Tale Of The Tape: YEM Showdown

Offensive Line

The fundamentals leading the way into the two big jam segments are both rock solid. Both maneuver excellently through the composed sections and exhibit great technical playing. While this is almost too close to call, the Centrum “offensive line” opens a big hole for the running game when they set up the jam with a mind-bendingly eerie section early at around the 2:30 mark, but what really sets them apart are the two soaring eagles Trey lets loose in the Centrum version during “the note” segment. In a way, this is unfair to the Albany version, because the quality of the soundboard recordings from a the Centrum are about a million times better than any Albany recordings I know of, but the playing is still better in Worcester.

Edge: Centrum

Game Plan

It’s tough to argue against the eat-up-the-clock approach of team Albany, clocking an impressive time of possession of 34:09. And while I love a good uplifting, major key jam more than just about anything, save for maybe the Zesty Chicken Bowl at Taco Bell, the root of the Albany jam is really just a very simple two chord improvisation.

It sounds good, because – like we learned in Close Encounters of the Third Kind – our brains are wired to like those catchy concoctions, but the band really wasn’t breaking new ground for the better part of the jam. That’s just my two cents on the complexity, but we’re not going all Berklee on your ass. It still goes down smooth like soft serve, so we ain’t complaining. Plus, once the band comes back from a hilarious silent jam, they return with guns a blazing. In my opinion, the Centrum jam is, however, really in a class of its own. In fact, this jam segment is so tight and so unique that I question if they practiced this part and composed it in advance. It’s almost too tight to believe this came across in a whimsical improvisation. Trey comes up with such a cool, distinctive lead in with quiet muted notes falling magnificently into a kung fu roundhouse riff at about the 11:45 minute mark.

Edge: Centrum

Special (Olympic) Teams

Does anyone really care about which vocal jam is better? Does anyone still listen to these on their recorded Phish? I’ll be happy to see the vocal jams live again sometime soon, but quite frankly, I almost never listen to them on the Pod. In truth, the Centrum version is way better, but who really cares?

Edge: Draw

Linebacker Play

The two stalwarts behind the line bring the toughness in both efforts, but the collaboration between the rhythm section really stand out in the back-alley funk segment of the Albany show where Trey introduces “the black private dick that’s a sex machine with all the chicks.” Mike lays down a pretty epic bass solo after the jam in the Centrum version as well, but the Shaft segment wins out.

Edge: Albany


While one would guess the weather on News Years Eve up in Wustah would be awful, the weather for the 1993 New Years Eve show was cold, but not dreadful, clocking a low of around seven degrees Fahrenheit with no precipitation. On the contrary, commuters to the Albany show were treated to a massive blizzard. Since were talking about Phish and skilled mathematicians have calculated that the correlation between bad weather and jam epiclicity is 0.82, the worse weather gets the edge.

Edge: Albany


This is a tough call. On the one hand you have one of the greatest renditions of You Enjoy Myself sandwiched in the midst of arguably the greatest show of all time. However, on the other hand, you have legions of Albaniacs who claim that the Albany jam is the cat’s pajamas. More importantly, Scotty B, one of the great Phish librarians of the world, says it’s the best jam ever.

Edge: Albany

Final Score: Albany 28, Centrum 17

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5 Responses

  1. I really like this piece Rupert! Being a fan of football, Phish and living in Titan territory, I’d have to say that it’s not necessarily the YEM, but perhaps the music that surrounds the YEM. Specifically in Tennessee, they always have guests: 11/29/95 (one of my favorite Slaves)and 6/22/00 (one of my favorite Hoods).

    Which brings me to the fact that if it were one of these playing against your choice’s the Tennessee shows would be on XLIIS, because they are like the Titans in that they are stronger, almost industructible and play better with others (in the Titans case their 2nd string QB, now 1st string QB). Sorry we beat the crap out of you over Thanksgiving (okay, not really).

    Either way, I’m enjoying both YEM’s today at work. Great work and go Titans!

  2. Great piece!
    I have to agree with you 100% on this argument. I was at the Albany show and it was probably one of the best ones I saw in person (and easily in the top five), but I’ve always loved that 93 one. The Trey solo is one of the most intense solos from a YEM I can think of. The Reba from this show is probably my favorite Reba as well.

    Funny, last night I revisited the It Festival YEM on my drive home from a friends house. I took some back roads try and hear the whole thing and pulled into my driveway exactly when the vocal jam started and didn’t feel guilty shutting it off.

  3. I’m one of the lucky ones, as I was in attendance at both of these shows to witness first hand their epicness. Thankfully we have the tale of the tape to relive this..

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