I'm really glad that as fans, we got the chance to hear all of the JOY songs for two tours live before hearing the album, BUT that the album had been recorded before we heard the songs.
Let me explain...
When we have connections to songs through live experiences prior to a song appearing on an album, the studio version is almost always a letdown and overlooked. Though i heard Rift as an album first, then the songs in concert, those songs had mostly become fan favs before the album was released and didn't carry the same energy on disc.
With Hoist, they reversed this trend, saving these songs for album release, then playing live. These songs had a definite starting point and evolved from the album to the live shows.
More personally, i knew all of the Farmhouse songs before the album dropped and though there are terrific versions of some songs (1st Tube, Sand, GBOTT) I was more disappointed with the songs that had lost their luster (Piper, Twist).
In the case of JOY, Phish composed these songs with their ideas, then took them on the road to try them out. Some became hits (Kill Devil Falls), some became jam monsters (Light), some had to be reworked (BDTNL) and some are still snoozers (TTE).
Though many of the album cuts of these songs leave you wanting more, you can hear the urgency of making music that pervades this entire album.
The solos are short, the songs are tight and they wanted to spit this out and move on.