Slip Stitch and Pass
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 1998
Written by John Metzger
Slip Stitch and Pass contains selected outtakes from a single concert by Phish at Markthalle in Hamburg, Germany on March 1, 1997. Unfortunately, the disc is stitched together in a rather peculiar fashion, and the result is an uneven collection of music that travels safe, familiar ground.
An inspired and fun-filled rendition of the Talking Heads' Cities opens Slip Stitch and Pass and leads to an explosive Wolfman's Brother. Trey Anastasio fills the latter song with a funky rhythm guitar accompaniment before leading the band on a swirling, psychedelic excursion. His leads crash over the driving rhythm created by drummer Jon Fishman and bassist Mike Gordon, pushing the song towards a pulsating groove that becomes tediously repetitive.
Unfortunately, it's here where things begin to fall apart. Too often, the jams meander for far too long, without ever really going anywhere. The blues-based ZZ Top cover Jesus Left Chicago rambles aimlessly for over 12 minutes.
Mike's Song allows the band to regain their momentum and is the sparkling gem of this disc. Fueled by Fishman's jazzy cadence, Phish embark on an intense group jam that dissipates into a mellow, Eastern-tinged groove, complete with a few lyrical lines from Pink Floyd's Careful with that Axe, Eugene and The Doors' The End and Peace Frog. Next, a perfunctory Lawn Boy erupts into a raging Weekapaug Groove that threatens to spiral out of control.
With live music from a jam-oriented band such as Phish, anything can happen — and often does. Some nights, the music seems to ride on the back of an untamed spirit — carrying both the audience and the band to stratospheric levels of spiritual enlightenment. On other nights, it can leave everyone feeling quite flat. The bottom line with Slip Stitch and Pass is that this is neither the best nor the worst that Phish has performed, and instead it provides a glimpse of the band on an average night.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1998 The Music Box