The Story of the Ghost
|The Story of the Ghost|
|Studio album by|
|Released||October 27, 1998 (U.S.)|
|Recorded||March 11–15, September 29 – October 2, 1997; April–June 1998, Bearsville Studios|
(Bearsville, New York, U.S.)
March 4–7, April 7–11, 1997,
Dave O's Farmhouse
|Genre||Funk rock, jazz-funk|
|Singles from The Story of the Ghost|
The Story of the Ghost is the seventh studio album by American rock band Phish, released by Elektra Records on October 27, 1998. The album features an emphasis on the jazz-funk influenced "cow-funk" style, which the group had been experimenting with in concert throughout 1997 and 1998. The album's first single was "Birds of a Feather", which was a Top 20 hit on Billboard magazine's Adult Alternative Songs chart.
Sound and production
Much of the album originated during large-scale improvisation sessions. The band then took favorite moments from those in-studio jams and wrote songs around them, adding lyrics from a book of writings by long-time Phish lyricist Tom Marshall. Additional excerpts from the improvisational "Ghost Sessions" were also later released as The Siket Disc.
A few of the album's songs reflect the band's 1997 "cow-funk" sound, with bass guitarist Mike Gordon taking a more prominent role. Anastasio had coined the "cow-funk" term in the band's 1997 official biography The Phish Book, observing that "What we’re doing now is really more about groove than funk. Good funk, real funk, is not played by four white guys from Vermont." Much of the album, however, is defined by what Rolling Stone called an "unhurried vibe ... with airy, uncluttered grooves and relaxed vocals." Unlike Phish's previous albums, The Story of the Ghost does not include any instrumentals. "End of Session" was performed live for the first time on July 25, 2017. 
Early incarnations of several tracks from the album can be heard on the 2000 release Trampled by Lambs and Pecked by the Dove, a collection of song sketches recorded by frontman Trey Anastasio and lyricist Tom Marshall.
The album was recorded of the course of several sessions at Bearsville Studios in the village of Bearsville, New York, where the band had also recorded Billy Breathes. The band chose Andy Wallace to produce the album because of his work on Reign in Blood by Slayer, Nevermind by Nirvana and Grace by Jeff Buckley.
"Birds of a Feather", "Frankie Says", and "Shafty" (the latter song a reworking of Phish original "Olivia's Pool") were all debuted live during the "Island Tour", a brief run of shows the band played while taking a break from recording the album in April 1998. All four nights of the "Island Tour" were later released as part of the LivePhish Series.
In 2000, during the promotion for Farmhouse, many interviews saw Anastasio citing a certain disdain for the process of creating The Story of the Ghost. He was critical of the band's "socialistic" approach to the song selection for the album. "There were songs I thought should have gone on The Story of the Ghost album, that were better than the songs that got on there" Anastasio said in a 2000 interview. "if anyone didn't like a song it was out. But what happens with that approach is the material gets watered down. You end up with songs that everyone is fine with, but the best songs are usually those where one person is passionately for and one person really hates, because the best songs are those that arouse strong reactions".
Tom Marshall recalls that one of these stronger songs was omitted in favor of what he felt was a weaker track in "Fikus". Anastasio named "Bug" and "Twist" as two songs he was disappointed were cut from the album, and both later appeared on Farmhouse. In 2018, Marshall had Anastasio as a guest on his Under the Scales podcast to discuss the 20th anniversary of The Story of the Ghost, and both conceded they were now happy with the album as it was released, with Marshall revising his opinion of "Fikus" to a more positive one.
|2.||"Birds of a Feather"||Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Marshall, McConnell||4:15|
|3.||"Meat"||Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Marshall, McConnell||2:39|
|5.||"Fikus"||Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Marshall, McConnell||2:21|
|6.||"Shafty"||Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Marshall, McConnell||2:21|
|7.||"Limb by Limb"||Anastasio, Scott Herman, Marshall||3:32|
|8.||"Frankie Says"||Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Marshall, McConnell||3:07|
|9.||"Brian and Robert"||Anastasio, Marshall||3:03|
|10.||"Water in the Sky"||Anastasio, Marshall||2:29|
|11.||"Roggae"||Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Marshall, McConnell||2:59|
|12.||"Wading in the Velvet Sea"||Anastasio, Marshall||4:30|
|13.||"The Moma Dance"||Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Marshall, McConnell||4:28|
|14.||"End of Session"||Anastasio, Fishman, Gordon, Marshall, McConnell||1:54|
From the band's website:
- Trey Anastasio – guitars, vocals, horn arrangement for "Birds of a Feather"
- Page McConnell – keyboards, vocals
- Mike Gordon – bass guitar, pedal steel, vocals
- Jon Fishman – drums, vocals
Additional musicians and production staff
- Andy Wallace – producer, mixer
Recorded at Bearsville Studios, Bearsville, NY April – June 1998
- Chris Shaw – engineer
- Chris Laidlaw – assistant recording engineer
- Dave Grippo – saxophone on "Birds of a Feather"
- James Harvey – trombone on "Birds of a Feather"
- Jennifer Hartswick – trumpet on "Birds of a Feather"
- Heloise Williams – background vocals on "Birds of a Feather" and "Shafty"
Additional Recording Sessions: Bearsville Studios 3/11-15, 9/29-10/2, 1997
- John Siket – recording engineer
- Chris Laidlaw – assistant recording engineer
Dave O's Farmhouse 3/4-7, 4/7-11, 1998 Recorded by Phish and Andy Wallace
Mixed at Soundtracks Studios, NY, NY June/July 1998
- Steve Sisco – assistant mix engineer
Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk July 1998
Pre-Production Digital Editing: John Billingsly
Management: John Paluska/Dionysian Productions
Production Assistance: Beth Montuori, Brad Sands
Technical Assistance: Paul Languedoc, Pete Carini, Kevin Brown, Brian Brown
Paintings by George Condo
Art Direction: Lili Picou
Project Management: Cynthia Brown and Jason Colton
- Gershuny, Jason; Smith, Andy (2018). 100 Things Phish Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (in Arabic). Triumph Books. ISBN 9781641250191.
- Gallucci, Michael (2011). "The Story of the Ghost – Phish | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Kot, Greg (2011). "The Story of the Ghost by Phish | Rolling Stone Music | Music Reviews". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- "Phish Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
- Sessions at West 54th. Phish 10.20.1998 – David Byrne Interview (Part 2) Online. Accessed: August 30, 2011.
- "Phish Displayed Their "Cow Funk" Mastery In Philadelphia, On This Day In 1997 [Full Video]". L4LM. 3 December 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
- Kot, Greg. Story of the Ghost Review Rolling Stone. October 5, 1998. Online. Accessed: August 30, 2011.
- Phish.net Song History: End of Session Online. Accessed: August 30, 2011.
- "Phish's Ghost Gets Into Spirit Of Live Shows". MTV News. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- Marshall, Tom. "039:Trey's Ghost Story | Under the Scales". Under the Scales. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- Geoffrey Himos. Farm Boy: Trey Anastasio Sows the Fields of Phish Archived 2013-03-01 at the Wayback Machine
- Randy Ray. The High Watermark with Tom Marshall and Trey Anastasio Part I