty standard but again amazing to hear so complete so early. The band decides to stay in Gamehendge going into “McGrupp”. The tempo is a little faster than it has been in previous versions and it’s a welcome addition. Trey continues the spoken word version but this time giving the lines a Bob Dylan-esquire cadence and voice, fitting in the “Bob Dylan Band” theme.

The band then drops into “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni” and it is a must listen not because of the jam or that it’s pristine. This a must listen because everyone except for Jeff misses the segue back into “Alumni”. The thing grinds to a halt except for Jeff’s rhythm guitar. The band tries to pick up the pieces but it’s too late and Trey just cues a big rock ending to just finish the song. I laughed so hard hearing this. To be fair, the “Letter to Jimmy Page” was pretty fiery and probably difficult to land. The band ends set two with the political tune “Dear Mrs. Reagan”. Phish has never been a fiercely political and so to hear such anti-Reagan lines is a little off-putting but it’s an interesting listen and quite the 80s time capsule. After “Reagan”, Jeff decides to tell people about International Lemming Day, while Trey gets the Joneses on stage to join them for the encore. Someone who sounds like Fishman points out they have 18 guitars and 3 drum sets on stage and then someone else yells “Guitar Army!”. Trey asks “What song is it you want to hear?” and of course some idiot yells “Freebird!”. Page then teases the chords to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”. Begin that the Joneses and Phish both cover the Dead quite a bit, they end on Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, a popular Grateful Dead cover. Unfortunately, the recording fades out (IRONY) before the jam gets going. A successful Festival of Fools? Not quite sure but it at least sounded fun. Two interesting notes on this recording. The first is Jeff is buried in the mix for a lot of it, giving it more of the usual Phish feel. It’s an interesting twist. The second is Trey’s tone. He’s starting to move to his signature tone. I’m not sure what was happening with his rig but it begins moving in the right direction. Another great artifact in the Phish canon.

Show #10: 2/3/86

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1986-02-03/

Monday, 02/03/1986
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Slave to the Traffic Light, Mike’s Song > Dave’s Energy Guide, You Enjoy Myself[1], Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page[2] > Alumni Blues, Prep School Hippie,Run Like an Antelope[3]

Set 2: Tonight[4], The Pendulum[4], Babylon is Burning[4], Dec 1661[4]
[1] First known version.
[2] “It’s alright” quotes from Trey.
[3] Jeff Holdsworth on slide guitar.
[4] First known Phish performance. With Zenzilé Madikinea.

In this long road ahead of myself, there will be shows that aren’t going to warrant a lot of words. Shows were you put it on and go “Why am I doing this again?” I’m sure the band felt that way about a few nights and certainly I’ll have shows where I won’t feel like writing about it. But you can’t say you’re going to review every show and skip one you’re jus tnot feeling. This is the case of 2/3/86. The tape quality is terrible. It might even be playing at the wrong pitch. It bends up and down. I was so lackadaisical that even when they kicked into the first recorded “You Enjoy Myself”, I wasn’t even paying attention on first listen. It’s at least interesting to hear the beginnings of the song. it’s missing several sections that would become staples over time but in its infancy, you can tell it’s going to be important. Eve more notable is hearing it in the 5-piece setting. Jeff can’t really keep up with Trey’s parts as far as rhythm go. It’s kind of the first time he’s struggling with the material, which will be important. Trey introduces South African dub poet Zenzile, which was the headliner on this bill. The show was a benefit for the African National Congress and apparently cost $4 for admission. Trey then asks for requests and gets someone to shout out “Alumni Blues”. After some tuning, the beginning of the “Mike Says No” saga happens as Trey says, “Mike says real bands don’t play requests. So we’re going to play a request” and they go into “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni”. Outside of the banter and YEM, not a lot here to write about. If you’re looking for great early Phish, this is not it.

I wanna take a moment and thank everyone for the huge outpouring of support! Big thanks to Surrender to the Flow for posting about this. I mostly wanted to do it as a writing exercise and hoped some people would enjoy it. Apparently people do! So I hope I don’t let you down and thanks for reading.!

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.

Show #4: 3/4/85

Hunt’s aka The Woodbury Armory.

Monday, 03/04/1985
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Anarchy[1], Camel Walk, Fire Up the Ganja[2], Skippy the Wondermouse[3], In the Midnight Hour
[1] First known version.
[2] First known Phish version; Bobby Hackney and Jah Roy on vocals.
[3] With McGrupp lyrics.

This isn’t a complete show, so sure, you could call it cheating but it does exist so it needs a post. The show, according to Phish.net, was a African Relief benefit for OXFam at Hunt’s. Hunts was a club located in the old Woodbury Armory building at 101 Main Street. As outlined in this article from Seven Days, Hunt’s was a major player in the Burlington music scene. Roy Orbison, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and B.B. King all played there linking Montreal and Boston dates on their national tours. The place was even owned by Fred “Chico” Lager, who would later become the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream during their rise to national prominence. So, to get anytime there meant a move in the right direction for a local band.

It is unclear whether Phish was alone on this night or maybe part of a larger bill due to it being a benefit show. The recorded part kicks off the first known version of “Anarchy”. Little more than a play on punk and new wave. It’s 30 seconds of fast chords and drumming with the word Anarchy screamed over it. A good joke on the popular music of the time. The band then introduces ” a funk song” and finally a complete version of “Camel Walk” is heard. Not much is noteworthy about this version except that Jeff says that no one has actually danced the Camel Walk to “Camel Walk”. It is also interesting that it does not include the strut your stuff vocals. It is interesting that now 29 years later, the band plays it almost the exact same way. There’s a fade out and then the tape fades into “Fire Up The Ganga.” Essentially just “Fire On The Mountain” with new lyrics about smoking weed obviously. However it is important because it’s a meeting of two Vermont music powerhouses. Granted Phish at this point was still rising the ranks but Lambsbread has been the cornerstone of Vermont’s reggae scene for 30 years. I remember seeing them at the Vermont Reggae fest nearly every year. Also, of note, is that Bobby Hackney, who appears on this track, and his brother Dannis, were actually members of the proto-punk band Death, from Detroit. This band has been in the news due to their recordings being re-released and being revolutionary for their time. Pretty interesting throwback, eh?

Now here’s a head scratcher for you though? “Fire Up The Ganja” fades out and then the next track to fade in is marked as “Skippy the Wondermouse”. And sure enough it sounds like “Skippy,” but when the lyrics kick in, they are clearly the familiar lyrics of “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters.” Now why is this curious? This show’s date is March of 1985. In Trey’s senior thesis of The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday aka Gamehendge, which was submitted in July 1988, He says that the poem was not received by him until 1986. Phish.net even states he didn’t get it until fall of 1985. So, why is it here? Well, it might be explained in an upcoming post! Stay tuned. The recording then closes with the last known performance of “In The Midnight Hour”, a danceable version if not outstanding. It does at least emphasize how much Phish just wanted people to dance. Something, most would say mission accomplished.