Slip, Stitch and Pass

Like The Grateful Dead, The eternally jamming Phish are best judged by their concerts. Proof is on Slip Stitch and Pass, the group's second live outing in just two years. Recorded in Germany this past March, it has less wank and more groove than usual, with a chunky cover of Talking Heads' "Cities" and a wild ride through their own "Weekapaug Groove" and "Mike's Song." At one point during the latter, the group goofs on pretentious psychedelia with quotes from the Doors ("The End") and early Pink Floyd. It's pretty funny, but because Phish's trip soundtracks always lacked the heft and menace of their best models, it's also a telling moment — a reminder that their lightheartedness can be as much an Achilles' heel as it can be a saving grace.

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