Subject: RebaReview #3: 12-31-95 Madison Square Garden
From: Tim Wade <>

Reba in the big city (RebaReview #3)
12-31-95 Madison Square Garden,
New York, NY, set I
Time:  14:24
This is just a classic show, which I'm sure most of you already
know.  However, since I'm not out to review a whole show, I'll
simply talk about the ass-kicking fashion in which this show
opens.  PYITE to kick things off right, and that's played really well,
but then right behind it jumps in The Sloth.  Yow!!  This is not a
test, this is Rock 'n' Roll!!  I think the end of Sloth fits the
beginning of Reba in the same way that Oh Kee Pah fits with Suzy,
which is, really damn well.  So let's get to our gal Reba.
THE DIRECTIONS (0:00): Sound quality is lowish, with some hiss
because of my gen and some hollowness because...well, hell, it's
MSG.  No major goofs to report here, although in the second verse
Trey seems to be fighting off the giggles, especially on "coconuts &
chloroform".  He might be laughing at the crowd clapping here.
Vocals on the second chorus aren't totally sharp, but nothing to
complain about.
THE SIP (2:18): Small stumble from Trey 20 seconds or so in, then
he calms down.  It's pretty hard to hear Page, but Mike and Fish
sound on.  Another minor miss from Trey, but again nothing really
annoying.  Damn, I wish I could hear Mike better here; it sounds
like he got da funk.  Trey really works up some speed as we build
THE SWALLOW (4:38):  Not bad right off the bat, but at around
4:45 Trey totally misses a note, then can't seem to recover.  He
comes back in off key, has some more problems, then more or less
fades out as he tries to get things together.  First swallow is more
or less botched.  A decent recovery on the second swallow...I'm
sure that's tricky fingering in this section.  Well, that one didn't go
down so smooth, but sometimes ya feel a whole lot better after
you gag. =)  Basic fills from Fish up to
THE CHILL (5:58):  Solid base from Mike and Fish, pretty tapping
from Page per usual.  Fishman is doing some subtle snare flams
and bass work that gives us a snappy, up-tempo, two/two sort-of
beat.  Trey hops right on at 6:17, and right away we're in a
groove.  Trey noodles around some notes, locked into the rhythm,
and Mike locks into Trey at 6:25.  Very sharp...noodling with a
theme in mind.  Trey drops off and lets Mike play with the bass
line for a moment, which is still pretty short.  Trey chirps out a
high note then elaborates as he drifts down.  Mike joins him way
down low, and begins to thump...thump-thump.  Page is being
pretty quiet, Trey begins to noodle some more.  At 7:16 he starts
in on a repeating triplet, drops a fill, more triplets, another fill,
then returns to the noodles.  Page can now be heard, and Mike is
opening up another can of funk.  Fish is also getting into it, hinting
at some stop/start action.  Trey begins to take on a little more
structure as he follows the path laid down by Mike and Fish.  Page
is also starting to pick up on things, and then Fish gets his ride
into the act.  Suddenly, there is some nice syncopation at 8:15;
everyone hits it right on.  This is definitely the mark of a tight
band, as no one is stepping on toes.  They pull back together at
8:35.  The tempo has now increased, with more noodling from
Mike and Trey, playing with the original "theme".  Fish has got the
beat well in hand.  Page starts to gain strength, and together he
and Mike start to open things up a bit.
Trey comes in behind them, ceasing the noodling and working
some nice slides in response to Page and Mike.  Fish starts to fill in
the end of the measures with some tom dribbles and thumps, still
managing to keep the rhythm with his ride.  Trey starts to get into
the structure Page is creating, and they lead up to a smooth build,
releasing  at 9:53.  Trey now finds a solid ascending phrase to
work with, Page begins to chord more strongly, and Fishman is
sent into elegant spasms and shivers.  A shift, not really a release,
at 10:32, but now Trey is in the zone.  He kicks in a new effect and
expands his phrase, high and low, coasting through another up-
shift, then he angles downward, bringing Page and then Mike with
him.  Tension begins to build here, and as soon as Trey starts to
pull back up, Fish doubles the time and starts to freak a little bit.
Everyone responds quickly, building...another shift at 11:50,
marked by Trey stepping up an octave or so (not that I would
know an octave from a hole in the ground).  Tom fills coming from
Fish as Trey explores higher ground, utilizing an ascending "lub-
dub" lick (see 5-27-94 Warfield) around 12:10.  Straight-on Reba
jamming begins to appear, Trey building and sustaining towards
the release note.  The first shot results in more tension...and the
second in even greater tension at 12:49.  Trey holds on up high
and then...damn, someone help him!  The boy's on fire!  Another
jump at 13:08!  This time he pushes as high as he can, pokes at a
barrier made up of three or four notes, then floats back down to
the mid-ranges to gather some more speed.  Trey makes his next
charge at 13:46, this time with extra momentum on his side.  He
seems to get caught in that repetitive barrier on the high end
again, and I can imagine a moment of decision at 14:05: head back
down or try to push through?  This time Trey elects to push he starts to scramble, fiercely...hold on, everyone, I think
we're gonna make it!!  Trey goes sub-light in these last few
moments!!  Yes!!!  Fish employs the closing toms, almost
frantically, at 14:24.  The end of the jam causes one fan to moan
loudly enough to come through clearly on my tape, a very
appropriate footnote for this Reba.
THE WET WHISTLE: No way.  The last few moments of the jam
dropped too many jaws to make whistling effective.  Squirming
Coil begins a few moments later.
Trey's problem, whatever it was, continued into Coil...the
composed music fares even worse than Reba did.  He might be
having a technical glitch right here...he just cuts totally out of Coil
for a bit.
Now, there isn't really any ultra-quiet, spacy part in this jam.  I'm
a big fan of those parts of the jam, so at first I didn't really like
this much.  Those of you who adore this Reba and proclaim that
it's the best, you would have wanted to lynch me if you see what I
wrote down the first time through this review. ;)  But you can't get
a good impression of a song in a just one or two listens, soooo.....
While I don't think there is a serious *chill* in this Chill, I must
say now that I think it's one of the smoothest Reba jams I've
heard...of course, I've still only heard a small fraction.  I found the
'91 and '92 versions I've heard pretty boring (relatively - Reba is
never truly boring), mostly because I don't think they take their
time at the beginning of the jam, establishing some sort of quiet
zone that a mind-blowing jam can grow from.  Things get rushed,
and a rushed Reba tastes kinda sour to me.
But _this_ jam is _not_ rushed...the theme is just right there, right
at the start.  It drifts and swells nicely for a bit, but after they hit
that syncopation, it takes on real life...the last couple of minutes
are _great_, very fiery.  I really wish I could hear it better, I think
it would give me a greater appreciation for this jam.  If,
perchance, the band decided to release 12/31/95 as their next
live CD I would go goo-goo ga-ga, for this and many other reasons.
Like I said, I'm a BIG fan of the BIG *chill*, and therefore
remember that all of these ratings are _totally_ subjective and can
easily be dismissed as raging egotism.  That said, while my
appreciation for this version has grown, there are still several
versions I like better, namely, 10/21/95 Lincoln, 4/4/94 Flynn
Theater, 10/14/95 Austin, 5/27/94 Warfield, and the glorious
12/8/94 Spreckles.  All of these feature a wonderful and unique
*chill*, which this New Year's version does not.
Finest in the nation?  Survey says: