Many jam bands, Phish included, has a terrible habit of releasing a lacklustre version of a song on a record and then making it a WHOLE lot better live. This is all good, but it doesn’t help a studio album that is already selling terribly. Pink Floyd is a prime example: nobody ever listens to the studio versions of A Saucerful Of Secrets, any live song from More, or Careful With That Axe Eugene. (Incidentially, they have also been able to rectify that problem most effectively; see Atom Heart Mother, Wish You Were Here, Animals, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.)
To me, Lawn Boy is the album that suffers the worst from this problem. Two songs that later made AMAZING openers and closers were chopped in half and delegated to closing and opening. Although SOAM can easily survive it’s reduction, Antelope to me becomes a useless jam.
(Also, there are probably a lot more studio-friendly songs to bring back from the pre-Junta era than Antelope. I’m thinking Wilson, AC/DC Bag, Suzy…)
Additionally, if you were to look at the setlist of the era, a fan from the release of Junta would only know a fraction of the songs there. Being a cassette release, Lawn Boy could have been longer like Junta.
Here’s my ideal version of Lawn Boy, perhaps made after a month of evolution for the songs.
- Bouncing Around The Room (faster, only guitar on coda)
- AC/DC Bag
- Reba (MAYBE a bit faster and without choir, but aside from that this was well-done)
- Split Open And Melt (without the distorted repetition of final word in verse)
- The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony
- Bathtub Gin
- Lawn Boy (with a saxaphone like in '91)
- My Sweet One
- Suzy Greenberg (WITH HORNS!)
- The Squirming Coil (get a better singer for “WAY, YEAH” on final chorus, but I REALLY like that effect; also, have Page solo more)
There. Just a little changing of the order and you have what would easily be my favorite Phish album.