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Phish phans: Jump for 'Joy'
FILE - In this March 6, 2009 file photo, vocalist Trey Anastasio, left, and bassist Mike Gordon of Phish perform for the first time in five years at the Hampton Coliseum for the first of three concerts by the reunited group Phish in Hampton, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, file) (Credit: AP)
Bottom Line Finally, a studio album that stands up to the live show
The goal for all previously released Phish
albums has been the same: to capture the magic of their on-stage, conversational style of playing in the studio. The band recently took a different approach to promoting its latest and independently released studio effort, “Joy” (JEMP Records) experimenting with the 10 tracks live in front of their thousands of adoring and historically obsessive fan base on the two legs of their most recent summer tour, which ended at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. For those paying attention to the band, “Joy” is the best addition to the vast musical library they have in their arsenal.
Lyrically, “Joy” stresses the importance of friendship and remembering the past. When the band broke up in the summer of 2004, the unpolished farewell festival in Coventry, Vt., coupled with the arrest of front man Trey Anastasio
for DWI and drug possession in 2006 were joyless moments for the group and fans alike. “We’ve been through hardships/tasted tears…” confesses Anastasio on “Backwards Down the Number Line.” the album’s lead track, which was co-written by longtime Phish songwriter Tom Marshall. The only ballad on the LP, “Joy” pays tribute to Anastasio’s daughters and his sister who recently died after a battle with cancer. “When we were young we thought life was a game/But then somebody leaves you and you’re never the same,” he laments.
Guitarist Anastasio, drummer Jon Fishman
, bassist Mike Gordon
and pianist Page McConnell
have created an LP that shares moments of bluesy funk with tight jamming rock a la Jerry Garcia
. “Kill Devil Falls” and “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan,” are pop-friendly, catchy tunes and is the closest Phish has ever come to being radio-ready. On the other end of the spectrum, the 13-plus-minute epic, “Time Turns Elastic,” which is slated to be performed by Anastasio and the New York Philharmonic Saturday at Carnegie Hall, is a multi-layered page-turner of a song and the longest track by far on the album.
This 11th studio effort produced by Steve Lillywhite
(who also produced the band’s “Billy Breathes” in 1996) succeeds in generating jam vehicles for upcoming live shows where the three-minute relaxed head-nodder “Ocelot” can be turned into a 20-minute composition. While live shows may be for patient ears, “Joy” is the first album naysayers might come to appreciate if only for it’s lack of nonsense. Anastasio says it best on “Joy,” “We want you to be happy/Because this is your song, too.”
Photo: In this March 6, 2009, file photo, vocalist Trey Anastasio, left, and bassist Mike Gordon of Phish perform for the first time in five years at the Hampton Coliseum for the first of three concerts by the reunited group Phish in Hampton, Va. (AP Photo)
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