Man, they were really on top of their game that year. That's the year when Phish found their phunk!
This collection is superb. Every single song is worth five stars. The best Reba, the DWD does not disappoint I might want to tell the guy in charge of mixing the album to wake up at a few points, but I will not ding this for such mistakes (only a few times was I snapped out of my groove with harsh transitions).
One wish would have been a great Page piano-driven proper Harry Hood jam (my favorite, especially the performance of it from their 2/24/03 show, and included in many a setlist over the years), and how I wish that more flavors of the blues jam Corinna was something I could find outside of a few tapings and a bit of Phish’s live music shop… Regardless of there being no flavor of my favorite being included with this, it is worth every cent and every second spent. If you’re debating, go with the “I’ll get it” side and you will love it.
Simply put: these shows are insanely good. The jams are transcendental and clearly show the improvisational genius of this band.
Best band ever!!!!!
Love these four musicians! If you have a chance to see them live DO IT!
A Good Crunchy Representative of '96
This collection captures Phish right as the band is ascending to it's apex--creatively and culturally--as a band ('97 and '98 were just relentlessly awesome, culminating of course at Big Cypress on NYE 99...and maybe some of that 2000 tour as well). The jams on this set are focused and funky, Cactus is dropping as many bombs as he has in his arsenal and Trey...good heavens, the guy is able to do whatever he wants with his guitar. It's remarkable. Page has more than a few standout moments as well and even Fishman ups the ante here and there (he's Fishman, he's serviceable).
The band is clearly having fun, a staple of a good Phish show, and it makes you long for those halcyon days of peak Phish 1.0. Alas, we won't ever see that band again, and the one kicking around now isn't such a bad substitute (I get sick of the hater critic "phans" as much as anyone). They don't tour nearly as much, they don't practice together much anymore-by their own admission. In '96, only Trey had a (young) family. Now they all do. The other elephant in the room of course is that Trey is now famously anti-drug/hardcore sober. He wasn't then, and it's not a bad thing. It's a part of what Phish is, whether you like it or not. There isn't any darkness to be heard either. Just four dudes being the absolute best they can be.
I'm glad we can listen back.