Phish: The Baker’s Dozen: Live at Madison Square Garden
Picking the best moments from Phish’s epic 13-night “Baker’s Dozen” run at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 2017 would be a monumental task for anyone, not to mention the Phab Phour themselves. The Baker’s Dozen: Live at Madison Square Garden is in fact a baker’s dozen of the best moments, remixed by Grammy-winning producer Elliot Scheiner (The Eagles, Beck, Eric Clapton). The band chose 13 key tracks that showcased a mix of new songs and classics, along with a heavy dose of improvisation within numbers that aren’t typically stretched out. Those moments are exemplified best on the 23-minute opener “Blaze On,” where the band explores a wide range of peaks and valleys, as well as the 25-minute “Simple,” from the final night on August 6. The band was lauded for their willingness to push themselves into new territory, and these versions were certainly unexpected highlights from the entire run. New songs like the Trey Anastasio/Tom Marshall-penned “Everything’s Right,” “More” and “Miss You” make their debuts on an official live album. (The latter two were tightly played and are good representations of where Anastasio’s lyrics are these days: nostalgic and bittersweet at times, and brimming with optimism at others.) However, there are two big exclusions from this new live collection. The band’s July 25 “jam-filled” show was considered an instant classic, even sparking its own meme T-shirt immediately after—“Is This Still Lawn Boy?”—the 30-minute version they did of the lounge-act romp. Nothing from that night made it on to this collection for some reason. They also whipped out a number of first-time, thematic covers, from The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” to Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole” to Shuggie Otis’ soul-funk classic “Strawberry Letter 23.” Those moments, too, made the run special and are absent here. But, hey— perhaps they just wanted to reward those who went the distance and shelled out for the 36-disc complete collection.