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Billy Breathes

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Editors’ Notes

Phish was long touted as the "heirs to the Grateful Dead," but the musical heritage of the two bands was nearly as distinct as the Dead's San Francisco origins were from the New England roots of Trey Anastasio's more modern outfit. While both bands were characterized by their passion for live, improvisation-laced workouts, Phish was rooted in more eclectic, often jazz-based sensibilities. Yet the band also sometimes shared the Dead's penchant for not quite capturing the electricity of their interplay on their studio efforts. Released in 1996, their sixth album triumphed over that shortcoming by focusing more intently on songs, a tack ably guided by Steve Lillywhite, the producer who had helped shape the sonic personalities of so many UK bands (including U2 and Simple Minds) in the '80s and beyond. "Theme From the Bottom" still leaves them plenty of space to explore, but it's the economic energy of "Character Zero" and "Free" (which would become fixtures of the band's live repertoire), as well as the lilting beauty of the ballad "Talk." that help make this album one of the band's best.

Customer Reviews

Don't you see anything that you'd like to try?

It's amazing what an acoustic guitar thrown into the mix will do for a scorchingly guitar-driven jam band. Wholly organic and simple, yet intense and spellbinding, Billy Breathes is arguably Phish's finest studio work. This should be the album a newcomer should delve into before never looking back. Its rocking guitars, mezmerizing vocal interplay, natural piano, melodic bass lines and patterned drums reap the benefits from Steve Lillywhite's production, without the slick feel of a pop album. "Free" invites you in and seems familar as is hits the high points the jam band is known for. You feel the passenger's affinity with travel in the beautiful "Train Song" and want to ride along. The guitar anthem of "Character Zero" drives the energy of the album, where you want to "Taste" and be "Swept Away," and as "Waste" beckons you, you never want to leave.

My Favorite Phish Album!!

This album is great from start to finish. I bought this cassette on the way to see these guys in Champaine, IL back in 96. Inside the J card it said that they are slowing down the music for a bit. Yes, the songs are a bit slow but the music and lyrics are top notch. A must own!

I feed from the bottom!!!!

One of my favorite Phish albums to play to on drums!!!! This is one album I like to start from beginning to end!!!! The music just seems to mesh together in great harmony, not overpowering one instrument over the other!!!!!! A must buy for any Phish fan new or old!!!!


Formed: 1983 in Burlington, VT

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

During the early '90s, Phish emerged as heirs to the Grateful Dead's throne. Although their music was somewhat similar to the Dead's sound -- an eclectic, free-form rock & roll encompassing elements of folk, jazz, country, bluegrass, and pop -- the group adhered more to jazz-derived improvisation than folk tradition. Moreover, they sported a looser, goofier attitude; after all, their drummer regularly played a vacuum during their concerts. However, Phish's main claim as the inheritors to the Dead's...
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