Phish / The White Tape


First Appeared in The Music Box, March 1999, Volume 6, #3

Written by John Metzger


Taking a page from the Grateful Dead's Dick's Picks series, Phish have begun their own set of album releases available only via mail order. However, unlike the Grateful Dead who are releasing concert recordings, Phish chose for their first release a series of demo tracks recorded between 1984 - 1986. This self-titled album was originally distributed only to Phish's family and friends. Over the years, these recordings (known as The White Tape) naturally found their way on to the tape-trading circuit, although their quality left a lot to be desired. Last year, the band remastered and officially released these demos on a single, self-titled disc.

The White Tape is an interesting collection of sixteen songs that demonstrates Phish's early penchant for playfulness in the studio, as well as their conceptual approach to the album recording process. Sound effects are used to link material together, and experimental weirdness abounds.

The White Tape also provides some insight into Phish's early influences. The instrumental And So to Bed concludes with the same chord sequence as Jorma Kaukonen's Embryonic Journey, and of course, Letter to Jimmy Page pays tribute to Led Zeppelin.

However, when all is said and done, The White Tape is an album that was obviously never meant to be released. There's nothing revolutionary here, and many of the songs are incomplete ideas waiting to be finished. Consequently, the disc is best left to the most die-hard of Phish fans. starstar

Phish / The White Tapes is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright 1999 The Music Box