Sound — 8
This is Phish's fifth studio album, and their first on a major label, Elektra Records, released on February 12, 1992. This is a notable album for a few reasons; first off, it's their only studio album to feature a cover song (Manteca, by Dizzy Gillespie), and secondly, because it features, arguably, some of Anastasio's best work, both composition and guitar-wise. with this album, the band really, in my eyes (ears rather) started to come into their own. That being said, it's not really a quintessential album so to speak, but it does bridge a gap between their earlier and later albums pretty nicely; an amalgamation if you will. This is probably one of my favorite albums, all that being said. The mixture of up-tempo funky songs and slower, more jam-inspired songs is great. Some of the slower songs seem to drag on a bit longer than neccesary, but hey, it's Phish; you really shouldn't be listneing to this if you expected anything else. The album is very well mixed, the bass is nice and punchy, the drums perfectly clear and audible, the keys are noticable when needed, and more subtle in some arrangements. Everything stands apart, but is perfectly coherent when needed. The bass isn't bland, like on some of their other albums, and really adds to the mix, and the vocals, especiialy the harmonies, are really great, very rich sounding. All in all, very well put together.
Lyrics — 7
Phish have never really been known (with a few notable exceptions) for writing coherent, meaningful lyrics. This album has it's fair share of lyrical oddities (Your hands and feet are mangoes, you're gonna be a genious anyways). Most of the lyrics on the album follow this suit; wacky, but not totally meaningful. But on the more frantic tracks, the delivery is really nice, and they do add to the songs plenty. Just don't expect any lyrical revelations or epic poetry on this album, and you won't be let down. However, as mentioned, the vocals are really great and varied. There's a great mix of vocal styles, with each member contributing something to the mix. These are another set of stand-out points on the album.
Overall Impression — 8
This album definately holds it's own against other Phish albums. Not many offer as much variety as this disc, or, deliver it this well. Not my favorite album, but an under-apppreciated one, definately, that needs it's share of listening. The best tracks, to get an idea of the mix, are Poor Heart, Stash, Chalkdust Torture, The Landlady, and Guelah Papyrus. I really like the slick production, and the inspired feel to the album that's lacking on the later discs; you can tell these guys are still fresh and have a lot of musical exploration left to do here. The only thing I could do without are some of the shorter tracks on the album, mainly Manteca and Catapault. Yeah, they're fun, but they don't really add anything to the album, other than length. But I didn't say it was perfect, just good! Do yourself a favor, and buy this album; if stolen or lost, I most definately would, not only was it my first Phish album, it's also continously one of my favorites, and has been for years.