Oh my. By this point, the Hip had established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in Canadian music. The reverberations of their strong songs, as well as their very presence were being felt right across the country. To add brilliance to strength, along comes Road Apples, another absolute blast of perfection. As third albums go, this one is damn near untouchable.
The rockin’ pace is set immediately, with Little Bones, by now a concert staple. Twist My Arm and Cordelia bring the poetry back to rock yet again, both perfectly realized songs. One of my favourites on the record, The Luxury, is up next. There’s just something in the ennui of the song that endears it to me completely. Born In The Water ratchets the energy back up a few pegs, before Long Time Running kicks in, one of the best late-night, bar’s-closing, chairs-on-the-tables torch songs ever. Bring It All Back, Three Pistols and Fight are all classics in the canon, each track lovingly rendered and played with balls out intensity. Gordie surely must have realized that they were already there, meaning that On The Verge is quite probably ironic. Follow all of this up with the song that I sing to my infant son when he’s having trouble going to sleep, Fiddler’s Green. Works every time, and he loves it. So do I. It’s on every mix tape I make of this band. The Last Of The Unplucked Gems brings up the rear, and could easily be mistaken for an afterthought. It isn’t.
There’s Canadiana all over this record, “smart as trees in Sault Ste. Marie,” though also not necessarily so blatantly. It’s in the way the words feel as they slide over the steady beat and intricate guitars, the landscape around us emerges unspoken but definite.
A lot of bands hope to have just one song in their career as good as any of the tracks found amongst this album’s worth of genius. To say that the Hip had arrived at this point would definitely be understatement. Instead, this is simultaneously their announcement of permanent establishment, and another road sign on their way to their now legendary status.