CD Label: Rhino Records
I have heard a lot about this legendary band but never really 'heard' them until now. Some folks may be appalled at the very thought of that, particularly ardent fans. I did not grow up in the 1980's or 1990's so they are not one of the bands I latched onto, although I wish that I had now.
Live In Madison Square Garden-New Year's Eve 1995, cited by critics, the band, and fans as their premiere live event, is finally available on 3-disc set from Rhino Records. Based on what I have gleaned from various articles over the years and listening to this amazing set, a live show from Phish was definitely an event like no other.
They took the Grateful Dead improvisation route another step further by giving the nod to all of their influences like The Who for instance, by covering songs and dedicating entire live shows to their music. The Phish original material stood on its own as unique and incomparable to anything anyone else was doing and it still does. This band comes as a revelatory experience to me just as the live Dead and Garcia music I have had the pleasure to enjoy this year. I knew the music was always there but it always seemed like something else I wanted to hear was more important, like albums I had on vinyl so long ago. There are no excuses now; the door is wide open to further my explorations into musical nirvana, much more waits just around the corner.
Three CDs hold a lot of music and even so, I can honestly say that there was not a moment of monotony for me and I enjoyed all of this immensely. It left me wanting for more even after hours of listening pleasure. The rock-fusion-jazz jam band compositions I heard were simply phenomenal. I am really kicking myself now for not checking them out live before they broke up. They not only reminded me of the Dead but I heard some Frank Zappa influences, particularly with their lyrics and phrasing. This awe-inspiring set gives unequivocal proof of the genius of Phish and the awesome musicianship at their command in their prime. It's a cryin' shame we cannot enjoy any new material from them, and then again, there is their catalog of studio albums and amazing live shows like this that will never get old. There is always something new to discover in one of their songs. Those are the things that separate the men from the boys and the legends from the fly-by-night bands. Phish was a great band with few equals. Their following was on the same level as Garcia and friends with good reason, one listen to this and its obvious why.