What if Phish put out a ska album?
First, let’s figure out when Phish would put out this ska album. A recording of the practice sessions with the big country horns in ‘91 makes the most sense. The sessions would only be released on CD to accompany the Big Country Horns tour of that year. Doing this takes the album out of the official studio release cannon and keeps it solely in the same category as the Siket disc.
Now that we have established a Phish ska album that doesn’t affect the studio output of the band, let’s take a look at the album in honor of its fake 30th anniversary.
This fictional album, titled Ain’t No Time to Stash the Horns, has the following tracklist.
Track 01 Golgi Apparatus
Track 02 Bouncin’ Around the Room
Track 03 David Bowie
Track 04 Suzy Greenberg
Track 05 AC/DC Bag
Track 06 Dinner and a Movie
Track 07 Bathtub Gin
Track 08 Gumbo
Track 09 Lawn Boy
Track 10 Magilla Hidden track: Mike’s Ska Groove
Using the two Giant Country Horns shows on LivePhish, we created what this ska album might sound like.
The album opens with two songs that are already ska adjacent; Golgi Apparatus and Bouncin’ Around the Room. Without horns, Golgi already sounds like a 13-year-old getting a strike at the bowling alley. Add in the horns and suddenly Golgi feels like getting that strike in front of your crush and having them clap for you. Needless to say, it sets the tone that this album is going to be full of slapping ska bangers and you should probably hydrate now before all the dancing takes over. To keep the energy going the most ska sounding title, Bouncin’ Around the Room is next. Kept at a crisp 3 and ½ minutes this version is peak 3rd wave ska and wouldn’t feel out of place on a “Now that’s what I call Ska” compilation album.
Now that a good groove has been established, it’s time for the middle stretch of the album beginning with a ska version of David Bowie. The first minute of the song builds anticipation for when the horns arrive. At the 55 second mark the horns kick in and one of the greatest David Bowies ever recorded thunders into your brain’s pleasure center. It’s like eating dessert but for your ears. There is nothing wrong with this version and at just under 11 minutes it feels too short. Suzy Greenberg starts right where Bowie left off and somehow all cares have vanished temporarily as the horns punctuate the Suzy chorus before heading into a wonderful horn solo that becomes the centerpiece of the album and holds it all together. Just when it seems that this album can’t get anymore skawesome, AC/DC Bag comes in with its giant chorus and high energy. This 3 song run rivals any studio album song run for the best in Phish’s history.
As AC/DC Bag closes we return from a jubilant Gamehendge standard to an even zanier than the normal version of Dinner and a Movie. The only song on the album to begin with horns, this version sets up the next song perfectly.
The familiar opening notes of Bathtub Gin strike up following Dinner and a Movie. By the fourth bar the horns are joining in and the listener is in for a heady ska trip. This Gin is the soundtrack to every good ground score ever. It’s hard to believe that we are already on track 7 and not one skippable song has appeared.
Gumbo begins the final run of the album and begins the winddown. Giving us a chance to collect our breath this Gumbo doesn’t lack spice. Here the band uses the horn accompaniment as spicy peppers applying them to add pop without overtaking the main flavor. Most importantly, Gumbo is serving as a bridge to the ska version of Lawn Boy. Letting the listener know something Phishy is coming with the horns smooth outro setting the tone.
Phish decides to make use of the Giant Country Horns’ skills on the last two songs with the lounge standard Lawn Boy and McConnell’s jazz piece Magilla.
Just when you think this amazing album is finished, there’s more.
In typical 90s fashion, the album contains a hidden track of Mike’s Song>Horns Jam> Weekapaug Groove. Since this version of Mike’s Groove is not listed anywhere on the album or played on the ensuing tour, fans have nicknamed this track Mike’s Ska Groove given the instrumental horn explosion in the middle section. This horn jam is so tasty sandwiched between Mike’s Song and Weekapaug that it leads Page on a journey of sandwich discovery that continues to this day.