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Which classic album will Phish perform for Halloween 2010? Trey Anastasio offers a clue

Trey Anastasio 2003 Ken Hively 
The impending arrival of Halloween often contains an added bit of excitement for Phish fans. The Vermont-based jam band has periodically used the holiday to serve up a treat of its own in the form of a full album that’s a favorite of one or more of the group's members.

This year will be no exception. Phish will be in Atlantic City, N.J., wrapping up a three-night stand at Boardwalk Hall, where lead guitarist-frontman Trey Anastasio and his mates will play…

Ahh, there’s the trick.

“I don’t want to give it away,” Anastasio told me recently. “We’re already learning it, and I’m having the same experience I have every year: You hear that first song, you think you know how the song line goes and how the vocal line goes, but then you learn it exactly and you find out it’s different.”

The idea started in 1994, when the band took on “The Beatles,” the 1968 double album usually referred to as “The White Album.”

“It seemed like a novel idea -- almost a joke gone awry,” Anastasio said. “We were all sitting on the bus, and someone said, ‘We should learn a new cover,’ and somebody else said, ‘Why don’t we learn the whole ‘White Album’?”

Since that grand undertaking, Phish has taken on  Talking Heads’ “Remain in Light,” the Who’s “Quadrophenia,” Velvet Underground’s “Loaded” and, last year in Indio, the Rolling Stones’ 1972 magnum opus, “Exile on Main St.”

“It’s become kind of a tradition,” Anastasio said. “We’ve done at least six now… It’s fun to be playing in a band that has gone through the experience of really delving into the music of some of our heroes. You start to hear the influences pop up when you’re playing.”

For instance?

“ 'Remain in Light,' at the time we did it, it hadn’t gained the notoriety it’s developed since," he said. "It was fun to come out onstage and know that people were going to discover it. It’s really a jigsaw puzzle to figure that record out. But once we did it, we found ourselves layering in background vocals a little more in that style. It starts to seep into your DNA as a musician. You pick up something from each album.”

As for “Quadrophenia,” the Who’s 1973 rock opera suggested by keyboardist Page McConnell, “I had never really listened to it that much,” Anastasio said. “That was in ’96, and we had just started playing arenas. When we played it in the big room, I got it. All their songs just resonate in these big arenas. They kind of invented that: that huge rolling wall of sound, played through huge arena sound systems. And once you’ve played something like that live, it starts to affect how you write songs.”

Although Anastasio held fast against revealing which album gets the nod for Halloween 2010, he did offer a clue that might get fans chattering.

“This year,” he said, “this one’s for me. The one we picked, I’m going to get more out of this as a musician than I ever have before. Three songs into it, I called everybody and told them, ‘None of the other ones -- I wouldn’t think, hopefully -- will have nearly the effect on my playing this one’s going to.' ”

For some reason, the first thing that popped into my mind when he said that was “Layla,” Eric Clapton’s 1970 tour de force under the nom de rock Derek & the Dominos. But, then, it could be the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1967 debut “Are You Experienced” or maybe even “Led Zeppelin IV.” Or perhaps something from an entirely different direction.

Readers? Start your guesses.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo of Trey Anastasio during Phish's 2003 performance at the Inglewood Forum. Credit: Ken Hively

Comments () | Archives (59)

My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Trey has said he's always wanted to do that one. I hope he does.


obviously going to be John Barleycorn Must Die

I hope it's Lady GaGa

Pink Floyd's "Animals"

It's going to be Kriss Kross "Totally Krossed Out" for sure. "Warm it Up" is the 3rd song on that album... and it broke barriers then and is still breaking barriers now. Bank it.

Its the soundtrack from WILLOW.

My money is on My Bloody Valentine.

How about Pet Sounds?

Dean Treat

I am hoping for some Grateful Dead but that is just me being hopeful.


Nilsson Scmilsson, Kate Bush's The Dreaming, Piece of Mind by Iron Maiden,
Aerosmith Rocks. Hey how about A Tramp Shining by Sir Richard Thomas (the original Macarthur Park)?

It will be the Wall.

Much ado has been made about the similarity between the ticket art for the Phish Halloween show and an old Genesis concert poster. I'm still hoping for "Ziggy Stardust." But, my second pick would have to be Bruce's epic "Darkness On The Edge of Town."

Little feat - Time loves a Hero

Its gonna be something by Zappa


it's genesis. fact

Please NOTHING released after 1990.

Genesis - Foxtrot...

No way it's Pet Sounds, that album has precious little rock guitar. I doubt it's Slanted and Enchanted either, because that album had a big effect on Trey years and years ago. Same thing with Genesis. I hope it's The Yes Album.

Could be Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted . one of treys all time favs and def a different loose style of guitar he hasnt gone to deep into.

They're definitely covering "Phish: A Live One"

they play albums, that they previously have already covered a song off of.

i'll double down on physical graffiti

Radiohead - Kid A

Trey was recently talking about going to shows with his daughter... Where he discovered Paramore, and was listening to "new" music. I think they take a turn and do something current. MGMT "Oracal Spectacular"

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