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Phish: Live At The Clifford Ball!

Maximum Performance

In many ways the band Phishhas represented a cultural phenomenon that has only become evident inretrospect: In their earliest days in the mid- and late-'80s they mostly were spokenabout in terms of their cultural "similarity" to the still-functioning GratefulDead. Both bands consisted of excellentmusicians pursing music for the sake of music, rather than commerce, and bothdeveloped long-term relationships with a continually growing fanbase.

But it was really in the early '90s, when the band playedsome shows on the first H.O.R.D.E. tour, that their status as post-Dead pioneersbecame evident. They were one of the first batch of popular artists to openlyembrace tape-trading among their fans, they played extended performances withan aggressively shifting repertoire, and in short they helped create what wenow refer to as the "Jam Band" phenomenon, a catchphrase used to describe suchdivergent artists as Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, the String CheeseIncident, Gov't Mule, Umphrey's McGee, the Disco Biscuits, Sound Tribe Sector9, Leftover Salmon and even the Dave Matthews Band.

Anyone looking to get a good summation of Phish's artisticbreadth--to get a sense of what their music was all about--is hereby advised tocheck out The Clifford Ball, a new7-DVD boxed set issued by Rhino next week. The extensive set documents theso-called Clifford Ball--a famous Phish two-day festival that took place atPlattsburgh Air Force Base in New York in August 1996 and drew more than 70,000 fans.

Here's a taste of two performances to get an idea of thequality of the music involved here:





You can read more about this new collection here,but the bottom line for Phish fans: This set contains over nine hours of Phishfootage and captures the band at the peak of the career. Events like this onehelp set the stage for Bonnaroo and other festivals that are now integral toour present-day music business, and once again show how far ahead of the curve Phishwere during every phase of their career.

Check it out.

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