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Phish: Phish: St. Louis '93

Doug Collette By

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The pastel color scheme on the front and back covers of Phish St. Louis '93 is quietly evocative of the six CD's of music enclosed in the slim slip case, but no more or less than the deeper tones on the individual sleeves and the discs themselves that mirror the intensity of the playing at its peaks on these two shows four months apart almost twenty- five years ago.

Recorded in stereo from the soundboard by Paul Languedoc and subsequently mastered for release by Fred Kevorkian, this latest release from the Phish Archives includes two complete performances, from April 14, 1993 and August 16, 1993, at American Theatre in St. Louis, MO. At this juncture of their career, Phish was touring in support of their fourth studio album, Rift (Elektra, 1993) with their road itineraries rapidly expanding into colleges and theaters as word spread about their increasingly renowned live performances.

Held in extremely high regard by knowing fans of the band (many of whom decry the absence of such exploratory excellence in the band's current musicianship), St. Louis '93 captures the band at two stand-out shows on consecutive tours at the seventeen-hundred and fifty-seat Beaux Arts-style American Theatre and from the earliest intervals of the spring show, it's clear the band is, in the vernacular, 'feeling it:' as much in the counterpoint vocals on "Bouncing Around the Room" as the full-flight instrumentalizing, in quick succession, on "Buried Alive," "Poor Heart" and "Maze," Phish are performing with that rare abandon of a band unafraid (and highly unlikely) to make a mistake.

The band's delicate collective touch on "Divided Sky" matches its gorgeous melodic line and supersedes the treacle ("Silent in the Morning") and eccentricity ("I Didn't Know") that surrounds it. Such marked contrasts appear during both shows and, truth be told, remain staples of Phish shows to this day in the form of "You Enjoy Myself," as an encore, and the spoken interlude within "Harpua" that threatens to defuse the band's momentum, but, with one of a multiplicity of teases appears-Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver," "Theme from The Jetsons," and The Doors' "The End" along with others elsewhere including Deep Purple's "Woman from Tokyo" in "AC/DC Bag," "Theme from Jeopardy" in "You Enjoy Myself,"-no doubt delighted the audience (response from which is muted here by the way.)

Apart from the benefit of such an erudite (sic) audience, it doesn't require much in the way of technical credits or historical content in the package itself (all of which facts and plenty of opinion readily available on the web), Phish are in the enviable position of being able to draw upon an extensive archive of recordings like this from which to select and formally circulate between studio releases. It's been nigh on six months since the release of the latest of the latter, Big Boat (Jemp, 2016), while St. Louis '93 itself appears fairly closely (seven weeks) on the heels of the latest Live Phish download, from the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in 1995.

If this collection proves anything, it's not only that Phish long ago developed a musicality as distinctive as it's stage-savvy , juxtaposing eccentricities like "Roger's Proposal" (and other antics not discernible in this audio-only format) with transcendent moments like those that occur during "Mile's Song">"Faht">"Weekapaug Groove" on this last disc, it's that this archetypal jamband has maintained the efficacy of that approach over the course of time.

Track Listing: CD 1: 4/14/93 American Theatre - Set I: Buried Alive >Poor Heart; Maze; Bouncing Around The Room; It’s Ice >Stash>Kung >Stash>Kung >The Horse >Silent In The Morning >Divided Sky; I Didn’t Know; Golgi Apparatus. CD 2 - 4/14/93 American Theatre - Set II: Roger’s Proposa; AC/DC Bag >My Sweet One >Tweezer; Mound; Big Ball Jam; You Enjoy Myself >Spooky; You Enjoy Myself . CD 3: 4/14/93 American Theatre - Set II, cont’d: Harpua >Runaway Jim. Encore: Lengthwise >Contact >Tweezer Reprise. CD 4: 8/16/93 American Theatre - Axilla >Possum >Horn >Reba >Sparkle. CD 5: 8/16/93 American Theatre - Set I - cont’d: Foam; I Didn’t Know; Split Open And Melt; The Squirming Coil. CD 6: 8/16/93 American Theatre - Set II:Mike’s Song >Faht >eekapaug Groove; Mound >It’s Ice >My Friend, My Friend; Poor Heart ; Big Ball Jam; Take The ‘A’ Train >Good Times Bad Times; Amazing Grace; Rocky Top.

Personnel: Trey Anastasio: guitar, vocals; Jon Fishman: drums, vocals; Page McConnell: keyboards, vocals; Mike Gordon: bass, vocals.

Title: Phish: St. Louis '93 | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Jemp Records

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