Selection: “Rock and Roll>Ghost”
Memo’s “Other Jams” Memo: Good versions of “Kill Devil Falls” and “Bathtub Gin”
From Daniel Combs:
8/15/12 “Rock and Roll>Ghost”
I remember when I first heard this “Rock and Roll” I was blown away by how much was happening, and how complex the music seemed to be. This was a situation where, as soon as I heard the jam, I knew that it was going to require dozens of listens to really begin to wrap my head around it. As I began to listen and further understand it, I became even more impressed at how fluid and emotive the playing was, despite the complexity. The music ebbs and flows beautifully through the entire thing. Fluidity is what Trey (and the rest of the band as well) truly excels at now. Trey’s playing throughout this jam features some of the most delicately played phrases I’ve ever heard come from his guitar.
A lot of the complexity in this jam seemed to stem from Phish’s efficiency these days. It’s astonishing how they can cover so much musical ground in 25:00 minutes. This ability means that jams tend to not idle. Once an idea has been thoroughly explored, they move on. This efficiency takes the band to some very interesting places.
I believe the section beginning at 17:50 demonstrates the complex level at which Phish can improvise now. Page is playing in Bb mixolydian (the scale in which the jam is in at this point) and Trey, rather than join him and try to build a melody around it, decides to come in with an accidental that creates tension. Page latches on and he and Trey begin ascending phrases that together create somewhat atonal sounds, but make complete sense in the context of the music. It works because it is played with such confidence and purpose. The band is so connected and fluid that it truly seems like the music is playing them. It sounds silly, but that is what improvisational music should be.
I decided to make the timeline below in an attempt to display the abundance of things that happen in this jam, and how involved the music is. That complexity is where current Phish excels. Deep and layered jams with purposeful and interesting playing.
“Rock and Roll”
5:00 Trey’s solo begins to lead the band away from the song structure.
5:50 Trey strikes a chord and lets it ring for two measures while Mike and Page fill in the space. This repeats a few times.
6:10 Trey starts varying his chords and, after a short period of time, begins to play a lead over the space created.
7:30 Trey and Page alternate ascending phrases as Mike and Fish continue driving the beat.
8:30 The band lays into a nice funky progression that mellows out into…
9:30 Trey plays some very well constructed ambient phrases that move the sound to a less groove-driven rock jam but a more relaxed space jam (the movie).
9:50 In an incredibly fluid transition, the melody shifts to Page as Trey provides very subtle but well-fitting accompaniment.
10:30 The sound mellows out completely at this point and the music begins to head towards new territory.
10:45 Trey is constructing a nice layer of sound with his delay while Mike plays somewhat consistent lines centered around the same notes, in effect anchoring down the jam and giving it room to develop.
10:50 Trey plays three absolutely beautiful phrases from here to 11:20 that Page somehow predicts and accompanies with nearly identical lines.
11:20 Page and Mike play sweeping sustained notes here that envelop the music, while Page also provides a few sparse lines below it. Trey complements with a layer of delay and Fishman quiets down a bit.
11:50 Page plays a descending synthesizer line and whammys up an octave for a couple notes, eventually landing on a single note. Mike plays a note at the beginning of the section that he lets sustain throughout.
12:30 Fishman is playing only on his cymbals now, rolling on the ride and accenting with cymbal splashes. Page begins with a simple theme that provides direction. Trey plays a distorted and wah’d descending line.
12:55 Trey lets a note sustain shortly, Mike comes back in beautifully and complements Page’s theme. Fishman provides a rhythmic accompaniment and accents the rhythm with crash hits. Trey adds a sparse layer over top.
13:30 The theme opens up now that everyone is locked and variation begin to develop.
13:45 Page begins some arpeggiated phrases as Trey provides melody by riffing off the theme earlier developed. Mike stays somewhat constant with a bass line that gives Trey and Page something to work off of melodically. Fishman begins incorporating tom hits into his cymbal rolling.
14:30 The lines Trey plays here are some of the most delicately chosen and played phrases I’ve ever heard from him. Page is on the grand piano at this point, and his accompaniment is beautiful.
15:10 Page takes over here shortly and plays a melody, and then switches to playing chords. Mike plays a couple short melodic phrases, and Trey comes back in with a melody.
15:30 A new theme has begun to develop with Mike as a driving force moving the jam forward.
15:45 Trey and Page play short phrases with few notes as Mike and Fishman fill the space beautifully, and the music becomes more powerful. Fishman is playing very well at this point, allowing the music to flow freely while also providing an interesting rhythm.
16:00 Trey’s melodies become more complex at this point, very pretty and well thought out. The music continues to rise in power.
16:45 Trey lands on a note and lets Page take over. Page plays ascending chords while Trey accompanies with the root note of the mode.
17:10 Page lands on a chord and stops ascending. Trey begins to accompany with upper range chords now.
17:50 Page starts these pretty arpeggiated phrases. Trey, rather than play along with this exactly, comes in with a short phrase that creates tension. Page immediately catches on and begins to ascend and stray from the Bb mixolydian scale that they are playing in. Trey does the same, but at different intervals. Their playing here creates some interesting tension before settling back into the Bb mixolydian.
18:10 Trey and Page trade melodies for a bit and then at…
18:30 Page plays three ascending chords and Fishman complements with four quarter note triplets on the toms which opens the music up immensely. Page plays a descending arpeggio and right as it seems he’s about to resolve, Trey comes in with a melody over-top that creates tension. Page accompanies this shortly and the resolves to a major chord.
18:55 Trey joins Page and develops a short line that he forms melodies around for a bit.
19:35 Trey begins to open the sound by playing some minor key runs. Page hears and starts varying his playing and begins ascending with chords. Trey and Page create tension while ascending and then resolve.
20:30 Page repeats a cool line twice and then Trey begins scratching.
21:05 Very percussive music as Fishman begins to take over and lay into the snare. Trey and Fishman are playing off each other and making very cool noise. Fishman fades a bit.
22:30 Fishman begins to take over again with chaotic playing. Page is making dark sounds along with Trey and Mike letting his notes sustain.
24:00 Trey is trilling and Fishman lays into the bell of a cymbal. He comes back on the drums and the music begins to peter out as everybody makes a few individual runs. The music further fades and a familiar scratch begins…
28:20 The energy here is great after a well executed drop in. Trey descends into a nice funky riff and stays for a while.
28:40 Mike plays an ascending phrase that moves the jam in a lighter direction, and Trey follows with trilling that opens up the music. Page fills in the space with some funky clav action.
29:00 Fuuuuuuuuunk. Trey lays into a sweeeet chord and rhythm here and Page fills in with clavinet.
29:20 Trey transitions to playing lead, he and Mike are each playing long phrases that intertwine and move beautifully.
30:00 The music is meandering a bit, but in the very best way. Interesting melodic lines and involved accompaniment from Mike.
30:10 Mike plays this descending line that Trey mimics immediately. One of those short moments where I have to pause and just think about how impressive the music I just heard was. It’s amazing how quickly Trey latches on and figures out what Mike was playing.
30:20 Page has moved to playing chords and is using a very smooth sound, which adds a consistent layer of sound to the music. Trey holds a note and then Mike comes in with a very cool bluesy riff that keeps the jam moving.
30:50 The band is looking for a direction now. Fish and Trey are laying down a solid base to play with. Page starts playing and Trey joins in. Their playing is flowing and weaving in and out of each other.
31:10 Not much to say here, just wanted to point out how cool Fishman’s beat is right now.
31:45 Trey starts trilling. Page soon joins in with similar playing. Beautiful music here.
32:40 Trey breaks away from trilling and begins building a peak by playing chords. The rest of the band fills in space behind.
33:15 Page is on grand piano now which brings the jam into an entirely new level. Once again, absolutely beautiful playing. Trey plays a line right here that he revisits multiple times in the following couple minutes.
34:40 Trey starts playing more notes here creating a great, very uplifting sound. Page is playing a chord repeatedly here and power is building.
35:20 Release. Trey plays very pretty lines here and Page varies his chords.
35:50 The peak is peaking! Trey is playing three rising notes over and over again and the music swells with power. Beautiful and tight playing.
36:45 Trey starts playing a C-D chord progression. Page follows and starts varying his playing and throwing in atonal notes. Trey follows and the jam dissipates into a very odd and dark segment.
37:40 Fishman starts quoting “Roggae,” very cool stuff. The music crumbles from here and Trey comes in with Limb by Limb chords.
Daily Ghost review of this ghost: http://lawnmemo.com/the-daily-ghost-110/
From Daniel Combs:
Music has been a significant part of my life since I began playing piano at age 7, and Phish is one of the most important parts of that portion of my life. My Aunt lived in Vermont in the 80’s until the early 90’s. She would tell me stories about meeting and seeing Phish and I always thought that was cool. I eventually decided to look them up. I was in eighth grade at the time, and most of my iPod was taken up by punk and metal (Green Day and Dream Theater specifically). I picked up Live Phish 18 (5/7/94 Bomb Factory) at a used book/music store and after listening I knew that this was what I had been looking for musically. A few years and dozens of gigabytes of shows later, Phish has become part of my life. I now play both piano and guitar, and Phish is one of my main musical inspirations.
Favorite Ghost: 5/22/00.