Background (Ghost Position: Set 2 – Song 5 of 8-Show Gap: 2)
After a great version in 1997 at Desert Sky, Ghost comes back and ups the ante. Ghost continues alternating between first, and second sets and it serves as the closing big jam in Phoenix. The entire run of Ghost>She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride>Funky Bitch is included. She Caught the Katy was last played July 30, 1988 (over 1,000 show gap!) This is another great version so let’s get to it!
Composed Section (0:00-4:30)
Fishman starts things up and Mike slowly joins in. Trey begins letting some loops circle, and by the 0:40 mark we are well into Ghost. A slow place set by Fishman gives this intro a great feel.
The solo section sees the injection of War of the Worlds? What the heck is that! It 100 percent sounds like a spaceship is landing…Some of the craziest sounds I have ever heard from Phish. Page and Mike do their typical thing, but all I can focus on is the impending alien invasion.
A long pause with some loops, leads to another horrific drop in. Maybe they can blame this one on alien fear or something. Whatever, that was garbage. Luckily the accuracy of the drop in is not an indication of overall Ghost quality.
Everybody’s Got the Blues… (4:31-7:55)
The beginning of this Ghost jam moves back towards it’s roots. It starts with some sectioned off jamming instead of Mike’s bass line leading the initial path. What comes next is a very relaxed blues based groove.
Page on piano, Trey playing a bluesy lead, Fish rocking a jazzy groove, and Mike picking and choosing. Smooth, very cool initial segment. I feel like strolling through the coolest of cool jazz clubs, and ordering a Vodka Martini. I pay with a 20, keep the change man…it’s cool. Trey has on a blues brothers outfit and lowers his shades and winks as if to say “Nice move man.” Then goes back to playing the sweet, sweet blues. I swear I was sober when I wrote this paragraph…
Fluid is a word I would use to describe this section. I use “balance” way too much in this project so let’s try fluid. I feel that as one of Trey’s bluesy notes rings out, Page picks up right where it left off. When Page slows it down and moves to the organ, Mike starts to move more into a leading role. Every counted beat by Fish hits perfectly with the music around him. Fluid jam, and I love fluid Phish.
At about the 6:20 mark, Page switches away from the keyboard. I usually love it when he moves to the keyboard and not away from it. However, this is a fantastic move. His church hall sounding tone, meshes perfectly with Trey’s blues. At the 7:20 mark, he goes back to the piano and that fits just as nice. Fine work from the Chairman.
Blues Building (7:55-10:34)
Page starts to play some chords that begin to pick up the energy at the 7:55 mark. Things are still flowing smoothly and the jam is still very patient. Trey continues to twang his guitar and Fish continues to lay it down.
At the 8:38 mark, Page plays a couple of chords really giving the intent that he is ready to rock. Fish starts to increase the tempo around the 8:55 mark, and Trey begins to lead more. Another great build section, as the coolness of the blues section is infused with the movement up the cliff. Nothing is rushed and one section flows wonderfully to the next.
At 9:43, Fish steps on the gas and Trey responds with some power riffs. Mike moves and gets on the bass and cranks it up. Page is moving all around the keys. Get ready…Get ready…it is time to rock! Fantastic build.
Bye Bye Blues…Hello Rage (10:35-16:50)
At 10:35, Fish really kicks the tempo up a notch and gives the band a second before he really kicks it up. At 10:53, then at the 11:00, he REALLY pushes things. Trey responds by playing some quick repetitive notes. Page and Mike are trying to keep up but this is Fish’s train. Get out of the way, let’s see what this band can do. Fish will not take no for an answer!
At the 11:52 mark, Fish drops a fill and slams the gas pedal to the floor. If the rest of the band doesn’t start to rip into some face melting, this jam is about to sound like a Ghost drop in. Luckily, Trey responds with a killer solo and things really start going. This was all Jon Fishman, make no mistake. He built this peak, and forced energy into his band mates.
Just because Fish started it, doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t kick some ass. Trey is ripping, and Page is balancing between a ton of notes and well placed chords. Mike moves in full balance mode moving between solos and bass lines.
At 12:48 somehow I think Fishman actually picks the pace up even more. Get this man a banana! My ear moves around and I hear a lot of Trey and Page but mostly I can’t stop listening to Fish. Someone recently asked me if I thought he gets bored while playing Ghost. Specifically when he locks down a beat and doesn’t let go. I responded no, because when it gets to a section like this…he beats the living hell out of any frustration he may have! My entire headphones are full of cymbals, bass drums, snares, wood blocks, maybe even John Bohnam. The man is a machine.
At the 13:00 mark, Page catches my ear with some beautiful power chords. Fish then kicks me in the face with a couple of monster fills and says “Over Here!” He then continues to blow up his kit.
At 13:50 Trey responds, and machine guns a solo that is just crushing. This jam is hot with a capital Kate Upton. I am getting tired just listening to the effort being put into this thing. I am saying that while just finishing a bowl of ice cream, sitting in my chair, and drinking a Great Lakes Christmas Ale.
I love this peak section because just when I think it is going to stop, it JUST KEEPS GOING!!! What if someone needs a beer? What if you have to go to the bathroom? What if you have bust out your big ass 1998 cell phone? There is no time!!! Too much raging!! This is how people OD, you take too many drugs, you rage for 6 minutes straight, your heart stops. Phish has no regard for human life..
Ok, Trey I see your machine gun. I know, I know, you get jealous when I talk about Fish so much. Well Trey points the machine gun in my face and just lets loose at the 16:00 mark. I can’t believe he has energy left. Face melting stuff. I swear the jam is going to slow down at the 16:30 mark but they give it one last rip.
This peak, rage section, rock and roller, whatever you want to call it, is a real beast. It is long, it is relentless, it is powerful. This section features standout performances from Fish and Trey. I love that when the outro starts I feel like I am getting off a roller coaster. Well maybe a roller coaster with fire burning on the track, lightning bolts coming from the sky, and half the track missing.
Ghost Outro>Katy (16:51-20:20)
So as the peak finally slows down, Trey starts teasing “She Caught the Katy” right away. He moves away from it for a bit as Page starts to throw some static space into the equation.
Soon after, the segue to Katy starts to move more into the picture. This segue is so friggin’ awesome. So smooth, and with Page adding just the little extra something on the organ I am dancing with the straight-jacket once again. The segue is sooooooo patient. It is like a segue jam, and they change key at the end ever so slightly as Katy begins at the 20:20 mark.
What the fuck just happened? One of the smoothest grooves, turned into a 6+ minute rage fest, then an incredible segue into a 1,000 song bust-out? Are you kidding me? 1998 F’ing rules. Again, another incredibly underrated Ghost. I barely hear this version get any love, but I think it kicks ass. I could listen to this all day. Well I kind of just did.
I have decided at the end of this project, I have every right to change my scores. It is my project, I get to do what I want…