The twenty best versions of Phish classics

Categories: Lists, Phish

110613_phish.jpg
Eric Gruneisen

Phish just finished a stunning run of shows on the East Coast last week in which the band debuted new material. While the new tunes will no doubt inspire much debate, the band's already sprawling archive of performances provides endless fodder for discussions of which versions are the best. Admittedly, there are probably as many amazing renditions as there are individual opinions and preferences, based on everything from longest renditions to most exploratory. And obviously, there are multiple online communities that have spent years dedicated to haggling over this very thing. Nonetheless, drawing upon all our years of Phish fanaticism, here's a list of the twenty best versions of Phish classics.

See also: Phish's twenty most interesting covers

20. "You Enjoy Myself" - Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO, 6/11/94
The compositional part of the song is played with high energy; Mike Gordon's bouncy bass keeps a hard funk beat, as Anastasio hits every cue with swagger, sliding the notes in time with a bluesy rock feel. The guys step into the improvisational part carefully, with Fishman keeping a tight and steady rhythm as sustained guitar chords build tension and release into a great rock and roll solo, breaking down to a slapping bass line. The vocal jam starts out boisterous with straight beat-boxing and ends on a choral high note.

19. "Carini" - Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, 12/30/12
This dark "Carini" was a surprise, as the hard rocking song hadn't been properly jammed out in a while. The band devolves into sounds of primordial ooze, bringing in different effects and pedals, with Kuroda even darkening the lights to go with the sinister dark jam.

18. "Simple" - Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, TN, 11/18/1996
This version is a really joyful rendition, both vocally and in spirit. The drums chug along forcefully as Fishman keeps the hi-hat beat steady, and high notes are hit and laughed about on the microphones. The tempo goes down a notch, as a triangle is hit, and McConnell plays with key. Trey makes his guitar roar like a tiger, bringing the song to the prettiest highest peak before dying down gently.

17. "David Bowie" - Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI, 12/29/94
This version really showcases how psychedelic and weird the band could get in this era. Transitioning out of "Guyute" with a "Digital Delay Loop Jam" that is quick and prog-rock-ish, Fishman brings the signature hi-hat intro in, while things stay weird for a while before launching into the song. As the guys get past the verses, they quickly go off the deep end. Trey's guitar tone sounds sinister as Fishman keeps the steady "Bowie" beat swelling in and out. Things get almost demonic sounding as a cacophony of noise and feedback mixes with McConnell's playful major keys. Things become downright celebratory and then turn on the audience, the band whistling, whispering oddities like "Lassie, come home." Screaming leads to screaming guitar until they shoot their way through an intensely charged ending.

16. "Slave to the Traffic Light" - The Great Went, Limestone, ME, 8/16/97
Starting out delicately, the buildup to this version is gorgeous, with Trey's guitar sustaining and swelling in and out as if it was his heart beating, building with tremolo picking and soaring into the peak.


My Voice Nation Help
38 comments
smoothatonalsound
smoothatonalsound

Good list! Even though I don't agree with everything on it.

I definitely agree with some of your choices, but it really depends on what we mean by "best." If we judge quality by how far it strays from the norm, or how type II is gets, then that's very different from the best versions of a song that stick to the usual jam expectations, but do so with excellent. I do agree with you on YEM, the best version is that Red Rocks 6/11/94, even though there are longer YEMs (12/9/95) and ones that go further afield into type II territory (4/5/98). The first note of Trey's solo in that 6/11/94 version is pure bliss.

As for Hood, I always fall back to 11/30/91, the best "standard" version of the tune (if we're talking about divergent, type II versions, I love 7/27/03, 8/5/13, or Spokane '95). Ghost is always debatable, but for me that debate ends with 5/22/00 Radio City. And for DwD, it's gotta be Rochester '97. Kudos for taking on such an impossible task, though.

pabalive
pabalive

Really solid list of all versions, then again, you did not break any new ground here. Much of this we already know, but, thanks for the list anyway.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Oh please. Die hard Phish phans will steal from their bedridden parents just to go ogle at the object of their twisted affection.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

I am not surprised. Ah well, when people can't recognize talented musicians, I just smile because they free up tickets for the rest of us. I hope they enjoy their dub step shows.

Alan Taylor
Alan Taylor

Well.. This post turned into a douche magnet didn't it Mikey!?!

Mike Mango
Mike Mango

Alex...when's the next Cockheed & cambria tour?

Mike Mango
Mike Mango

Besides the Went gin & Albany yem, I really don't believe there's a best version of any phish tune, however, these are some great picks here! Well done.

Alex Ann Benke
Alex Ann Benke

I pick any song that...isn't a phish song. Sorry, too harsh? What I meant to say was...death to hippie jam bands.

Greg Davis
Greg Davis

6/9/95 - David Bowie. That and any concert that begins with My Friend, My Friend. What an intro.

hopsandmalts2213
hopsandmalts2213

11-28-94 wasn't on a live one, that's 11-02-94 from Bangor maine.

hopsandmalts2213
hopsandmalts2213

11-28-94 wasn't on alive one that's 11-02-94 from Bangor maine.

MrMarmar
MrMarmar

I have to disagree with the Piper. While the SPAC 2004 Piper is a good version, it is plagued with Trey's addiction which tore them apart eventually. For the BEST version of Piper, check out the Camp Oswego Piper from 1999. The band gets the instructions for the jam from the mothership.

ElToro
ElToro

The very best DWD was Cincinnati 1994.  Look it up on youtube and turn up the bass. 

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

The 20 worst ways to shatter your eardrums...and deplete your manhood.

troy.m.holtz
troy.m.holtz

Interesting list.  You could debate it until the cows come home.  I will say that the 1999 AC DC Bag from Boise was simply amazing.

trugg
trugg

No Stash? Divided Sky?  C'mon!  Mike's? Groove?

billyleroux
billyleroux

A very ambitious task writing this article. :)  I was at that 12/29/94 show in Providence & that Bowie was as insanely good as it gets

joejoejoejoejo
joejoejoejoejo

this is not a good list, nor is it well written.

Candace Horgan
Candace Horgan

The Tweezer from 9/3/11 at Dick's should be on there, and the Mike's Song from 12/30/99

Bike Hawley
Bike Hawley

That 93 Reba was "ok" compared to 5/13/95. Your list fails.

Bike Hawley
Bike Hawley

I haven't looked yet but if the Reba isn't from Lowell MA 1995 I can't take the list seriously. Here goes..

injest77
injest77

The Bozeman Tweezer was only given a snipit of treatment on A Live One, and called Montana. I doubt many people were hooked by that. The full length version of Tweezer on A live One is from 11/02/94 Bangor, Me.

pabalive
pabalive

@Craig Maybell Somehow you showed up...hmmm?

pabalive
pabalive

@Alex Ann Benke surprising level of inferiority. quite shocking, if they suck so bad then why do you care?

pabalive
pabalive

@Craig Maybell "deplete manhood" - wow, that is a new one. Hompophobic phish criticism, you win the prize!

fognl7
fognl7

Ronnie Mooney,

Did you ...lol when you posted that?

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...