Date:    Mon, 28 Sep 1998 07:21:41 GMT
From:    The Greatest Of All Times 
Subject: The Story of the Ghost- A REVIEW (long)

**A Brief note, prior to my review.  This is a review of Phish's new
album, based on the advance promo.  I can not and will not be able to
provide anyone with duplications of this material in any form. PLEASE
do not email me looking to trade/ or whatever. I will be purchasing
this sucker just like everyone else next month**

Phish
The Story of the Ghost
in stores Tuesday 10-27-98

Ever since the advance timings have been posted about a month ago, the
entire online Phish community has taken one look at the length of the
new album, and for better or worse said to themselves WTF!%?
A Fifty minute Phish album?
This can't be right.

I am here to tell you that this album is  50 minutes, but is also
perhaps their strongest studio effort since Rift.  I will predict a
month from now, instead of wading through pathetic Ween ticket
grovels, and rants about how 'mail order sucks man", we will also see
this post:
"SOTG is Weak"
etc, etc, etc.
"The don't rawk hard enough man"
"WTF?"

"The Story of the Ghost" is NOT an album for those who pigeonhole, and
rigidly define what Phish is. Phish as most folks know defies
definition, they are a ever evolving musical experiment, and while
they have built a following based on "stretching out" as even Robert
Plant will tell ya, they are not and should not be tethered to that
concept alone.

Enter "The Story of the Ghost", recorded on the heels of one of their
most provocative and groundbreaking tours.  A tour were the band
pursued the world of ambient musical form like never before.  Inspired
perhaps by their reaquiantence with the Eno/Fripp/Byrne camp via their
selection of the 1996 Halloween performance of "Remain in Light".  The
band freed themselves of all traditional constraints (setlists,
musical boundaries, past ways of performing their own musical catalog)
and instead focussed on the moment, on the mood and on the notes.  So
why did Phish release their most concise studio album to date on the
heels of  last fall's  lengthy forays into the deep ambient beyond?
There's  only four folks that have the answer to that question and
your not talking to one of em.  What does carry over though is the
focus on the notes. The task of creating the perfect tone for the
moment , 4 distinct voices all blending together.  These rhythmic
musical conversations are what "The Story of the Ghost" Is all about.

Sound itself often goes unnoticed as casual listeners often focus on
the tune, the music, though certain sounds have become famous on their
own over time Spector,Wilson, Eno etc.  Phish has always been aware of
sound as a concept itself, that is production as almost another
instrument, yet with "The Story of the Ghost" the band has put even
greater stock into the aural presentation of their compositions.  Andy
Wallace was the person Phish entrusted to translate their new focus
into streams of 1s and 0s and back again.  Wallace was able to harness
the band's undisputed musical prowess and capture many great notes,
string them all together, and create "The Story of the Ghost".

GHOST- proper begins the album, swirling in with the looping notes,
with Gordon serving notice of his reemergence as one of the dominant
players in this outfit, back from the brink's of obscurity (the whole
where's Mike in the PA? crisis 6/95 >12/96, thanks PLM) providing the
base for almost the entire record. Over the top of this Trey's vocals
give a very sing songy , for lack of a better adjective, reading of
"The Story of the Ghost", perhaps double tracked with his own voice,
or augmented with another band member the effect is very jazzy/spooky.
Before we get too comfortable the song slowly slips away into..

BIRDS OF A FEATHER-  Which more than a few pair of ears have had the
chance to hear via commercial radio in the past few weeks.  IMO too
much focus is put on the vocals and not enough on the rest of the
music.  Trey gives a somewhat lackluster reading
of the song's dark lyrics.  The drum roll ending present in past live
performances is omitted. Also noteworthy the track features some
atonal horns following the third chorus.

MEAT-   This little nugget has always sounded  to me like a distant
cousin of Spock's Brain, the same sort of groove,  Motown style
changes with classic absurd Phish lyrics.  The kind of stuff that
gives critics of the band, endless fodder to prop up their hip band of
choice and raise their musical nose into the air.  I say as I have
always said Fuck em, if they don't get it.  We need more MEAT style
songs in this world.  While in the studio, the band was able to create
a  vocal sound effect VERY similar to the 'Cancer Kazoo' segments on
South Park, for added studio amusement on the choruses of this tune, I
have no clue what the person using the effect is saying, but it sounds
cool.

GUYUTE- Begins somewhat lacsidasicaly, with breathy Trey vocals in the
forefront of the mix during  a slow( to me ) sounding rendition of
this first part of the tune, BUT as the song progresses into the mid
section of the composition thing tighten up, with both Fish and Mike
adding stellar runs.  The fuzz section of the build is a bit too toned
down for my tastes, but is nonetheless present. Other than the slow
beginning I mentioned the song plays out pretty true to form of the
past few year's live renditions.  I have always missed the dominant
role that Page played on the piano in the inaugural fall 94 versions,
laying down the strident chords with the majestic grand piano or the
cool harpsichord mid section.  That said the playing on this tune is
the closest to "jamming" on a studio album in 5-6 years.

FICUS- sounds very spur of the moment.  Sort of a  Mike's Corner:the
song, over a distant drum beat, with lazy(perhaps stand up) bass
outro.

SHAFTY- a slow deep groove of the Oblivious Fool, a compact version of
what took place at the Island run this past spring.  A cool
percolating bass line, but this song has always been a real neutral
experience for me.

LIMB BY LIMB-  What can I say I don't like what happened to this tune
in the studio.  I loved the Arabic jam section that has been sacked in
favor of the St. Stephen-ish stutterstep reentry which has always
thrown me off. "The Story of the Ghost"
Sessions have done to Limb by Limb, what "Billy Breathes" did to Theme
from the Bottom: permanently and unfavorably altered the songs make up
for all future renditions,  to the detriment of the entire listening
audience.  Despite my prejudices, the playing , and sound of the track
really stands out amidst everything else happening on this album.
Ultimately it showcases the one and only Johnny B. Fishman, proving he
is as accomplished at his craft as anyone else in the band, read: awe
inspiring mastery.  Displaying  skill rarely found  on  popular albums
outside of  the canned goods session work of LA , NYC, and Nashville.

FRANKIE SAYS- I love this song. I love the mood it creates, the sound
of the notes, and ultimately the horrific lyrical mantra.  The song
doesn't stray far from what was played this summer, except the fact
the Page's vocal are featured way up in the mix.  I also don't
remember the lyrical coda that fades the tune out, being around during
the summer versions.
"I've lost my mind,
I've lost my way,
I'm bound to loose,
I wonder where I am"

BRIAN and ROBERT-  After the darkness of Frankie Says, we are greeted
with a vocal blend that would make Brian Wilson proud. A wash of
harmonic Ohh ohh ohhs, spare guitar, and Trey's vocals.  The song
doesn't feature Trey using sustain, in fact his guitar is very
understated, unlike the live versions. The stuff going on in the tune
is down  right eerie.  On the surface everything is like  a perfect
day  in southern Cali, driving with the ocean 75 and sunny, slight
breeze, yet beneath this lies dark, brooding,boring nothingness.
Gilded surface pleasure.  Compete emptiness. Great music.

WATER IN THE SKY- The version contained on "The Story of the Ghost" is
a pleasant surprise.  I much preferred the older version, which to me
had a shade of The Band's sound.  The souped up version is a nice
though ,a light change of pace from the previous 2 tunes, with Fishman
updating his career long love affair with the wood block, and Page
turning in a solid performance on the piano, splashy and bright.

ROGGAE-Other than a touch of steel pedal the studio version is fairly
consistent with the performances rendered this past summer.  The song
ends with the final notes reverberating, with loop backing into..

VELVET SEA-  This is a very beautiful piece of music.  Sure the lyrics
never really were developed too far, but the music, and sound of this
cut is very appealing.  Many will publicly say this song  is cheese,
but in the privacy of their own home/car I think everyone can
appreciate a good melody, even if they can't admit it.

MOMA DANCE- Fades in, great instrumentation.  An irresistible funky
theme that was present in almost all jams this past summer, even when
the band wasn't playing The MOMA DANCE proper, the groove was still
there.  This is one tune, that could have perhaps lasted a touch
longer.  The song ends with a Ghost reprise, similar to the one
featured in the extended live versions of Ghost from this past summer.
"I fell I've never^."

END OF SESSION- the great curiosity.  Subject of a thread on rmp, etc.
This tune is a simple but moving bit of music, similar to what you
would find in the 4th set of Lemonwheel with a brief touch of lyrics
with everyone but Fish waying in vocally.  Very nice, sorta conveys
the feeling of afterglow, the sunrising after staying up the whole
night.  Light after darkness.



As I alluded to in my opening remarks, I feel this album, is a very
positive thing.  The albums sounds like the band is entirely
comfortable with themselves, and as result closer to their own vision
on a studio recording than anything since Rift.  The new focus on
rythmic ensemble playing in effect takes alot of the pressure and
spotlight of of Trey, and in turn lends itself to stanout performances
by all, particularly Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman.

I have always felt that Billy Breathes was a bit of a rush job once
they abandoned the blob concept under deadline constraints.
Essentially all the tunes written in 96 for this were bland,
forgettable , acoustic tunes (Talk anyone?) that served as palatable
filler.  In turn the conventional format lended itself greater to
public consumption, and was easier to market.  The same media outlets
that dogged substantive pieces like Rift, were eager to praise neutral
to second rate Phish as infinitely superior.  A nice primer, but
definitely not the master work alluded to in the popular press.

Hoist on the other hand really has some great tunes, but as the band
has admitted was way over done.  Too LA,  great tunes,
kitchensinkitis, mediocre performances, due perhaps to the recording
studio's proximity  to 345 North Maple ,Beverly Hills, CA, and the
pressure exerted from that side of the equation.  How else can we
explain the lack of fire coming off of the heels of the uber tour
(8-93).

I am anxoius to see how fans, and in turn the media outlets receive
this work.  I will guarantee one thing this album will not be the next
Cracked Rear View, Four, Under the Table and Dreaming, etc.  It's just
not a commercially viable piece of music, top 40 it ain't. Elektra of
course will do their best to promote the work, there is nothing wrong
with that, they are a business, Phish is their product.  I would guess
a piece like this will not score any higher than 3  stars in Rolling
Stone, perhaps much lower, it is not built for mass consumption or
hollow praise. It is a good album.

The band  has often stated that each album is a reaction to the one
that preceded it , I can't wait to see what they have up their sleeve
for the next project.

CASSIUS


--------



From cdhoard@umich.edu Sat Oct 24 16:25:34 1998
Date: Sat, 10 Oct 1998 17:02:38 -0400
From: Christian David Hoard 
Cc: Kula ,
    Joel Hoard ,
    traders@umich.edu,
    andy@gadiel.com,
    Brian Reen ,
    Ellis Godard ,
    Dan Hantman 
Newsgroups: rec.music.phish
Subject: **The Story of the Ghost (album) Review**

I'll try to review this album both from a perspective of a huge fan
who's heard all these songs live, and also as someone who is only
judging these songs on how well they work on the album. It used to annoy
me when I read fan reviews of Billy Breathes and I'd see comments like,
"The 'FREE' on here is pretty dank, but it's nothing like the 6.10.85
Red Rocks version." It's important to keep in mind that this is a studio
album and not a bootleg tape, and that albums should flow differently
than do live shows. So while I may write with the vocabulary of a fan,
I've tried to listen from the perspective of any random listener. 

I'll do song-by-song analysis, then general comments at the end.

1. 'GHOST' begins will some spooky swirling effects, then a fade-in of
the instrumental track. It's mainly Mike and Fishman vamping with some
digital-delay echoing behind them. The sound quality of the track is
nice and crisp. The vocals come in and sound very relaxed. This track is
laid-back and texture-rich, unlike anything we've ever heard on a Phish
album before. 

2. 'BIRDS OF A FEATHER' is the album's first single, something quite
ironic because of the fact that it's the worst track on the whole
record. The arrangement is essentially the same as what has been played
live, but this version really lacks the punch of a live version. The
sound quality here is a big part of the problem. It sounds as if Fishman
used different setups on each song, which is a great idea, but here his
drums sound far too light, much like they did on JUNTA. Trey's vocals
here are akin to vocals on LAWN BOY, very light and lacking definition.
The chorus vocals, however, sound really processed and fake. Trey's
Chalkdust-esque solo is alright, but we've certainly heard this all
before. I can't imagine anyone who's never heard the band before being
all that impressed with this song.

3. 'MEAT' is one of the true gems on this album. It reflects the
laid-back funky influence of a band like Medeski, Martin and Wood.
Mike's vocals are terrificly delivered over top of some nice interplay
between Trey's funky-chording and Page's Hammond licks. There is a
fantastic a capella break following a neat vocal collage. This false
ending is followed by a neat syncopated lick which ushers in a final
chorus. Great work.

4. Anyone who has ever heard 'GUYUTE' live will be dissapointed by this
version, and I can't imagine anyone who hasn't will be blown away by
this. When a live version of this song lacks a distinct energy, it can
really start to drag and get sloppy. The vocals here suffer from the
same lack-of-punch as do the vocals on 'BIRDS.' Indeed, the middle
section of this song really drags, to the point where it's almost
boring. It's amazing how the poor way in which this song was recorded
really brings down its energy level. 

5. 'FIKUS' is the perfect song to follow 'GUYUTE.' This song was
recorded with a lot of attention to establishing mood; it sounds as if
the musical accompaniment is going on in the next room while Mike is
muttering his vocals right into your ear. This sound is extremely
effective in suggesting a spooky, surreal sound to the track.

6. 'SHAFTY' functions very much like a choral interlude in a play. Thank
God they re-arranged this from the rock-abilly version they played last
fall. This song is recorded with the same slick sound as was 'GHOST,'
and it functions as a nice "intermission" section of the album. For some
reason, this song reminds me of the tunes the little elves sing in
"Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory," sort of like Phish on this tune are
four guys who just show up to sing to you about "the terrible thing
about Hell" and then move on about their business.

7. 'LIMB BY LIMB' is a beautiful song that is hurt by a sub-par-sounding
recording. Things sound to 'small' and rushed, especially Trey's
weak-sounding vocals. The effects used on Page's voice are quite nice,
however, as is the mini-jam following the terrible edit used to throw in
a second chorus of "Drop me off a Chinese Wall..." I appreciate Phish's
studio ethic of cutting out loose ends and keeping things short on their
albums, but this song really could have benefited from being stretched
out a bit. 

8. 'FRANKIE SEZ' is placed perfectly on the album. This is a tune where
Phish really did a great job of establishing musically the surreal,
floating mood this song expresses lyrically. The calypso feel suggested
by Fishman's kick/hi-hat/snare beat is terrific, as is Page's lead
vocal. Mike's mantra-like "I've lost my mind..." vocal is a great way to
fade out this song.

9. The soothing 'BRIAN AND ROBERT' is the perfect song to follow the
haunting uncertainty of "FRANKIE SEZ.' The gorgeous harmonies here
remind me of the Beach Boy's "You Still Believe in Me" from PET SOUNDS.
Still, I'm a bit uncertain how to react to this song. Part of me thinks
it's extremely beautiful, while another part of me thinks it sounds a
bit cheesy, self-effacing and heavy-handed. I think that because it's so
well placed on the album, however, it works. I really have reservations
about this being played live, but that's another story. 

10. Place 'WATER IN THE SKY' in the 'SHAFTY'-interlude pile. This song
is a nice bit of levity between the two songs that precede it and the
two that follow. It's also very well-produced, with terrific work by
Page and Fishman, and a nice Trey solo. For once, it doesn't sound like
Phish are doing a bluegrass-hued tune simply for the point of doing it. 

11. 'ROGGAE' is extremely well done here, at least compared with live
versions. While it doesn't add up to much on its own, it's a great
thematic link between 'FRANKIE' and 'VELVET SEA': The former is a plunge
into surreal introspection, followed by the melancholy, prayer-like
'BRIAN AND ROBERT,' while 'ROGGAE' has a dreamy, fantasy-like tone
embodied in its "If life were easy..." refrain.

12. From 'ROGGAE's' whimsical dream flows 'WADING IN A VELVET SEA,' the
album's most surprisingly emotional track. Thematically, this song
follows the fantasy of the previous track with a melancholy realisation
of loss of love. The lines 

        I took a moment from my day
        And wrapped it up in things you say 
        And mailed off to your address 
        You'll get it pretty soon unless 
        The packaging begins to break 
        And all the points I've tried to make 
        Will toss the thoughts into a bin 
        And time leads out, my life leads in

are some of the most strikingly poetic verse Tom Marshall has ever
written as Phish lyrics, and while they (and this song) border on the
cheesy, they come off with great beauty here. 

13. 'MOMA DANCE' puts a nice cap on the album, reinforcing its funky
side after the introspective suite of songs that followed 'SHAFTY.'
Fishman's high-toned, throaty vocals float upon a funky, Mike-led vamp
below. But the vocals also vamp to the point where they could be
speaking in Russian here and still sound right. The 'GHOST' chorus is
eventually sung over the 'MOMA DANCE' chorus bringing the album full
circle. 

14. 'END OF SESSION' functions just like 'HER MAJESTY' did to end ABBEY
ROAD. The funky repetition of 'MOMA' wasn't quite the appropriate way to
end the record, so we have this slow, quiet tune. This sounds a bit like
soft PA music playing while the audience files out of a room after a
concert. 

For all of the talk about GHOST being constructed out of live tapes the
band made, it doesn't really show here. If you listen to the record
hoping to hear a "live-sounding" album, you may be dissapointed. In
fact, the band made use of the studio in ways it never has before: There
is a multitude of little effects thrown in among the tracks, and it
sounds as if the band clearly sought to make each track sound different
from the other. On tracks like 'BIRDS,' 'GUYUTE' and 'LIMB,' this
approach resulted in the songs not living up to their full potential.
However, on tunes like 'MEAT,' 'FIKUS,' and 'VELVET SEA,' the attention
to detail afforded by the studio is really effective.

This is also the first album where Phish have really made use of the
fact that not only do all four members have pretty good voices, but also
voices which are distinct from each other. 'ROGGAE,' for example, begins
with Fishman's high-pitched, throaty voice, follows with Trey's soft
rasp, followed by Page's sweet, everyman-sounding voice, and is capped
off by Mike's deep tenor. Page and Mike's vocals, in particular, sound
better than ever; Mike with his vocals alone establishes a distinct mood
on songs like 'FIKUS' and 'MEAT'; Page's vocal work on 'VELVET SEA'
could easily bring a tear to the eye. 

Phish have said that each record they make is, in some way, a reaction
to their last record. BILLY BREATHES is still their best album to date;
it is musically coherent and flowing will optimistic, pastoral jams. It
was the first time they learn to really relax in the studio and not try
so hard. Also, they stopped trying so hard to capture their live sound
in studio, and finally used the studio to create a one-vibe,
song-oriented record. 

GHOST builds on this. It is clearly a song-oriented album, but less
coherent than BILLY BREATHES. At times, the funky, lyrically-dismissive
songs clash with the softer, more introspective songs. But, despite its
use of studio-weaponry, GHOST builds on BILLY's vibe of laying-back in
the studio. Though Trey has far over-stated the live-sounding aspects of
this album in interviews, many of the tracks have a relaxed spontaneity
about them; Phish aren't trying so hard here. For example, a clunky
triplet fill by Fishman on 'ROGGAE' would most certainly have been cut
out on previous albums; here it only reflects the lax-ness of the album. 

Many will criticize this album for not sounding 'live.' But rather than
endeavouring to jam in the studio, Phish play upon the
live-versus-studio dichotomy to combine studio polish and coherency
among the songs with a funky, laid-back vibe of a live show. At times,
these two approaches contradict one another. But the basic format of
funky songs enveloping a middle-section of soft, lyrically-dramatic
songs, creates an extremely listenable album. It's a good combination of
both BILLY BREAHTES's strengths and the funk-influence prevalent in the
recent tours. While the album is certainly not perfect, it's definitely
a step forward for this band, and the biggest compliment I can give to
it is to say that it would not have been even imaginable to make this
album just two short years ago.

Thanks much for reading,
CDH



---------

------------------------------

Date:    Sat, 10 Oct 1998 19:18:50 GMT
From:    Diana Hamilton 
Subject: Birds of a Feather, *tune review*

original Date: 9 Oct 1998 18:19:24 -0400
original Message-ID: <6vm25c$efo@alumni.umbc.edu>

With all the talk of the new single- apparently hundreds have heard it by
now, on Dawson's Creek if nowhere else- I'm surprised to see relatively
little discussion of it *musically.*

I finally caught the song just now on the radio on the way home from work.
The only other time I've heard a version has been at 8/9/98 Virginia Beach
(and on a tape of that show).

I have to say I like what I heard of the single overall! The verse
portion plays out like a smooth Top 40-type song but recognizably Phish,
punctuated by Mike's bass. The vocals are a little *too* smooth for my
taste; I like the rougher edges of the "normal guy's voice" live sound.

The jam segment is interesting and will bear more listening until I get a
sense of the cohesiveness of it. It's abbreviated compared to the intense
straight-ahead rockout of VA Beach, but rather than being typical
oily-smooth Top 40, it's got a layer of *dissonance* over the top. Cool,
they may have managed to sneak something neat into the mainstream! I
believe this dissonance will end up separating "the sheep and the goats,"
the casual radio listener from the potential fan.

In short, *There is no cause for alarm.* :)
--
Diana Hamilton -- hamilton@umbc.edu -- Baltimore, MD USA

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-=----------------


Date:    Tue, 20 Oct 1998 15:02:37 -0400
From:    Michael Carvin 
Subject: SPOILER: "Ghost" Review...Totally Legit

One of my friends works for a nationwide radio trade mag, and just got
hooked up with Story of the Ghost.  This album is like no other.  If you
smoke, break the bowl out before you listen; it'll be that much better.  Dig
the review...

14 Songs, almost 50 min (sometimes the individual timings and total length
don't agree).  Marshall has co-writing credits on every song.

1. Ghost - 3:52
    Totally cool track if not the best opening track ever.  Funky with a
deep groove and Trey's vocals are slightly eerie, with great layering
featuring Mike.  BTW, Mike's all over this LP.  His bass carries alot of the
melodies because Trey is doing atmospheres, and he's got tons of lead
vocals.

2. Birds of a Feather - 4:14
    The single so far.  Another Phish phunkfest.  Trey must have bought a
new wah pedal and is playing with the toy like crazy.  I take the song to be
about the fans.  Again, cool mellow vocals and great harmonies.  Nice organ
by Page.  Song could fit on Nectar with no problem.

3. Meat - 2:39
    This song I don't know about.  This is one of those songs that are
freeform musically, but structured vocally.  It may have to grow on me.

4. Guyute - 8:26
    Junta-stylin'.  Translates to album tremendously well.  They sound very
Yes-influenced at times, especially in the middle sections with their sharp
hits and intricate interplay.  This song did it for me in ways I can't
describe.

5. Fikus - 2:20
    Another Mike song.  Think "I Am Hydrogen" or "NO2" and you get the hint.
Trippy, dreamy, wacked-out fog of a song.  Odd, but kind of cool anyway.

6. Shafty - 2:21
    Back to the groovy funk and mellow vocals.  Most of Trey's vocals seem
to me to be like he's a tour guide through a nightmare, keeping you safe
while you get the visuals around you.  The repetitive lyrics may get to you,
though.  One fine track.

7. Limb By Limb - 3:31
    Starts out Trey vocal solo, moves into phat vocal trade-offs with Page.
The guitar riff adds so much to the song.  Very uplifting, Fishman's all
over the place.  Very fine breakdown in the middle.

8. Frankie Says - 3:06
    Opening is reminiscent of "Landlady," except with vocals.  Page on lead
vocals, with some of the greatest lyrics to come out of Tom Marshall,
matched with some of the best music.  Great overall song.

9. Brian and Robert - 3:02
    If this isn't the most beautiful and sad song I've ever heard, I don't
know what is.  If you dug on "Billy Breathes," you won't be dissapointed.

10. Water In The Sky - 2:29
    Mike goes back to the country, and comes back with a true gift.  Classic
Page piano fills throughout, with a great piano break or two thrown in for
good measure.  The pedal steel is a nice treat, too.

11. Roggae - 2:59
    They've been doing this over the summer from what I understand.  Nice
4-way vocals and slide guitar.  The song's cool, but for some reason I feel
like there's something missing from it.

12. Wading In The Velvet Sea - 4:29
    Cut from the same cloth as "Frankie" and "Brian and Robert."  Very
pretty, but the intro is really repetitive again.  Sounds like Page on
vocals.  Think of this as the sequel to "Fast Enough For You."  Very Rift-y
in feel, and brings you out of the album like "Silent In The Morning."

13. The Moma Dance - 4:28
    Phunk central here.  Another one from the summer.  Heavy 70's funk
influence both musically and in the vocal styling.  More fine Marshall
lyrics.  Great closer.  Brings the chorus of "Ghost" in at the end to give
the disc a nice rounded-out feeling.  Satisfying.

14. End of Session - 1:53
    Very Floyd in the beginning, with the church organ underneath a very
Gilmour-style guitar line.  Let's you go wishing you had more to listen to.

In grand Phish tradition, this album is a departure from any of their
previous work.  Trey's very breathy, almost spooky vocals give part of this
album a Halloween feel.  The inside artwork adds so much to the listen, to
the point where if you look at the booklet and think of the title, it all
comes together and makes sense.

Of course, smoke it if you got it.  But you don't have to, of course.

------------------------------


Date:    Mon, 26 Oct 1998 22:38:50 -0500
From:    Mark Mezrich 
Subject: more detailed SOTGhost review

Hey all, now that I've listened a few times I can give a slightly better
review.  Maybe others could use a similar form for their review is they
care to.
First off, fav. songs so far: Guyute, Limb By Limb, Fikus
Guyute is done so perfectly and you can really hear every detail.  Limb
is the song with the most energy by far.  Fikus is so artsy and cool.
Birds is also a great energy song.
Least favorite (there are none I don't like, but this is simply *least*
fav., a relative term): Meat, Frankie Says.  I really love both of these
songs, but I thought I'd challenge myself by trying to choose my 2 least
favorites.  I guess the reasons I like them less is because Meat lacks
some energy and completeness, and Frankie is just a depressing song, but
really well done here, none-the-less.  Heck, this category sucks!
They're all great!!
Best surprise: End of Session.  Yet another beautiful tune and it seems
like an instant classic, but not neccesarily in a Phish way.
Biggest dissapointment: The Moma Dance.  Again, I love this song here,
but its so dissapointing hearing no intro. jam.  They really could've
done a little two-minute jam here at the beginning.  I don't think that
it would've hurt the album at all, and I doubt they're gonna release
this one for radio anyway (Ghost or Limb would be most logical for next
single).  Also dissapointing is that many reviewers said the Meat was
the song that displayed the musical interplay of the band best and I
disagree.
Other Comments:
   Overall, the sound is so "small" that it forces you to pay attention
to the intricacies, which there are so many, especially in Fikus,
Shafty, Ghost, and Guyute.  They could've added some more tracks.  Dirt
would have fit in perfectly.  I don't know what else, but it definately
would have.
   Roggae is a great version to have on disc.  I love this song,
although it might have been better with this one not to use the original
jam, but to redo the song in the studio because there are little things
that don't seem to quite fit, and other things they could've emphasized
musically, but weren't thinking of when jamming.
   Brian and Wading are such beautiful songs and they're done SO well
here.  Just so beatiful.  As for the lack of jams, its not too big a
deal.  Moma has some slight jams, Limb has a great guitar solo, and
Birds is jammed out the most really, and they're such interesting jams.
But really a highlight for me is the Fikus/Shafty combo.  You just have
to listen to those so carefully because there are so many cool little
interesting things.
   Ghost (the song)  is interesting.  It lacks a bit of kick, and it
would be nice if they jammed to it, although its not neccesary.  The
overdubbed stuff here is so good and really is the highlight.  Overall a
great version, and mostly true to the new  live version.
Hmm, I'll challenge myself again and try to rank this album more
precisely:
not as good as Junta or Billy Breathes, better than Rift and Hoist.
Thats about as good as I can do.  In time I may learn to put it higher
as some of the newer songs grow on me more and I hear more intricacies.

Mark


--------


Date:    Tue, 27 Oct 1998 17:12:18 -0500
From:    Andrew Pappas 
Subject: A Random Phan's review of "SOTG" (long)

    Ok.... so here I am waiting all day for my classes to end so I can
get my ass down to Waxie Maxie's and buy this CD. I don't know why, but
I have been hyped for SOTG more then any previous album, including
SS&Pass. Maybe it's the fact that the songs they chose to include on
SOTG are, IMHO, some of the most mature and comlex songs that the boys
have debuted in a while. So, with the CD in the background and my
fingers in a fury, I will attempt to review the album that (at least I,)
have been so psyched about.
    To start things out, let me just say that I think "Story of the
Ghost," is a very good album... and might be the strongest studio
recording that Phish has made to date... (of course that may just be my
reaction to finally having something new to dig my teeth into.) My only
wish was that I hadn't known all of the songs before the disc came out,
(as was the case with "Billy Breathes," from which I had only heard one
or two songs.) The reason that I say this is that because I have only
known the songs in their live incarnations, I have high expectations for
what the songs should be. This is not to say that SOTG falls short of
these expectations, but the album seems to shoot for a seperate set of
expectations all together, (I hope that makes sense to someone other
then myself.) Example: From hearing some of this past summer's "Ghost"
jams, I was waiting for the album version to be studio funk,...
something to make me shake my ass as hard as I did this summer (esp.
Raleigh!) But the opening track of SOTG is nothing like the "Ghost" that
I saw on stage.... the funk is there, the funk is deep, but the funk is
different. Same thing with "Moma Dance," "Shafty," etc. Anyways... I
think that the best way to do this is song by song,... so here I go.

    1. "Ghost" On the back of the CD cover, this song is the only one
written in blue, (while the others are all white,) which  is cool
becuase for me, it is by far the standout track of the disc. As
mentioned above, this "Ghost" is not the same song that was done on
stage throughout the summer. A lot of people were talking about how the
new "Ghost" was a lot more chill then the summer 97' ones, but this
takes that feeling of "Chill Funk" to a new level. This "Ghost" doesn't
make you want to dance yourself into a sweaty mess, but simply nod your
head to the beat while you space out on the sound effects and soft,
quiet way that Trey sings the lyrics. The whole disc is like this,...
but "Ghost" is by far the best representation of what I'm talking about.
An earlier review of the album said that Trey delivers his lyrics as if
he was in between naps. Perfect description. Trey's voice on this album
is so quiet, soft, and chill that it's almost creepy. IMO this "Ghost"
may just be the best thing that Phish has done in the studio... ever.
    2. "Birds of a Feather" Ok. After that really nice "Ghost" on comes
"Birds," a song that I really, really dug hearing this summer. It's too
bad that the "Birds" I remeber didn't make it to the album. It seems
like they tried to incorporate this idea of "chill" into the song, but
the effect (for me,) makes it seem really flat. While on "Billy
Breathes," the rockers really stood out, (CharZero and Free) this song
just doesn't have any energy. I always thought that "Birds" was a
rocking tune,... ie a set closer. This version just doesn't do that for
me. Had I not have known the live version, I may like this one better,
but there I go with my expectations again.
    3. "Meat" Ah... more of that funk... slow, chill funk I mean. This
song is really cool... got such an awkward little groove to it,... the
only gripe I have is Mike's vocals are a little weak, (but that's ok
cause there is a really cool voice box thing towards the end that freaks
me out.) All in all I like this song more and more each time I hear it,
(they even put in a false ending!)
    4. "Guyute" Good, good version that doesn't butcher the live one
that we know and love. In fact, I believe that all of the parts from the
stage made it to the album (which is the only way that it would have
worked.) The build up is actually pretty cool... intense, but the rest
of the song is quiet, subtle... nice.
    5. "Fikus" ??? I have no idea about this one. I always thought that
the groove to this was cool in a creepy sort of way... but the album
version doesn't really make any more sense then the live one...
    6. "Shafty" Way to short is my only concern with this one. There is
no chance to get into this tune the way that the opening track allows
you to. It's a good little ditty, but don't expect any kind of
revelations on the album version....just enjoy the groove. As with
"Roggae" this song seems like it's just a snippet from the whole... I
think that you'll see what I mean when you hear it. (This is also the
first song that I noticed the trend of darker, more ominous lyrics on
this album.)
    7. "Limb by Limb" After hearing the Bearsville tapes of this I was
quite concerned for this song's future. Being a huge fan of it from the
first time that I heard it, I'm hoping that this song lives on as long
as the boys are playing. Rest assured, they didn't dissapoint me with
this version. The track opens in a familair way with Trey playing his
Jimi -style chords and singing by himself.... then in comes Mike and
Fish for the first verse, but the song sounds empty...uh oh (I thought
to myself.... not to this song please!!!!) As soon as they get to the
"Drop me off a Chinese wall" part, all of my concerns are washed away...
Page comes in with such force on his piano that I get chills from the
first chord he plays. The song continues on this way... much like the
summer verions (with the pause before the jam,) and this is the only
track on the album, (besides "Water") that sounds jovial. I was very
happy with this song.... hope you are too.
    8. "Frankie Says" This is the part of the disc that the songs slow
down, becomes a lot more sleepy (in a good way) and actually more creepy
(IMO.) This song was pretty cool live, but this version is really good,
with a lot of effects from Trey,... spacy. Along with the somewhat
depressing lyrics this song becomes beautiful and disturbing at the same
time... very cool.
    9. "Brian and Robert" My personal favorite song (not jam, but song,)
from the new batch of 98's. This version is everything that I hoped it
would be. Beautifuly sad.
    10. "Water in the Sky" This song doesn't fit on the album at all...
but I love it. If you heard this summer's version you know somewhat to
expect from the structure of this song,...but on the disc it seems like
they had so much fun with effects the song almost becomes "Country Music
from Neptune." Just like Phish to make a spacey country tune.
    11. "Roggae" This is the other song, (along with "Birds") that I was
dissapointed with. I loved the "Roggae" of the summer, but this version
is waaaayyy too short. The songs fades in, then fades out two and half
minutes later. This, and the fact that the wonderful jam they do live is
completly gone, make me feel like this song is just an outtake from the
whole original. Too bad... this is a really good song if done correctly,
(Vernon Downs, Atlanta, etc.)
    12. "Wading in the Velvet Sea" This song couldn't be any better.
Trey's solo at the end is wonderful. A very pretty version.
    13. "The Moma Dance" Back to the funk... and in style. This is song
is a lot different then the live version.... almost a different song all
together. The lyrics play a much bigger role... while the funk again
falls into the "chill" category. The reprise of "Ghost" at the end is
cool too.
    14. "End of Session" Spacey and pretty at the same time... wish it
was longer, but a good way to end the album.

Sorry that this post is so freaking long... if you read the whole thing
I applaud you... :o) SOTG is a really good album,... but take my
advice.... listen to it late at night... it's just that kind of album...
trust me.
Peace
-Andrew (Distant Cousin to Big Jay)




----------------


Date:    Sun, 1 Nov 1998 18:05:52 -0500
From:    Matt Johnson 
Subject: My Review: Story of the Ghost

Here is my opinion on their album.  I love it all from cover to cover, very
connected, not as choppy as Picture, not as overflowing as Rift.  Great
album.  As for the individual songs...

Ghost
    very very well done, the new arrangement is fantastic for studio.
vocals are perfect, and the overlapping guitar lines add so much.  great
bass lines, all popping and slapping.

Birds of a Feather
    nice intro into it, good first half.  however, the horns clutter it and
somewhat destroy the rock effect of the jam.  live version is far better,
but this isn't bad by any means.

Meat
    great sound, funky.  however, in the live version on the high note on
"take a shot and watch you fall," mike really projects it and it sounds
sooooooo good.  on the album, he holds back and it almost sounds like he
cracked, but its still a good song.  just could've been a lot better by
changing one little thing.

Guyute
    alright, guyute is guyute.  i hate to say it but this song has no room
for improv.  it is actually a really long bouncing.  its the same every
time.  but hell who cares.  the song kicks ass.  i actually called this song
being on the album before i knew.  on listening to my first summer tape from
98, i noticed an extra voice in the quiet vocal part toward the end, very
scary and almost growling.  i think it was fishman.  in any case, i noticed
the changes in limb by limb and ghost also, which i knew would appear on the
album.  after a studio session... guyute has changed... hmm... so i says to
my friend "guyute will be on the album, you heard it here first" and low and
behold.  there it is.

Fikus
    really nice.  love the percussion

Shafty
    i think this song is the biggest mistake phish has ever made.  yes it is
a cool song.  i like it.  however, if anyone has heard Oblivious Fool, the
original version, it is very rock n roll and so much fun.  given the darker
Shafty fits the lyrics better, i cannot understand why you would "fix" such
an excellent song... when i heard Oblivious fool i totally was in love...
possibly one of the best tunes ever... but they changed it...?

Limb by Limb
    perfect.  new version is fantastic, could hear it happening on 6/30/98
with the end.  love the new one.

Frankie Says
    great song, nice and relaxing... and the lyrics say relax... uh... i'm
sorry... what's the name of this song?  other than the questionable title,
the song is great.

Brian and Robert
    i love it.  everyone loves it.  it is almost mainstream... which i am
worried about, but i can't help it.  i love it its such a pretty song.  very
beach boys.

Water in the Sky
    as one person commented, very much like Rift.  i love the vocal
harmonies.  can't be beat.  the new version is far more fun.

Roggae
    thank god this name has been cleared up... i tried to understand why
anyone would think that it would be spelled "Roget" after trey said it was
spelled like "reggae" on 6/30/98 with the debut.  the song sounds good, but
i think its a little too cluttered with guitars.  i like the simple live
version better.

Wading in the Velvet Sea
    i never liked this song live, but in the studio format it sounds great.

The Moma Dance
    i miss the BEK intro, but they are still doing it live so its all good.
i was so happy to hear the ghost reprise.

End of Session
    i am clueless as to why this is on here... it is kinda cool, like a jam
or something.  its a nice poem but the music is kind of out there.  sounds
like it belongs on a different album.

i'd appreciate any thoughts.. drop me an email... thanks everyone!

--
***Matt "The Cat" Johnson***
Visit my band's website!
     http://home.earthlink.net/~ejohnson22/groove/

"I have to state, we learn to hate, and man I can't relate!"
                                 --Ken Block of Sister Hazel


-------------------


------------------------------

Date:    Wed, 4 Nov 1998 19:15:44 GMT
From:    gilmour@GWU.EDU
Subject: SOTG review that you've been waiting for

        I'm sitting here, in a bit of a reverie, after having listened to the
longer...I'm cueing up another round now.

        The swirling noises yield way to Fishman's drumbeat. Page's
way to Fishman's drumbeat, signaling the beginning of the new Ghost. Page's
synthesizer makes a nibbling appearance, then Trey's funky spices. The new,
languid vocals...I feel I've never told you the story of the Ghost...

        The first thing that struck me about the new Phish album, and
certainly the biggest surprise overall, was the songwriting credits. A slew
of "Anastasio/ Fishman/Gordon/McConnell/Marshall" credits hit my eye. This,
as much as anything, demonstrates the new direction that Phish is taking.
    The fact that the first (and now, second...) listening of this work was
achieved via headphones has colored my reception of the music. It has enabled
me, for instance, to notice that this is the best-produced Phish album to
date. The sonic textures interweave in a layered, sometimes off-putting web
of connections.

         Ghost is largely unsurprising, but the authority and
depth of the vocals in this studio version (as with much of the album) is
welcomed. Birds of a Feather is mathematically furious in its seemingly
effortless propulsion through funky grooves.

         The full nature of Page's synthesizer colorations is also
appreciated throughout the album. His 97-style work definitely holds greater
worth when the restraint and simplicity bares the appropriate degree of rough
sonic edges. It doesn't dissolve into the mix, in other words.

         Birds fades out unexpectedly, the first of a series of slow fades. Meat
continues the decidedly funky trend. I'm pleased that the next Phish album
starts out sounding like this. It is an appropriate opening to the album that
followed the 1997 touring year. The distortion on Fish's vocals on this cut is
the first noticeably obtrusive studio tinkering. (I don't mean that in a
pejorative sense).

         There' s a lot of space on this album. It is a "low" sound...
complemented by the often disturbing lyrics about confused identity and
stepping into an otherworldly plane, and even the cover art and packaging
itself. This is a thoroughly *coherent*  album, from the decidedly dark and
surreal cover art to the fades in and out of most tunes, to the deep, rich,
sound (which nevertheless leavesopen vast corridors of vertical space), to
the lyrical themes, to the Ghost reprise near the end of the album. Story of
the Ghost is organic, it * feels*  like it was written mostly through a
series of unorchestrated marathon jams in Bearsville Studio. And its eventual
effect is a surprisingly unsettling experience.

        So the record opens with a wallop with Ghost, Birds, Meat, and
Guyute. Guyute indeed contains a handful of mistakes, which is very
surprising considering Trey's traditional perfectionism in the studio with
regard to guitar parts. The only real added studio accents are in the vocals;
the first seem a tad removed and airy, compared to the live delivery, and the
closing verse features spooky effects on the backing vocals.

          Then, the most shocking thing to me, musically, on the album: Fikus. The
vocal melody and delivery of the verse recalls psychedelic Beatles. The chorus
features a shifting collage of voices and lyrics. Throughout, the sparse music
(apparently a standup bass, kettle drum, snare, pocket change and a bell) is
dramatically compelling. Mike's garbled vocal delivery describes Fikus, who
"dreamed a dream for me". This is the beginning of the process that will take
up the rest of the album...a series of dream-like explorations of the
speaker's innerspace.

        The real drama comes with the insistent bassline in Shafty, which to
me seems like a persistent, mocking refrain offering increasing dread to the
subject of the song. The simple, repeated riff offers evolving revelations,
culminating in an existential feeling of dread. Please listen to the 4/5/98
second set for an extended visit to this theme. "The terrible thing about
hell is that while you're there you can't even tell," Trey sings. This is
where the narrator is. From here he will examine the pieces of his self,
which have apparenty splintered off into different places. Shafty fades out
after repeated choruses. This is essentially the end of side one. I don't
doubt that the album will flip here.

        Limb By Limb opens the second half of the album, and plays with an
unnerving delay in the opening guitar part. The experience of listening to
this song is almost identical to the experience of listening to Taste, as far
as I can tell. Unfortunately, it features some of the worst lyrics in the
Phish  catalog (though not as dreadful, of course, as Waste). However, it is
the thematic centerpiece of the album. The hero falls from the wall, and is
splintered. The central question of the album is whether he truly will be put
together again.



         So far, lyrically, this album has been very, let us say,
"downbeat". Ghost introduces the idea of stepping out of oneself, of
communing with and communicating with a part of the self that is removed, or
displaced.  Birds of a Feather is impossible to read as anything but a
blatant criticism of the Phish experience beyond even the scale of Swept
Away/Steep. Meat offers the key line, "I need a different life I think."
Fikus probably began the stream of dreamlike reflection continued throughout
most of the album.



        The instantly touching opening to Frankie Sez reminds the listener of
the sweet dread of Oblivious Fool. But this touch is cold, and prickly. "I've
been turned around somehow," Page sings, "The world will suck you in with
threats and hopes beyond compare." Page's synthesizer stylings are
particularly successful on this track. So far, the dark purple and black of
the front and back covers has been put to music. Guyute and Limb By Limb are
the only abberational soundscapes so far. Of course, even Guyute features
richly spooky and ominous passages.

        Through Andy Wallace's subtleties, Frankie Says  ends with the most
eerie moment on the album yet, as the delicate lyrics linger over the slowly
fading music..."I've lost my mind, I've lost myself...I've lost my mind." It
is at this point that the speaker is most disassociated from himself.  Then,
a rude cut into these deranged Beatles vocal harmonies underpinned by a
thoroughly bandbox- sounding keyboard vamp. Brian and Robert builds from
there upon Fish's cymbal work and Mike's bubbling bassline (that is
complemented with another part on acoustic bass, I think). The refrain ("This
one's for you"), and reassuring vocal harmonies, remind the listener slyly of
REM. But speaker's offer of solidarity and comfort is razor-thin, for no one
would want to actually be the recipient of this dedication. Is the speaker
really talking to himself? He, in any case, demonstrates a thorough
understanding of his subject. Here, the topic of alienation is mostly
brusquely addressed. The relationship of the singer (and, by extension, the
audience) to the subject is determined by one' s interpretation of the
dedication ("this one's for you").  How much sarcasm did Marshall intend with
this lyric? I don't know. But before I can totally come to a position, I
realize finally that the new arrangement of Water in the Sky makes the song
quite reminiscent of Sparkle.

         I have no trouble deciding that the new arrangement is a step down. This
used to be a genuinely enjoyable country rock song. Now it has definitely been
overhauled completely as far as what it does sonically, and it presumably will
fill a different need in the set of shows in which it appears. This honestly
sounds like Sparkle Part 2 to me. It switched from country to pop bluegrass.
Then, another fade up to another laid-back, dark groove...Roget. "I love the
shiny music that descends from overhead", Trey sings, in a voice that appears
to hover above the head of the headphone-wearing listener. The break between
verses immediately reminds one of early 70s Floyd (Meddle, parts of
Ummagumma). "If life were easy and not so fast," they sigh.

        By the end of this song, the speaker is totally subsumed in the
dream-space he has been exploring. Nothing is complete, or true. Everything
is fragmentary, and provisional. "Provoking dreams that don't exist/ a circus
of light where dreams can take flight/ in the peacefulness dreaming dreams
brings".



        The theme of this album seems to be desperation, provoked by an
inability to act, caused by a fractured psyche. I see a series of unsettling
lyrics and noises that explore a disconnected psyche. It is a painfully
alienated soul, who is nonetheless a battered (but wistful) hero. The speaker
seems to stand at the threshhold between stasis and action, silence and
noise, regret and opportunity. The potential for escape is present, but
always stunted. Birds of a feather are crowded around, but none has the
fortitude to fly away. In Meat, the speaker is "a ghost who cannot fly/ I'm
stuck here as the years slide by."  Fikus can only dream about "flying south
with flocks of birds." Brian and Robert are insulated within themselves,
unable to interact like social animals. The speaker of Roget dreams about
some other place where "dreams can take flight." In MOMA dance, the hero is
constantly blown "further and further from shore." The album ends with the
image of a silent bird before an open door. Will he cross the threshhold, or
remain in hell? He comes unglued while in midair, but will his limbs truly
re-form?


        Roget segues slowly into Velvet Sea. The hypnotic chorus rises slowly
from the swirling, sparse sounds. This is a recapitulation of all that has
happened to far on the album, but now the narrator has entered a surreal,
calm place. The pleasant, easy melody of the verse is a quiet reassurance,
and the ascent to the final series of choruses reinforces this. Finally, the
hypnotic mantra returns, but this time it's underpinned by the purposeful
wailing of Trey Anastasio. This solo is cheesy and gratuitous in most live
settings..but here, on this album, it has achieved its ideal context. On SOTG
this solo is *earned*. It implies, if not salvation from the disassociation
of the past, at least a moment of transcendence within the dream.

         MOMA Dance returns, as if specifically to recall the opening of the
album, and bring things to a close. Spooky wind-like noises (reminiscent of
the opening of Ghost) accent the opening passage. The vocals enter more
quickly than any fan of Black Eyed Katy could approve. Through the repetition
of a brilliant aural pun, the song brings an end to the brief transcendance
achieved previously, as the speaker realizes that he continues to drift
further and further apart from himself.

         Velvet Sea was the climax of the album, and MOMA Dance is the
denouement, which reprises themes of the exposition. The vocal reprise ads
another ironic layer to the theme of the album...after detailing the pain of
the personal dislocation, the hero still feels he hasn't really told us about
it. Something is always not quite right. More wind noises, and an ominous bit
of laughter (in marked contrast to the happy laughter throughout Meat)
precedes the strange noises that lead into the organ wash that delivers us to
the final dream-space, to the End of Session.

         This is the coda. The bird returns for another lyrical visit, among
images of transport and journey, and the promise of organic connection. The
desire for growth and the silent power of restraint once again tangle. Does
the spiritual quest that encompasses the Story of the Ghost reach a
successful conclusion? One would imagine that it doesn't. However, the ending
is ambigious, pregnant with possibility.



        Story of the Ghost is just so damn coherent! It is a low album...dark
and unsettling. Through a series of dreamscapes, the narrator, haunted by
visions of Hell,  explores the fractured pieces of his psyche. He achieves
only a momentary transcendence, and eventually has to start all over
again...I feel I never told you...


        This is easily Phish's darkest album. Sonically and lyrically, it is
challenging and unnerving. Dreams, birds, and alienation recur throughout.
Many of the songs really are fragments...it is not hard to tell which were
born in the Bearsville jam sessions and which were written beforehand.  I
think it would have benefited from the richness of Dirt, or the brightness of
Piper. Its most brilliant achievement may be placing Velvet Sea in a truly
flattering context. Importantly, the sequencing of the tracks is brilliant! I
wouldn't be surprised if the lyrics to the newest songs were written with an
idea of the album in mind. There certainly are thematic consistencies. The
role and importance of vocals in Phish has certainly increased in recent
years.

        This is probably the group's finest vocal output to date. Andy
Wallace's careful layering of vocal textures (in such songs as Frankie Says,
Roget, Brian and Robert particularly) lends the songs a renewed weight that
may be lacking in live performance. This is certainly a very *busy* album, as
far as vocals go.

        The delicious melody of Roggae, the hyperactive pulse of
Birds, the hypnotic, assembled pieces of Frankie Says, and the terrifyingly
insistent bassline of Shafty are highlights.  I love how Phish *sounds* on
this album! The synthesizer textures of Page, the burbling, psychedelic
guitar parts, and the weave of vocal melodies all contribute to a holistic
sound.

        In short, I think this is a very, very good album. It is important
that I give you a reference point in which to take this opinion. I thought
Billy Breathes was (and is) drastically overrated. This is how I would rank
the previous Phish studio albums, from best to worst: Junta, Nectar, Rift,
Lawn Boy, Billy Breathes, Hoist. I'm honestly tempted to put SOTG way up near
the top of that list. The songs are not as dynamic as those on Rift, and the
many abilities of the band are not showcased as on Nectar, but this album
achieves an overall * effect* that is second to no other in the ouevre. The
whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. And isn't that what Phish
is all about?

        By the way, if you're wondering, there are three solos on this album
(all guitar, and all very short). This is truly a group effort, aided by a
masterful producer, and it just sounds wonderful. Also, Tom has truly reached
his highest level of achievement so far, with Billy Breathes and Story of the
Ghost.

         I'm satisfied with how this album represents current era Phish
(if it's a given that jams, by some law of nature, cannot physically exist on
an album). I think this piece would have been drastically better, and
potentially Great, if the tunes were bridged by segues culled from the jam
tapes that gave birth to the compositions. As it is, one can almost imagine
those jams, listening to the slow fades into and out of the tracks. This
album is an organic whole, and offers a truly optimistic view of Phish's
studio abilities.



                         ---Jeremy


                "I'm going in for debauche" -- AR
-****************************************************************************-
"Black, black, black is the color...of my rhombus. And people throwing
three, three hooked instruments of, with rope. Three hooked instruments
into the air. Onto the, this edge of the rhombus." --Trey Anastasio
_****************************************************************************_
"I can do wheelin', I can do dealin', but I don't do no damn squeelin'."

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