Happy 25th: Phish, (HOIST)
25 years ago this week, Phish released the album that would become the best-selling studio album of their career, one which also provided them with their first hit on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Singles chart.
Produced by Paul Fox at the American Recording Co. in Woodland Hills, California, (HOIST) – and, no, the parentheses aren’t required, but they’re on the album cover, so we figured we’d better put ‘em here, too – built on the band’s rising profile after two major-label albums (1992’s A PICTURE OF NECTAR and 1993’s RIFT) and provided Phish fans with arguably as commercial an LP as they’d released up to that point in their career.
Mind you, it was still a Phish album, so there was never any chance that it was going to be perceived as actively trolling for success, but they certainly made some headway on the charts with the single “Down with Disease,” and they even got a little bit of MTV airplay, having made the one and only video of their career to accompany the song.
(HOIST) is filled with cameos, including contributions from Bela Fleck, Alison Krauss, Rose Stone, Tower of Power, and – of all people – Jonathan Frakes, a.k.a. Will Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“My next-door neighbor at the time was a guy named Paul Fox, who produced R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs, Jakob Dylan, Björk, and Phish,” Frakes explained to the A.V. Club in 2013. “The guys from Phish were huge Trekkers, and they used to come to his house to rehearse. Actually, I think they may have rehearsed in my guest house! This was up in Lookout Mountain, in L.A. But they got wind that I played trombone, and they didn’t know I wasn’t that good, but they asked me to the studio, so I came out to the studio to play trombone on HOIST. I played some music; I didn’t do it so well, but all of the outtakes from my trombone playing became a song called ‘Riker’s Mailbox,’ because at the time, my mailbox vaguely looked like a cow, with black and white spots, only this one had been beaten up many times by cars running into it and people running by and smacking it. So my outtakes were named after the mutilated cow mailbox that was the identification of the front of our house, the HOIST album went platinum, and, as a result, I am the proud keeper of a platinum record. So there you go!”
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