Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Phish Hampton/Winston-Salem '97 Box Set

I remember walking out of the 2nd night of Phish's Fall 1997 Hampton shows thinking "if you don’t like that you don’t like Phish”!  When the Hampton Comes Alive release came out several years ago, which chronicled the Fall 1998 run at Hampton, I couldn’t help but wonder why 1998 was chosen over the superior 1997 shows?  This hunger can now be sated, as Phish is releasing the complete shows from Hampton 11/21/97 and 11/22/97, plus 11/23/97 Winston-Salem in a 7-disc box set they are calling Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97.  When I recently wrote about the 11/22/97 show on this blog, I didn’t know that an official release was forthcoming.  I had been listening to a semi-decent audience recording that streams online.  Now, we can immerse ourselves in these recordings in pristine audio quality. 
Fall 1997 is generally considered Phish’s best tour – heralded in a way similar to the Grateful Dead’s famed May 1977 tour.  Hopefully musicologists are starting to overcome their built-in bias against Phish, and can finally examine the music for what it was – some of the most focused, intellectual, and well-executed improvisation – in any genre of music - the world had seen up ‘til then.  Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97 is an excellent place for that kind of study.  It is easily one of the best examples of this foursome at the pinnacle of their playing.  It doesn’t get much better than this!
Hampton Coliseum
Fall 1997 Phish is when all their musical training, including countless hours in the practice room, and years on the road honing their live show, came to fruition and blossomed into a world of music previously unexplored.  Using a new-found foundation of funk grooves to spearhead its creativity, Phish gladly took a seat at a table previously reserved for only the most elite of musical forebears and cooked up their own four-course meal, summoning exotic spices and flavors into existence and forever changing the role of improvisation in rock music.
Trey Anastasio, 1997
These are back-to-back (belly to belly) shows over three consecutive nights and only one song is repeated.  That song is Black-Eyed Katy, a new-at-the-time instrumental that would later develop into the song Moma Dance.  In the 11/22/97 show it was placed in the 2nd set, while on the next night in Winston-Salem Black-Eyed-Katy funked up the 1st set.  Besides that one repeat, there is approximately seven hours of unique music to soak up on this release.  If you’re a die-hard Phish fan then this is what you’ve been waiting for.  However, I encourage those who are new to Phish or who have been on the fence about the qualities of their music to use the release of these shows as an opportunity to dive right into the deep end of what amounted to be the most influential force in late 90’s live music.


11/21/97 Hampton Coliseum - Hampton, VA
Disc One
Set I:

1. Emotional Rescue > (17:44)
2. Split Open And Melt (13:44)
3. Beauty Of My Dreams (3:27)
4. Dogs Stole Things (4:48)
5. Punch You In The Eye > (9:13)
6. Lawn Boy > (3:45)
7. Chalk Dust Torture (9:16)
8. Prince Caspian (10:33)

Disc Two
Set II:

1. Ghost > (15:48)
2. AC/DC Bag > (25:49)
3. Slave To The Traffic Light (12:32)
4. Loving Cup (7:39)
5. Guyute (11:19)

11/22/97 Hampton Coliseum - Hampton, VA
Disc Three
Set I:

1. Mike's Song > (17:04)
2. I Am Hydrogen > (4:31)
3. Weekapaug Groove (14:52)
4. Harry Hood > (18:05)
5. Train Song (3:06)
6. Billy Breathes (7:05)
7. Frankenstein > (4:48)
8. Izabella (5:58)

Disc Four
set II:

1. Halley's Comet > (25:59)
2. Tweezer > (5:58)
3. Black-Eyed Katy > (12:41)
4. Piper > (7:53)
5. Run Like An Antelope (13:38)
6. Bouncing Around The Room > (3:52)
7. Tweezer Reprise (4:06)

11/23/97 Lawrence Joel Veteran's Memorial Coliseum - Winston-Salem, NC
Disc Five
set I:

1. My Soul (7:23)
2. Theme From The Bottom > (10:23)
3. Black-Eyed Katy (10:55)
4. Sparkle (4:02)
5. Twist > (10:21)
6. Stash > (17:03)
7. NICU (5:48)

Disc Six
set I, cont'd

1. Fluffhead > (15:39)
2. Character Zero (7:34)
set II:
3. Bathtub Gin > (31:57)
4. Down With Disease > (12:01)
5. Low Rider > (7:29)
6. Down With Disease (3:39)

Disc Seven
set II, cont'd

1. Bold As Love (7:57)
2. Julius (11:12)
filler: from 11/21/97 Hampton Soundcheck:
3. Hampton '97 Soundcheck Jam (17:53)
filler: from 11/23/97 Winston-Salem Soundcheck:
4. Back At The Chicken Shack (11:21)

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