Phish lovers and Phish haters will react differently to Colorado '88 (available at www.jemprecords.com). The first group is sure to be thrilled by these three literally jam-packed CDs from the combo's early period, while folks in the latter category are guaranteed to think the set is more masturbatory than a thirteen-year-old boy accidentally locked in the Hustler warehouse overnight.
Who's right? At times, both -- but the package remains an intriguing document anyhow. The sound quality is surprisingly high, and so, probably, were the musicians and the handful of clubbers who turned up at gigs in Telluride and Aspen eighteen years ago; the liner notes say attendance at some shows was around a half-dozen people. Nevertheless, Trey Anastasio and company play and play and play. ("The Curtain With" and "You Enjoy Myself" clock in at over seventeen minutes each.) Along the way, there's lyricism and indulgence and humor and tedium and beauty, not to mention the sort of youthful exuberance that makes even some of the lamer moments seem tolerable.
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That's the formula for a love-hate relationship.