I was up early this morning (well, earlier than usual anyway) to complete a long two hour spin. I opted to go to the gym instead of using the trainer this morning seeing as how I’ve seen enough of my basement this week already and I still have another 8 hours at my desk to go before the week is out. So, yeah, eyeballing old dudes in headbands and old chicks in leopard print fabric it is. I have some more high energy Dad Rock queued up to boot, the ‘Junta‘ (pronounced: “Yoon-tah”) album by Phish.
‘Junta’ is the first official studio release from the the neo-hippie jam gods from Vermont. The album was independently recorded at Euphoria Sound Studio, now known as ‘Sound & Vision Media’, in Revere, MA. The recording was released on tape in 1988 but did not appear in stores officially until May 8th, 1989.
For any noob to the whole Phish juggernaut, a first listen to this album is likely to result in a resounding “WTF?”. And rightly so. There’s a lot of “wtf?” going on in this album. However, what the inexperienced listener doesn’t realize that the most crunchy, dread-headed, tour hardened wookie already knows is that this album provided much of the basis for what the live Phish beast would eventually evolve into. Tracks like ‘You Enjoy Myself‘ (affectionately referred to by Phishheads as ‘YEM‘), ‘Golgi Apparatus‘, ‘The Divided Sky‘, ‘Fluffhead‘ and fast and furious ‘David Bowie‘, are all the popular standard vehicles through which incredible jamming arise making for some intense musical moments during the bands epic live sets. I know. I’ve been to quite a few of them myself.
Other tracks, well, they’re just there adding to the whole “WTF?” factor. ‘Fee’, a song about “A dried up Goliath and a weasel named Fee” – not to mention Floyd the chimpanzee – who, for whatever reason, end up in some sort of fight on a ship to Quebec which, again, for whatever reason, ends up with Fee getting paper cuts on his nipple. To there there is a lot going on in this song is the understatement of the century (click HERE for the full story).
Like I said before: WTF?
But it’s fun to spin to.
Then there’s ‘Esther‘, which features a catchy calliope opening giving the whole track a fun circus kind of feel. Girl goes to fairground. Girl meets Armenian man. Armenian man gives girl doll. Girl flies around and encounters many angry people. Girl jumps naked into lake. Doll pulls girl beneath surface of water, drowning her. And so the thread of yet another human existence is cut short by the scissors of badness.
Don’t even get me into the whole Fluffhead thing, although it does have some awesome choruses like “tipsy fuddled boozy groggy elevated”, “hellborn elfchild roadhog mountain fortune hunter”, and “fat bulk expanse mass lump block clod rabid victim martyr stranded level headed boy band”.
‘Federal Union‘ (on Disc 2) is a whole near 25 minutes of disjointed noodling and improvisational experimentation. But, hey, it sure passed the last 30 minutes or so on the spin bike once all the sweaty grandpa’s had left and there was nothing else to look at but my own sweaty refection in the mirror at the front of the room.