I always suspected that I loathed Phish – this book confirmed that. A great book though. WHAT? Well, this book got me to listen to the album in question, A Live One by Phish and a few other Phish records too – studio and live. I had heard enough, previously, to know that Phish was not for me, and despite this book’s well-reasoned discussion around them not being merely a poor man’s Grateful Dead, I still find them to be exactly that. Passionless, groove-less (at least there’s no real feel there, no meaning behind or inside the groove) and utterly without discernment. Their “cleverness” shits me.
But I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fan’s perspective – largely because Holland has the awareness around Phish’s perception. He’s a fan – he gushes, as fans are wont to do. But he addresses the shortcomings, negative perceptions and frustrations that non-fans have – and then in turn the fan-reaction to those frustrations.
Phish are most certainly not for me. There’s a silly stoner contrivance about them. They have more playfulness than Dream Theater but they’re every bit as stupid. And I know that using words like ‘stupid’ does little to strengthen an argument. Mine’s a gut feel against them, just as a fan might have a gut feel for them.
I still stuck with this book – enjoyed it, a thoughtful account, and one that argues well, knowing it’s a cult band that’s being supported/defended; knowing that some of the arguments against Phish stand up well enough, knowing that A Live One has as much going against it – in terms of accessibility – as it does anything positive in its corner.
I just liked the approach. Holland’s written short-stories and essays – including a far more hard-core Phish fan book…he’s a talented writer and this, a quirky choice if you ask me, sits well within the 33 1/3 series. Why read about albums you already know heaps about? That’s where the series has sometimes offered something of a let-down. At least I learned something here…including knowing – for sure – to stay away from Phish in future.