Phish Friday: 35 Must-Hear Jams for Any Phish Novice

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Ah, here we are, less than a week from Phish at the Greek. While Justin swears that he’ll listen to all the shows I selected for last week’s Phish Friday before the band takes the stage next Thursday, I thought I’d pile on some more homework for all you intrepid readers out there. Based upon all of your comments on last week’s post (and thanks for those by the way), you clearly know your old-school Phish. Hopefully the list below will remind you of some old favorites, inspire some debate, and maybe, just maybe, give you one or two jams that have never graced your ears.

For reasons I’m not even sure of, I’ve decided to split this list into two sections: 25 jams included on the infamous “Best Phish Jams” spreadsheet, along with 10 others that (for whatever reason) have been overlooked or not yet added to this master list. It goes without saying that the spreadsheet is an incredible resource, but clearly, it’s not infallible.

For your aural pealsure, we’ve included two of the best from the list for you to stream and/or download to help get you through your Friday afternoon. And finally, in an attempt to mix it up and keep it fresh, I’m not including any jams from any of the shows listed last week, so please don’t get all up in arms when you don’t see, for example, the 12.30.99 Melt -> Catapult, the 4.3.98 Roses, the 9.14.99 AC/DC Bag, the 12.31.95 Mike’s, or the Halloween ‘95 YEM included below. Just know this: whichever jams you seek out (whether from my list or the spreadsheet), they’re all sonic gold and you’re in for a treat. Happy listening!

25 Jams from “The List” (in chronological order)

  • 3/13/92 Big Black Furry Antelope
  • 5/17/92 Possum** (see below)
  • 5/5/93 You Enjoy Myself
  • 8/13/93 Bathtub Gin**
  • 6/18/94 David Mind Left Body Bowie**
  • 11/12/94 Down With Disease -> Have Mercy -> Down With Disease
  • 11/22/94 Funky Bitch -> Yerushalayim Shel Zahav
  • 12/29/94 David Bowie
  • 5/16/95 Reba
  • 6/14/95 Tweezer
  • 11/14/95 Stash -> Manteca -> Stash
  • 12/2/95 Tweezer**
  • 12/9/95 You Enjoy Myself**
  • 12/29/95 The Real Gin**
  • 11/2/96 Crosseyed Antelope** (see below)
  • 7/23/97 Ghost
  • 8/10/97 Cities -> Good Times Bad Times**
  • 11/17/97 Ghost**
  • 11/23/97 Bathtub Gin -> Down With Disease -> Low Rider -> Down With Disease
  • 11/26/97 Character Zero -> 2001 -> Cities
  • 11/29/97 Runaway Jim**
  • 7/29/98 Bathtub Gin
  • 7/18/99 Piper
  • 7/24/99 Fluffhead
  • 9/18/99 Boogie On Reggae Woman

** – My Top 10

10 More That Need to Be Added to the “List”

  • 3/14/93 You Enjoy Myself — Tons of teases throughout (Oye Come Va, Owner of A Lonely Heart, Welcome to the Machine, etc.).
  • 4/21/93 Split Open and Melt — This is the Melt featured on the “Demand” from Hoist.
  • 12/30/93 Slave to the Traffic Light — How this was overlooked, I’ll never know. Anyway, this whole second set kills so just listen to the entire thing.
  • 6/15/95 Runaway Jim -> Free — The first truly experimental Jim.
  • 12/11/97 Drowned -> Roses Are Free -> BBFCFM — A ridiculous 1-2-3 punch, featuring the debut of a Ween cover that would soon be responsible for many a beautiful jam.
  • 11/2/98 Tube -> Drowned -> Jesus Just Left Chicago — Everyone always seems to forget about the ridonkulous pre-Dark Side first set.
  • 12/12/99 Drowned — Did I really just list three Drowned’s in a row? Yup.
  • 7/3/00 Runaway Jim — Another Camden 30 minute whopper.
  • 7/30/03 Scents and Subtle Sounds — Ditto.
  • 12/28/03 Frankie Says — My sleeper pick; the band hits a beautiful wave and just rides it.

Two Jams Dissected

5/17/92: This Possum is absolutely ripping from start to finish. It takes the band a good four minutes of secret language cues, an incessant build, and well placed Rocky Mountain Way and LA Woman teases before they even get to the first verse. And once they actually get there, Trey wastes no time implementing his trademark early 90’s, takes no prisoners machine-gun licks. Aid did I forget to mention, forget to mention, the lengthy It’s Ice and Divided Sky teases?

Phish – “Possum” (live, 5/17/92) [mp3]

11/2/96: Coming off of their triumphant Halloween ’96 gig, the band wasted no time continuing to exploring the polyrhythms and groove based jamming of Remain In Light that would come to define their ’97 sound. And what better way to do it then open the second set with one of the standout tracks from that album? With Karl Perazzo guesting on percussion for the entire show (and week), the band absolutely crushed the actual song and then took it about 18 minutes deeper than the album cut. This exploratory jam goes all over the place, before landing into an ambient section from which out of the ether emerges the opening licks to Antelope.  A clear highlight from the transitional year of ’96; Norton Charlton Heston, anyone?

Phish – “Crosseyed and Painless” > (live, 11/2/96) [mp3]
Phish – “Run Like an Antelope” (live, 11/2/96) [mp3]

Well, there you have it: my not-even-close-to-being-exhaustive list of some classic Phish jams. What no-brainers or under-the-radar jams did I leave off?  Tweet to @LiveMusicBlog or drop a comment below.

  • EJ

    IT Festival – Ghost

  • EJ

    IT Festival – Ghost

  • greatwoods

    great list but I would add

    -11/28/98 Mikes/hydrogen/Groove
    12/29/97 Tube
    8/14/09 Ghost>Pyscho Killer> Catapult>IcculusCatapult>Antelope
    7/15/98 Bathtub Gin

  • greatwoods

    great list but I would add

    -11/28/98 Mikes/hydrogen/Groove
    12/29/97 Tube
    8/14/09 Ghost>Pyscho Killer> Catapult>IcculusCatapult>Antelope
    7/15/98 Bathtub Gin

  • iamhydrogen

    Nice list. Definitely need THE CHALKDUST (thats how we refer to it in my circles) 7.10.99 Its so hot it melted my mp3 player. True story

    Also, the Boogie on from this years tour in Chicago has got Cactus dropping bombs all over your face!

  • iamhydrogen

    Nice list. Definitely need THE CHALKDUST (thats how we refer to it in my circles) 7.10.99 Its so hot it melted my mp3 player. True story

    Also, the Boogie on from this years tour in Chicago has got Cactus dropping bombs all over your face!

  • Darren Fitzpatrick

    Nice list, most of these jams come up frequently – one sequence that never does is the 12-2-97 Mike’s > Simple > Dog Faced Boy > Ya Mar > Weekapaug this 40+ min sequence is just astounding to me and I’m surprised it doesn’t get more play from Phish heads – definitely worth the listen – the Weekapaug is INSANE

    • Blupuravida

      best mikes groove ive ever heard. period.

    • nich obert

      Phish is usually a band that can’t really segue (please save me the examples, Im perfectly aware of the 50-100 awesome segues out there!) but holy crap the calypso Dog Faced Boy-> Ya Mar and Ya Mar-> Paug are powerful. It’s always seemed weird to me that there aren’t more natural segues into Paug. This one destroys

  • Darren Fitzpatrick

    Nice list, most of these jams come up frequently – one sequence that never does is the 12-2-97 Mike’s > Simple > Dog Faced Boy > Ya Mar > Weekapaug this 40+ min sequence is just astounding to me and I’m surprised it doesn’t get more play from Phish heads – definitely worth the listen – the Weekapaug is INSANE

  • Plopcopter

    Ladies and Gentlemen, how has the 7/4/99 Ghost > Slave not make anyone’s list? It is the transition to which all other transitions are compared, and both versions are played to perfection.

    Also, the ‘wipeout set’ from Albany (can’t remember the date) with the Mirror in the Bathroom Chalkdust….maddening how perfect it is.

    They are soo good.

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

      Yeah I’ve actually heard both, but you’re right that they need to be ON this list.

  • Plopcopter

    Ladies and Gentlemen, how has the 7/4/99 Ghost > Slave not make anyone’s list? It is the transition to which all other transitions are compared, and both versions are played to perfection.

    Also, the ‘wipeout set’ from Albany (can’t remember the date) with the Mirror in the Bathroom Chalkdust….maddening how perfect it is.

    They are soo good.

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

      Yeah I’ve actually heard both, but you’re right that they need to be ON this list.

  • Holmdel 00

    You could have listed 4 Drowneds in a row. See 6/29/00 Drowned>Rock and Roll. I can’t believe it’s not on here to begin with. Also agree with Mike that 2nd set 12/11/99 is a must listen.

  • Holmdel 00

    You could have listed 4 Drowneds in a row. See 6/29/00 Drowned>Rock and Roll. I can’t believe it’s not on here to begin with. Also agree with Mike that 2nd set 12/11/99 is a must listen.

  • seriousjoke

    I’ve seen over a thousand phishows. And I know it’s nearly impossible to have one favorite jam but I attended several of the shows mentioned here and the other post and the one jam I’ve seen where the impact of hearing it live with “set and setting” etc. puts it over the top into clear #1 status is the Went Gin. That jam made me and several people around me jump up and down with tears of joy that opened us up to reveal the children we used to be. It may have not been one of the “jammiest” jams of all time (eg, Miami Piper 12/29/03) but it was the most hope filled, life affirming moment I’ve had in my life other than the birth of my children. Trey flew the band off the stage on melody that is still with me to this day.

  • seriousjoke

    I’ve seen over a thousand phishows. And I know it’s nearly impossible to have one favorite jam but I attended several of the shows mentioned here and the other post and the one jam I’ve seen where the impact of hearing it live with “set and setting” etc. puts it over the top into clear #1 status is the Went Gin. That jam made me and several people around me jump up and down with tears of joy that opened us up to reveal the children we used to be. It may have not been one of the “jammiest” jams of all time (eg, Miami Piper 12/29/03) but it was the most hope filled, life affirming moment I’ve had in my life other than the birth of my children. Trey flew the band off the stage on melody that is still with me to this day.

  • D.R.E

    Great news for all you 11/02/96 lovers:

    http://www.onlinephishtour.com/2010/08/phish-to-release-11021996-coral-sky-amp.html

    Yes folks, DVD release!!!!!!

  • D.R.E

    Great news for all you 11/02/96 lovers:

    http://www.onlinephishtour.com/2010/08/phish-to-release-11021996-coral-sky-amp.html

    Yes folks, DVD release!!!!!!

  • Pete

    Totally agree on the Went Gin and the 7/4/99 Ghost > Slave. I left them out intentially so I could include a few others…oh well. Maybe I should’ve made it a top 50 list?

    The 12/11/99 second set is insane, but I couldn’t pick just one section. The Sally > Ghost > 2001 trio was incredible. I was 6th row for that…and did I mention that was my first show? ;)

    • nich obert

      Yea. Def top 50. Especially since something like the 7/24/99 fluff only gt on by virtue of being a Fluff jam. It’s pretty messy, in a messy show. It IS cool that they jammed out Fluff finally, after 15 years.

  • Craig

    I know I got on late, but here are some jams that are at the top of my new school list. They get press in the Phish Companion, but not here: 7-2-98 Ghost, 8-1-98 Tweezer, 7-15-99 YEM, 10-10-99 YEM, 12-8-99 Piper, 12-15-99 Reba, 6-9-00 Tweezer, 9-17-00 Curtain With (try to find a better one!), 7-29-03 Crosseyed, 7-31-03 Hood, 12-31-03 Stash

  • Mcgrupp81

    I am so glad 6-11-94 YEM didn’t make it on the list. We don’t want to make the other jams self conscious about themselves.

  • nich obert

    Nothing from the Island Tour is criminal. Same with more summer 99 jams than the first half of 94 or 95.. Tweezer-> DEG -> Tweezer from jb 95 leaps out.. The Hood from NYE run 95, the Drowned-> Lizards or Jim or YEM or Mikes or Paug from NYE 95.

    I dunno. Time hasn’t been kind to 1999 Phish. Cypress kinda elevated everything before it I guess.

    Gumbo Sanity or the Phoenix Gumbo would work…RCMH Ghost, Went Gin is the hosiest of hoses..
    An crap this post is 3 years old.