Reviews: Phish Box Set Brings Back The Bliss [Jeremy D. Goodwin]

After an ear-bending series of artistic advances for three years previous, 1996 had proven an anticlimactic period of retrenchment. The next year was a thrilling advance, with two small-venue European tours injecting a fresh sense of spontaneous musical intimacy to the band’s interplay, paired with the psychedelic free-rock chops it had been honing since the early ‘90s. And by now Phish’s nascent interest in rhythm-based jamming had matured into a headlong infatuation with funk-rock. Guitarist and primary songwriter Trey Anastasio later described the style, aptly, as “cow funk” — the result of four white guys from Vermont getting heavily into James Brown records, while experimenting with slower tempos and meditative, deep grooves. (Alas, it inspired a seemingly unending parade of flaccid-funk groups that mistook dynamic stasis for the pocket.)

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