The Unreleased Phish Album (from Sloth Blog)

From The Sloth Blog
3/26/2010

One thing that separates Phish from other bands is the amount of unreleased songs which can only be heard in concert.  Due to the fact they encourage taping of their live performances the Phish community gains quick wind of these songs and they become easily recognized in their vast repertoire.  Besides the 14 official studio released albums, Phish has over seventy five unreleased songs, many of which are played more frequently than songs off studio albums.  With the ever growing Live Phish series these “unreleased” songs are more available to the general public, but still fall in the unreleased category.  While I like the fact Phish can keep these songs off studio releases and keep them live only tunes, part of me would like to hear the bands studio adaptions of the songs.  So I compiled myUnreleased Phish Album– 10 songs I would like to hear recorded in the studio.  I felt 10 songs was a good number, and it wasn’t easy to narrow it down to that.  I gave myself a couple rules as well.  Firstly, I would not be including songs which are part of the Gamehenge saga.  I broke this rule immediately by adding Possum and Punch You In the Eye to my list.  Possum, was written by Jeff Holdsworth and later incorporated into Trey’s, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday thesis with altered lyrics to fit the theme as the final track.  Punch You In the Eye contains lyrics referencing to Gamehenge but has never been performed as part of the saga.  Also, if I didn’t force my self to follow this rule, the entire TMWSIY album would be included and that should be released by itself.  But I’ll save that for another discussion.  Second rule- I would be keeping the length of the album at 70 overall minuets.  This is a little longer than most Phish studio releases but I figure seventy minuets would be easy to fill considering I wanted some songs to contain a little jamming.  

1.    Buried Alive  2:10
2.    Punch You In the Eye  
7:13
3.    Curtain  
6:05
4.    Camel Walk  
3:59
5.    Mountains in the Mist  
6:02   
6.    NICU  
5:10
7.    Suzy Greenberg  
8:50
8.    Driver  
3:55
9.    Possum  
7:26
10.  Slave to the Traffic Light 
 9:18

Total Time 
59:48
Why They Made It and My Brief Perspective on How I Would Produce the Album:
The opening drum beat to Buried Alive seemed like a perfect way to start an album.  Then I realized having each member of the bang enter the song after four bars (Fishman, Page, Mike, Trey) is also a neat way to introduce the first song.  On top of that, it is an explosive, short instrumental which not only contains a wicked guitar riff, but a little room for a short solo as well.  Which I would want Trey to play like he did back in the early nineties, machine gun style.  After ending Buried on the G7#9 chord and fading to complete silence, the opening guitar raking that starts Punch You In the Eye seemed like a good was to let the listener relax for a few seconds before another energetic song kicked in.  This song allows for some interesting possibilities in the studio, especially during the Landlady section.  I think The Curtain is one of the bands finest compositions and certainly is one of my favorite songs.  A lot could be done in the studio with this song as well, and would be arguably the strongest tracks on the album.  I like the tightness and minimalist approach to Camel Walk, a song which I wish would be played more often.  It has a catchy riff and great syncopated composed sections.  Due to the rarity of this tune, I believe it to be underrated as far as the actual song, not the significance of it being played when they do. Mountains in the Mist is a beautiful song which I would like to hear what they can do in the studio, overdubbing acoustic and electric guitar and layering a couple tracks on keys as well.  I initially thought it would be nice as solely an acoustic song, but I had that in mind for another track already.  It wouldn’t be a Phish album without an upbeat, lyrically silly song.  NICU not only offers these attributes but some difficult musical sections and a very catchy riff by Trey.  Also, Mikes bouncy bass lines and Fishmans tight hi-hat heavy drumbeat make this a solid album selection.  Suzy Greenberg won the battle of “funk jam song” to include on the album over fan favorite, Tube.  Suzy is much more frequently played, a Phish classic and overall a better song in my opinion.  They both offer an outlet for a thick funk jam and this album needed at least one of those to capture the 97′ era of jamming.  Also, I love the lyrics in Suzy and they make more sense than Tubes, and I think Tube should be saved for the concert goers only.  I mentioned Mountains in the Mist was initially solely acoustic in my mind but I didn’t want two acoustic only tracks on the album.  Driver was the one.  A simple song with great lyrics, it always seemed like a perfect acoustic song in my mind.  Then they played it at Festival 8 which brought a smile to my face and I decided it needed to be the short acoustic song on the album.  The last two tracks were a toss up as far as which would end the album.  Possum is the straight forward, rocking blues track where the whole band can relax and let loose.  I made it a little under 7.5 minuets to leave plenty of space to build up the jam and reach at least 2 climaxes.  This is the only track which would segue into the next, Slave to the Traffic Light.  Segueing from the “rock star” finish of Possum in Emaj, I envisioned Treys solo, clean guitar chords (Amaj shape, with the B string open- the same chrod which starts Divided Sky) quietly emerging from the noise.  I wanted this to end the album over possum because, for lack of a better term, it seemed more epic of an ending.  The song is complex in its simplicity, containing a short, beautifully composed section and soaring jam section.  It starts with a short, reggae vamp on Amaj-Gmaj, with a handful of lyrics about being stopped at a traffic light.  The jam, (Amaj-Gmaj-Dmaj-Emaj) starts out almost silent and ends with cymbals crashing, organ wailing, bass thumping and guitar screaming before ending on a whole step progression using F-G-A power chords.  I could see no better way to end this album.  
Songs that missed the first cut:

Brother
Buffalo bill
Destiny Unbound
Dog Log
Mikes Song-> I am H2-> Weekapaug Groove
Runaway Jim
Simple
Songs I narrowed down from my original 15-20 song list:
Bittersweet Motel–  Already had a movie named after it, plus I wanted a high energy album for the most part.  Harry Hood–  The jam is best when very slowly built up and I think this should stay forever reserved as a concert only tune.  The lights and glow stick wars along with the quiet to exploding finish really can’t be captured in the studio.  (Not to mention recent Hood jams are not even close to what they used to be)I Saw It Again–  I like this song but it’s too rare and not very album friendly in my opinion.  Halley’s Comet–  I like the short jam section of this song that climbs whole steps every 8 bars but it often segues into another song or quickly stops and another song is started right after.  I didn’t think it would be very interesting to include and I couldn’t find a good spot for it.  Tube–  Before 2009 this song wasn’t all that common but always a crowd pleaser.  They started off 2009 playing Tube often, and it tapered off by the end of the year.  The song is mainly an excuse to play funk, and I figured between Suzy Greenberg and Tube, Suzy was a better song.  Since they both have similar jam sections (Tube in Am, Suzy in Cm) with funky potential, I eliminated Tube to keep it a fresh concert song. Gumbo–  It already made an appearance on A Live One which is the closest live studio album Phish has released.  Plus my favorite versions of Gumbo clock in at over 15 minuets.  Carini Had a Lumpy Head–  I included this because it is one of the most hard rocking Phish songs there is.  (Sloth and Axilla being my top two) In the end though, it simply did not seem important enough among the final ten.