October 29, 2009

Phish: Joy

Live at the Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT 2009/08/14
photo: Dave Vann (c) Phish 2009

Phish fans are sure about one thing: you got to see and hear the band live. The studio albums only hint at what the Vermont quartet is capable of. So why bother releasing another album? Is Joy yet another failure? No, it's not.

Producer Steve Lilywhite urged the band to kep it simple, telling the band to play the tracks live and refrain from overdubs with the notable exception of Time Turns Elastic, the song Trey Anastasio wrote for guitarist and orchestra. They tried, they did more than 200 takes, ending up with a track that is as lifeless as a deflated balloon. Skip it and you have and album that deals with death, loss and happiness. Yes, happiness - they are bathing in the glow of regained musical bonding. After Phish got bogged down in the mud of their shows at Coventry in 2004, the days of Phish were over. The members went their different musical ways - although they kept playing in twosomes, sometimes even a trio, but never as a foursome (with the one notable exception of an impromptu gig he wedding of former road manager Brad Sands).

And then came the announcement for the three shows at the Hampton Coliseum in March this year. Aftet that it was quickly confirmed that they would record again, driving the Phish Heads into frenzy. They rolled out just one new track at Hampton (Backwards Down The Number Line), quickly adding new during the first and second leg of the Summer Tour.

Joy has an unusual high percentage of "rawk" songs: Kill Devil Falls, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan and Ocelot all can be used to replace an old war horse like Chalkdust Torture in the set. Mike Gordon gets his spot with the calypso-tinged Sugar Shack, Page McConnell has the lounge lizard part down for I Been Around, with Anastasio and longtime lyricist Tom Marshall comping with the bulk of the material. Anastasio went through substance abuse, was in the mids of a high profile police arrest and subsequent court appearances and rehab. He speaks his mind in Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Kill Devil Falls and Twenty Years Later. Thankfully these are not schmaltzy redemption songs - he points out his inner demons and doesn't tell you what to do about them.

Let's save the best for last: Joy is a touching tribute for Anastasio’s recently deceased sister. Light starts with a slow ambient intro, before drummer Jon Fishman picks things up turning the song into a high charged anthem that can grow into a major jam vehicle if the band feels like it. It might happen during Festival 8, the three-day Phish extravaganza that kicks off tomorrow.

Phish: Joy

Joy is released on JEMP Records. Buy it from Drygoods.

  1. Backwards Down The Number Line
  2. Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
  3. Joy
  4. Sugar Shack
  5. Ocelot
  6. Kill Devil Falls
  7. Light
  8. I Been Around
  9. Time Turns Elastic
  10. Twenty Years Later

MP3: Phish - Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
(live at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY 2009/06/02)
MP3: Phish - Kill Devil Falls
(live at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY 2009/06/02))

Limited Edition Joy Box

Limited Edition Joy Box
A Limited Edition Joy Box set contains an extra CD called Party Time with outtakes and a live DVD with Joy tracks filmed during the second leg of 2009 Summer tour. Alos in the box: an extensive hard-bound booklet and ten individual Limited Edition posters (designed by a different artist for each of the album's ten songs).

Party Time Tracks:
  1. Party Time
  2. Alaska
  3. Windy City
  4. In A Misty Glade
  5. Gone
  6. Only A Dream
  7. The Birdwatcher
  8. Let Me Lie
  9. If I Told You
  10. Splinters Of Hail
  11. Can't Come Back
  12. Shrine
  13. Liquid Time
DVD Tracks:
  1. Time Turns Elastic - 5/31/09 Boston, MA
  2. Sugar Shack - 6/7/09 Camden, NJ
  3. Joy - 6/7/09 Camden, NJ
  4. Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan - 6/12/09 Manchester, TN
  5. Alaska - 6/12/09 Manchester, TN
  6. Light - 6/14/09 Manchester, TN
  7. Ocelot - 6/19/09 Noblesville, IN
  8. Backwards Down The Number Line - 6/19/09 Noblesville, IN
  9. Kill Devil Falls - 6/20/09 East Troy, WI

Pre-order the Limited Edition Joy Box.

Live dates:
  • 10/30 Indio, CA, The Empire Polo Club - Festival 8
  • 10/31 Indio, CA, The Empire Polo Club - Festival 8
  • 11/01 Indio, CA, The Empire Polo Club - Festival 8
  • 11/18 Detroit, MI, Cobo Arena
  • 11/20 Cincinnati, OH, U.S. Bank Arena
  • 11/21 Cincinnati, OH, U.S. Bank Arena
  • 11/22 Syracuse, NY, War Memorial at Oncenter
  • 11/24 Philadelphia, PA, Wachovia Center
  • 11/25 Philadelphia, PA, Wachovia Center
  • 11/27 Albany, NY, Times Union Center
  • 11/28 Albany, NY, Times Union Center
  • 11/29 Portland, ME, Cumberland County Civic Center
  • 12/02 New York, NY, Madison Square Garden
  • 12/03 New York, NY, Madison Square Garden
  • 12/04 New York, NY, Madison Square Garden
  • 12/05 Charlottesville, VA, John Paul Jones Arena

» phish.com

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