The album incorporates a mix of rock, funk, and soft ballads, thereby demonstrating the various talents that each member of the band brings to the group. Fuego was recorded at Ronnie’s Place and Anarchy Studios in Nashville, TN, Fame Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL and at The Barn in Vermont. The album was produced by Bob Ezrin, whose credits include Pink Floyd and Lou Reed, and mastered by Bob Ludwig, who has worked with The Rolling Stones and Nirvana.
Five of the ten songs on the album were co-written by the four members of the band. Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall wrote three songs, Mike Gordon and Scott Murawski wrote one song, and Page McConnell wrote one song.
The title track "Fuego" is a nine minute monster of a jam. It starts off as a mellow number, with crisp keyboard notes, simple bass lines, and a cowbell. Trey and company sing a few verses together, then two and a half minutes in, the weirdness takes over. Lightning speed drumming from Jon Fishman, spacey keyboard effects from Page McConnell, and a spastic solo from Trey Anastasio take over. Page brings the song back to it's chorus and is followed with another solo before ending on a soft note. I have been to my share of Phish shows and I am willing to bet that the interlude featured halfway in the song will result in a glowstick throwing moment.
"The Line," lyrically based on a college basketball player, features impressive vocal harmonies and an ambient jam towards the end, while "Devotion to a Dream" carries a moderately uptempo groove with a dance friendly Trey solo that only he can deliver.
Page McConnell wrote one song for the album, "Halfway to the Moon," in which he sings the lead vocal. He takes charge with two bright keyboard solos as acoustic strumming and a steady drum beat serve as the foundation. Upon closer listening to the song's opening, a hint of the Allman Brothers song "Melissa" can be heard.
"Winterqueen," originally named "Glacier," is a soft ballad full of winter imagery (ice, snow, glaciers), and "Sing Monica" is an upbeat rocker that has a unique story regarding its title. In an interview with Relix, Phish lyricist Tom Marshall talked about the history of the song:
"Santa Monica” was written around a fire pit at Trey’s house. It was just the two of us there, and we were throwing out funny little word play things and trying to fit them into this framework that we had. We were calling it “Santa Monica,” which, in my mind, was about the city in California. When we sang it, we started laughing when we were calling the antagonist Saint Monica, like “sing Saint Monica, sing your song,” and so we were going to call the song “Santa Monica,” and call the woman Saint Monica. Every little verse that we came up with I was trying to make Trey laugh with a play on words: you lift me up, you hired me, then cut me off at the knees, defeated me. Every answer had some sort of tiny, little double meaning. Trey came up with from your ivory tower, inspired me. We were just cracking up. I think the reason that became just “Monica” was because, I believe it was a production decision, when Bob Ezrin just said, “What’s up with this saint?” Because no longer was Santa included as in Santa Monica. It sort of became “Monica,” and just as Saint Monica doesn’t make sense, sing sing Saint Monica doesn’t make sense, and that part of the joke never made it into the final song. It just became sing sing Monica, and the song was just called “Monica."
Funky basslines, a wah-wah guitar tone from Trey, and the legendary Muscle Shoals horns throughout the solo give "555" a New Orleans flavor. Up next, the dreamy "Waiting All Night" is the perfect audio companion for relaxing on a porch under a moonlit sky.
"Wombat," which debuted as part of the Wingsuit set on 10/31/13, contains a funky groove with clever lyrical interplay between the band members and stellar horn blowing from the Muscle Shoals guys. Closing out the album is "Wingsuit," which was the original title of the album before the band changed it in 2014. It's an atmospheric tune engineered by Trey's vocals and some spacey keyboard effects.
This is Phish’s first collaboration with producer Bob Ezrin, and drummer Jon Fishman shared a quote about making the record:
For years, there’s been a distinct difference between how we did things live and how we did them in the studio… But the way we go about things live, the way the musical ball is passed around, is now happening much more in the studio – not because we’re trying to duplicate how we play on stage, just because this is how we operate as a band, period.
To celebrate the release, the band will play a special performance on the Late Show with David Letterman on June 24th before heading out on a nationwide summer tour beginning in July. For further music, news, and tour information, check out the Phish Zumic artist page.
Go to Phish Dry Goods to pre-order the album as well as limited edition artwork, clothing, and bundles.
PHISH FUEGO TRACKLIST
1. "Fuego" - 9:15
2. "The Line" - 5:21
3. "Devotion to a Dream" (Anastasio, Tom Marshall) - 5:47
4. "Halfway to the Moon" (McConnell) - 6:34
5. "Winterqueen" - 4:21 (Anastasio, Marshall)
6. "Sing Monica" (Anastasio, Marshall) - 3:13
7. "555" (Gordon, Scott Murawski) - 5:41
8. "Waiting All Night" - 4:58
9. "Wombat" - 3:18
10. "Wingsuit" - 6:05