Phish's twenty most interesting covers

Categories: Lists, Phish

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Eric Gruneisen

Phish is the greatest cover band on earth, hands down. Some songs have become staples -- so much so that we've come across fans, even well versed fans, who didn't realize songs like "Funky Bitch" was a cover -- while others are only busted out occasionally, sometimes only once. Of the myriad covers the band has played, these are the twenty most interesting.

See also: Reviews from Phish at Dick's Labor Day Weekend 2013 night one, night two and night three

20. The Apples in Stereo - "Energy"
This is a new cover they started playing this year. Apples in Stereo tweeted a thank you to Phish. The Chicago version gets the full Phish treatment, a beautiful major-key jam with Trey tossing in so many beautiful melodic guitar riffs.

19. Jay-Z - "99 Problems"
Playing in Brooklyn gives you Brooklyn perks, like Jay-Z coming on stage to guest with on "99 Problems" and "Big Pimpin.'" Nobody's saying it's a good version, but it's definitely interesting and hilarious that it happened to begin with.

18. Dizzy Gillespie - "Manteca"
This Afro-Cuban inspired jazz classic pops up here and there during the jams of other songs, one of the best renditions coming during "Stash" on 11/14/95.

17. The Rolling Stones - "Let it Loose"
"Let It Loose" is a song not played live by the Rolling Stones. Here Phish does the honors, and wow do they do a beautiful job. Played originally at Festival 8 for the Halloween set, it was a beautiful moment to catch your breath, maybe shed a tear, hug a buddy, do what you do.

16. Jane's Addiction - "Been Caught Stealing"
"Been Caught Stealing" is another high energy cover that was played five times in 1998. In 2011, when the band finally played it again in Raleigh, it had put a second mic stand on the stage, making everyone think there was a special guest. Nope. It was just Trey's new "Perry Farrell" vocal effect. The music starts around 1:30 here, and it felt like a punk show up there.


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36 comments
CT44
CT44

I respectfully disagree with a lot of your list. How about Rocket in my Pocket? Light up or leave me alone? Timber, YaMar, Ballad of Curtis Loew, Boogie On, Old Home Place, etc.  

grider
grider

I would also agree that Ween's "Roses Are Free" should be in the top 20

grider
grider

No "Loving Cup" by the Rolling Stones or "Ride Captain, Ride" by Blues Image?  two big omissions from that list

Joe Flip
Joe Flip

the fuck your face show was awesome

Jballzz
Jballzz

If I only had a brain.

adamj
adamj

Stop complaining and just listen to great music.

mryanlevinson
mryanlevinson

Oh, and Timber (Jerry)  Should definitely be somewhere between 10-20

mryanlevinson
mryanlevinson

 This list is awful.  I love the dead, one of my six favorites (Stevie wonder, beatles, phish, dead, led zep, zappa) but terrapin station isn't one of the 50 most interesting covers and phish's rendition was mediocre at best.   I was at the Jay Z show and it also doesn't crack the top 50. And Tuesday's Gone??? SEriously??? When they have done Free bird in barbershop quartet fashion? And I love peaches en regalia but it's not as interesting as most of the other covers, squeaks in as an alternate on my list and that's only the 12.31.93 version which they relearned to play according to zappas sheet music to pay tribute since Frank died shortly before that show. This list is so awful I wonder if the author has ever seen phish. Here's a much better list : #1 : Free Bird - A cappella version of the most cliche rock encore of all time! Now that's interesting. And the most entertaining cover I've ever seen by any band period. 

#2 : Foreplay/LongTime - Also a re-imagined version of a classic rock staple totally unlike the original. 
#3 Avenu Malkenu - Where else in the USA can you find a contemporary band that will rock out holy religious songs that are older than the USA. 
#4 Bike/Love You/ Terrapin - drummer plays a vacuum cleaner and channels the spirit of syd barrett. What's more interesting than that?
#5 Revolution #9 - Drummer surprises even his band mates by stripping naked and prancing around the stage, Lennon would be proud. 
#6 Roses Are Free - such a different rendition than the original. And the crowd eats it up. 
#7 Night nurse - To pay tribute to the recently fallen Gregory Isaacs, phish nailed this tune perfectly
#8 Walk Away - Just when you thought this song was at it's most intense and high energy, phish kicks it up to 11 and finds another level. Just amazing
#9 Crosseyed And Painless - Really the entire Remain In Light album deserves to be top ten and every song was better and more interesting than Jay Z crap or the mediocre version of Terrapin STation. Great Curve was jaw dropping. Born Under Punches was amazing. But in the interest of allowing others to crack the top 20, I'll just include Crosseyed ( and one more) on the list which they have made their own with original fresh jams that leave the crowd breathless
#10 Seen and Unseen - Also from Remain In Light but with Mike reciting the lyrics from a giant chair and evoking eerily mysterious vibes that filled the arena in Atlanta that night. A mood to remember
#11 Cities - OK I know. Enough with the Heads already, but phish has done so much with this tune that it must be on the list. Probably on a lot of peoples top ten too. 
#12 Rock N Roll - They launch this classic Underground tune to other planets while still embodying all the emotions this song is about lyrically and musically. Fantastic cover.
#13 LaGrange - While phish can't match the gritty soul of ZZ Tops Jesus Left Chicago, they do muster all the high energy blues rocking of LaGrange 
#14 Good Times Bad Times. The balls on these guys to cover Led Zeppelin and still blow the roof off the place whenever they do. I'm gonna love this song each and every day.
#15 After Midnight at Big Cypress. Rarely has phish busted out a more appropriate song for the time and place they were performing. As the throngs of phishtails eagerly awaited the all night, midnight to sunrise set, the notes of this classic emanated across the native american reservation and threw a jolt of electricity and energy into every soul in attendance and the palpable excitement was mind blowing and body sparking during both renditions that weekend, before and ....after midnight. Nobody there can possibly forget those moments.
# 16 Sneaking Sally - Much like Crosseyed and Roses, Sneaking Sally is a song phish made their own. I love the Palmer version but phish infused another level of funk into their version. 
#17 Boogie On Reggae Woman. I love Steveland Morris.  And despite phish not being able to match stevie vocally, their rendition is certainly not as pretty, they funk up this number like nobody's business, playing with the tempo and just getting everybody moving. 
#18 Old Folks Boogie, The aging juveniles rocking a song about people rocking out in rocking chairs was too perfect and they nailed it. 
#19 Funky Bitch Like Walk Away, this tune can reach a place you thought was the peak and then blow you away after that. IT can sometimes be just ok but a good funky bitch is a thing of beauty to behold quite distinct from the original
#20 Rocky Top They can do wonderful things with bluegrass songs and this is my personal favorite. The drumming, the vocals, it's a regular hoe down when these boys get thumping out this country flavored classic. 

Honorable mention : 2001, is automatically disqualified because it is deodato who made this cover of also sprach zarathustra interesting, not phish. I was at the very first 2001 7.16.93 and it was slightly interesting then, but thanks to deodato, not phish.  Sabotage should probably be on the list so I make that my fist alternate.  #21.   Bohemian rhapsody is fine but it didn't come together so well, not in my top 50. I was there too.   YaMar is also a song they made their own but it's rarely to never a song people leave talking about. Drowned is also a song they made their own through years of original sounding fresh jams but too like the original for me to find interesting. And again, the 12.31.93 peaches makes my alternate list for that rendition alone. Energy and Golden Age are also very interesting covers that lyrically hit home while witnessing them and can launch off into fresh original jams as well. But this is the top 20 most interesting so maybe someday it can crack the list, but for now it only gets honorable mention. Ride Captain Ride is the least interesting cover I've ever heard them do. So I don't get that at all. Light up or leave me alone gets to a jammier plateau and is lyrically appealing to phish crowds but still too like the original to be all that interesting. And nothing in the Exile show caught me as particularly original or interesting. Although I love a good loving cup. 
I also agree that I wanna be like you is very interesting as a disney song for kids inspired by king Louis Prima and would probably make my top 30 but not my top 20.

shan841
shan841

no mention of Cities??

Ang SA
Ang SA

Golden age, cross eyed!

Clayton Christie
Clayton Christie

Should have included at least one of their many excellent bluegrass covers that have been staples basically their entire career. (Ginseng Sullivan, Uncle Pen, Old Home Place, I'm Blue I'm Lonesome, etc.)

Brian Ray
Brian Ray

Fantastic read and great video links!!!

WSMFP
WSMFP

I like Phish Dicks

Mark Cíccóné
Mark Cíccóné

Lol, FAIL - Phish has a catalog of over 500 songs, they have more than 20 covers and even more originals.

lmckay001
lmckay001

Phish covering Roses are Free by Ween...duh

Chris Estus
Chris Estus

Why do they have 20 covers? Does their own music suck?

Æriĉ Çicconē
Æriĉ Çicconē

Great article, I didn't know the Stones have never played Let it Loose live!

phxmark86
phxmark86

@yodownmuthalicka What an excellent, thorough, deep analysis. A stellar counterargument! You are truly a peerless and gifted intellectual with a superior level of mental acuity that most of us could only dream of possessing!  

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