The adjective "Jam band" is often said or brought up, but really never described, nor defined. It is commonly inferred that it means a band that performs jams, but a lot of bands perform jams, but they're not all referred to as Jam bands. For instance, the 60's Blues-Rock trio Cream was known for doing long concert jams, but they were not called a Jam band. Now, for instance, The Grateful Dead (Who Phish are often compared to) are called a Jam band by most, why though? Because in my opinion, a true Jam band is not only a band that does jams, but jams together better than with each (or several or whatever) member with someone else. A Jam band (In my opinion) also is not all about technical playing, but just playing or jamming with each other. It's the love of music, and just playing together for long amounts of time that makes a Jam band. Which is why most Jam bands are together for long amounts of time. Some may disagree, but that is what a Jam band is to me.
Phish's style of highly influenced Rock is extremely smooth, consistent, rythmic, original, rehearsed, and clean style gives off a Jazz feeling. That, combined with a portion of Jazz influence give this album on overall great, and mostly Jazz feeling. Though, each song is not necessarily a Jazz-Rock song or even influenced by Jazz, the largest portion is. Songs like "Bathtub Gin", "Split Open and Melt" "Squirming Coil", and "The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony" show the genre's influence off nicely. Other genres like Bluegrass, Soul, and even Barber Shop are included in the album.
The Squirming Coil
Though, a nice and decent track, "Squirming Coil" would not be the song I would have chosen to open up the album. Instrumentally it's great, and it is also set up great. But Trey with his vocals seem to be trying to be something they are not. Which makes them annoying, particularly in the chorus. The song incorporates an incredible rythmic solo, and some nice rythmic playing by the whole band, but more so by Page. His playing is fabulous, and just so unique, at least in the world of Rock. For that, and rarely using a keyboard (I find them cheesy) I have respect for Page. 3/5
"Reba" will always be my favorite Phish song. It includes great rythm, humor, influence, and a great long solo. The track runs at nearly twelve minutes, and is mostly kept long by Trey's solo. And before when I said the album has some influence of Barber Shop, I was referring to this track. Mostly because of when the band in unison sings in that kind of manner, before breaking into the chorus. The chorus has a nice memorable line, which is simply "Bag it, tag it, sell it to the butcher in the store". Trey's solo has a wide variety of different tempos and feel to it. Also, during the solo each instrument goes through little spurts of outbursts. For instance with Mike doing a few pops and slaps, which all together keeps the solo very interesting. Just a happy, fun, and unique song. 5/5
My Sweet One
One genre I always love to see Phish play, is Bluegrass. Because I am a Bluegrass fan, and they do it well. Most albums they recorded included at least one Bluegrass song, or one Bluegrass influenced song. For instance, The Story of the Ghost
contains "Water in the Sky", and A Picture of Nectar
contains "Poor Heart", each fantastic. "My Sweet One" is written by Fishman, and compared to all of Phish's Bluegrass songs, it is a bit watered down. Though, still great, and fun. It is mostly sang in unison, but not always. The lyrics are funny, as is Fishman in general. But out of the whole song the one part that sticks out more than the others is the solo. It is divided into two parts, back to back. The first part by Page on the piano, which is very energetic. Following Page's solo, Trey comes in with another energetic solo that flows together with what sounds like a banjo. Possibly played by Mike, who occasionally plays the banjo on several Phish tracks. This is definitely a highlight. 5/5
Split Open and Melt
Here is a soulful Jazz, and of course Soul influenced number. With some vocals that are on the more mystique side then the fun, or depressing side. The song contains some horn work, that along with each instrument always seem like they are about to go over the top, but at the peak of the climax they cool down. Along with Trey's mystical like singing, some woman (not sure who) accompanies him, and at the end takes lead. Very different, yet fantastic. 5/5
Oh Kee Pa Ceremony
This instrumental is slightly strange and very upbeat like during the playing, which is basically a guitar solos with each other players playing rythm, there is the sound of a party going on. So, it gives off the feeling that this song would be played at some kind of night time Jazz lounge. Very interesting. 4/5
When I first bought this album, and heard this song. It annoyed me, mainly because the vocals were very different compared to every other song. After many listens, I became very addicted to this song and the lyrics. They are very odd, original and different. The song is basically based around rythmic playing, background sounds, which sounds like liquids being poored on liquids, and in unison outburst between each members playing. To most this is the albums stand out track. I wouldn't say that, but it is a fabulous tune. 5/5
Run Like an Antelope
If Phish were to release a greatest hits album, you can be sure this track would be included. It is basically a jam with a few lines of lyrics near the end. The playing is very happy, and positive sounding. Random fact: The main line "You've got to run like an antelope out of control" was a punch line a friend of the band use to commonly use, so they made a song out of it. Trey's solo goes through many different feelings, and emotions. It also shows how great and mathematical of a musician Trey is. Great song, one of my favorites, and a common tune played live. 5/5
This would definitely be the softest song on the album. Each instrument's playing is very smooth, and flows with one and another well. Trey plays an acoustic, and gives off a nice little solo. And this song does usually annoy me, not sure why though. Nothing that special. 2.5/5
Bouncing Around the Room
Once again, this is a song that use to annoy me, but now I praise it. It has some fabulous backing vocals, which the band does great. I'm also very attracted to the lyrics, which aren't particularly better than some of there other lyrics, but they still seem to stand out to me. In my opinion, they couldn't have picked a better song to close out this fabulous album.
I give this album a 5/5, it introduced me to Phish at their best. I reccomend this album to everyone.