David Bowie

, comment by n00b100 , attached to 2015-12-31
n00b100 There are 23 highlighted versions of David Bowie played between 1993 and 1995. There are 8 highlighted versions of David Bowie played in EVERY SINGLE OTHER YEAR OF PHISH'S CAREER COMBINED, three after 1995, zero in 3.0. The thing is that this shouldn't come as a shock to anyone - Bowie's travails in 3.0 are well-known (though, if you look at the jam chart, perhaps a *tad* overblown - the idea that this Bowie is the first Type II Bowie of 3.0 is patently false), and everyone knows that the mid-90s was the domain of Bowie, right?

But I think that that well-known fact/opinion is the POINT of thinking about David Bowie, much the same way that we think about Stash, or Antelope, or 2001 (the most tailor-made cover for the late 90s imaginable). I went back and looked at both Stash and Antelope's charts (and Maze, for that matter), and it holds true for those bastions of tension-and-release as well - the absolute majority of highlighted versions being played in 1993-95 (sometimes 1996), and a paucity of highlighted versions elsewhere (shoot, even in a peak year like 1997, there are precious few highlighted versions of any of those songs in that year). And I think that what that really tells you, more than anything else, is a) the methodology of the band in those days, and b) how totally glove-like the fit was for those songs to that era. When you have a band that made a science out of atonality and dissonance and pure shredding from its frontman, *of course* a song like Maze or Bowie's gonna thrive in that atmosphere. And when you move away from all of that and towards a more minimal or more full-band style of playing, then you'd have to expect those versions of songs to suffer. I'm not sitting here saying a 2013 Bowie has as much to offer as a 1997 Bowie, so much as I'm saying that neither of those has as much to offer as a 1994 Bowie, and it shouldn't be a big deal. And yet we still have yearly funerals for all of these songs, and it's kind of a shame, because I still like hearing them quite a bit, even if they don't match the heights of 12/29/97's Antelope or some such.

Anyway, this version's pretty good. One of the reasons why 12/31/15 III is a super set.
, comment by CameToPlay , attached to 2013-12-29
CameToPlay This is so perfectly executed, it sounds rehearsed or like it was performed in a studio. Great end to an epic set.
, comment by n00b100 , attached to 2013-07-22
n00b100 Obviously nowhere near the famous Bowies of 1994-95 (or, uh, that really good one from 2003), but still well worth hearing nonetheless. You may be surprised to know that there's been a Bowie or two (or three, or...) from 2009-15 of quality, but here we are.
, comment by TweezingSpaceRanger , attached to 2003-02-28
TweezingSpaceRanger This version is far from "best David Bowie ever" status, but it is still an excellent version with solid exploration around the 13 minute mark. The -> in from Soul Shakedown Party makes the Party/Bowie combo a very addicting piece of music from a show with highlights galore.
, comment by CreatureoftheNight , attached to 1999-07-12
CreatureoftheNight I LOVE this version of Bowie. The interplay between Mike and Trey at the beginning of the jam is telepathic and all 4 members make this a stand out version.
, comment by MomentsandSeconds , attached to 1997-11-16
MomentsandSeconds Epic. High energy to end this great show. This Bowie stays so impressive all the way through the jam. There's no let down. From the machine gun Trey to Fishman killing the beat. Page going insane on the piano and the Mike throwing down with everything. Wow.
, comment by westbrook , attached to 1997-07-30
westbrook I won't go as far as @n00b100 and declare this my favorite version, but it's pretty far up there and is definitely my pick for best post-95 Bowie. Fishman's playing in this jam has awed me many times.
, comment by Pinhead_Larry , attached to 1997-07-30
Pinhead_Larry n00b100 has already said what I wanted to say. This is one of the best (IMO) "sandwich jams" I've listened to. Jon, in particular does a really great percussive groove near the end of the first Bowie jam and Trey and Page are playing magnificently with each other. Then-BOOM-a Cities! Except this isn't the super-slow funk fest Cities that became the staple of the '97 sound, this Cities is super-tight, fast and groovy Cities.

And then...out of Cities itself, return to Bowie! The segues in this super jam (30 minutes all together) are near flawless and the execution is patient as ever. How could they have left the Bowie unfinished? Phish delivers with this one as per usual. A great jam from Summer '97 Phish and one for the ages.
, comment by n00b100 , attached to 1997-07-30
n00b100 It might not surprise you, given how much I skew towards late 90s/2000s Phish, that this is my favorite version of this tune; still, given how good it is, I feel pretty comfortable with my choice. There's a lot going on here - the extra-long intro, the faux-reggae bounce halfway through the first run at Bowie, a ferocious Bowie jam proper, and that sudden left turn into an upbeat electro-rock groove that molds itself into Cities, not to mention the actual return to Bowie itself. One of the best, if not the best, jam of the great Summer '97 tour.
, comment by dscott , attached to 1995-11-21
dscott Some of this jam's meat is lobstah...as in a delicious Rock Lobster tease from about 0:35-1:10.
, comment by ndphanjeff , attached to 1994-12-29
ndphanjeff Just listen to the roar of the crowd almost 40 seconds after they finished this one. 'Nuff said.
, comment by Pinhead_Larry , attached to 1994-12-29
Pinhead_Larry Often considered a quintessential Phish song in their LARGE catalog, David Bowie was an early jamming vehicle, and an effective one at that. However, nothing could have prepared anyone for the infamous "Providence Bowie" as it came to be known.

We get a preview of what we're in for right at the beginning (even before Jon's high-hat rolls) with the 3-minute long Digital Delay Loop Jam. Now this DDLJ, like most others, is layered and adds a certain atmosphere. But this is a foggy, night-at-the-cemetery kind of "foggy." Also, this DDLJ is given more texture with Trey looping some guitar slides and other scratching type sounds. Then, *BOOM* the famous Bowie high hat. I've never heard a crowd quite as excited as this crowd on this night (the crowd at IT's Tower Jam is up there, too).

This Bowie is something else. It's massive (35 minutes if you include the DDLJ), it's powerful...and it's a little disjointed. But that's OK because this isn't Fall '97 Phish where everything flowed into one singular idea. This is Fall (technically Winter, but I still say Fall) '94 ADHD Phish where the big jams contained jams withing the jams, and any and all ideas are tried, which makes for a multifaceted and multi-section jam. This is not meant as an insult. Actually this is the reason why I love 1994 and 1995 (and to an extent) 1996 so much. The experimentation was high, and the energy as a result was even higher.

Back to the Bowie at hand. The beginning 10 minutes are an eerie and colossal jamming segment that loops some of the Trey scratching effects from the DDLJ. In fact, I'd say at about the 10-minute mark they abandon the "song" Bowie and go straight into a free-form improvisation jam-fest. However, not too long after, say around the 18-ish minute mark the jam takes a 180 degree turn into an upbeat I-IV-V style jam (or at least that's what I make out of it). Make no mistake, though, this is a temporary segment. Then probably the scariest vocal jam I've ever heard (tied with Halloween '95 YEM) takes place. It starts with a whistling (from Jon, maybe?) and then Lassie banter. *I remember when I took an Abnormal Psych class and our professor gave us an MP3 file of audio hallucinations so as to simulate Paranoid Schizophrenia. This Lassie-based vocal jam gave me a flash back to that assignment*

Cue Page's eerie, "now we mean business" synthesizer funk keys and the jam comes back full circle to the big monster it was before wrapping up with the shredding guitar solo from Trey, and the jam is over.

This David Bowie is one of the biggest, monstrous (I know I've used this adjective a lot, but it's the only word that accurately captures the mood of this jam to my ears) jams I've ever heard. It's not on the jam charts simply because of its length. It's there because, while not flawless, this is representative of one of the most experimental eras the band saw. And this is one of the most experimental jams of said era. Words can't do it justice (or I lack the proper vocabulary). Just take half an hour out of your day and check it out. Or if you're familiar with it, listen again. There's always something more to catch with a jam that has so much stuff going on with it as this Bowie does.

Is it the best Bowie? I don't really know. A lot of fans will make that claim (though I'm partial to the 7/30/97 Bowie-> Cities-> Bowie, myself) but this one, as well as the 11/26/94 Bowie are certainly not to be missed by fans of the band. In fact, if you're willing, just check out the whole 12/29/94 show. Beyond the Bowie, there are some real gems and other cool jams here. They didn't just release it on Live Phish vol. 20 just for the Bowie! (though I'm sure that was a big part of it)...
, comment by KingDisco , attached to 1994-11-26
KingDisco I acknowledge I am in the minority but this "The Other One" is more thrilling, rocking and exciting than the legendary Providence one a month later. At no point during this 35 min + masterpiece does boredom set in and the sometimes aimlessness of 12/29 never appears in this work. If you haven't heard this version and like me, took everyone's word for it, take a look at this gem before proclaiming the 12/29 version paramount.
, comment by n00b100 , attached to 1994-06-18
n00b100 The Mind Left Bowie jam is such a thrilling piece of business that it can be easy to forget that the rest of this Bowie is just as extraordinary, even in an era where Bowie was one of Phish's trademark jam vehicles. Listen to how the band shifts from motorized rock riffing to the usual Bowie jam to the Three Blind Mice (?!?) tease to soaring hose jamming to off-kilter weirdness to the winking Hendrix nods during the Trill-Off to close things out. If forced to describe 1994 in one word, that word would be "much" - if the band decides to cram too many ideas into a jam, it could be overwhelming, but when they funneled their ideas into something as superb as this Bowie, they were truly something to behold.
, comment by kipmat , attached to 1991-11-19
kipmat IMO, David Bowie was the MVP Jam Vehicle of the Fall '91 tour. It's difficult to pick a best version, but the intro to the 11/19 version is nice and long, with secret language cues and some nice improvising that sounds more like '93 than '91 to me.
, comment by kipmat , attached to 1991-10-13
kipmat David Bowie always begins with a "hi-hat solo" from Fishman, which the band developed into a free-form improvisation section. On this occasion, however, the other three drop out completely, and Trey seizes the opportunity to tease Fishman about his affection for drumming, a la the 5/28/89 Take the 'A' Train ;-) Cute stuff.


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