Every Sunday The Rock and Roll Guru reviews a new or classic music CD, DVD, or a rocking book.
Earlier this year, Phish heads rejoiced like never before when the band announced they were reuniting and going on tour. Initial tickets to their shows sold out in minutes. Later in 2009, Phish released a new CD, Joy to the delight of their fans. Is Joy an album for more than just the die-hard Phish fan? Was Joy worth the 5 year wait? Let’s spin the disc and find out.
Joy opens with one of the best Phish songs ever recorded, Backwards Down The Number Line. This is an incredible song that has deep lyrical meaning and excellent harmony blending seamlessly with the words. Trey Anastasio writes poetic lyrics of friendship and lifelong bonds. His positive outlook saturates Backwards Down The Number Line and helps the song radiate the joy that is meant to be felt when listening. An excellent guitar solo and a nice jam to close the song don’t hurt either. An incredible opener and a sign of good things to come.
The title track is another song that emulates positivity. Once again, Anastasio’s uplifting outlook on life is present and accounted for. With lyrics such as “We want you to be happy, don’t live inside the gloom,” it’s obvious that there is a positive spin to this uplifting track. Exceptional lyrics and singing combined with great keyboards by Page McConnell help to make this one of the better songs on this album.
Ocelot is a fun filled, bouncing around, enjoying yourself, good time of a song. With the bar band, good time jam band beat to it, thrilling piano and, honky tonk bass riffs that make you want to get up and dance, Ocelot is a reminder of how much fun music can be. Put this song on at any party, crank it up, and watch the people jump up and down and bounce around. This is euphoria compressed into 3 minutes and 35 seconds. Hands down, the best track on the album.
Time Turns Elastic is the big, long, continuing jam of the album. Clocking in at over 13 minutes, this is a jam lovers’ dream with plenty of changes and segues to keep the song going on and on. This number must sound amazing in concert as Phish probably can drag it out on stage to be over 20 minutes in length.
Producer Steven Lilywhite’s (Dave Matthews Band, Guster) trademark style is all over this record. Lilywhite’s ability to push bands to do more than they ever thought imaginable is what makes him such an exceptional producer. It’s obvious that he took the raw material Phish brought into the studio and really helped mold it into something tangible, pushing the band beyond their limits, to turn out a wonderful work of art. Though short on songs (10), Joy is big on style and class. Having not missed a step during their five years off, Phish has returned with an exceptional record that will please long time fans and will have new fans welcoming them with open arms.
Ryo’s Rating 8 (out of 10)
Backwards Down The Number Line
Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan
Kill Devil Falls
I Been Around
Time Turns Elastic
Twenty Years Later