Live Phish, Vol. 14

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For Phish's second Halloween "musical costume," the band (at the behest of keyboardist Page McConnell) chose to perform a cover of the Who's 1973 Quadrophenia rock opera. As usual, Phish sandwiched the performance in between two sets of original music. For the album cover, the bandmembers bolstered themselves with a new version of the Giant Country Horns, a shifting horn section that accompanied them occasionally through the years, featuring saxophonist Dave Grippo and a revolving cast of mostly Burlington-based jazz musicians. The band's reading of Pete Townshend's mod coming of age tale is light years more mature than its version of the Beatles' White Album from the previous year -- the playing more restrained and the singing more on pitch. But, as usual, the discs are probably more appropriate for Phish fans than Who fans. The choice of Quadrophenia made sense for Phish at the time, as the band was becoming an arena act in its own right (one of the most popular of the late '90s, at that). The band was just learning how to play the big rooms, and Townshend's writing certainly provided quite the lesson. Unlike the band's other three Halloween album covers, though, Quadrophenia seemed to have little impact on the band's songwriting. As well played as Quadrophenia is, though, the real treat comes in the third set with a 40-minute rendition of "You Enjoy Myself," in which one can hear the band assimilating the power rock lessons of the Who into the occasionally atonal funk-fusion it was experimenting with in the fall of 1995. The show ends with an acoustic bluegrass arrangement of "My Generation," after which one can hear guitarist Trey Anastasio and drummer Jon Fishman destroy an acoustic guitar and a small drum set with sledgehammers and TNT while bassist Mike Gordon (on banjo) and keyboardist McConnell (playing upright bass) continue to maintain the groove.

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