Billy Breathes



by DesolationRow USER (80 Reviews)
June 25th, 2006 | 18 replies | 71,825 views

Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Phish, being a jam band, had a very unique songwriting method, with influences from psychoactive substances. Locking themselves in a room, under the influence of cannabis and LSD, Phish wrote entire albums with the aid of such matter. And those albums have gone on to give the northeastern psychedelic/funk jam band the notoriety of being one of the world’s most astonishing, captivating, and intense live acts. Made up of the four college friends Trey Anastasio (guitar/vocals), Mike Gordon (bass), Page McConnell (Keyboards) and Jon Fishman (Drums), Phish has gained infamy as an improvisational magnum opus of American counterculture. Blending elements of funk, psychedelic, rock, folk and bluegrass elements into their music, Phish’s musical catalogue is diverse enough to avoid classification into a single genre. But what is unique about Phish, more so than their juxtaposition of musical styles, is their ability to improvise for elongated amounts of time, while simultaneously avoiding the tedium that many jam bands bring. In 1996, after nearly fifteen years together, Phish released an album entitled Billy Breathes. Enclosed in a peculiar case, adorned with a photo close up of Mike Gordon’s nostrils, Billy Breathes contains some of Phish’s most interesting music. With music that is just as entertaining as it’s artwork (thankfully, Mike Gordon trims the nose hairs), Billy Breathes is essentially Phish’s most accessed album.

Suffice to say, Billy Breathes is an entertaining listen from alpha to omega. Trey Anastasio is an amazingly talented dualist as he coaxes the listeners with his mellowed out, yet gritty voice, whilst providing thick, rich guitar melodies textured in various waves of sound effects. Tremolo, wah wah, and and various degrees of distortion and overdrive accompany Anastasio’s warm, thich hollow body guitar tones. And while his voice is thoroughly capable of driving, higher register runs, Anastasio’s vocals reside in a deeper, mellow groove. Not unlike the guitar work, Mike Gordon’s basslines are somewhat of a staple to the band’s sound. While still remaining as the foundation of the groove that the band works from, Gordon knows how to tweak a simple chord progression into a complex groove, backed by Jon Fishman’s thundering drum work, which takes full advantage of offbeats and double bass work. Page McConnell’s keyboard work is exemplified into a more rudimentary level on studio albums, but his electric organ and keyboard playing are ever present in the sound mix, acting as more so of a medium for groove than anything else. For those of you who have seen or heard Phish’s live sets, songs can be much more accommodating to Page’s keyboard work, especially during long jams. Which leads me to my first unjust whine, making a negative comparison to Phish’s live set. I mean, they’re studio work is good music, but it is too concise and ineptly structured to even be associated with their live sets. As unfair as it may be, it just does not hold up. But on the bright side, it is still creative.

Lyrically, Phish falls nothing short of being a band commonly connected to drugs. In fact, most of the lyrics probably originated from LSD induced hallucinations or strange thoughts during a euphoric cannabis high. Even so, Trey Anastasio is a talented writer who has a very skillful touch on imagery. Melodically, Phish is a mind melting phenomenon, where so much sound is created by so little. And that is why so many fans of Phish are coincidentally cannabis consumers. As blunt as it may be, it happens to be a fact. But to keep this from turning into a drug based topic, I will conclude my review on the note that I intended to write this review on in the first place- As good as the music that is on Billy Breathes may be, it lacks the flow and free form improvisation that Phish is famous for. To compensate for it’s lackluster, Billy Breathes keeps void of tedium by making every song accessible and concise enough to appreciate.

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user ratings (85)
other reviews of this album
JohnnyKick9 (4)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Storm In A Teacup
June 25th 2006


The way this reads it's as if you were high when you wrote it. ;)
Noice noice.

Staff Reviewer
June 25th 2006


Phish kinda sucks but this review is kinda kick ass to the balance is preserved and stuff.

June 25th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

Hey, cannabis was in there for a reason.

The Jungler
June 25th 2006


My dad has this, I don't really remember it though. Some of the Phish I've heard is allright, but it gets really annoying after w hile. Top notch review.

June 25th 2006


This album is kind of dull, the only Phish album that I still listen to is Junta. Good job on the review my friend.

September 2nd 2006


interesting album

November 18th 2006


can't stand Phish, but a good review.

February 17th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

I think you put a little to much of an emphasis on LSD and pot, they don't just get high...

But I really like this CD, Waste and Free are amazing songs.

February 17th 2008


i like a7x better tbh

February 17th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

You would.

February 17th 2008


Dude UmphreysHead I couldn't help but notice after taking a gander at your ratings you gave Frances the Mute a 2 and you like jam rock? I mean TMV is kinda but not really like a modern Phish?!?! WTF.

February 17th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

No, don't you ever bring Phish down to The Mars Volta's level. I take insult to that. I tried listening to them, I downloaded their entire discography; I couldn't stay interested and failed any merit.

February 17th 2008


ya he was in rehab because he listened to that album.

February 17th 2008


My bad dude, I just find the bands to be similar but different generations. You probably know more about Phish and bands of the like than I do. I love Phish btw.

February 17th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

[QUOTE=]ya he was in rehab because he listened to that album.[/QUOTE]
You called it.

[QUOTE=]My bad dude, I just find the bands to be similar but different generations. You probably know more about Phish and bands of the like than I do. I love Phish btw.
Phish was still a pretty big part of this generation, most of their albums didn't turn gold until the early 2000's. As long as you enjoy Phish then there is no problem.

June 4th 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

This album may not contain many live gems, but looking at it from a studio perspective I think Billy Breathes is one of Phish's strongest albums. All the songs are good (some are great) and it flows really well.

Billy Breathes (the song) is beautiful.

August 19th 2009


Album Rating: 5.0

so glad they're back

Activista anti-MTV
March 3rd 2012


another band ama check out

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