Phish, A Picture of Nectar

It's worth it to read the band's dedication to Nectar Rorris, the album's namesake beverage(ur), in which they gratefully acknowledge he "was happy to give us a gig despite our lack of experience, organization, or a song list long enough to last two sets." All that is true, and all that is reflected here with the possible exception of the latter. Indeed, this hippie gemisch of nonsense vocals and multi-instrumental brilliance ("whatever you do, take care of your shoes") doesn't really cook until somewhere into the third track ("Cavern," named for no good reason) and then it just takes off. Exceptional moments: the smooth, skillful guitar jam leading "Stash," the scatty imprecise jazz of "Magilla" b/w hot guitar licks and sweaty tropical rhythms in "The Landlady" (!), and rhyming "tweezer" and "freezer" in (what else?) "Tweezer" and its closing encore. On the low end, besides the first two weaker tracks, "Glide" is pretty dumb and the mercifully short "Faht" and "Catapult" just feel shoveled on to fill out that second set, but they're all balanced out either by the beautiful juxtaposition of graceful keyboards and agonizing drug withdrawal in "The Mango Song" ("your hands and feet are mangoes, you're gonna be a genius anyway") or the hard-driving indictment of how badly the educational system serves berserkers in "Chalk Dust Torture." Nectar was onto something. They were on something. But it all worked out in the end, didn't it? (Content: S-bomb in "Poor Heart," drug references in "Stash" and "The Mango Song.")