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Reviews of Tab Benoit and Phish

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Tab Benoit, "These Blues Are All Mine," (Vanguard) — Growing up in south Louisiana surrounded by the region's traditional sounds, Benoit started down his musical road playing Cajun music. But after hearing B.B. King as a teen in the late '70s, Benoit's entire musical mind-set changed, and he pursued the blues for the next decade despite lack of local popularity or parental support. Though he nearly gave up music for a career in aviation, Benoit stayed true to his course and released his first CD in 1992 to national attention. "These Blues" is the guitarist's fifth project, and it catches Benoit's stinging style in fine, live form. Recorded in Houston, the record's 13 cuts swing with one-take spontaneity. Benoit sings with gruff affection, and his material ranges from self-penned songs to the blues of Albert Collins and Willie Dixon. He also tips his musical cap to his rural swampland roots with a great, greasy version of Hank Williams' "Jambalaya." This Vanguard release reveals a formidable blues talent who is only starting to hit his stride.

— Ames Arnold

Phish, "Hampton Comes Alive," (Elektra) — Are you experienced? Unless you've seen one of Phish's art-rock, improv shows at Hampton Coliseum, then not totally.

There's something magical about Hampton. Maybe those concrete walls absorbed the vibes of Peter Frampton's sold-out two-night stand back in 1977, or the Rolling Stones' double shot in '81. While some bands sound boomy there, Phish comes across with great clarity, as can be heard on this six-CD set documenting the Vermont quartet's Nov. 20-21 concerts of last year.

At every Phish show, an army of fans equipped with all sorts of recording gear are permitted to record as they like. And though a plethora of bootlegs are available, even the best first-gen tape can't top this set. Plus, each CD sleeve comes with photos of the band, the Coliseum and surroundings.

On these two nights, Phish drew from an expansive variety of originals and covers. From the Beatles' "Cry Baby Cry" to Stevie Wonder's "Boogie on Reggae Woman," the covers were a pleasant surprise. As for the originals, "Guyute," "The Wedge" and "Guelah Papyrus" sound fantastic.

— Jeff Maisey, The

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