Jesse Jarnow

looky looky, wookie! phish outtakes!

“Birthday Boys,” “Bubble Wrap,” and “Running Scared” – Phish
(zipped file of the three songs)
outtakes from Round Room (2002)

(file expires on February 24th)

How bad could the outtakes be from a Phish album that was basically comprised of demos to begin with? The answer, if you have any wookie blood in you at all, is relative. (And, if you don’t, you’ll come away hating Phish even more than you already do.)

Yes, yes, relative. That is: the three “new” songs circulating from Phish’s 2002 Round Room sessions are very much like their officially released brethren in that they’re half-conceived and far less than they should be. Being outtakes, this less-than-whole-assedness is also perfectly excusable. That doesn’t make them good (or of interest to anybody not already curious about Phish’s creative process).

“Birthday Boys” had already been recorded by Oysterhead, one of the bands Trey Anastasio played with during the two years previous to this session, while Phish was figuring out if they wanted to be a band or not (they didn’t, as they determined later). It’s nifty, heavy on the same impressionistic twang that defined “Pebbles and Marbles,” which led off Round Room. Playful and intricate, it would’ve made an ace Phish tune — especially the cleverly modulating ending. The version here borders on trainwreck, especially as it goes, but — hey — it’s a rehearsal. It coulda been a contenda.

The all-improv (and largely abstract) “Bubble Wrap” is — I assume — one of the band’s first jams after getting back together. They feel disconnected, their parts moving against each other and trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to lock in. It’s kind of uncomfortable to hear Phish, who were rarely less than psychic communicators with big ears, playing like this. A historical curiosity, perhaps. The last song, “Running Scared,” most likely isn’t Phish at all, but Anastasio demoing with songwriting/drinking chum Tom Marshall. Finding the song in the midst of the sloppiness is like trying to find the marble in the proverbial oatmeal (or maybe just figuring out a magic eye). Either way, it’s hard to imagine a way that Phish could’ve made it all too interesting. So it went.

2 Comments

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