Wednesday 07/12/2017 by Icculus


A number of versions of songs performed on 5/11/87 at Nectar's, likely in the second set, including the earliest known versions of "Divided Sky," "Harpua," and "Bundle of Joy," were recently unearthed, and are available here and now for free download.

Sam Seagroves contacted after he found a tape of 5/11/87 that a former employee at his office had left behind when he left (along with a bunch of other old tapes). Sam figured out that while the music on side A of the tape labeled 5/11/87 ("YEM" through "Makisupa") indeed already circulated as 5/11/87 (but was missing "Slave," "Clod," and "Ya Mar"), the material on most of side B of the tape ("Divided" through "GTBT") did not circulate. Sam's tape was dropped off with me in Boston by Sam's coworker/friend, Luke, before Luke attended Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conf final (Celtics-Cavs). After determining that the side B material sounded like it was probably from the same source/show as the side A material (except for the 10/31/86 "AC/DC Bag" and "Swing Low" filler), I gave the tape to Jeff Goldberg for professional spectrum/audio analysis, hiss removal, and transferring.

Jeff determined that the side B "Divided" through "GTBT" was indeed from the same source/show as the side A material, as he explains below. And thus now we have the earliest known versions of "Divided Sky," "Harpua," and "Bundle of Joy." Note that there is a long-ish seven or so second dropout at the end of "Fluffhead." We decided to leave it alone since it was on the source recording. If you have any analog to digital questions or work, feel free to contact Jeff at [email protected] or on twitter @theaudiopro or google plus at [email protected] or Great thanks to Sam, Luke, and Jeff for helping get this new 5/11/87 material, quite a piece of Phish history, into circulation! (and don't miss the segue from Harpua into Fluffhead!)

01. You Enjoy Myself
02. Lushington >
03. Possum
04. Sneaking Sally
05. Peaches en Regalia >
07. Avenu Malkenu
09. Makisupa Policeman
10. Divided Sky
11. Funky Bitch
12. Harpua >
13. Bundle of Joy >
14. Harpua ->
15. Fluffhead (nasty dropout at end)
16. GTBT

WAV files folder:

FLAC files folder:

UNADULTERATED files folder:

(The following is from Jeff Goldberg)

Here are my findings:

Tested data and anecdotal evidence lead me to conclude with confidence that sides A and B of the cassette tape provided by Sam Seagroves (Nectar’s, 5/11/87) are from the same recording.

The recording provided was a 90-minute Maxell XLII type II analog cassette tape. As a standard control from which to compare, I used an NOS (new old stock) blank Maxell XLII 90 from the early ‘90s in order to digitally capture the noise profile (aka "hiss") of a blank tape. The reason for doing this is so I could (literally) eliminate the actual sound of the medium itself from being a variable in the audio comparison.

The tape was recorded using the following analog to digital conversion process:

Tascam 112RmkII (playback)

A > D Signal Path: Balanced (+4dBu) XLR outputs > Apogee Quartet converters

Digital Signal Path: Apogee Quartet > iMac (recorded @ 24-bit, 96kHz)

Digital Audio Workstation: Avid Pro Tools (12.8) for recording, Audacity (2.1.3) for editing, and iZotope RX 6 for mastering.

There are various ways that equipment can visually represent sound. In these tests, I primarily used captured EQ curves to compare the frequency responses of the two sources, as well as sonogram-style spectral analyses, which use colors to represent frequency and amplitude over time. I also compared the balance of the left and right channels from both sources to see if their stereo images matched, which if confirmed, would strongly indicate that microphone placement (or recording methodology) from both sources were the same.

Here is the control data.

Maxell XLII 90 spectral profile:

Maxell XLII 90 EQ curve:

Here is the spectral profile of side A, unaltered:

Here is the spectral profile of side B, unaltered:

One can clearly see the difference in the colors from differing sources when the filler begins on side B, as indicated by the yellow vertical line.

The EQ Curves of sides A and B are almost identical, as evidenced here:,

…as compared to the filler's, which looks like this:

And here is the left/right balance of side A: vs. side B:, which shows both sources sharing a stereo image which clearly favors the right channel.

The aforementioned "anecdotal evidence" to which I refer above is the fact that the "Divided Sky" we hear here is unique. If you listen to versions of "Divided" played in August 1987, you’ll hear that several parts have been added to the song, which suggests that Phish most likely took that summer to fix it up and add more sections. There’s no way the "Divided Sky" on this 5/11/87 tape is from the same tour as the one from, say, The Ranch on 8/29/87, and this adds more ammo pointing to the conclusion that this material genuinely came from from May (and not August) of ’87.

Also, this very early (if not first-ever live version of) "Harpua" lacks the entire "Oom pah pah" intro, which had already been added by August, as can be heard on the Ian's Farm version. There is no story, no Jimmy, and no "There's a dog in the station" section yet, but this seems to be consistent with other versions I've heard from '87. It's the lack of the "Oom pah pah" and drums-only intro that leads me to believe that this 5/11/87 "Harpua" may very well be the first live version, or at least among the earliest versions, performed before August 1987. --Jeff Goldberg,

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, comment by phish671
phish671 Thanks for your help with this. Awesome post. Shout out to Dave Martin the original owner of the tapes. the 5-11-86 and the box of tapes in general has been a"bundle of joy" really glad this is now in circulation

- Sam Seagroves
, comment by dscott
dscott Glad to see that this one looks to be the real deal!!!
, comment by roasteroo
roasteroo Amazing, after thirty years we are still finding new tapes for circulation. The story behind this is a bundle of joy to read. Excellent work!
, comment by therealburnham
therealburnham I'm pumped this can now circulate. Hearing that Harpua > Bundle of Joy > Harpua was a really cool experience as it came across the desk.
, comment by johnnyd
johnnyd Wow. Serious business. Fascinating stuff from start to finish.

Thanks to everyone who played a role in this archaeology!
, comment by Babyrattlesnakes
Babyrattlesnakes New old Phish right before new new Phish? Does it get better?
, comment by Jeff_Goldberg
Jeff_Goldberg Thanks for the kind words, all. I'm always honored to do these types of audio forensics projects for the Phish community. They're very rewarding, and I get to do some of my favorite work.
, comment by JonnyRingo
JonnyRingo This is great! Thank you!
, comment by NICUR2HI
NICUR2HI 1 ) Find box full of old bootleg tapes and realize that one of them has never been circulated
2) Reach out to have tape cleaned up and verified
3) ?
4) Whole Phish community profits
, comment by EvenCarlSagan
EvenCarlSagan This might just be the Nag Hammadi of Phish tapes being unearthed.
Thank you to all
from a n00b in space!
, comment by lostboy01
lostboy01 reading the discovery and transfer process of the tape, as well as the forum thread surrounding the unearthed tape, makes me happy!
, comment by drshaws
drshaws Maybe we can get @drewphish to request that mellow, original middle section of Divided Sky (from about 2:00-3:10) to get put back in? ;)
, comment by humalupa
humalupa I'd love to hear an HF Podcast discussing the process of examining and verifying this tape and attendant show specifically, as well as the general process of adding to setlist entries from the early days. It would be interesting to hear stories of the biggest windfalls, as well as biggest dashed hopes, when it comes to instances like this.
, comment by Sshambl1
Sshambl1 @humalupa said:
I'd love to hear an HF Podcast discussing the process of examining and verifying this tape and attendant show specifically, as well as the general process of adding to setlist entries from the early days. It would be interesting to hear stories of the biggest windfalls, as well as biggest dashed hopes, when it comes to instances like this.
That's a great HF podcast idea! For us nerds who live for this kind of extreme detail I'm sure we would all eat it up. Tom Marshall should interview Kevin Shapiro!
, comment by dreamed_a_dream
dreamed_a_dream will this end up on phishod eventually?
, comment by aybesea
aybesea How amazing is this??? An unheard DvdSky/Harpua/Fluff... SWEET!
, comment by Jeff_Goldberg
Jeff_Goldberg @dreamed_a_dream said:
will this end up on phishod eventually?
Yes. I'm in the process right now of re-editing the spreadsheet source files for this show so that all of the tracks are present, in order, noise free, and transitionally smooth.

I'll have it done by Monday.
, comment by vtspeedy
vtspeedy One thousand years from now, may the sentient insects that then inhabit this methane-infused planet continue to uncover previously unknown early phish. And may I be reborn as a sentient immortal methane-breathing insect.
, comment by Jeff_Goldberg
Jeff_Goldberg I figured I'd share a humorous anecdote regarding the cleaning up of the other files from the spreadsheet which had been missing from this tape...

Part of the cleanup process involves getting rid of "hum" which equipment can cause on a recording at certain frequencies. Usually this hum occurs at multiples of either 50 or 60 Hz (the frequency of electricity in Europe and the USA, respectively.) I was in the process of cleaning up the "Slave To The Traffic Light" track, and I could hear some band banter at the beginning, but couldn't quite make out what was being said due to a rogue hum which was occurring at exactly 117.92 Hz (a very arbitrary frequency.) Thus, I ran an algorithm to remove the offending hum.

What sort of chatter did I unveil? Ironically, it was Mike complaining to Paul about a random "low frequency feedback" which he couldn't seem to get rid of. It seems that in removing the hum, I retroactively fixed the exact issue that Mike was bitching about to Paul, in-turn making the whole recording sound significantly better. Apparently, Nectar's had noisy equipment that night! I had a good, solid laugh when I realized that the hum had been masking Mike's banter... about the hum.

Here is a link to the cleaned-up Slave with the chatter at the beginning:
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