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

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.