Phish is the greatest cover band on earth, hands down. Some songs have become staples -- so much so that we've come across fans, even well versed fans, who didn't realize songs like "Funky Bitch" was a cover -- while others are only busted out occasionally, sometimes only once. Of the myriad covers the band has played, these are the twenty most interesting.
20. The Apples in Stereo - "Energy" This is a new cover they started playing this year. Apples in Stereo tweeted a thank you to Phish. The Chicago version gets the full Phish treatment, a beautiful major-key jam with Trey tossing in so many beautiful melodic guitar riffs.
19. Jay-Z - "99 Problems" Playing in Brooklyn gives you Brooklyn perks, like Jay-Z coming on stage to guest with on "99 Problems" and "Big Pimpin.'" Nobody's saying it's a good version, but it's definitely interesting and hilarious that it happened to begin with.
18. Dizzy Gillespie - "Manteca" This Afro-Cuban inspired jazz classic pops up here and there during the jams of other songs, one of the best renditions coming during "Stash" on 11/14/95.
17. The Rolling Stones - "Let it Loose" "Let It Loose" is a song not played live by the Rolling Stones. Here Phish does the honors, and wow do they do a beautiful job. Played originally at Festival 8 for the Halloween set, it was a beautiful moment to catch your breath, maybe shed a tear, hug a buddy, do what you do.
16. Jane's Addiction - "Been Caught Stealing" "Been Caught Stealing" is another high energy cover that was played five times in 1998. In 2011, when the band finally played it again in Raleigh, it had put a second mic stand on the stage, making everyone think there was a special guest. Nope. It was just Trey's new "Perry Farrell" vocal effect. The music starts around 1:30 here, and it felt like a punk show up there.
Marijuana Deals Near You
15. Joe Walsh - "Walk Away" "Walk Away" is a classic rock cover everyone knows. Newcomer parents really like it when they get one of these. Trey goes full rock star when they cover this, shredding the fret board, bending strings, anything the guitar is capable of; he really pushes the boundaries here.
14. The Edgar Winter Group - "Frankenstein" This is another hard-hitting classic rock favorite that Phish has been covering since the early days, and it's solid every time. This video from the Brooklyn 2004 show is great. You have to love how it swings around Fishman at the beginning.
13. Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Tuesday's Gone" This was played only once in Mansfield, Massachusetts, in 1999. This cover is beautiful and heartfelt with special guest guitarist Scott Murawski from Max Creek joining in at the end of a great performance.
12. Frank Zappa - "Peaches en Regalia" Carefully crafted compositions like this are right up Phish's alley, and the guys really do this Zappa tune justice. They played a succinct and gorgeous version at Superball.
11. ZZ Top - "La Grange" This is another song Phish played often early in its career and then pretty much shelved until here and there in the mid to late '90s. The band resurrected the song at SPAC 2012 to everyone's delight.
10. Talking Heads - "Psycho Killer" When this mega-hit gets played, the crowd becomes louder than the band. Hartford '09 got a great version during the Ghost>Psycho Killer>Catapult>Icculus segment.
9. Led Zeppelin - "No Quarter" This was teased for years, and so there was great sense of closure once the band finally played this tune in 2011 in Holmdel. Since then, the song's been played sparingly, when the psychedelia is running deep.
8. The Rolling Stones - "Emotional Rescue" Mike Gordon rocks the falsetto on this one. The tune was a huge highlight of the Fuck Your Face set at Dick's 2012. Here's some great old footage of the version played at Hampton Coliseum in 97.
7. Paul Simon - "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" This was played for the first time at Hollywood Bowl in 2012. Fishman played on a small drum kit, and the audience sang over the band most of the time, but it was a fun time. Music starts at 1:45.
6. The Velvet Underground - "Sweet Jane" This one's off the album Loaded, which Phish covered Halloween Vegas '98. This song was a major bust out that made the crowd go crazy when played again fourteen years later in Deer Creek. It was a welcome treat on a boiling hot day.
5. Strauss/Deodato - "2001" This is a big staple song for Phish, and it never gets old live. The guys bring the funk style of the Deodato version and put it on a spaceship. Mega props to percussionist Karl Perazzo for inspiring them to extend the lead in to the stanzas, so much time to build a groove and expand. This is Phish transmission from space.
4. Jimi Hendrix - "Izabella" "Izabella" ia a long chased fan favorite. The best version arguably came out of a monster "Tweezer" at Auburn Hills, Michigan. Listen here to it accompanied by the visuals of Alf rocking out.
3. The Beatles - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" This gorgeous George Harrison tune that has been played sporadically over Phish's career. The debut from 10/31/94 is stellar with Trey sounding every bit the rock star he is. That black T-shirt is really something else, too.
2. J.J. Cale - "After Midnight" More than just a cover, this version of "After Midnight" at Big Cypress marked a new millennium, being the last song Phish played for 1999. The band reprised the song and it featured some of the most amazing moments of improvisation.
1. Grateful Dead - "Terrapin Station" Even though Phish initially started out playing Grateful Dead covers, the band quickly stopped as its own star began to rise. Three years after Jerry Garcia's death, the group encored with "Terrapin Station," the most well-received cover the guys had ever performed. Just listen to the crowd.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.