Live at Madison Square Garden, New Year’s Eve 1995
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Known for its zany humor, awesome musicianship, and turn-on-a-dime improvisational abilities, the now-defunct Phish sounds like no other band. On this three-disc set (which contains more than three-and-a-half hours of material) guitarist Trey Anastasio and his three bandmates stir jazz, funk, salsa, reggae, polka, moody improvs, oddball sound effects, spoken word, and screaming 6-string into a unique sonic stew that teeters between punchy prog rock and anarchistic musical theater. Armed with his trusty Languedoc custom archtop, Anastasio roams a large tonal landscape. Whether his fast, fluid lines snarl and squawk, sing with smooth distortion, or are soaked in rotovibe, wah, or echo, they’re unfailingly original and fresh. Though Anastasio has scary technique, it’s his flow that’s most remarkable, and this rare quality is evident throughout the high-energy show. A great introduction to this premier jam band. (Rhino).
—Andy Ellis