Sun Spin: The Story of the Ghost


1998 was a magical year for many Phish fans. Released October 27, 1998, The Story of the Ghost succeeded in freezing many of their live charms into engaging, contained, permanent vessels. The product of extensive improvisations, Ghost finds the quartet exploring notions of groove, rhythm and time, as well as further finding their lyrical footing in a way that crossed over into the mainstream from their already massive cult following. The album hit No. 8 on the Billboard charts, second only to 1996’s Billy Breathes. There’s only one lengthy cut (“Guyute” at 8:26) surrounded by tracks that average about three minutes – a fraction of the elongated, twisted versions that surfaced live in the wake of the album. Yet, their exploratory spirit remains deliciously intact here. For a band that’s put out thirteen studio albums thus far, Phish often gets short shift for being a thoughtful, artful studio animal. Ghost neatly debunks the notion that they were only “good” in concert and we’re happy to lift a lighter (or cell phone, as you choose) in celebration of its tenth anniversary.

Track listing:

1. Ghost
2. Birds of a Feather
3. Meat
4. Guyute
5. Fikus
6. Shafty
7. Limb by Limb
8. Frankie Says
9. Brian and Robert
10. Water in the Sky
11. Roggae
12. Wading in the Velvet Sea
13. The Moma Dance
14. End of Session

We jump off with “The Moma Dance” at the ’98 Farm Aid benefit concert. The funk’s so thick you can do the backstroke in it.

Here’s an unaired performance of “Guyute” recorded for PBS’ Sessions At West 54th series.

“Wading In The Velvet Sea” is easily one of Phish’s most beautiful tunes, and this performance at the ’99 Fuji Rock Festival, despite somewhat dodgy audio, is a fine example of the intimacy and grandeur of this piece.

We stay in Fuji for “Brian and Robert” with an extended horn duet from Fishman and a Japanese pal.

Letterman welcomed the band to some of their first late night TV appearances and this saucy “Birds of a Feather” shows why.