Tragically Hip: The Series – Hipeponymous (2005)

Given the full box set treatment, leave it to the Hip to come up with something quite different from the usual fare, plus pack it so full of goodness that it’s almost overwhelming! A pleasure even to hold in your hands, this is a 2CD, 2 DVD extravaganza of Hipness. Hooray!

Inside the hard, black cover, on the left, is the 2CD set of Yer Favourites, the excellent retrospective package I talked about recently. You know, I was just realizing that with the one found here in this set, the one in my truck and the other here in the house, I own three copies of Yer Favourites. Overkill? Not a chance.

As you listen intently to all of the wonderful tracks found on the CDs, take a flip through the odd and colourful pages of the included booklet. It’s packed with album art, doodles, reproduced concert posters, little notes left to band members, lyrical ramblings, and some other artwork that’s a whole lot of fun. The overall collection has a very old-timey feel to it, if that helps by way of description at all. There’s also a preface from Pierre and Francois Lamoureux about the That Night In Toronto concert film, and a short essay from Christopher Mills, director of the Right Whale movie that played in the background on the tour. Plus all the set lists, credits and miscellaneous information for the hardiest of trivia geeks. The way it’s stiffly packed in there, it’s a little hard to read without losing your page constantly, but what the hell. It’s all good.

What I love about the (included) That Night In Toronto concert DVD is that there were no changes to the show, no overdubs or cuts in the video at all. We are treated to the entire show from start to finish, unbroken and unrelenting. It’s like being there. So. Awesome. It’s really well-shot and planned out, a document that captures that ‘Hip-ness’ intangible factor as best as anyone could, recording for all posterity a band that has been flying high so well and for so long that the open frontier before them is pretty much uncharted territory, and here they stand, gleefully ready to strike off towards that horizon. The sound is excellent, the footage superb, the setlist is well-chosen, and it’s obvious that both the crowd and the band were aware that this was just one more brilliant night in the legend of the Hip, but as is every night, it’s a special one worth preserving. This is also sold separately, so if you’ve not got the cash to splurge on this box set at the moment, that’s cool, you can still go and get this essential DVD for about ten bucks. It’s totally worth it.

And as if all of that excellence wasn’t enough, there’s a second Bonus Features DVD packed into this set! It contains all of the official music videos to that point (23 of them!), which are really fun to watch because you get to see the band grow older (and wiser, more adept), as well as noticing that the production values increase, and Gordie’s hair get shorter, as the playlist continues from track to track. It’s a little visual history lesson about the band. This was also really a great inclusion for me because it’s been 14 years (and counting) since I’ve had cable TV in my house, so I was far less likely to see these videos on MuchMusic than any of the rest of you. No matter, now I have them all in one place! Also crammed onto this disc is the film by Christopher Mills, Macroscopic, including all eleven tracks of the Right Whale. It’s deliciously weird, following the band about in a wysiwyg style, leaving in a lot of things that slicker, more image-conscious bands would have cut out. Leaving it in is wonderful because it has the effect of bringing you that much closer to the band. Here they are, warts and all. I could have done without all the cheerleader babble… that went on a little long. But whatever, like I said, it’s all here, be it as it may be.

I cannot recommend this boxed set enough. Surely you already have it and love it completely, but on the off chance that you’ve held off, my recommendation is so strong as to impel you to get off your tv-watching ass and go get this thing Right Bloody Now! It’ll be worth the effort, I guarantee it.

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