, attached to 1988-07-30

Review by n00b100

n00b100 So this is the infamous "Jazz Odyssey" show, one of those shows you only hear about if you're really into digging into Phish's history, as one night during their fabled (and officially documented!) 1988 tour of Colorado Fishman apparently got stuck on the slopes or whatever and missed the first two sets of this gig, leading the band to bust out some jazz standards and some guitar-less versions of their usual repertoire while Trey sat behind the skins. The original circulating tape was missing a good chunk of the show, but thanks to @Jeff_Goldberg's Herculean efforts a new SBD-patched tape has surfaced (it sounds wonderful, too), and now the entire show (minus a few seconds lost to a tape flip here and there) can be heard and enjoyed. So let's do that!

Set (or, really, "Set") 1: Well, we know the band is steeped in the classics of jazz history, if nothing else. One kinda wishes Page had had his baby grand (or ANY piano) to give these songs that extra touch of class, but they're certainly not bad listens and a healthy reminder of how different Baby Phish is to even the 1993 version, let alone the version we have today. Gotta love Mike going all Paul Chambers (the common denominator between these songs!), too.

Set 2: A surprisingly cool alternate-universe set with Fishman still missing; as @Bob_Loblaw notes, it's real interesting to hear Page take point on Funky Bitch without any guitar (dig young Mike still having his full vocal range), and you have to give it up to Trey managing to sing while drumming, never the easiest thing to do for any musician. Love She Caught The Katy (one of the most random covers to have appeared in three separate decades of Phish), love Corrina (one of the most random covers to have appeared in *four* separate decades of Phish), and the wry/possibly annoyed banter about Fish being absent is highly amusing. You know Maiden Voyage from Colorado '88, of course; it's my highlight of the set, but then I adore the original version, so. Shame they didn't break out Cantaloupe Island...

Set 3: Ah, it would appear Fishman has returned, and we can now get down to business. After a (tape-truncated) La Grange and gnarly On Your Way Down, the band works into an oddly spacey and feedback-drenched version of Slave that builds to a nifty peak, then burst into one of the highlights of the show (and Colorado '88) in Timber (Jerry), one of the finest Timbers out there. After Trey plays a really grotty and nasty solo while Fish goes tribal-style on his drums, the band breaks into a neatly anthemic take on Timber; it's mostly Type I, but it's an exciting brand of Type I brought on by the band's enthusiasm and still-developing skills, and is well worth the listen, especially for Mike just going interstellar up in this bitch with his basslines. Everything else is standard enough, although you might enjoy a fully straightforward version of Harpua without references to comets or IT or hitchhiking to Vegas or donuts or whatever else.

Set 4: Pretty decent early Fluffhead. Anarchy is, uh, what it is. Dear Mrs. Reagan is...well, it's what it is (probably for the best Phish stayed away from politics for the rest of their career), but it's certainly interesting to hear them sing an overtly political song that's their own and not Hurricane or something, even if you probably don't need to hear it more than once. Terrapin is the usual Fishman madness (kinda sad Fishman doesn't play the trombone anymore), and Antelope is a fierce (if rather short) version that has some amusing banter at the end; it's not on the tape I'm referring to, so seek out Colorado '88 (you should have it anyway, honestly) to hear the whole thing.

Final thoughts: 5/24/88 is still my preferred Baby Phish show, but this one is a real keeper and could easily have served as the Colorado '88 release all by itself. Give it a listen, both for its *immense* historical value, and to hear some true flashes of what a special band Phish was even only half a decade into their career.


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