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The Phish Book Paperback – September 15, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (September 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375752544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375752544
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #535,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

With pride, drummer Jon Fishman explains the level of success that his quirky, experimental roots-rock quartet has achieved: "We've reached the point where it's cool to hate us." As you might expect from this eclectic band, such a metric speaks louder than the legions of Phish fans that follow the quartet from town to town.

Cowriter Richard Gehr describes this enlightening book as "a studio edit of Phish in real-time conversation." Along with Fishman, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, and Trey Anastasio are revealed in their own words, the result of a spate of interviews conducted by Gehr between 1996's New Year's Eve show at Boston's Fleet Center and 1997's year-end Madison Square Garden run. Much like a Phish show, the conversation rambles back and forth, and the complete portrait of the band only emerges subtly and indirectly, although it certainly does emerge. Most rewarding is when they discuss the process of performing and creating music. They describe "onstage love affairs" between two of the four, and how certain members basically ignored others for years at a time and then finally "discovered" them after a decade of playing together. Some may be happy to know that even Phish own up to the unevenness (read: boredom) of some of their extended musical journeys.

In many ways, The Phish Book serves as a gift to die-hard fans, often diving into some of the band's more esoteric mythology: the origins of songs and lyrics, the various recording processes, the Dude of Life, and so on. The treasure-trove of photos includes shots of bars and stadiums, onstage and backstage, giant flying hot dogs, fans clothed and not, Fishman clothed and not. But the uninitiated can gain much-needed perspective from this enjoyable book as well. They'll learn how Phish find a connection between all styles of music, and use this connection (implied or otherwise) to inform their own music. And they might be surprised to discover how much substance there is behind the twirling fans and endless jams. --Marc Greilsamer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Phish performs long, improvisational jams, draws on influences as disparate as Concrete Blonde and barbershop quartets, and eschews music videos. With band members' help, Gehr nicely presents Phish and its milieu in what amounts to a coffee-table picture book. The group honed its skills in a Burlington, Vermont, bar for five years. Often dubbed inheritors of the Grateful Dead's legacy, Phish is democratic to a fault. For example, even though the drummer likes to wear a muumuu-like dress for concerts, the other band members don't make him sit behind them. For another example, Phish is famous for encouraging stump-the-band request-taking, and face it, no matter how loud you yell, Metallica is unlikely to play Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Phish, though, not only might--it has. The four Phish come across as a bunch of entertaining guys having fun while meeting with success--as Frank Zappa put it, "workin' hard and doin' swell." The Phish ethos is warm and welcoming, and this book is a good place to encounter it. Mike Tribby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Great Photo's and well written.
Sandy L. Burke
It's the little details that the "true" fans will appreciate that make this book so amazing.
R. Scott Drumwright
The content was alright, but not something I couldn't get elsewhere or didn't already know.
Ariella Shriver

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By hooley on July 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Phish Book is different. If you are looking for a definitive, band-endorsed biography of Phish, this book is not for you. But if you're a fan, give it a chance anyway.

A funny thing happened to me while reading The Phish Book. First, I got angry. As a huge fan who was borderline obsessed with Phish for over a decade beginning in 1992, I thought and hoped that because this was the one and only "official," band-endorsed book that it would be a chronological biography with the complete history of phish. I hoped it would have insight from the band, great stories, etc., etc. When I discovered that it was more of an interplay between the author's sometimes overly wordy thoughts, seemingly scattered band musings about complex musical terms mixed with glimpses into interesting tales, I hated it. Then I pressed on and kept reading. I still hated it.

Then I thought about what the book was saying, how it was saying it, why it was saying it that way, who the band was, and how they thought (based on years of reading articles and seeing dozens of shows) and I got it. The book is an attempt at replicating the same kind of unconventional, improv-but-also-composed vibe that the band strove for forever. In looking at it in this way, you appreciate it for what it is; a clever attempt that comes pretty close, which is a huge compliment. In that sense, you'll probably like it if you give it a chance.

I did not love the book, however. I think that part of the beauty of phish is that their music is always genuine and truly in the moment. Though writing a book in the same fashion is next to impossible, and though this was a good attempt, the book feels a bit contrived.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Flinn (kflinn1@ic3.ithaca.edu) on October 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Whether you first saw Phish in the cafeteria at Goddard College or the Lemonwheel, the Phish Book needs to be in your library. Gehr maintains an objectivity that is difficult when one realizes how much time he spent with Trey, Mike, Page & Jon. A great companion to the Almanac.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 1998
Format: Hardcover
MOST EXCELLENT! Contrary to what another review says, this book does NOT contain setlists from their shows. Rather it is a glorious picture painted via interviews conducted by Richard Gehr with PHiSH as he toured with them for over a year.
What everyone else said: Awesome pictures. Hilarious stories. The stories about the '96 trip to Vegas are worth the price of admission. If only the Harpua had ended as Trey had envisioned...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is phenomenal! I got it for Christmas, spent that and the entire following day or two reading it, i couldn't put it down! It gets personal with all the members, they share genuine stories and memories. A great book for many a phan!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The first thing you want to do when you get your hands on this book is flip through every single page and absorb all the amazing photographs. For those of us obsessed with the music of this remarkable band, the pictures of the early days and even those of more recent times are priceless. Combine all that with the free-form roundtable discussions of Trey, Mike, Page, and Jon and you've got a wonderful piece. This is not your typical rock-n-roll book -- no wild tales of scandal or debauchery on the road. Instead we gain real insight into the workings of one of the greatest live acts ever, from a band that's been around for nearly 15 years now. Co-author Gehr is to be commended. His insights are smart, his feelings genuine -- and he admirably keeps them to an absolute minimum, instead deferring to the band's own words for the majority of the book. An absolute must read for any fan of Phish. And if you are not a fan ... what are you waiting for?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
THIS BOOK ROCKS!! Not only does this book bring the reader great rock and roll stories (not to mention amazing photography that chronicles the bands' evolution), but it also revealed Phish's deep love and understanding of music. I have never really understood what it's like to create music -- writing, recording, playing, backstage, performing, on the road -- until now. What Trey, Mike, Page, Jon and Tom have to say about writing and recording is profound.
I think this this is a must read for ALL music lovers.
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By Abigail J. Phillips on January 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was a gift for my boyfriend and he loved it! Shipped promptly and got it in time for Christmas.
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By shortstuff65 on January 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My daughter has attended almost every Phish concert. She loves Phish and I got her that book. They are her favorite group.
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