IT will be the fortieth anniversary of Phish's first gig in about forty-some-odd days. Over the course of Phish history, fans have often considered what Phish jams they would put on a 100-minute cassette “mixed tape” (aka mixtape) or a 74-minute CD (the Regular volume CD) or, more recently, on a playlist.
But what if that playlist were limited to only 74 minutes? Or 100 minutes? And what if instead of being a playlist of your favorite Phish jams, it was a playlist of what you believed to be tracks that best represented Phish's music and history in a given year over Phish's FORTY YEAR HISTORY OF PLAYING SHOWS?
On Rec.Music.Phish in January 1997, a friend mocked the idea of trying to summarize Phish history up until that time on only a handful of tapes. And so, as a person who sucked at the Phish, I decided to create five 100-minute mixed tapes containing 500 minutes of Phishtory (of Phish's music), and you can see their contents listed below.
The January 1997 RMP discussion thread about these five tapes may interest you (for context, recall that Phish.com didn't even launch until late 1996), but the key take-away for me in skimming it nearly 27 years later is that I didn’t actually do what my friend had suggested. As indicated in that thread, she (Kim H.) was thinking the tapes would summarize the history of Phish’s musical evolution, and not simply identify significant versions of specific songs or events in Phish history. (Imagine me, a man, not listening to a woman? Preposterous, I know!)
In any event, the impetus of the thread in January 1997 was to try to inspire people to indicate what they’d put on five 100 minute tapes summarizing Phish history through 1996. And then, in May 2000, a time when RMP was arguably dying as PhantasyTour grew exponentially (iirc), I posted the text of my original message from that January 1997 thread to RMP (again) in an effort to inspire fans to state what live Phish tracks they would put on a single CD (74 minutes) in order to capture the spirit of a particular year of Phish. You can still see that pathetic failure of a thread here on GoogleGroups. (Hopefully this post will generate a lot more Comments than that one did, lolz sigh.)
Links have been added below to make it more convenient for you to listen to items that may interest you. Also, where you see the use of ellipses before and/or after song titles, it means I cut the version in some way (usually preserving only the jam segment) to save minutes. Fwiw, I took some shit in the original 1997 thread for not including the must-hear Mrs. Pizza Shit 11/16/91 YEM in the tape with 1991 music on it. In hindsight, I think the criticism was justified, even though I explain in that thread that I didn’t include it because while I preferred 11/16/91’s YEM musically to the YEM I did put on the tape (below) i.e. 7/26/91, I put that 7/26/91 YEM on the tape because it was phistorically important: the Giant Country Horns played on it! That tour was obviously important in Phish history. And I didn’t have room to also put the 11/16/91 YEM on the 1991 tape, god damn it.
In addition to five 100-minute tapes of Phish that summarize particular years in Phish history, I also list below a 74-minute CD worth of material I compiled to summarize 1993. But note, please, that I purportedly didn’t take too much time to create the below mixes/lists (the five 100 minute tapes were created in early 1997, and the 1993 CD tracklist was created in May 2000), so don’t think for a second that they’re thorough or reasonable (never forget: I suck at Phish).
But the point was and still is (if you wish to engage in this exercise in the Comments) to try to make a tape or CD that best represents PHISH at a particular year in time (or years, or era)—their jamming style or styles, special events, whatever. To THINK HISTORICALLY in other words. This was not then and is not now a "compile a CD of what you think are the best jams from a given year" game, although it is partly this because, historically speaking, it is often the "best" jams of a given year that get remembered by fans. This project is really more of a "compile a CD of what you think best represents Phish in YEAR for the sake of Phish history" game, which is a difficult task, since we all know that Phish is amazing and every year there's a lot more than 74 minutes of amazing shit that goes on.
So, that said, if you wanted to summarize a particular year of Phish in 74 (CD) or 100 minutes (TAPE), how would you do it?
For example, to summarize 2009, I’d start it with the Hampton Fluffhead naturally. I also might include the Star Spangled Banner from Fenway Park. Maybe the Jones Beach first-set-closing If I Could (a bust out at the time). The Camden Tweezer. Glory Days with Springsteen at Bonnaroo. The Red Rocks Undermind with Bill Kreutzmann. The Torn and Frayed or Loving Cup at Indio. And the Albany Seven Below Ghost. And something from the NYE run in Miami, like I guess the Back On The Train. Is that more than 100 minutes? Probably...
And, for another example, any list for 1998 that fails to include Terrapin Station from VA Beach arguably wouldn't reflect 1998's most important Phishtorical event. But this is of course ARGUABLE because many other historically meaningful events occurred that year, e.g., Phish played the Fillmore in SF and the Bridge Benefit, Phish played both LOADED *and* DARK SIDE OF THE MOON within three days of each other (!), Phish played the Hampton shows, which wound up becoming a *live* release, Phish covered Prince's 1999 on NYE, etc. You get it.
Tape One (1984-1989) (100 Minutes)
12/01/84 ... Scarlet Begonnias -> Fire (Hendrix) -> FOTM ...
10/30/85 Harry Hood (first version)
04/15/86 Prep School Hippie
12/06/86 Mike's Song > Little Drummer Boy > Whipping Post
08/21/87 Curtain > Slow "Rift" Jam
05/25/88 Harpua [SIC, 5/24/88; see notes, I had the mislabeled tape]
08/06/88 You Enjoy Myself > Cities > Dave's Energy Guide > Cities [SIC, 8/5/88, again I had the mislabeled tape]
10/20/89 Split Open and Melt
10/26/89 Fish's Gull Poem, No Dogs Allowed ...
Tape Two (1990-1991) (100 Minutes)
11/04/90 Manteca > Caravan > Manteca
04/11/91 Landlady > Destiny Unbound
05/12/91 Antelope (E) (last song @ the Front)
07/26/91 ... You Enjoy Myself ...
10/28/91 Whipping Post (first Fish on fretless guitar! ;-) [THIS IS STILL ONE OF THE FUNNIEST THINGS I HAVE EVER HEARD.]
11/21/91 Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove
12/31/91 ... Auld Lang Syne > Runaway ...
Tape Three (1992-1993) (100 Minutes)
03/06/92 Signals [aka "Secret Language Instructions"]
03/13/92 Antelope > BBFCFM > Antelope
04/18/92 Harry Hood
07/25/92 Funky Bitch (w/Carlos)
12/31/92 Mike's Song > Auld Lang Syne > Weekapaug Groove
02/03/93 Loving Cup
03/22/93 AC/DC Bag
05/08/93 ... Amazing Grace w/jam
08/13/93 ... Bathtub Gin ...
12/30/93 Mike's Song > Horse..
12/31/93 ... Auld Lang DWD Jam ...
Tape Four (1994) (100 Minutes)
05/07/94 ... Sparks > Jam > Makisupa > Sweet Emotion ...
06/17/94 OJ Poor Heart
06/26/94 Kung, DWD (sweet version, btw)
11/18/94 Sweet Baby's Arms
11/22/94 Funky Bitch > JAM ...
12/29/94 ... Bowie ...
Tape Five (1995-6) (100 Minutes)
05/16/95 Theme from the Bottom
06/26/95 ... DWD Jam > Free...
07/02/95 Camel Walk
11/14/95 ... Stash ...
11/25/95 ... Switching Instr. Jam ... (BRIEF!) (*@$)
12/09/95 ... YEM ...
12/29/95 ...Gin > Real Me > Gin
12/31/95 JBGoode (E)
06/06/96 AC/DC Bag
07/12/96 "Ska Groove"
10/31/96 ... Houses -> Seen And Not Seen ... (just the segue)
11/02/96 ... Crosseyed & Painless ... (Permagroove section)
11/29/96 ... Taste ... (just the jam)
12/06/96 ... Harpua ... (just the opening)
12/31/96 Harry Hood
And here’s an example of a tracklist of a CD for 1993 that I created in May 2000:
CD (1993) (74 minutes)
02/03/93 Loving Cup (start of tour; Page on grand piano!)
02/03/93 ...YEM... (just the 'Water Your Team..' lyrics in the WUDMTF segment, which is the only time to date that Phish has sung something dramatically different other than Wash Uffizi DMTF in YEM)
05/05/93 ...YEM... (10 or so minutes of the jam segment with ARU!)
05/08/93 Amazing Grace w/jam (end of tour; unusual, cool 'Grace jam)
08/13/93 Bathtub Gin (still legendary)
08/14/93 Antelope -> Have Mercy -> Antelope (representative of Phish's 1993 jamming style)
12/30/93 ...Mike's Song (jam segment; still one of the finest)
12/31/93 Auld Lang Syne -> Down with Disease jam (first DWD jam; brings in '94)
p.s. In case it's not clear, when the 1984-1989 tape was created in January 1997, no recordings of Phish performances before 12/1/84 circulated. This is why 12/1/84 is the first show (a bit of) whose music is on that uh historical 1984-1989 summary tape.