Sunday, June 4, 2017

On the turntable this Sunday...The Story of the Ghost

The Story of the Ghost is the seventh official studio album by American rock band Phish. It was released by Elektra Records on October 27, 1998.

Much of the album originated during large-scale improvisation sessions. The band then took favorite moments from those in-studio jams and wrote songs around them, adding lyrics from a book of writings by long-time Phish lyricist Tom Marshall.   Additional excerpts from the improvisational "Ghost Sessions" were also later released as The Siket Disc.

A few of the album's songs reflect the band's 1997 "cow-funk" sound, with bass guitarist Mike Gordon taking a more prominent role. Much of the album, however, is defined by what Rolling Stone called an "unhurried vibe ... with airy, uncluttered grooves and relaxed vocals."   Unlike Phish's previous albums, The Story of the Ghost does not include any instrumentals. "End of Session" is the only song on the album to have never been performed live.

Early incarnations of several tracks from the album can be heard on the 2000 release Trampled by Lambs and Pecked by the Dove, a collection of song sketches recorded by frontman Trey Anastasio and lyricist Tom Marshall.

"Birds of a Feather", "Frankie Says", and "Shafty" (the latter song a reworking of Phish original "Olivia's Pool") were all debuted live during the "Island Tour", a brief run of shows the band played while taking a break from recording the album in April 1998. All four nights of the "Island Tour" were later released as part of the LivePhish Series.

In 2000 during the promotion for Farmhouse, many interviews saw Anastasio citing a certain disdain for the process of creating The Story of the Ghost. He was critical of the band's "socialistic" approach to the song selection for the album. "There were songs I thought should have gone on The Story of the Ghost album, that were better than the songs that got on there" Anastasio said in a 2000 interview. "if anyone didn't like a song it was out. But what happens with that approach is the material gets watered down. You end up with songs that everyone is fine with, but the best songs are usually those where one person is passionately for and one person really hates, because the best songs are those that arouse strong reactions".

Tom Marshall recalls that one of these stronger songs was omitted in favor of what he felt was a weaker track in "Fikus".

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