Compilation of Phish Covers Unearthed

April 1st, 2014 by Guy Forget 3 Comments

Over the years, Phish has built a reputation as musical chameleons by covering everything from Hebrew spirituals to Jay-Z. But with the exception of a few other jambands, Phish’s own extensive catalogue has rarely found its way into other artists’ hands.

Album Cover Art, "A Portrait Of Your Past"

Album Cover Art, "A Portrait Of Your Past"

Until now. OPT can exclusively report that Phish enlisted a roster of artists, ranging from Bon Jovi to Seal, to cover their music – before later calling the whole project off. Nothing about the album has been officially announced. But OPT was able, through dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests, analysis of thousands of pages of classified documents, and a Spotify search, to assemble what is believed to be the final playlist of the would-be album, titled A Portrait Of Your Past, in Spotify. That playlist is embedded below.

The first thing any Phish fan will notice about these tracks is that many of them sound quite different from Phish’s versions. This explains why Phish scrapped the project: according to sources with close ties to the band, Phish was offended by the lack of deference the other bands showed to the music, and set the compilation aside.

Among the nuggets left in the waste bin is Mike Strickland’s version of “Mike’s Groove,” the entirety of which clocks in under 3 minutes – short even by 3.0 standards (though some have argued that the last section teases the coveted second “Mike’s” jam).

Elsewhere, Kenny G’s take on “Esther” doesn’t even hint at the melody from Phish’s version, though one can argue that, if you’re a musical communicator on Mr. G’s level, you don’t have to actually “play Esther” to play Esther.

Other tracks are more faithful: “Kung” is presented here in its Original Club Mix, which is said to sound almost identical to the demo that Jon Fishman first brought to his bandmates when he wrote the song.

Here, without further ado, is A Portrait Of Your Past:

Amazingly, this 24-track compilation is less than half of what was recorded: 28 additional tracks were laid down, but did not make the final cut for the would-be album. These include versions of new tunes like “Wombat” and old ones like “YEM” and “Forbin → Mockingbird.” Three versions of “Ghost” were recorded – with star power behind them including Katy Perry, 2Pac, and Kid Cudi – yet none of these versions made the cut.

Here are the outtakes:

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setlist provided by Phish.net