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Crabbuckit Ahead By A Century

Here’s a place-holder post because we saw Slayer last night and I am still in Taranna today, probably record shopping and eating good food (and most definitely recuperating). It’s a tough life…

So I was driving along with the kids in the car, playing an MP3 CD I’d made, one song per artist, so 700mb at 4mb per song is about 175 songs on the disc… anyway, it’s just to introduce them to a bunch of new stuff, see what they like and what they don’t. On came K-OS’ Crabbuckit (which they knew from some other car disc anyway), it’s a great song with a Hit The Road Jack Ray Charles bass line, with lyrics about positivity and moving forward.

I’d forgotten the wee bit in the middle breakdown where he mentions the Tragically Hip. And (probably) Leonard Cohen. The Hip song he references is a great one about life and possibility and curiosity, so his own chorus of “No time to get down ‘cos I’m moving up” fits perfectly.

Here’s the lyrics of the section (at 2:16 in the video below)…

It’s a conniption fit when the microphones lit
I take it higher like a bird on a wire, retire the fire
I’ll never ’cause I’m just moving on up
Choosin’ to touch, the unseen, craving the clutch
The most inevitable, legible pyromania
Slaying the devil, and send him back to Transylvania
Strangely enough, I avoid that side of the ghetto
From my heavy metal, will settle the puppets like Geppetto
Damn, if mirrors were created by sand
Then I’m looking in the water for reflections of man
Understand the minds above time when it’s empty
Emcee, Tragically Hip, ahead by a century (rrrah)

Tragically Hip – Gift Shop

First off, May The Fourth Be With You! I’m sure you’re sick of hearing that today, but I couldn’t resist.

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 21: Sonic Boom #4 Tragically Hip – Gift Shop

If you thought yesterday’s post, wherein I admitted to paying $5.99 for two songs I already owned proved me silly, wait til you hear about this one today. Yup, on this one I paid the same for one track! The album version I already own, as well. Why, Aaron? Why??? The answer is always the same: because Tragically Hip. Pure love. And I don’t feel so bad, as Discogs at the time of this writing says copies are $25-$50 CAD. For one song, and an album track at that! True story!

Now, you’re thinking this is getting out of hand. It totally is, and it’s totally cool. I understand. But don’t you have a band you collect no matter what? A band that, for every time you see a release of theirs you don’t have, you buy it without question, just to have it in the collection? For me, that’s the Hip… And many other bands but I have a serious problem and that’s besides the point and stritly between me and the therapist I ought to be seeing…

Gift Shop is a track from the venerable Trouble At The Henhouse album (1996). I was fortunate enough to see the Hip in concert when Henhouse was their latest release, and the show was completely amazing. Of course. And this song itself? Glorious. 

See for yourself!


Tragically Hip – 92nd Grey Cup Commemorative CD

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 20: Sonic Boom #3 Tragically Hip – 92nd Commemorative Grey Cup Promo CD

This 2-track CD was priced the same as other regularly-priced used discs ($5.99), but I grabbed it straight away. Why would I pay so much for two tracks? And what’s more, two tracks that I already have? Because I love Tragically Hip, have done since 1989. No questions asked. I’m sure you understand. At the time of this writing, copies on Discogs range about $10-$25, so it’s all good. 

Released (obviously) in conjunction with the Hip’s performance at the 92nd Grey Cup game (2004), we get two songs here: 

1. Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park
2. Goodnight Josephine

Both of these tracks are the same versions as found on the brilliant 2004 Hip album entitled In Between Evolution. As I’m sure you know, “Gus…” is a slow, bluesy chugger that swaggers and sways and would surely be amazing in a live setting. Goodnight Josephine is the last track on IBE, and is a solid, straight-on Hip rocker. Goodnight, indeed!

I don’t know how many copies of this were released, or even if it’s truly collectible or whatever. I don’t care. I wanted it because Tragically Hip. Full stop.

My New Hip Jersey

Words fail me when I try to describe my joy and thrill at finding this beautiful Tragically Hip hockey jersey today. It was an instant purchase, naturally. It’s an XXL which wears much too big on me… I suppose if I ever had hockey pads under it, it’d fit great… but I couldn’t care less. I love it completely!

Hip jersey? Check. Timmy’s go cup cupface? Check. An actual Canadian (with bonus raised eyebrow)? Check. Dear Readers, we have achieved Canuck selfie gold.

Michael Barclay – The Never-Ending Present: The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip




2017 Christmas Goodies

Each year I do a quick post of the goodness that has come my way from the holidays. Of course, most importantly, we were able to spend time with family and friends. And watching the kids tear through their stuff in record times was fun (and unnerving). As it should be.

My main gift this year was a new chair, a recliner. It’s pretty sweet, and I’m adjusting to it – I’m a bit tall for most chairs, so I’m figuring out how to maximize my use of it. But this is a music site, so I’ll share a few other things that might interest you guys…

CD (in alphabetical order):

Yup, the 2CD last-ever concert of Sabbath, oh baby… I’ve been wanting that case/lang/veirs album for a long time, right on… these two CCR albums (Green River, Pendulum) are the 40th anniversary releases, with bonus tracks, so now I wants them all…and the Motörhead covers album just pleases me to no end. Can’t wait to dig in!







This one’s from James. He probably got tired of telling me to buy the damn thing and just got it for me himself! Hooray! Thanks heaps James!!


Letterkenny is also from James (thanks again, Dude!). It’s been recommended to us many times, as it is apparently sure to remind my lovely wife and I of where we grew up (the fictitious place of the show is based on a town about 20 minutes from our own home towns). Looking forward to seeing what’s up… Rogue One and The Force Awakens were ones I should already own and didn’t so here they awesomely are… and the two Tragically Hip DVDs are gonna be glorious and sad and wonderful and painful and awesome and, yeah, mostly awesome but also sad.

Birthday For Christmas:

I also got something awesome for myself. Which I know you’re not supposed to do. But I have good reason… see, I was given an Amazon gift card for my birthday, back in July. Over the past few months I’ve spent that thing a million and one times already without ever actually using it, just browsing and checking things out. Good thing they don’t expire! Well, last night I found a ridiculous post-Christmas sale on something I really wanted (and let’s be honest, I really need it too!), aaaaaaand it’s ordered. I will be sure to do a seperate post about it when it arrives, maybe even an unboxing if all goes well. I am so excited about this. Oh baby!


My final post for 2017 will be my annual year-end list. I’m still agonizing over the final details, but I promise to have it posted before the new year, which only gives me a couple of days… Stay tuned!


Thanks for reading – not just this post, but for every post you read. We really love this community and we thank you all for making us a part of it!

Ahead By A Century

‘Twas the mighty Boppin who emailed to let us Canucks know that the Hip’s new wine, the Ahead By A Century chardonnay, was in stores last week. It has been released in honour of the 20th anniversary of the Trouble At The Henhouse LP.

I went looking for a bottle of it in our town’s shoppe on release day, and they’d only received one case (whut). I got the penultimate bottle, and the lady who rang it through for me told me I was super lucky to get one:

They’d also received the 2015 Fully Completely, so I snagged one of those, too. Here is my current collection, the Ahead By A Century chardonnay, flanked by the 2012* and 2015 Fully Completelys:



* All of you savvy KMA Readers will recall when I got this bottle of the 2012, and I’d posted to say I was waffling as to whether I should drink it or not. Most said I should drink it, but ultimately I did not. It’s still unopened today! I mentioned it to the head of the wine department in our shoppe and he said “ooooh that was the good year, nicely done!”


Tragically Hip – Now For Plan A

A-ways back, I did a whole series of all the Tragically Hip albums… except for this one. Why? It hadn’t been released yet, for inclusion in that series. I did Man Machine Poem when it came out, but for some reason never threw this one into the mix. It was Master Chart-Builder and blogger extraordinaire Geoff at 1001albumsin10years that pointed out my oversiiiiiight! So of course I promised I’d get it done… and sat on it… and now here it finally is, in the IOU Series.

It’s weird to write about this now, knowing what we do. But I’ll do my best to give this an honest go-through

At Transformation was, of course, the big single and I’m sure you already know it well. It’s a decent track with a driving beat that I’m sure will stand up in the pile of singles as a solid representative of late-period Hip. Man Machine Poem is next, interesting now that we know that it’s the title of the next record… a great mid-tempo Hip track, a feeling of searching and hoping, of lift over adversity via satisfying guitars…

The Lookahead (featuring Sarah Harmer on backing vocals) soars and floats and keeps that rocking but gentle feel. This could’ve been a track on World Container, if that helps you place the feel. We Want To Be It, with its haunting “drip drip drip” repetitions has got to be about his wife’s time in the hospital with her own cancer fight, which makes the track even more harrowing. Don’t let the jaunty beat fool you.

Streets Ahead, the second single, picks up the pace considerably, and oh man would this one ever have been great live. It’s the type of Hip track that would achieve lift-off, for sure. You know the ones I mean… Now For Plan A is just a gorgeous track, atmospheric and roomy (and Sarah Harmer returns on backing vocals). Gordie even knows it’s good as he starts the lyrics with “Yeah, I know I know I know…” Haha awesome. This track is an album highlight.

The Modern Spirit is another Hip rocker to which you can’t help but tap your feet. It has a sassy bounce that’s damn infectious. About This Map is one I keep coming back to, for its glorious groove and the way all of the pieces are put together in that way that only the Hip can do it. I listen along, wondering if this is the same map that he can’t believe you dotted… Another album highlight, for me.

Take Forever lays down a solid rock riff (pure Hip, of course), and then drives it forward with strength and a restless energy. Another one that would be perfect in concert. Done And Done meanders gorgeously, in no hurry but still holding your rapt attention as the tune unfolds and unwinds.

Goodnight Attawapiskat rocks bluesily and hardly seems like a goodnight lullaby at all. But it’s pure Hip, another full-on, no holds barred track that tastefully covers all their usual bases while still sounding unique. It’s also a good lesson about bad history. The electronic wash noise at the end seems to hint at more…

In Sum:

This is a short record, at under 40 minutes. But its 11 tracks are so packed with quality moments and music that it feels much fuller. I know I loved this one back in 2012, but it tends to be a wee bit neglected in the rotation these days, so I am super-thrilled to hear it again now. And guess what? I loved it all over again.

Superb Hip record. Thanks for the reminder, Geoff!

Tired As Fuck

I bought myself a Christmas present.

I know. My lovely wife told me I’m not allowed to buy anything new for myself between now and Christmas. Technically, this one was ordered before she gave this edict, so I’m safe!

It was that fine lad Boppin who told me about this Record Store Day release. I’d had no idea it existed. Given that nowhere in my town participates in RSD, I was sure I would miss it completely. But then Bop mentioned his local HMV was able to order it, I oughta ask mine! Well, I’ve ranted many times about the timid woodland creatures at my shite HMV. But it’s the Hip. I will try!

Turns out, they could order it (with payment up front). And it arrived in about a week. I am shocked at their efficiency, their participation in RSD at all, and the (relative) non-fuss in the whole process.

What a gorgeous 45. The album version of Tired As Fuck on the A side, and the (previously unreleased) US radio edit of At The Hundredth Meridian on the B side. I haven’t actually played it yet, I’ve just been too busy staring at it lovingly. But I presume that the US edit is the removal of the swearing from the song so it can be played on the radio.

You might think $20 was too high to pay for two songs on a 45. Especially when I already own both songs (on Man Machine Poem and Fully Completely), but you don’t know my love of the Hip. I see rarer things, I just buy them. You also may have some sense of how any and all gestures from the band, at this point, are golden, given Gord Downie’s cancer diagnosis and the imminent ending of the band. So yeah. I see Hip, I buy it.

Thanks for the heads-up, Bop! And Merry Christmas to me! Mine is #1769/2000. On green, translucent vinyl. Oh baby.



The Tragically Hip, Kingston 2016-08-20

Well, that’s that.

My lovely wife and I sat here and streamed the Tragically Hip’s final show on the CBC’s free broadcast. It was a rollercoaster, it was a blast, it was love.

Sure, Gord mucked up a couple of times, and sure, there were sound issues, and the camera was looking for cute girls in the crowd when it should have been on the stage for big moments. Gord even took a moment to rant politically and endorse our Prime Minister, which I could’ve maybe left out but, hey, it was a Hip concert. Warts and all.

And what a show! Three encores. My word. Have a look at the setlist, and then I’ll continue:


Fifty-Mission Cap
Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)
Wheat Kings
At the Hundredth Meridian
In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
What Blue
Tired as Fuck

Intermission (Thunder storm visuals & effects) 

My Music at Work
Lake Fever
Toronto #4
Putting Down
Twist My Arm
Three Pistols
Fiddler’s Green
Little Bones (Extended outro)
The Last of the Unplucked Gems (Extended intro without Gord Downie)

Something On

Encore 1:

New Orleans Is Sinking
Boots or Hearts
Blow at High Dough

Encore 2:

Nautical Disaster
Grace, Too

Encore 3:

Locked in the Trunk of a Car
Gift Shop
Ahead by a Century


Truly, a beautiful set. A highlight for me was Fiddler’s Green. I used to sing that for my son when he was a baby, to get him to sleep. It felt like home.

So now we have to look at our lives (potentially) going forward without more Hip music. It’s a weird thought. All of the build up has led to this, a moment we knew was coming but didn’t quite grasp as real. They’ve always been there. The decades of solid records, stellar shows, and just being true gentlemen artists as we all know they’ve been. Their legacy is intact. Indelible.

Thank you, Tragically Hip. I’m still listening.

You’ve shown us the way. Now we live it for ourselves.

SLCR #252: The Tragically Hip (August 1, 2016)

Beloved Canadian legends. One final tour. An impossible ticket.

For my money, the Tragically Hip are most iconic band in Canadian history. But I might be biased; timing-wise, I’m about the perfect age to be a Hip fan. I’m also quite willing to discount Rush’s potential claim to the title due to not caring in the slightest about Rush. They join SCTV and Trailer Park Boys and hockey and beer on the big list of Canadian exports that I just can’t get behind.

Nevertheless. The Hip came on the scene as I was getting into high school. By the time I got to university, they’d cemented their spot as the top band in Canada. They seemed to skip over Saskatchewan on every tour (at least when I was old/interested enough to want to see them), so when they finally played Saskatoon on November 18, 1996, it was probably my most anticipated concert ever at that point. That said, it was SLCR #5 so it didn’t have a ton of competition.

I saw them twice more after that. Once was at Another Roadside Attraction (SLCR #18, July 21, 1997), an outdoor festival that also featured Sheryl Crow, Wilco, Los Lobos, Ashley MacIsaac, Ron Sexsmith, and others. The only other time was February 27, 1999 (SLCR #35), when I really only went because my mom won free tickets at work.

It may make you very sad to consider that 1999 was 17 years ago. That’s a long time to go without seeing a band that I have always really liked. Part of the reason was that having seen them, I chose to direct limited time and funds to other shows. Part of it was that the Hip shows I went to were packed full of the kind of drunken oafs I can’t stand being around. And part of it was simply that it’s so easy to say “there’s always next time.” Funny thing about that.

As anyone who cares enough to read this knows by now, a few months back, the Hip went public with the news that lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. This was pretty much a national day of mourning here, and I’m not even kidding. But the announcement was accompanied by other news; namely, the band was going to head out on tour, feeling that “this feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.”

The dates were announced, and the band was skipping over Saskatchewan. I joked that this should allay any fears about the quality of Downie’s performances – the band was already touring like it was 20 years ago. I briefly resigned myself to missing out, but of course, my mind did as it will do; namely, it got a dumb idea and then started to figure out how to make it feasible. The Calgary show would work without taking any time off – I’d just have to move an EDO. Simple. Mika couldn’t go; she couldn’t get the needed day off work. That would be sad for her and a long drive by myself.

This was all hypothetical, of course, as I’d still need a ticket. Luckily, I was only up against an entire country of Hip fans and an army of scalpers looking to corner the market. No big deal.

On the morning of the on-sale, I heard about the instant sellouts of the Ontario shows with some alarm. Finally, at 10:00 local time, I was up – and nothing. Refresh. Nothing. Try again. Nothing.

Please re-read those last six words for about twenty minutes, okay? It’s important to my artistic vision.

I can’t really build any suspense here. I’m writing a concert review; obviously, I got in. I hit my give-up point a few times, but convinced myself to log back in and check just one more time. It finally paid off, with a seat on the 20th row of the floor. Not that the chairs were ever used once the music started.

So that’s it, I was going. I was really curious what the show would be like. Could they still deliver? Would it be sad? And what would they play? The Hip has 14 studio albums if you count their first EP – could any setlist satisfy everyone? Reports from the first few shows were promising, both in terms of their performance and the song selections.

It was finally time to hit the road. (Which means that it only took me 13 paragraphs or so to get to the parts you didn’t already know.) I left quite early on the Saturday morning, having gotten up at 5:20 a.m. as I do on workdays. I had high hopes of getting the drive out of the way quickly. This lasted until around Swift Current (about two hours from Regina), where I saw a billboard for the T.rex Discovery Centre in Eastend. I’d always wanted to check that out, and realized that I wasn’t likely to ever have a better chance. The detour took me about 2.5 hours out of the way, but I saw some rad dinosaur bones so I figure it was worth it.

Leaving the centre, the sky was pretty ominous. However, the windy road back to the main highway seemed designed to circumnavigate the storm. I was in the clear!

(I’m an idiot.)

I stopped for lunch at Medicine Hat’s finest Subway before nearing Calgary around 5:00 p.m. It was at this point that all hell broke loose. Between Strathmore and Chestermere, the car started handling really poorly. I am nervous about the car at the best of times, and the service light had come on earlier in the trip. I assumed it was just the reminder that we were due for an oil change upon my return, but the handling was really concerning. Then I realized it wasn’t the car – it was suddenly just that windy out. I discovered this when I encountered a dust storm so bad that you couldn’t see through it. I got past it, albeit slowly and cautiously. On the other side, I could see that the sky was a really strange colour. I later heard reports of funnel clouds in the area around the time that I was near. So that was a thing. And not even the worst of it – when I did get into Calgary, the skies opened up and unleashed a wicked hailstorm. I tried to find shelter but was unsuccessful. I then decided to just try to get to my grandma’s place, but the hail got worse so I abandoned that idea too. I pulled into a hotel parking lot and was somewhat shielded under a tree. This was loud and horrible and sucked and I hated it.

But I need to be thankful. It could have been much worse. After the hail ended, I got back on my way and passed all kinds of accidents and emergency vehicles. When I finally made it to my grandma’s place and stowed the car in the underground parking, my initial assessment didn’t reveal any damage. I don’t know how that could be possible – and I did find a windshield chip later on, so there was at least that – but we’ll get a car wash and see what we see. I’m still here and the car’s insured. Though I’m insured too so maybe we should run a cost-benefit analysis before declaring that everything worked out for the best.

I spent that night visiting with my grandma. I did get an invite from Colin to go out with him and some folks, but after that drive, our evening of frozen pizza and Lawrence Welk and NCIS reruns was just fine.

The next day (which was still not the day with the concert but I am trying to give you the full experience here), I walked to the Chinook Centre and saw some adorable bunnies on the way. Then I caught the C-Train to Colin’s neighbourhood and we explored the Harry Potter launch day celebrations. As Mika pointed out, me at a Harry Potter event would be like her going to a wrestling convention, but whatever, this was neat to see. Nobody was expecting this turnout and some places ran out of their Potter-themed specials two hours into the day. When we got there, the candy store had probably 100 people lined up out the door. After dinner, two hours after everything was supposed to be done, there was still a line just to get into the store.

The next day, I spent the afternoon walking around the neighbourhood, by which I mostly mean I spent it catching Pokémon. In music news, I popped by a record store where I found a used Refreshments vinyl for $12. Hopefully I like it as much now as I did in 1996. The deal was made even sweeter with the inclusion of a free Jason Collett CD that I’m about 80% sure I was allowed to take and didn’t just shoplift. They’d have said something, right?

Finally, it was time for the show. Multiple emails said it was doors at 6:30, show at 8:30 sharp. There were no physical tickets; you swiped the credit card you paid with at the door. I got there reasonably early, around 7:00, as I’d been expecting chaos trying to get in, but I needn’t have worried. There was no line, the swipe method worked fine, and I was inside in short order. I went in through the Chrysler Club entrance, and it took much longer to actually find my seat than it did to get inside. To go down, you must first go up. Very well.

For all the struggles people had getting tickets, I lucked out – 20th row on the floor, dead centre. It was such a good seat, in fact, that someone else claimed it too. We each went for the little slips they gave us when we did the swipe thing, and sure enough – Row 20, Seat 23. A matching set. Luckily, there was someone missing on the other side of the dude to my left, so he shuffled down a bit and all was well. This remained a mystery until I got home and examined my slip more closely. The slips have a perforation, and the printer deal doesn’t print real well on the perforation, so if you look really closely at my 23, you’ll see the telltale traces of ink that indicate it was actually a 28. Hahahaha whoops – I’m an idiot, but in fairness, that other dude didn’t notice it either. It WOULD explain why the other guy had room to move down.

If this all sounds relatively civil, well, it was. We all got along nicely. Fears of drunken yahoos – which escalated when I heard about the pre-party at Cowboy’s – were unfounded. Not that nobody was partaking (so so so much pot), but at least where I was, people weren’t rowdy at all. The mood wasn’t somber – far from it – but you didn’t get the people who were only there just to drink. I mean, I did hear one guy loudly belt out Boots or Hearts as I was leaving, but if that’s as bad as it gets, it’s been a good night.

There was no opening act. I figured this was for the best, since Hip crowds can sometimes be… single-minded in their interests, let’s say. The first time I saw the Hip, the Rheostatics were the openers and the crowd was having NONE OF IT. But in front of this audience… I don’t know, maybe? I don’t think people would have been outright mean to an opener here, but I also don’t think they wanted anything to take time away from the Hip.

As time passed, we got brief updates; a voiceover booming “THE SHOW WILL BEGIN IN 30 MINUTES” and an accompanying graphic on the big screen. Again at the 15-minute mark. Finally, it was “THIS IS ROB FROM THE HIP. THE SHOW WILL BEGIN IN 5 MINUTES, AND IF YOU ARE NOT IN YOUR SEAT, I WILL BE VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU.” Hilarious. Also, they were not messing around. At 8:30 on the nose, the lights dimmed, the band took the stage, everyone stood up (and stayed on their feet the entire time), and the show began.

The energy from the crowd was off the charts. Much like the Spirit of the West farewell show I saw earlier this year, everyone in attendance knew the story and they were ready to turn this into a great concert by sheer force of will if need be. However, the Hip – Gord in particular – didn’t need any help. He’s always been an entertainer and a showman and that’s what he was there to do. You’d never know that he’d had health issues – his voice was in fine form, as were his trademark… let’s go with unique dance moves. If anything, he seemed happier than the other times I’d seen them. More in the moment, with lots of big smiles, playful waves at the audience, and the ongoing struggle to pick his towel up off the floor with his feet. The costume changes helped the mood too. It’s probably hard to be sad when you have your choice of three shiny lamé suits to wear; gold, silver, and pink. With matching top hats. And a Jaws t-shirt underneath for good measure.

I broadcast the first four songs from the show on Periscope, more just as an experiment to see what would happen. I had over 300 live viewers at the peak, and it seemed like the sound came through okay – I haven’t watched it back. The idea was to set it up, stick my phone in my shirt pocket, and just kinda hope it worked out. But then it’s like… you want this to be good, right? So I’d hold the phone for a while, and then back to the shirt pocket, and then hold it some more, and then that aforementioned conversation with that dude about our “matching” tickets… ultimately, I shut it down pretty quickly. Too bad – it could have been a nice souvenir for me, and the folks who tuned in seemed really appreciative. But one only has so much battery and data, and I was finding it distracting. Still, a limited success. Will try again in the future with other shows.

As to what those songs were, the Hip were gracious enough to put the full setlist online so I don’t have to fight to remember specifics:

Three Pistols
Twist My Arm
Fiddler’s Green
Little Bones
In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
What Blue
Ocean Next
(five-minute break for the whole band)
In View
The Kids Don’t Get It
World Container
Yer Not the Ocean
So Hard Done By
Grace, Too
Yawning or Snarling
(Gord takes a brief break while the band plays on)
Something On
Escape is at Hand for the Travellin’ Man
(encore break)
Ahead by a Century
(second encore break)
Boots or Hearts
Blow at High Dough

First, you’ll notice it was kind of like they were their own opening act, with eight songs (around 35 minutes) and then a quick break leading into a longer set. But what I didn’t notice in the moment is that all the songs are grouped together by album. Check it: four songs from Road Apples, four from Man Machine Poem, four from World Container, four from Day for Night, four from Phantom Power, three from Trouble at the Henhouse, and two from Up to Here. I did notice that a lot of album-mates were played close together, but only after I got home did I realize just how segmented it was.

This also means that there was nothing from We are the Same, Now for Plan A, In Between Evolution, In Violet Light, Music@Work, and – gasp – Fully Completely, once my favourite Hip album (I still love it, but I go back and forth with Henhouse and Day for Night now too).

The second Calgary show, this past Wednesday, followed a similar format. It featured blocks of songs from Up to Here, Man Machine Poem, Day for Night, In Violet Light, Trouble at the Henhouse, Phantom Power, and Fully Completely. I want to say that about half the songs repeated but I am not about to count it all up right now to be sure. I can’t say for sure which night I’d rather have seen. There were some obvious omissions in my show, but what can be done about that? They could play a six-hour show and there’d still be people who didn’t get to hear their favourites. On the drive home from Calgary, I tried to come up with my ideal setlist for a second show with no repeats. This was a hard game to master but an easy game to play – it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Hip have a ton of great songs.

And in Calgary, they played them all so well. The songs weren’t really messed with in any way; there were no fancy new arrangements and Gord didn’t really play with the lyrics as I’d seen him do before. The songs were all largely as we know them. The band was – well, as good as you’d expect musicians with 30 years of experience to be, which is to say, fantastic.

I have now ended two straight paragraphs with the most obvious “insights.” Maybe I should also mention that people cheered everything but they were much louder for the big hits.

Though I have to make special mention of Grace, Too. I’ve been asked if the show was sad, and it really wasn’t. People – both fans and the band, really – were there to celebrate, not to mourn. But there’s that part near the end of Grace, Too where Gord is just yelling, right? So they’re playing this song, and the crowd has been singing along, and they get to that part, and he’s just wailing, and you can clearly see his face on the big screens and he looks sad. The more he wails, the louder the crowd gets, and this carries on as far as you’d think it could go, and then just keeps on still. It was just so intense and cathartic – probably more for the crowd than for Gord – that when it finally ended, I was just in awe of what had happened. In 252 reviews – and with openers, festivals, and whatnot, surely well over 500 individual performances – I’m confident that this was the best single song I’ve ever seen done live.

“It’s one of those nights,” said Gord, and it was. Maybe he says that every night. Maybe every night is one of those nights now. I said that show wasn’t sad but it was bittersweet, especially at each break when the band would leave Gord alone on stage to soak in the adulation for a few moments before he joined them, and when they all hugged at the very end. He never talked about why we were all there, but it couldn’t be avoided.

Near as I can tell, the band has never said this is their last tour. I hope it’s not. Ideally, Gord will Magic Johnson this thing, and 30 years from now, we’ll all be asking him “I thought you said you were sick?” But I also know those are long odds. If this is the last time I see them, they went out on a high. Of the four Hip concerts I’ve seen, this was easily the best of the bunch. But though I know how lucky I am to have gotten into this one, I left wanting more, and I don’t think I can make another stupid plan pan out.

The CBC is broadcasting the final concert of the tour on Saturday, August 20 – live and commercial-free on TV, radio, and online. The casino here has announced that they’ll be showing it on the big screen in their concert lounge – it’s free to get in, but they’re taking donations to the Canadian Cancer Society. I don’t know if events like that will be happening everywhere, but I think that would be a fun way to watch the show; not quite the concert atmosphere, but maybe the next best thing. Whether this really is a farewell tour or just a much-deserved victory lap, it’s an opportunity to join the rest of Canada in a celebration of the band that defined Canadian music. (Eat it, Rush.)

• Regina Folk Festival w/The Head and The Heart, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Roberts Band, The Mavericks, Bettye LaVette, The Cat Empire, The Strumbellas, Frazey Ford, more (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat (October 5)
• I Mother Earth (October 8)

Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem

I’ve been a first-day buyer of this band since Road Apples, 1991. You do the math. It should come as no surprise, then, that I bought this album yesterday, on its release date.

And this review? I am writing as I listen. I wanted it visceral, in real time. Innumerable subsequent listens will surely reveal more down the road.

Writing this is bittersweet. I love the Hip, have since Up To Here, more than half a lifetime ago for me, now. Through all the amazing records over the years, and my own couple of times seeing them perform live, through always having them in my exercise iPod because they are nearest and dearest friends to me…

Ever since Gord Downie announced his terminal brain cancer I’ve been a bit out of sorts, as pertains to this band. They’re so important, so much a part of my (and all of our) fabric and life that the thought of them potentially ending is quite disorienting. And this is me, some guy in Ontario who loves the band, so I can’t imagine what the band is enduring. That this might be their last studio record… it’s a tough listen. But I have to. I want to. And here it is.

Nevermind how hard it was to get tickets to the gigs (fuck you, scalpers. Seriously, FUCK YOU). nevermind that. We embrace this document. This album is our shield and our weapon. We can bring it into our home, we can hear it a zillion times (I know I will). That is a power we wield, and it is ours. Thank you, Hip.

First off, the cover. It looks like a little kid falling through the air, but to me it looks like a kid standing on dark carpet, looking up, leaning back. I assume that no children were tossed in the air during the making of this cover… Nice mullet, anyway.

Next, the sound. It’s huge. I played it in the good headphones, and there’s a roomy airiness to it all, everything larger than life and right there in your face. You can almost smell the dust coming off the stacks as they thump. I LOVE IT.

Let’s give ‘er, shall we?

Opener track Man starts off garbled. It builds into a beautiful, slow and aching soundscape. The band is restrained, yet tight, and the whole thing feels wide open. And there’s Gord over the top of it all, inimitable. There’s still a bunch of weird vocal whatevers, but the drums hold it all together, loud and clear.

Up next is In A World Possessed By The Human Mind, which is the single, and it’s a great one. That driving beat, and Gord’s words flowing with that delivery that’s only his. Whether the band is holding back, or propelling loudly forward, this could’ve been on Trouble At The Henhouse and fit perfectly. I love it.

What Blue is right up front, nothing hiding in the back. A true Hip song, those guitars, those drums. Only one band in the world sounds like this, and it is our beloved Hip. This one is canon. When he says “I love you so much / it distorts my life / what drove and drives you drove and drives me too…” sounds like the words of every Hip fan everywhere. Right back atcha, Gord.

In Sarnia is another slow jammer, with Gordie wailing over top. The music is so loud, the lyrics almost drown out, which adds an ethereal affect to it all. This is Music @ Work-era Hip, to me, and it’s glorious.

Here, In The Dark starts off slow, but soon ramps up into the first faster rockier song on the album. Of course, it’s a million things more than that, but for all that it is it’s another amazing, perfect Hip tune. Even worthy of Road Apples, it’s that good. Goddamn I am hooked on this record and I still have 5 tracks to go.

Great Soul swings and rocks, and the guitars jab away in the back as Gord and the drums propel us forward. What a brilliant tune, a piece of art unto itself.

Tired As Fuck has a lift to it, it’s searching… those restless drums, those guitars… what a beautiful track. Again I hear Henhouse, maybe In Violet Light. And believe me, as a fan of all the records as a whole, when I start saying it sounds like it could’ve come from one record or another, it’s a friggin’ compliment. What a track.

Hot Mic builds into a menacing stomp, and when it explodes it’s restrained but still among the rocking-est stuff I’ve heard so far. Those pounding drums, that throbbing bass line… fucking brilliance. It’s like they’re right here in the room with me, loud and clear and playing that “powerful stuff.” Holy hell. This oughta be a single.

Ocean Next starts us off with acoustic guitar gorgeous, then Gord’s vocals (with effects on them) come in and it’s a whole new ball game. Another slower track, it’s beautiful. When that bass thumps, it hits you right in the chest.

Machine has a steady beat, prominent hi-hat, and when it hits the main bit, the bluesy rock guitar and this whole sonic thing they have rocks so fucking hard that this track is a favourite already. The middle bit, the part that builds, filled me with so much happiness and hope and joy that I got up out of my seat and strained the headphone cord. And as the electronics die out to end the track, here we are.

Just like that, it’s over way too soon. The album, and (perhaps) this band as we know it. I’m adrift, honestly. I love this record. It is a GREAT Hip record, and I know it will stand up so very well indeed in the discography. There’s a part of me that wants more, though, the part of me that wants the Hip to never ever go away, to always be there, performing and creating and being themselves. And in a way, I know they will always be there. They always have been.

In Sum:

Let’s assume that Gord’s health was fine, and this Hip record was being released. I would feel the same about it in that (preferable) scenario as I do knowing what we know. This is an immediate, loveable, rocking, tasteful, experimental, perfect record. The Hip have outdone themselves on this album. If this is their last record, it’s a great one. I feel like I’ll only love it more as time goes on, too. It feels like one that each listen rewards that little bit more. I’m OK with that.

Much love, power, and support to Gord and the band in these times. It feels like understatement to say we wish you all the best. And thanks for this record. It’s a beaut.


For more essential reading, check out Boppinsblog’s excellent review of this record right here!

I’m total pro, that’s what I’m here for

On the morning of Tuesday, May 24, I got up around 5:20 like I do every workday. Staggered around. Checked my phone. Saw email from Aaron trying to arrange a day for group posts about Gord Downie. Didn’t think much of it. Aaron does stuff like that. Looked backwards in my email. Saw one from Brian. Cancer. Okay. That explains the group post. Still wasn’t overly concerned. Scrolled back one more. Opened the email message the band sent to their mailing list.



Later that day, a friend took a picture of one of his Hip concert stubs and posted it to Facebook. This inspired me to do the same:


The first was one of my most anticipated concerts. It came at the height of their status as Canada’s Band and came after a long string of skipping Saskatchewan on their cross-Canada tours. (Anyone concerned that Downie’s health will affect the quality of their upcoming shows can rest easy – they’re back touring like they did in their prime.)

I remember lots of little things about those shows – an audience willing to murder the Rheostatics to get to the Hip, Sheryl Crow’s dog at Roadside, Gord shaking a banana. But looking at these tickets now, the most interesting story they tell me is that they stop at 1999. For all the shows I go to, it’s been over 17 years since I’ve seen them.


As is the case for an awful lot of people my age, the Hip are – as I mentioned – Canada’s Band. They got big as I got into high school and ever since have remained something that Canadians share. Something we have in common.

Weird thing about Canadians. We celebrate failure in America as much as we covet success there. The Hip’s inability to break through in the States only made them OURS that much more. Of course YOU wouldn’t get it. It’s a Canadian thing. Only WE get it. And yet it seemed like every story I read about Downie in the past week had to reference the band’s 1995 Saturday Night Live appearance as though it was a career highlight and not a favour from Lorne Michaels to Dan Aykroyd.

Everyone has their story. My boss at the pizza place where I had my first job used to see them at a dive bar in Saskatoon when they were first starting out – they’d come to town and play for a week, no cover charge. I was so envious. He was likely lying, but still. Envious.

I read someone online this week who said that nothing outed him as an immigrant like the lack of a deep attachment to the Tragically Hip.


I think this was supposed to be about my favourite Downie and/or Hip moments or songs or something. Not doing that. Don’t know from moments, can’t rank the songs. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Hip as a concept, as an entity, means more than any one song. Or ten songs.

And I’m not the right guy to do it anyway. As the years went by, I listened to new Hip albums less and less. Still bought them all, but didn’t give them all a fair shake. Stuck to what I already knew. It’s very strange to think there have been about as many Hip records released after the last time I saw them as before. I still think of Phantom Power as being one of their newer albums.


I often think about things ending. I unload the dishwasher and consider that at some point, I will unload a dishwasher for the last time. I wonder if I’ll know when it happens?

But I had never really considered that the Hip could end. It feels like they’ve been around for as long as I can remember; and more importantly, they’re a Canadian institution. Part of us. Saying they could end is like saying Canada could end. Sure, it could happen, my logical brain gets that, but my emotional brain says that it won’t happen in my lifetime. Right?

Of course they’d have to end at some point, right? All bands end. They have to. All people end. 2016 has made sure we remember that.

I look back at the morning of the 24th and wish I could blame my naiveté on being half-awake. Group post for no reason? That’s fine. Cancer? Sucks, but that happens. Probably no big deal.


Couldn’t wrap my head around it. Still can’t, really.

Alan Cross said that we’re not allowed to eulogize Downey yet. I’m trying not to. But we’re all celebrating his life, his career, his art, his band, him. And you know why. Nobody wants to think about why, but we all know why.

After a 17-year self-inflicted drought, I got a ticket to the August 1 show in Calgary. Spent too much money. 8-hour drive – each way. Thrilled to see them again, incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity. And we all know why.


You were very kind to read all that, so here are some pictures of my Roadside program and sampler CD for your amusement.


Tragically Hip – Fully Completely Deluxe: The Full Story

Tragically Hip – Fully Completely Deluxe: The Full Story

I am writing this tale today in tandem with the wonderful Sarca at Caught Me Gaming. You should follow that link, read all her posts. Not just her post that goes along with this one. Read all of them. Go on. I’ll wait.


Way back in the fall, I told you that I had been in our local Mall Wart to get some diapers or something, and I saw one lonely copy of the new Hip 2CD Fully Completely re-release for $9.99. I panicked. I thought for sure it had been priced wrong and, even though I have been told a bajillion times not to buy music for myself before Christmas (because I never know what people have bought me!), I bought it anyway. And when I got home, I looked it up online and learned that $10 was the regular price. When I told my lovely wife (and my Mom) this story, they both rolled their eyes, unsurprised at my antics.

Apologies to you all, now, that I still haven’t reviewed the damn thing yet, even though I held onto it (like a good boy) until after Christmas, and only opened it after I did not receive another copy as a gift. It is now almost June and still no review. As a Hip fan, excited about this set, that review is atrociously long overdue. Anyway. Maybe it was waiting for what happened next. You see…

Sarca, at Christmas time, used gift money to buy herself a Deluxe edition of the set, which had a bunch of extra goodies in it. I drooled.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I get an email from Sarca. She’d been thinking about it, and realized she was only ever gonna play the CDs and didn’t need the rest of the set cluttering up her house. Would I want to trade my 2CD set for her boxed set?

Um, what?

That was a losing proposition for her. Hers was about $50, mine was $10. Not only that, her set also had the lithographs, the beautiful book, the DVD of the Heksenketel from 1993’s Another Roadside Attraction… straight up, it wasn’t fair to her. She said she’d thought it out, and I had been most enthusiastic about the set when she posted about buying it, and she was  actually cool with the swap. I still hesitated, I mean, I wanted it of course but Sarca is a friend and a fine member of this blogging community and I sure wouldn’t take advantage of generosity and kindness in any bad or weird way.

We talked some more, and in the end, the swap was on. So I put my panic-purchased copy of the 2CD in a box with a bunch of other stuff (she’ll talk about all of that in her own post on this very subject) and mailed it off. She did the same with her Deluxe and, wouldn’t you know it, we both received our parcels on the very same day!! Couldn’t do that again if we tried!

So here was the gorgeous Deluxe of Fully Completely, and I spent a good long while just staring at it, enjoying its presence. I do love me some Hip, and this set is a thing of beauty.*

But there was also another surprise in the parcel… Sarca had been to Peterborough and, in her travels, found me a copy of the Watchmen’s McLaren Furnace Room. I love that album, too. This came about, I believe, because I must have been talking at some point about how I’ve owned that thing a bunch of times over the years and found myself (once again) without it, at the moment. It’s a stone cold classic and I was silly to not have it here! Sarca fixed that.*

Y’all should also check out her great post about this parcel swap. Go!

I hope it’s becoming clear, as you read all of this, that Sarca absolutely rocks. I cannot thank her enough, but I can try. Thank you, Sarca. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. This is truly a beautiful thing you did.


* And I will review it soon. I SWEAR IT!

‘It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken’

‘It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken’

I’m pulling a page from Deke’s books today, talking about a single song. I rarely do this, it’s usually albums all taken together, or something else entirely. But I’ve had this song stuck in my head for the past two days, so I thought I’d just drop this here to tell you about my love for this Tragically Hip track, ‘It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken.’

A slow, sweeping tune, found at track 4 on 2002’s In Violet Light album, it is fluid and beautiful, graceful and stirring. The backing vocals call and response “go somewhere we’re needed” with Gordie’s “find somewhere to go/grow” blend perfectly. The guitars hold our attention riveted as they’re both gently arpeggiated and then rock chorded as it builds. Fay’s drums swing just so… the whole thing moves and breathes of its own accord. You could be in a gently rocking rowboat, or on a porch swing on a summer’s evening, or gliding down a prairie highway late at night with no one else around for miles, warm and illusorily safe in your metal cocoon/bullet. It’s a moment of reflection, of a life examined and therefore worth living.

The quotation is widely attributed to John Buchan (he was also Governor General of Canada and wrote The 39 Steps!). A little further digging led me to this track, a foxtrot by Lou Gold and His Orchestra, from “Playboy Of Paris,” in 1930. Both Buchan and Gold used it as “It’s A Great Life If You Don’t Weaken,” but the message stands.

From what I could find on the Hip’s song, the title could also come from a graphic novel of the same name by Canadian artist Seth. I’ve read that book more than once, and it’s a fine, fine thing. The story of the search for an obscure old graphic artist is gorgeous, and the artwork… well, it’s Seth, so you know it’s achingly perfect. You should read it post-haste, if you haven’t already. According to Wiki, Seth said the title was a phrase his mother used during his childhood. One guesses it was a quotation passed along colloquially from Buchan, or perhaps from the Gold record.

Whatever the case, it’s the Hip’s song that I have in my head these days, and I love it. I know that, most times, when I have a song stuck in my head for long periods, like this, I usually try anything to get reprieve, to change the tune. Not this time. I’m content to let this one enjoy its stay in the dusty halls of my brain for as long as it likes.


I wasn’t gonna tell this story, but figure I may as well, as it is illustrative of the depths of my geekery (and my long-standing fandom of this band). This is old news, back a couple of weeks, but it’s still relevant, and I offer it up now for your general hilarity at my panic. You see:

On November 17, the Tragically Hip re-released their amazing Fully Completely album in different versions and with lots of extra goodies. You know this already, I won’t repeat it all.

I want that set so badly. The best would be the deluxe with the DVD of Heksenketel – long out of print, and only on VHS, if I recall correctly. Anyway, I never ever saw one, in all my travels, at any price. Of course, I’d be just as happy with the plain ol’ 2CD. Wish they were releasing the DVD separately… Anyway. I digress.

Prior to its release I was raving about it to my lovely wife and, it being so close to Christmas, I was told that I was not allowed to buy it for myself. Gah!

So it happened, on or just after release day that I was up at our local Mall-Wart for diapers or some such, and of course I happened past the New Release shelves and there it was. They only had one copy left! And it was listed at $10! For 2CDs? That’s gotta be at least $18.99… Someone mis-priced it!

I panicked. I was told I can’t buy it… but I can’t leave this here!

So I bought it.

But I didn’t open it. And when my lovely wife got home from work I confessed, telling her the story. She rolled her eyes (she’s very used to my love of all things Hip, by now), but told me to keep the receipt because she had no idea what anyone else might be getting me for Christmas, and if I get it as a gift I can return this one.

Worse yet, that night we looked it up on the Amazons to see if it had indeed been mispriced at Wally and… $9.99. Which makes my panic pointless, and also means the Hip are EVEN MORE AWESOME because that’s a shit-ton of value for $10!!!

That next weekend, my parents came to visit and I told my Mom the story. She rolled her eyes (see how well my family knows me?) and said the same – keep the receipt, never know until Christmas who’s buying what, and if you DO get it, take it back. If not, there it is and you’re all set.

And then Deke went and posted about the one he bought off iTunes (and the Bryan Adams Reckless re-release, ANOTHER one I want badly!) and when I drooled about it over on his site, he helpfully gave me how many days left I had to wait. I did not tell him this panic-purchase story at the time, because he’d just laugh at my ass.

He’ll probably still laugh at my ass. As will the rest of you, and fair play to you. I deserve it.

Long story short: There’s a copy of the 2CD set here in my desk drawer, receipt taped to it, ready to be returned if I do get it for Christmas.


Tragically Hip – Day For Night (2CD Edition)

Through the comments with Deke on my Fully Completely dilemma (which one should I buy?) yesterday, I was reminded that, somewhere in my collection, I have a different version of Day For Night. It’s a 2CD set, a 1994 release same as the original album. CD1 is the Audio Portion, and CD2 is the Enhanced Portion. This sits alongside my regular 1CD version. Yes, I own two copies. It’s OK, I’m a BIG FAN! 😉  Now, as for this 2CD set…

CD1 is just the album, same as all the others released in 1994. It’s not a remaster, as far as I can tell, at least there’s nothing to indicate such in the booklet.

CD2 is the Enhanced Portion, and the system requirements for running this are like a time capsule.* The disc is something called a HyperCD, which is supposed to automatically launch the content. On my up-to-date iMac, it did not do this. It demands that I install Netscape, Quicktime (which I already have, but the version it wants is so old it’d have dinosaur shit on it) in order to run. It’s so old, though, it won’t even work. My Mac just refuses. I have no interest in trying further to put this crap on my Mac. So I’m gonna go over to my lovely wife’s Winblows 8 laptop, see if it will work there…

Nope. It found a compatibility issue with 64-bit versions of Windows, which must mean this is a 32-bit. Anybody else remember FAT32? Oh man.

OK, so I refuse to muck up my Mac with whatever ancient thing this disc wants to try to install, and my wife’s laptop won’t even read the disc because it says it’s too old.

iTunes on my Mac doesn’t even acknowledge that there’s a disc in the drive, so there’s no audio content on the disc that iTunes recognizes. Unhelpfuly, there’s nothing in the booklet to indicate what is on the Enhanced CD.

To the internets for info about what’s even on there!

First hit from Google is HMV, which lists the CD (and only $10!) but an availability search with their largest possible radius of 5000km (all of Canada!) returned no copies. However, it does indicate, in its blurb, that it “contains regual (sic – they mean regular) audio tracks (which must mean CD1) as well as multimedia computer files, including videos for the songs “Grace, Too”, “Greasy Jungle,” “Nautical Disaster,” and “Thugs.”

Well, if those videos are what’s there, that made this is a really sweet package. In 1994 (damn, this album is 20 years old!!). Now, though, I can get all 4 of those videos for free on Youtube. I also own the Hip’s boxed set, Hipeponymous, where 1 of its 4 discs contains all of their previous videos. But the word “including” there makes me wonder if there’s anything else on the disc. It doesn’t say for sure there is, but it also doesn’t say there isn’t. I guess I’ll never know, unless more info turns up elsewhere.

So. This is a neat curio, if nothing else. I have no idea as to its value, as Discogs doesn’t even list it as a release, and Googling it doesn’t turn up much of use. It’s Universal 0121535592, if that helps anyone else looking further into this release.

Whatever the case, Day For Night is a beautiful record, long live the Tragically Hip!



Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher
Quicktime 3.0
(they included Netscape Navigator 4.08 and Quicktime 3.0 on the disc).

PowerPC 166 MHz Mac or Mac compatible running Mac OS 7.5.3 or later.
14.4 kbps modem or faster
monitor with a minimum setting of thousands of colours and 640×480 screen resolution
a minimum of 16 MB of available memory, 32 MB recommended
4x or faster multi-session enabled CD-ROM drive

It mentions that after you’ve installed all that it needs and rebooted, it will automatically initiate the dial-up to my local ISP. Yes, you read that correctly. DIAL-UP!

Fully Completely Torn

Thanks to Deke for pointing out that the Tragically Hip will be re-releasing their seminal Fully Completely album next month. This, in itself, is great news! I love that album, as do millions of others.

The thing is, they’re releasing three versions of it, in varying loads of content, and I want them all!

1) 2CD Deluxe (8-panel digipak) [$9.99]

– album remastered, with 2 previously unreleased studio tracks
– live album from Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto 1992-09-13

2) Super Deluxe [$49.99]

– all of 1), plus…
– DVD of Heksenketel 1993 tour documentary
– 5 lithographs
– hardcover book with photos, artwork, band recollections, etc

3) 180g Vinyl [$24.99]

– includes 2 bonus tracks same as CD versions
– does NOT include vinyl of live Horseshoe show

So. For me it goes like this:

1) would make me very, very happy. Truth to tell, this is all most people would need. It’s also a total fuckin’ steal at $10.

2) would send me over the moon. Mostly for the included DVD. That Heksenketel has been out of print so long, I’m drooling just thinking about it. This is definitely be the most expensive option, but it would also be totally, totally worth it.

3) given how rare (and therefore expensive) original Hip vinyl is, this would be a very, very pleasing option. Example: I looked it up on Discogs tonight. The cheapest original vinyl of this album listed is $225 CDN (€160)! NB: Anyone reading this, if you happen across Tragically Hip vinyl in your local shop at a reasonable price BUY IT AND I WILL PAY YOU BACK! Thanks! 🙂 I wish they’d included the live album in this, made it a double vinyl.


All three of these options are great. I want them all.

What would you do?

Tragically Hip – Bobcaygeon

Of course, I love the Hip. LOVE. But I don’t know if this was the movie I would have made. I mean, yes, the in-concert footage is great, the boys played well. But that part was a given, the only sure thing about the whole production.

Big Music Fest is the one that happens down the street from my house, some summers. Every show they actually manage to put on, it seems to go just well enough… but there’s always SOMETHING with it, you know? Something odd, or sketchy or just… something. As soon as I saw it was these guys putting on this show, I thought Here we go. I have to think that this went as well as it did, and their Wiarton attempt years earlier as well, because of the Hip and their team being seasoned, consummate professionals more so than the promoter’s efforts.

And I suppose whomever filmed this thing thought they were doing us a favour by introducing us to the local yokels, adding colour and personality to the thing, right? Well, sure. Give us a little taste of that. But a majority portion of this film was taken up by people just repeating what we all feel: we love the Hip, we all have a story about a where or a when with this band. So, what else do you have to say? I dunno, I’d have left most of that out. Or maybe interview more than the very small number of people they did, ya know? There were 25,000 in town for the gig? And you could only find that few to interview? Lazy. Whatever, it was still too many yapping people, not enough Hip.

Oh well, can’t please everybody, like the girl whose wedding day had the show’s noise in the background. Or that bar owner at the town meeting… I wonder if he knew he was being filmed, because his ‘argument’ ended up looking pretty unfocussed. Even the band, on the bus after the show, probably forgetting the cameras at that point, complaining about the showers in their hotel. Really?

And finally, I didn’t get the ‘sense of occasion’ I expected when they finally played Bobcaygeon, the song. Just another song in the set, it seemed. It was the whole reason for the movie, the big money-shot and… well, they played it and that was that. It was all very anti-climatic, felt cold.

Also, I totally would have left that song for the encore. Playing it last of the set was cool, but then coming out and playing 50 Mission Cap for the encore? Wrong song to have in peoples’ heads as they’re walking out of that field, boys. It’s so simple. Play Bobcaygeon last. It’s why people were there, really. Make them wait for it, then let them float home on it. Or, don’t do the encore at all. Just end the full set with that song. Either way, they totally missed the boat on that one.

Ach, but nobody ever asks me these things.

I wouldn’t rate this film very high (if I had a rating system), and all the points it did get would come from the pleasure of the live footage. I’m glad to have seen it, but for all the work that went into it, the film’s final product felt lacking.

*UPDATE on 2013-02-10: Thanks to Jeff, in the comments (below this post), we now have a bit more perspective on the show. Sadly, what we’ve learned only makes what we felt about the DVD that much stronger. For those who are into it, check out the actual setlist of the show HERE.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Final Notes (2010)

So, that’s all the records (thus far). I’ve had a fantastic time re-listening to all of this. The exercise was instructive, fairly laying out the blueprint of what a great band does to make it look and sound easy. It was enlightening, because with each listen I always notice a new little facet that broadens my understanding of the songs that much more. And it taught me even more respect for the band than I’d already had, which was massive already. To survey, in its entirety, their twenty-plus year career is to happily know that they’ve always been in for the long haul, made all the more remarkable by the survival of the original line-up, their willingness to experiment and yet still maintain their signature sound, and giving no indication that this will ever cease. Ah, bliss. Long Live The Hip!

Tragically Hip: The Series – We Are The Same (2009)

This is truly one of the great bands. Think about it: For over twenty years, this same group of guys has made consistently brilliant records, toured constantly, and shown us how to care about great music, books, and this country as much as they do. They’re on their quest, same as anybody, and spend more time looking outward for new and creative things. That’s why this latest record fills me with so much glee. It’s another bold step towards new sounds and approaches, still shaking things up after all these years and making it sound fresh while they’re at it. The songs here are crystal clear, allowing the obvious, and by now ubiquitous excellence in the writing to step to the fore.

I heard Morning Moon everywhere, for a while. Even in retail stores. You know how I feel already about the music in stores being the end of the road for those songs, or the place where songs that have been shitty since they were written go to writhe for eternity in pop hell. But this track shone out of the muck and mire like a beacon of light and truth, a rare gem in a shit pile, its pleasant groove pulling me along with it and making me smile every time. Honey, Please is hot on its heels with its uplifting riff and completely catchy lyrics. The Last Recluse pulls things in a bit closer to the chest, asking big questions we all need to ask. From there, we dive straight into funky and quirky (and talk of mix tapes) with Coffee Girl. I love this song! It should totally be a single. Love the trumpet line, too.

Now we step back in pace a bit, again, with Now The Struggle Has A Name. I can imagine this song being an absolutely powerful experience in concert. It soars. Deceptively simple, but don’t be fooled for a minute. There’s some real work being done here. From there we roll beautifully into The Depression Suite, a tight, mid-tempo splash across a canvas. Let it take you with it and you’ll be grateful, indeed. The riffs get heavier in The Exact Feeling, the culmination of the perfect build of the past couple of songs.

Queen Of The Furrows brings the acoustic guitars to the front and eventually lets the electrics blare. This song is road-trip material, gliding past the rocks, trees and water of our great home, full of the energetic need to explore. And what a guitar solo! Next up is the fantastic rocker Speed River, which makes me wonder if it’s about the river by the same name in Guelph, or if it’s just an idea Gordie came up with in one of his frequent bursts of creativity… great track, either way. And they’re not done with us, either! Frozen In My Tracks has a monster riff, and would absolutely tear the roof off the mothersucker in concert. This song is huge in every way.

Buried way down here in the track list is the first single, Love Is A First, yet another catchy song that makes it impossible to sit still while you’re listening to it. I love that the lyrics are (to me) fairly obviously the result of Gordie’s concert ramblings and lyrical meanderings. If they’re not, well, I can still totally hear him doing it. Stands up on par with any other track they’ve released to radio, easily. And then we jolt rather unceremoniously and abruptly into the last track of this record, Country Day. That really could have been mixed better… Anyway, the closer is another classic mid-range with occasional acoustic guitars track, which is nonetheless completely engrossing and engaging. And orchestral strings! So cool!

In sum: You guessed it – I love this record. Simple as that.

Tragically Hip: The Series – World Container (2006)

Oh my goodness, can I even begin to tell you how much I love this record!? It’s grown on my continuously since it came out, and contains some of the most tuneful and rapturous bursts of song they’ve given us since… well, since the last record, but that’s beside the point… Seriously, this is awesome!

Yer Not The Ocean is another in the long string of fantastic opening tracks, setting a great pace and letting Gordie’s vocals soar over the carefully-controlled din perfectly. The Lonely End Of The Rink is one of the best songs on here. If memory serves me correctly, Gordie’s the goalie for the pick-up hockey team a bunch of these musician-types play for, which somehow suits him perfectly. And when he’s going on about joining the rush here, he speaks for every goalie on the planet, I’m sure. Anyway, from the opening guitar flirtations into a held breath and then that absolute blast of the song’s main riff, this song pounds away happily. It must sound so awesome live! The guitar parts in the verse remind me of the Police. Cool. Next up is the single, In View, which you’ve all heard a million times, and I know you’ve had that completely infectious nine-note riff stuck in your head on many occasions because I have too! I didn’t like it so much at first, but now I realize it fits their catalogue perfectly and it’s some great pop songwriting to boot.

Fly is one of those open prairie road-trip songs, rolling along and lifting us up at the chorus, drawing us in with all its excellent lyrics. The generic bass line in Luv (Sic) totally takes me back to 1985 or so, but in a good way! This is a cool song that rocks perfectly. And then we roll into the Clash-inspired brilliance of The Kids Don’t Get It, a song that I absolutely love because it slips us from its pounding, shuffling beat into the piano ballad of Pretend without missing a beat. It’s two songs from one idea, taken in totally different directions. Genius!

Last Night I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me picks the pace back up handily with another fantastic bluesy riff and an ethereal chorus. The Drop Off is here to ROCK on its driving beat, so hold on to your hat! This song is so much fun! Family Band keeps the superior pacing and offers some of the more interesting phrasing on the record. Love it. And the title track closes things out here, standing up proudly amongst the best examples of the rock ballad in music history.

Whoa. I can listen to this record countless times, and every time it offers me something new again, some little detail I’d missed, an extra treat to please me to no end, and to keep me coming back again and again. And I will. Oh yes, I will. Highly, highly recommended.

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.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Yer Favourites (2005)

This is a greatest hits package, and it also totally is not a greatest hits package. It is, because every song here is worthy and awesome and we know this already. It isn’t, though, for two reasons. One, because of everything that was excluded. And two, this band is not finished yet, not by far. How could these be their greatest hits when more new songs were to follow? So call it a retrospective. It was probably contractually obligated, like the live record. Fair enough.

Anybody who’s been following along like I have is grateful mainly for the two new tracks (woo!), and will largely find themselves returning to playing the original albums anyway. For anyone new to the band, however, this set makes a fairly decent gateway collection as introduction, and notice well served that it’s time you went and bought all the albums anyway (which is always my recommendation). The band was very wise to let the fans vote on the songs that would be included in this set. If given that job myself, I surely couldn’t do it.

The two new tracks here, which open and close the set (No Threat, and The New Maybe, respectively) are worthy inclusions to the canon, especially The New Maybe (love it!), and they’re a welcome addition to the mind-blowing collection of songs they bookend. It really makes you take a step back and say “Damn, these guys have been unstoppable for so long! Awesome!” Grace, Too welcomes us in beautifully but, if left to me, I sure wouldn’t have followed that with Music @ Work. It’s an OK song, but of all the songs from which to choose, it doesn’t need to be right up front like that. Makes me think the fans were allowed to pick the tracks, but not the order in which they’d appear…

There’s only one track from the first record, Highway Girl, and it’s buried ten tracks into the second disc, which is a shame. A couple of the songs are (very slightly) different mixes (Courage, Looking For A Place To Happen), but who’s complaining? Not this guy. The rest is as it should be, all great Hip songs one after the other.

The only real hard time I had with this collection was, knowing the original records as well as I do, the different track order. I keep expecting the next album track to come on next, not jump to another album entirely. It’s disorienting, but in a happy way!

Amazon sells this real cheap. If you don’t have it, you should. Buy two, for that matter, and have one in the house and one in the truck, like I did. Can’t go wrong with a plan like that.

P.S. This collection is also part of the Hipeponymous box set, so if I get time tomorrow I’ll post about that particularly wonderful release too.

Tragically Hip: The Series – In Between Evolution (2004)

It seems a little odd to me to be writing one of these per day, turning each of the band’s (usually) two year effort of touring and a new record into just a moment of your time. Mine is not an effort to diminish their work, to be sure. On the contrary, it’s to celebrate it (as you’ll have gathered by now)! So. To business…

Right of the bat, this record blasts us with the fast, monster riffs of Heaven Is A Better Place Today, another epic opening track. I should make a CD of just their opening tracks, in chronological order. That’d still be a great mix. Summer’s Killing Us keeps the energy alive, a track that must sound simply awesome in concert, everyone bouncing in time… Follow that with Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park, a fantastic, bluesy guitar line that satisfyingly chugs. This song has weight. I’m lovin’ it. And from there we head right into another song you must surely have memorized by now, from rawk radio, Vaccination Scar. Once again they’ve loaded the front end of an album with track after track of excellence. Better yet, it keeps right on going!

It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night is a fun, mid-tempo romp, another playground built for that inimitable guitar combination. Then we jump cities, for If New Orleans Is Beat, a thoughtful musing which is certainly more evocative now, after the tragedy there. You’re Everywhere moves forward indelibly, capturing the ear with its strong riff and steady beat. Pick the pace back up again for As Makeshift As We Are, the riff for which catches me thinking of Corner Gas every time, then I realize no, it’s not. Haha. Cool. And such a great song. Mean Streak brings things in closer to the chest at first, then lets go in a raunchy crash that is definitely worth multiple listens. There are a lot of tricky chords in this one!

Strap back in and let ‘er rip for The Heart Of The Melt, another classic Hip rawk track. Damn, these guys can whip such songs off with apparent ease, but I’m sure of how hard it is to do this, let alone with the level of consistency these guys enjoy. From there we find ourselves enjoying One Night In Copenhagen, a perfect companion to its predecessor on the album. They’ve found a great, fuzzy guitar sound for this record and its prominent all over the place, especially here. Are We Family is a track I absolutely love. That lead guitar line gets stuck in my head for days! You just need to hear it for yourself, then play it repeatedly. I know you will. And last (but certainly not least), it’s time to say Goodnight Josephine, a song that starts out like a sketch that grows into a fully realized piece of work as it progresses. I love it when they end an album on an upbeat level of energy, and this album is no exception. It bodes well for the next collection of treasures surely in our future.

If they’re ‘in-between evolution’ on this record, what comes next must surely be amazing (and it was), because to me it sounds like they’re already there… and have been for years.

Tragically Hip: The Series – In Violet Light (2002)

The Hip hit factory we’ve come to know and love by this point is in fine form with this release. Are You Ready? kicks things off with a killer riff and a punching rhythm. Hot on its heels are ‘Use It Up’ and The Darkest One, two more stunning tracks of pure rock. Follow this with the absolute glory that is It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken and we’re already at more great songs than most lesser bands can manage to wedge between the filler on their own records. But our heroes aren’t even close to finished with us yet, no sir…

Silver Jet, another classic Hip rock track, is up next, pushing the energy back upward, before settling things back into the mid-tempo musings of Throwing Off Glass. But the respite is short. All Tore Up’s fresh blast gets us off and running again, only to pull us back so we can shuffle along with the infectious Leave. The acoustic guitars finally come out with A Beautiful Thing (and it is, folks, it is). The song is quirky and unique, a testimony to the band’s unending creativity at this stage in their career. The Dire Wolf draws us in close and tells us a story of ourselves, this country, this life as it slowly builds to a wonderful climax. And album closer The Dark Canuck, at six and a half minutes, may well be the best track here, and that’s saying a lot. It’s two songs in one, shifting mid-song from a country-tinged oration into a completely tasty, heavier riff that is better than anything other bands of this time period could dream up. By the time it rolls us out on a fading drum sound, we’re left exhausted, sure, but satisfied, fulfilled.

Musically, this album is a stellar effort. This group of musicians has something so special together, able to take ideas and transform them into full and rich songs that sound new, and yet still sound undeniably like the Hip. And Gordie, by now, is as much singer as poet, the line long ago blurred and forgotten. Ya gotta love it.

This is a perfectly realized, undeniably brilliant record on par with anything the band has ever done. If this were your first taste of the Hip, you would be so impressed and amazed you’d run right out and buy everything else and never look back. Having been a fan for as long as I have, it’s dangerously easy to slip and take these tracks for granted. That’s why it’s good to step back every now and then, remind ourselves just how lucky we are to have this band in our lives.

Tragically Hip – The Series: Bonus Concert Edition (circa Music @ Work, 2000)

We were living in Montreal when this record came out. So one day we get a supper-time phone call from our buddy George, he says “Dude, do you like that band, the Tragically Hip?” Of course, I told him. Why? “Well, there’s a ticker scrolling at the bottom of the Global news just now, says they’re playing at Theatre St-Denis in… an hour.” What?! There’d been no posters, no advance notice that I’d seen that this show was occurring. I filled with energy… we had to go! My wife (then girlfriend) and I made great time getting there. We literally ran across downtown Montreal, basically from Atwater to the venue (for those of you who know the city, it was a good jaunt that still took over half an hour on hurrying feet), and made it there to find no lineups, just a few photo-copied posters on the glass notice boards. We wondered if we’d found the right place. The box office confirmed the show, and sold us 15th row, center seats. I was elated! We were gonna see the Hip! Just like that! My wife had never seen them before, so she was also quite excited.

There was an opening band, but memory fails me… God Street One? Something like that? I’m vague on this one… Feel free to comment if you’ve found this and know this bit of trivia… Anyway. I remember liking them, if that helps. Our seats were great, just far enough back to be able to take in the whole spectacle but close enough to feel the rush right in front of us. For a warm-up show prior to a tour, this was not a Hip rusty with the working of the songs. They were a well-oiled machine, slamming through track after fantastic track, once again displaying total professionalism and intimate connection to the music. Gordie danced and leaned and sang his heart out. The guitars wailed and chugged and never stopped surprising, the bass gave the whole thing girth and heft, and those drums, oh those drums so metronomic and solid… Woo! They played two encores and seemed to be having a blast. There were no kinks to work out. They’d hit the stage ready. Fucking fantastic!

I kept this set list, too:

Theatre St-Denis, Montreal 2000-06-20

Tiger The Lion
Something On
Putting Down
Grace, Too
Music @ Work
Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man
Toronto #4
The Completists
Vapour Trails
Ahead by A Century
Lake Fever
At The Hundredth Meridian

1st Encore:

Gift Shop
Train Overnight
Save The Planet

2nd Encore:

Little Bones

I will always remember that night, a chance opportunity to see my boys. I loved it. A really, really great show.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Music @ Work (2000)

I know several people who really disliked this record. They said it was sub-par Hip, like the band had given up trying and just released whatever weird shit they could think of so they could keep their album-every-two-years pace. Once again, people miss the point. Sigh.

As it is in any creative unit, mood, experiences and environment can inform the final product. Wherever the Hip were at the time, whatever they were doing, this was what they were feeling, what they wanted to make and share. And quite frankly, to all you detractors, it’s still a really cool record whether you think it doesn’t compare to their bigger, more popular records or not. People seem to constantly look for reasons to find the Hip lacking, to declare them finished… I just can’t understand it. These guys are still making a vital music this country gets to enjoy so rarely. We should be embracing their shifts and whims. They take us to fascinating places.

The title track was built to be a radio hit, Tiger The Lion messes with blues tones and the musings of John Cage, and Lake Fever is a sweet, bouncy Hip classic. Putting Down is straight from the playbook: rockin’, anthemic and smooth. Stay finds happy middle ground between acoustic track and electric song, and it’s a beautiful song to boot. The Bastard, with middle-Eastern flavouring as its base, quickly grows into a great uptempo rock song. The Completists easily keeps that pace going, then Freak Turbulence ramps it up even higher! I had this record on while jogging the other day, and this middle series of tracks actually works great as motivation tracks. Try it! You’ll see!

Sharks brings things back down (just a bit), with some great lines and observations and a fantastic guitar line, building to a crash all its own. Toronto #4 is a weirdly beautiful track, so many bits and pieces working together to build a sound quite unlike anything else this group has released. I like it! Wild Mountain Honey teases with a great acoustic intro, then smacks you with another super-cool heavy riff. Play this at high enough volume and you’ll feel transported. Train Overnight’s shuffling beat and phoned-in sounding guitars is another expedition into a creative place only this collection of musicians goes to mine ideas. The Bear is truly lovely, all reverb vocals and another of those beats that draws you in and holds you rapt, and album closer As I Wind Down The Pines caps off the whole experience with achingly beautiful acoustic introspection. Listen hard enough and you can almost hear a campfire crackling behind you as this one plays. Such great lyrics, too.

See? There’s nothing to hate here, so long as you bear in mind what I’ve been saying throughout this entire series – you have to remember that these guys are capable of anything, so don’t just go looking for the next Courage. That’s not fair to them or to you. Just listen, embrace and enjoy. It’s all here for you when you want it.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Phantom Power (1998)

It’s obvious, with this album, that the Hip were not standing idle between releases. Here we have yet another collection of densely-packed, absolutely perfect tunes. There can be no question anymore that this is a consistent, completely important group.

Poets stands up in the catalogue with ease. That driving beat, that riff, the story it tells… hell yeah. Follow that with the pure rock of Something On and Save The Planet (both great road songs), and the Hip have announced the arrival of yet another classic platter. And Bobcaygeon, well… it’s just so good, I needn’t even go on about it. So many bands would kill for a song this good.

Thompson Girl and Membership should have been singles, Fireworks is songwriting at its best, and Vapour Trails slinks along with a great guitar line, building energy as it goes. The Rules slows things down, turns things introspective and quiet. For some reason I can hear Blue Rodeo covering this one. Maybe it’s just me? On to Chagrin Falls with its quirky riff and beat, Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man, possibly a true tour story set to music (but an impeccable tune, whether it’s true or not), and the album closer, Emperor Penguin, which brings things to a boil and crashes the whole shebang to a close with panache. The whole thing: so good!

By now, if you’ve been following along with this series, you’ll have sussed out that I’m just a bit of a fan of this band. Fair enough. But it’s been occurring to me as I go back (yet again) through each album and play these tracks that it’s not just a matter of liking the Hip’s music. At some point things blur together, and their reportage on the Canadian experience, offered to us wrapped in such bulletproof music, makes them our brothers, all of us in on the constantly unfolding story together.

Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Live Between Us (1997)

This is a document of a time in their career that I’ll always cherish, recorded a few short months after I saw them on stage for the first time myself, 1996-11-23 at Cobo Arena in Detroit. It’s like they released this record just for me, as a keepsake of my experience! Sure they did!

Seeing the Hip live is an experience utterly different from listening to the records. Many of you have seen them play somewhere at some time, and so you’ll nod in agreement when I say that it’s easy to appreciate even more the brilliant collective that this group of musicians actually is. In a live setting, the music comes alive and becomes even more evocative. The steady, driving beats and slinky bass lines rumble through your body, the guitars slip and play in your ears, and Gordie is off in his own world, singing and babbling and dancing… What you get when you go to a Hip show is a totally tight, professional musical unit, moving as one and rocking like hell. There’s no doubt that they are all completely connected to the music, in that moment there is and can be nothing else but that moment… it’s a beautiful thing to behold.

So here we have the first official Hip live record. It was probably a contractual obligation, but we’re all the better for it.

Right from the start, over the opening strains of a gorgeous version of Grace, Too, when Gordie offers up his genuine thanks to the Rheostatics, he’s also giving the crowd shit for being so ignorant to such a great band. In Dave Bidini’s On A Cold Road, he mentions how the crowd that night had been brutal to them, so this was Gordie setting it right, subtly giving the crowd his disgust in their behaviour.

There’s something of a Canadian Jim Morrison in Gordie when he starts rambling on-stage, that train-of-thought narrative between lyrics. It’s become such a part of their live show that without it, now, it just wouldn’t seem like the full experience. So, we love him for it.

From Grace, Too, they blast into a tightly controlled version of Fully Completely, and then a note-perfect run-through of Springtime In Vienna. Twist My Arm sounds great live, here, bouncing along with energy and glee, packed full of delicious extra guitar runs. The mood shifts again into a soaring version of Gift Shop, and the ‘catharsis’ introduction to Ahead By A Century is one of my favourite Hip moments on recorded disc. The song itself builds into a much faster version, which suits it well.

I’m so glad that The Luxury is here, I just love love love this song. Great rendition here, too. Funny, he’s talking at the start about a man, “down on his luck, shaking a banana at people, trying to convince them it’s making a sound…” and then, a few years later we saw them in concert in Montreal, and there was Gordie with a noisemaker-shaker thing – shaped like a banana! So cool. Anyway, from there they blast into the song everyone wanted to hear, the epic single Courage. It’s an OK version, what you’d expect, with Gordie’s extra lyrics at the end being the highlight, blathering on as though the song itself has already morphed into something else entirely, for him. But right from there into a deliciously chugging rip through New Orleans Is Sinking? So hot.

Once again they shift gears, into a soothing version of Don’t Wake Daddy, and follow that with the sinister yet beautiful Scared, before sending everyone into paroxysms again with Blow At High Dough and Nautical Disaster. They cap the whole thing off with The Wherewithal, which may seem like an odd choice until, after sitting through this whole album from start to finish, you realize that it makes perfect sense to play a couple of crowd favourites and then end with a lesser known (yet still great) track. It’s a promise for next time, a reminder that they can pull any song from their catalogue and rock it completely.

Looking back as I am now, I realize just how amazing this record is. The sound is perfect, the song selection fantastic, the band in fine flying form… Documents like these are essential to our lives.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Bonus Concert Edition (circa Henhouse, 1996)

I hold a special place in my heart for Trouble At The Henhouse, because it was on their tour for this release that I finally saw the band in concert. Yes, for a fan of the band, this is pathetically late in the game. Whatever. It is what it is.

We were in a hot, dusty field with 50,000 of our closest, sweatiest friends. It was the Saturday afternoon of a 3-day festival. Leading up to the main event were Odds, Porno For Pyros, and Live… which would have been lots had not the Hip been headliners… and then the Hip came on and blew the rest back to where they came from with their sheer athletic, encompassing rock. To experience that sound live was unforgettable. All in all, I’d call that a pretty fucking good afternoon spent, wouldn’t you? Hells yeah!

We’d been close to right down front during Odds and Porno, but about halfway through Live’s set (in which they essentially played Throwing Copper from start to finish – woo!), I took a rather hard kick to the side of my head from an asshole crowd surfer, and that was enough for us to move back a few rows, out of the fray. Still, we were close enough to enjoy the Hip’s set immensely, and this show will forever be burned into my brain, one of those life moments I’ll never, ever forget. They could have played all night, we all would have stayed. We were rapt, the entire time.

For any of you who care, I even kept a copy of the set list from that date:

Edenfest, 1996-07-13

Gift Shop
Grace, Too
700 Ft. Ceiling
Springtime In Vienna
Nautical Disaster
Coconut Cream
Locked In The Trunk Of A Car
At The Hundredth Meridian
Butts Wigglin’
Ahead By A Century
New Orleans Is Sinking
Put It Off
Fire in The Hole
Fifty Mission Cap
Fully Completely
Little Bones

Damn. Only two tracks pre-Fully Completely, and no Courage. Still an amazing show.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Trouble At The Henhouse (1996)

Building on the experimental mood of Day For Night, Henhouse is like a pile of wonderfully-wrapped presents under the Creativity Tree, each one just waiting for you to carefully open it and spend some time with it. None of these are songs that you’ll play with for an hour and either lose interest in them or break them. These are keepers.

What the listener immediately notices on this effort is the considerably slower pacing of the first several tracks, almost as though each song is a love note intended only for you. Granted, there are faster moments, but they are cradled in the lulling arms of instrumental beauty and care, and it’s not until a deep cut that things pick up considerably. It may also be another raised middle finger to all the Molson meatheads in the crowd. I’m lovin’ it, either way.

Continuing their knack for epic opening tracks, Gift Shop greets the world anew so gracefully it shines. Springtime In Vienna is simply gorgeous. Ahead By A Century, forgive me, makes me laugh every time I hear it now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great, deceptively simply tune, but I had an ex-girlfriend who said that this track made her want to “rip out her eyeballs and throw them” at Gordie. She couldn’t stand his voice. Notice, if you will, that she’s an ex. Anyway.

Kurt Cobain gets reincarnated in Don’t Wake Daddy, and Flamenco is achingly passionate. Then, finally, the gears shift quickly and the band tears a hole in the 700 Ft. Ceiling. Butts Wigglin’ and Apartment Song carry on with the introspection and thoughtfulness, then Coconut Cream lets ‘er rip one more time. The lyrics are silly, but the song is just so damn catchy… Let’s Stay Engaged slink-shuffles awesomely, Sherpa’s slow build climbs a mountain of its own, and Put It Off follows that trend, going from gentle to menacing over its course. It also name-checks Love Tara, which forever endears it to me. What a great way to end an album.

A lot of people probably didn’t like this one, as evidenced by its being available so cheaply no matter where you go. But, once again, I declare that the point has been missed if this is your line of thinking. This record is brilliant. It’s not the same as the others, that’s obvious. Instead, happily, it’s another facet of this band’s maturation process, dabbling and trying out new things. I say power to ’em. They can make whole new records that sound different and yet still sound wholly like themselves. So few can do that. I hope they make a million more.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Day For Night (1994)

If ever the Hip were flying high, it was in the wake of the madness caused by the success of Fully Completely. They had established themselves as rock gods in this country, poet warriors traversing this lug of a nation from coast to coast, telling us tales about ourselves in ways only they could do it. We loved them, trusted them.

So why in the hell did most people I knew at the time (not all of them, mind, but enough to disgust me) give up on them when Day For Night came ’round? I cannot fathom it.

I mean, it’s impossible for me to choose for sure, but this is probably MY favourite Hip record so far.

(all deference to the excellence of all the others)

Sure, there were the songs on the radio, like the fabulous Grace, Too, and Nautical Disaster, since the band was guaranteed airwave space by now. But why did people who swore up and down they were Hip fans suddenly go cold? Why was it this moment that those people still went to their shows but only to hear the older songs, not the newer ones?

I have a pretty good guess. It’s my opinion that the hallmark of a truly great band is that they can take what they do and expand it in new directions, grow and create and become like only the best artists do. The Hip did this, with ease. They made a record in Day For Night that threw off the backwards-hat-wearing yobs who swill beer and bash little kids at shows. Yes, they are out there, and unfortunately the Hip’s more energetic songs can attract these idiots to shows with the rest of us. Anyway, this record has those songs, in a way, but the band also extended their reach into the creative, and that lost the portion of the crowd we didn’t need anyway.


This is a fantastic record, full of witticisms and blues-drenched, soaring tales of our history, all born of exacting songwriting. There’s not a bad tune on this record. Seriously. Grace, Too fills me with glee every time I hear it. Such a sweet way to start a disc. Daredevil and Greasy Jungle are perfection on CD. I love Yawning Or Snarling, the photograph in the story, everything about it! Fire In The Hole is an absolute rocker, and So Hard Done By’s bass line is a total killer. Nautical Disaster takes us to sea on a fateful, war-filled night and makes us aware of one of our lesser moments as humans, Thugs is a song you surely must know by heart, and Inevitability Of Death is genius. Think I’m overstating? Not even close. Better yet, there’s more! Who wouldn’t love the come-on of Scared, the blast of An Inch An Hour, the glorious sounds of Emergency and Titanic Terrarium, and the closer Impossibilium… I mean, c’mon folks! This is it!

A true Classic. And to all of those who went off in search of brighter, shinier (and far lesser) things when our heroes released a record that Actually Challenged You A Bit, good riddance.

Day For Night. Fucking Amazing.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Fully Completely (1992)

Surely, I don’t need to tell you about this album. You own it. You love it. ‘Nuff said. But, in case you’re the rare exception who’s been living under a rock somewhere…

This is where the Hip exploded. If they’d been huge prior to this release, and they had, Fully Completely ripped the roof off the mothersucker and their popularity burst its seams. This album is jam-packed with songs you’ll know even if you don’t listen to rock radio, even if you’re not a fan of the band. They are part of our psyche, our national make-up, our identity. They have seeped into our genetic make-up. This was one of the most important records of its time, cementing the band’s place in the pantheon of Canadian legends.

And what’s not to love, here? Opening track Courage (For Hugh McLennan) is so monumental, so infectious, so perfect that it deserves utter admiration. Follow that with Looking For A Place To Happen and At The Hundredth Meridian? Get outta here! That’s a true triple play if ever there was one. Pigeon Camera and Lionized bring things to a steady boil of creativity and beauty, and then another massive hit Locked In The Trunk Of A Car steps up to the plate. We’ll Go Too bobs along beautifully, Fully Completely absolutely rocks, and an energetic chunk of hockey history hits our ears with Fifty Mission Cap. Then, finally, the acoustic guitars come out for the achingly beautiful, sad but true Wheat Kings, one of the best songs this band has written, and further proof (as if we needed reminding) that the Hip are as tied to this country’s events and consciousness as are we all. The Wherewithal ramps us back up again, and Eldorado brings this monster of an album to a close.

Unbelievable. This record is proof that not only are the Hip, by now, entrenched in their roles as spokesmen for us all, they are making it look EASY, producing a record that is fully and completely perfect in every way.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Road Apples (1991)

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.

Hot damn.

Tragically Hip: The Series – Up To Here (1989)

Most bands, on their sophomore effort, retread what they did the first time around. Sure, they might get the benefit of better production and promotion after the first disc generated enough interest to warrant such attention. Sadly, a lot of those records die slow deaths and, usually, so do most bands in that situation. You only hear about the successful bands, but there were millions that fizzled out to allow those few to step into your awareness.

On Up To Here, their second album, the Hip blasted away all expectations. This is an album so packed full of great songs, both the hits and those that should have been, that the usual circumstances, as noted above, do not even apply to it. As grunge loomed on the horizon, the Hip stayed focused on their signature sound, and it payed off huge. It’s a cohesive effort, full of emotion and storytelling, blues and rock, and it has the grit of life in this country under its nails. The leap in maturity from The Tragically Hip to Up To Here is obvious.

Everyone by now, surely, knows New Orleans Is Sinking, Boots Or Hearts, 38 Years Old and Blow At High Dough, especially if you’ve listened to your local rawk radio station (you know, the one named after some animal) with any regularity. That’s fine. But dig deeper into this record, and you’ll find equally worthy songs of love, murder, angst and hard work. When The Weight Comes Down, Trickle Down, She Didn’t Know, Opiated, Everytime You Go, all are stellar tracks of (by now) classic Hip. That sound is emerging all over this disc. You know the sound I mean.

The advantage of writing this now, so many years since its release, is the ability to hold it up in the light and know that that Hip seed was still germinating even then, in the midst of such invigorating songwriting. Downie’s poetry was forcing itself more to the fore, with words that sometimes trip on each other, or rhyme just because it was assumed that they should, but the kernel is there, the ability undeniable. The band was always tight, but here they go past competence and into pure creation, a unit so in tune that the future could only be more and more amazing. Of course, we all have the proof of this in our current record collections.

I wasn’t fortunate or savvy enough to get in on the ground floor with this band. This was the first record of theirs that I heard, and I went back and got its predecessor immediately. So if these paragraphs seem to gush a little more than they should, understand that my subjectivity was born with this album, and it has only grown stronger with each successive record.

Completely fantastic.

Tragically Hip: The Series – The Tragically Hip (1987)

This first effort is the record I find most often in cut-out bins and bargain-price wastelands, and to this day I cannot fathom why. This is the template, the soup of the genetic make-up of the Hip. It’s also notice well-served that these guys had big plans. Wouldn’t we all want to keep a copy of that around, as reference? Of course!

Herein we find the dawning of our awareness of this group’s talent, and we see the glimmering of the rock they were to become in our nation’s musical history. It’s all here, and there’s nothing tentative about it. They want to go for it and they’re looking outward (Small Town Bringdown, Cemetery Sideroad, Highway Girl). They’re tentative about giving it a go in the States (Last American Exit). There’s the ubiquitous losing-at-love songs (Killing Time, Evelyn) and, while I’m A Werewolf, Baby’s lyrics are silly, and the bluesy-surf rush of the CD-only track All Canadian Surf Club feels like an afterthought, don’t mistake the energy bubbling in those guitar lines, that pressing need to move.

Nothing is amiss, here. Sure, it sounds like mid-80’s rock, but that’s because that’s what it was. Better than that, it is excellent, thoughtful blues rock that transcends other groups of that period. Look out, world, here come the Hip!

Tragically Hip: The Series

I’m hoping to post a Hip album review per day, in chronological order no less, beginning today! I know I can do it. Who wouldn’t want to listen to that much Hip? Exactly!

Understand that I am coming from a place of great bias when discussing this band. I have been listening to our heroes for so long, through so many of the unending formative years of my life, that it would be impossible for me to imagine life without them. Honestly, I think they fucking rock. Bias? Hell yeah!

When I listen to the Hip, I think first of respect. Respect for this nation, respect for creativity and the open spaces it can offer. Respect for the listener’s intelligence in a world (unfortunately) full of vacuous pop radio shit, zero attention spans and plastic, meaningless sentiments. I also think of all of the great places I have been in this country, and of all the places I’ve yet to visit. In the Hip’s chords and riffs are the trees, rocks and water, the towns small and large, the wide expanses of sky, the blasting winters and sultry summers. In their lyrics lie the unmistakable respect, dignity and creativity of a nation, the very blood of all our great peoples from coast to coast. They sound like HOME.

The Hip. One of Canada’s greatest rock acts? You bet yer sweet ass, they are.

Tokio Hotel, Mayer Hawthorne, and Showing My Hip Fan Colours (again)

Tokio Hotel – Zimmer (Room) 483

As expected, the kids have perfected the quiet verse/loud chorus formula of the 90s, and mixed it with several dragging ballad-like things (you know the type). And once again with those annoying nasal, faux breaking-voice vocals. Such ‘singers’ must be stopped. OK songs, they just really need a new vocalist. Maybe this would appeal to me more if I was 15 again.

Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement

Reviving traditional soul and r&b, updated to the 00s with some trip hop elements. Yummy, for the most part, good vocals. Some nice late-night grooves mixed with a bunch of catchy, upbeat tracks straight out of the Temptations’ playbook.

Day For Night

Man, I am utterly convinced that the Hip’s Day For Night is one of the best records ever. Not just in this country. Anywhere.

Another Batch Of Randomness

It’s A Long Bloody Time, Alright

Man, that Trooper song “We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time) totally negates its own message. I mean, if we’re not here for a long time, why in the hell are we still listening to you repeat an catchy little sound bite interminably? Does that sound like a good time to you? This is a tune that could be great if it were at least half its original length. Yeesh.

Fresh Breath Of Mint! Issue #12

Hooray! It’s here, and Immaculate Machine are on the cover! Hot Panda gives us tour stories, the Superfantastics talk Halifax hotspots, cub offers up shots from their photo albums, Rennie Sparks tells us some, er, interesting things about the Hollow Earth… yeah. And then there’s many Minty favourite roadside attractions, Dustin and Cup of I Am Spoonbender share tour spots and insights, the Smugglers at Mt. Rushmore, and lots of snapshots from SXSW in Austin.

But that’s not all. Oh no, not by far. Nardwuar interviews the San Diego Chicken (haha yes!), Shane Nelkin of Awkward Stage answers Andrew Apostle Of Hustle’s question, the Pack A.D. talks snacks and breakfast, Carolyn Mark shares her fish taco recipe, Immaculate Machine appear in another awesome cartoon, and Montreal’s Phonopolis gets a nod as a cool record shop. It wasn’t there when we lived there… I wish I could visit it right now. Plus all the usual checklists… er, I mean discographies are here too, so you can all keep up with the releases you need to complete your Mint collection! I totally want to order some of those Mint candles, too. So awesome.

Thanks Mint, this is a superb issue. Hey you! Get yours NOW!!

ALSO: Go Team Mint!

I hadn’t really thought about it until I recently got a parcel from Mint in the mail with a pile of the new FBoM (see above) in it… The package also came with a little card that pointed it out in plain ol’ black and white… because I gleefully distribute their zine, I am a proud member of Team Mint! This rules.

Really, it should have occurred to me sooner. I’ve been touting their incredibly awesome roster’s output in these pages for a long time now. Surely you’ve read every review of the brilliant records they send to us for review. I’ve been happily taking their Fresh Breath of Mint magazine (get yours now!) to the proper places in my little town so that they can be placed in the hands of the people who’ll care the most. I’ve been telling everyone I know about their bands for a long time now, letting word of mouth drum up even more interest. I’ve been going to shows of their bands when I can… Yeah, it was staring me in the face but I guess it never hit me: I’m a member. Hooray for Team Mint!

Morning Moon

I’ve been hearing ‘Morning Moon’ from the Tragically Hip’s latest (and awesome) record over the piped-in music “station” at work. I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand I’m thrilled they’re getting their stuff played. We should all play them, and often. On the other hand, it doesn’t deserve to be wedged in there with all that Lite FM pap that I hate with a burning passion hotter than the burning sun. Still, it’s a nice lift to hear in an otherwise craptastic day at work.

Michael Jackson, Pt. 2

C’mon, people. Get over yourselves. Why is everyone still going on and on and on about this guy? Seriously, the guy’s dead and yes, it’s a tragedy. Wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But all of this nonsense now is, if you’ll pardon the pun, capitalizing on a dead horse while you Beat It. Look, just let him go and move on, people. For the sake of us all. Please.

K-OS – Yes!

There’s something extra-musical about K-OS’ output. It’s very thoughtful, creative and highly listenable. His lyrics contain hope and they come from a good place. This new effort definitely continues his flow in great directions. It’s funky, funny and fun. Musically it’s all over the map but it works. I could do without the synthesized vocals that appear in places, but whatever, I always say that. Happily, this is the logical, excellent next step in his discography. Well done.

K-OS – Yes! Remixed (It’s Yours)

Rap fans get all atwitter about remixes. As we all know, usually it’s a DJ or another rapper who get their hands on somebody else’s perfectly fine song and mess it up to how they would have done it differently. They’ll change the beat, add vocals or other instruments, take away essential elements of the song, speed it up, or slow it down… you know the drill. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a remix that was better than its original. This disc is no exception. I didn’t hear anything here that I couldn’t have lived without. Still, I bought this because it seemed like half the set would be missing if I left this behind when I bought Yes! last week. Oh, it’s fine. But I liked the original record better. This added nothing.

Gordie’s Due For A Make-Over

Round 2 of filling up Gordie, my new MP3 player (it has 2GB! Imagine!) is due about now. I love what’s in there, but I’m thinking I’d have more to post here if I filled it with stuff I actualy intend to review. If the content level goes up in these pages, you’ll know I was successful.

Zellers 1, Zellers 2, Bif, Hip and Roots

Oddly Enough, Zellers Makes My Day, Part 1

I was in Zellers for highly unrelated reasons today, but of course I gravitated towards the CD bins where they sell Baha Men albums by the fistful to people looking for novelty coasters. Too often, I am completely disappointed by my time spent digging through the kids’ bible music and weirdo yoga relaxation CDs, but today I found two gems that shouldn’t even have been there at all.

Some of you know that my TV is not hooked to the outside world. I haven’t lived with cable for over 13 years, so I miss everything (by choice). For example, a show called Rock Star Supernova, where Jason Newstead, Tommy Lee and Gilby Clarke are looking for a lead singer of a new band they’ve formed. I don’t know (or care) if it’s still going, but they made a CD and I bought it because it has Newstead on it. I don’t know the singer, but whatever. This is a really sweet find. I will review it shortly.

Oddly Enough, Zellers Makes My Day, Part 2

You’ll recall that, recently, I was on about what was surely the Hot Hot Heat’s song being used in an ad that’s played at my work. As a result, I heard from one of the band members and that conversation went on for a while and even revealed the band’s work on a NEW RECORD!! I hope that tidbit of news makes you as happy as it makes me!

Anyway – and sorry guys but it’s what happened – I also found a copy of HHH’s “Scenes One Through Thirteen” in the same bin. I couldn’t believe it was there. So undeserving. But, hooray! I didn’t have this one yet! So of course I rescued it and brought it to a warm and safe home here with me. I will be reviewing it soon as well. I can’t wait to hear it!

Props To Bif

This paragraph will go to show you just how out of the loop I really am (and how little music news I read, apparently). You see, I had no idea about Bif Naked’s recent battles with cancer. So I was shocked by the news in the paper, and thrilled to learn all in the same moment that she is getting better and is ready to rock again.

Much power to you, Bif. You go, girl!

A Hip Correction, The First Single, and a Concert Attendance Update

First off, a correction: I had erroneously trumpeted the new Hip album’s title in these pages as “We Are All The Same.” Later, I have come to find out that the correct title is “We Are The Same.” Apologies to anyone and everyone.

I heard the first single, Love Is A First, on the local rawk radio station the other day. As has happened with the last few new tracks on the past few new albums from the band, it didn’t initially grab me. I wondered why they chose that particular song out of an album full of surely great tracks. And then I realized the damn thing was totally stuck in my head, and better still it was playing over and over. Sneaky bastards, those Hip people. I’ll betcha the song will be even better live.

And on that note, we will not likely be attending the local Hip show here, in June. I know, I know. I love them to pieces. But I just can’t hack their crowds. I must be getting old. Besides, rumour has it that the venue hadn’t even given permission for the show to happen there before the radio began blaring the dates and times. Something odd about the whole thing.

Jimmy Fallon’s House Band?!?!

OK, so I followed a link on Pitchfork and watched Public Enemy play their hit Bring The Noise for the millionth time, this time on Fallon’s show. Stranger still, this great performance was also celebrating Flavor Flav’s 50th birthday. Folks, the dude with the clock around his neck is 50! Imagine.

What floored me even more was reading that the Roots are Fallon’s house band for the Late Show. Uh, what? This established, headlining act is trapped in TV-land now? I just don’t know how I feel about this, but my gut says it ain’t good. Do you care? Does it matter? I dunno. I always liked The Roots for being individual, real, different. And now they’re supplying drumrolls for late night schtick-humour gags. I dunno. I just dunno.

Sabbath, Nirvana, BTO, Beatles and The Hip

At long last, here’s another batch of favourites. I will get to yours soon, I swear!

16 MIKE: Black Sabbath – Born Again

Directly From Mike: “Favourite record — I always give the same answer.  Black Sabbath – Born Again.  Considered by some to be one of their worst, due to the horrible production and the addition of Ian Gillan of Deep Purple on vocals.  Me being a Gillan fan, and this being the first Sabbath album I ever heard (didn’t even know Ozzy was in the band back then), this has a warm place in my black, black heart.”

I’ve posted Mike’s response exactly, because after all, what else can I say to add to that? I played this record and to me, without Ozzy, the band is sub-Sabbath. Still brilliant, just less. I listen to Sabbath fairly regularly, but I must admit I’ve never even give this one any thought. Way to go, Mike! Your years spent working in a record shop are showing!

17 MATT: Nirvana – Nevermind

It was inevitable that someone would pick this record. Yes, it was seminal, yes it changed the way the world made rock music for a decade, yes Cobain was a tortured genius (even if, as radiohead said “you do it to yourself, and that’s what really hurts”). What really freaked me out about Matt choosing this one was that he said he was in public school when he first heard it. Man, that makes me feel old. Who did we have in public school, Bon Jovi? Gowan? Glass Tiger, ferchrissakes? What a difference.

I almost didn’t even need to play this record again. Just looking at the track listing on the back of the CD case instantly brought every track fully into my head, but I played it anyway and I loved it for all the reasons I did way back when. It’s loud, it’s angry, it’s messy, it’s slightly out of control (in a very controlled, calculated kind of way, but still). I still contend that Bleach is better, but this is the slick, monumental crest of that wave of grunge, and the world is indelibly altered because of it.

18 JIM: Bachman Turner Overdrive – Four Wheel Drive

What fun! This is pure, balls-out 70’s guitar rawk. Even better, it’s Canadian! We all know this band’s biggest songs, but it was a real pleasure to hear a record that was mostly album tracks that weren’t massive hits. It’s proof that this band had a lot backing up the songs we’ve all heard, and boy do they ever. This record weighs a ton in solid riffs and leads.

I had a bit of a hard time not injecting the words to You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet into the song Hey You (they do sound the same, in certain ways), but that’s OK. It’s all good. I really liked this record. Classic stuff.

19 PHILLIP: Beatles – The Beatles (White Album)

I asked Phillip what his favourite was and he didn’t even hesitate – he said this record. I have to agree, this one is pretty fucking sweet. I like the later Beatles a whole lot more than I like the early Beatles. Call it blasphemy, but that whole early, smarmy tripe thing didn’t sit nearly as well with me as did the band that gave us The Ballad Of John And Yoko. Excellent musicians, just not always the greatest song choices in their formative years. I say that as a Stones fan, you realize.

An excellent choice, Phil. Of all the Beatles albums, I agree, this one is stunning from start to finish. Most bands would give their left nut (and half of their right) to make even one track as good (or weird) as any of these.

20 MARSHA: Tragically Hip – Road Apples

I love the Hip. LOVE! And so does Marsha, apparently. Although she claims to be a HUGE fan and wasn’t even aware of the existence of their box set. Oh well. Such is the love that this band has garnered in this country. It asks no questions. It just rocks out to their tunes, and goes to see them in concert no matter what pot-hole they play in next.

Lots of people find the Hip repetitive and/or boring and/or annoying, and I even know a couple of people (an ex-girlfriend of mine included) who can’t stand Gord Downie’s voice like they can’t stand nails on a chalkboard. But I say it sucks to be them. That’s ‘Little Bones.’ I mean really, get with the program!

This is straight-on great rock/poetry as only the Hip can offer it up, and “we’re all richer for having heard them this evening.” (for those non-Hip fans out there, that’s a quote from the live record, so please try to keep up). Road Apples is one fan-freaking-tastic song after another until it ends far too soon. Just imagine, this happened before (before!) Fully Completely. They are truly unstoppable!

Hip, Wiarton, A Departure, A Conspiracy, and a Great New Hymn

Unmitigated Joy, Bliss and Glee

The Tragically Hip are releasing a new album, called We Are All The Same, on April 7!!! I cannot begin to tell you how mind-blowingly happy this makes me. I sure do love me some Hip. Get it. You NEED it. Buy it for all your friends, too. It’s gonna rule.

Wiarton Airport!!!! Oh Hallelujah!!!

Unless you’re from around here, you’re saying “Uh, where?!” It’s OK. Nevermind, all you need to know is that THE HIP ARE PLAYING THERE IN JUNE!! They are coming to our neck of the woods and bringing their joyous traveling roadshow with them, along with Sam Roberts, the Arkells (whom we saw open up for the completely brilliant Immaculate Machine at the Horseshoe), and The Spades. Hooray!

Now, I have some concerns. Do I really wanna spend $49.95 per ticket to be crushed by the backwards-baseball hat, beer-swilling crowd around here? A crowd who, by and large, can at best stagger around and drunkenly yell “woooooo!” to share their appreciation for the band? And don’t forget, this is a BIG SHOW for around here. People here are starved for stuff like this. Lots of people here think Toronto is big and scary and that they’re sure to be mugged, beaten and raped the minute they drive into town, so this show’s a big deal because this never happens here. So they’ll ALL be driving their pick-up trucks to Wiarton to mark the occasion with keggers and shouts of “show us your tits!” You get the drift. Small-town life has its charms, oh yes.

I dunno. I’ve seen the band twice, loved ’em both times. I’m due, it’s true, but with this crowd? I just don’t know if I have the patience for it.

But! THE HIP ARE COMING!!!! “Wooooooo!!!!”

One Less Barenaked Lady

So, much ballyhoo has been made of Steven Page leaving the Barenaked Ladies. It is indeed a sad turn of events, I suppose. His was a distinctive voice and contribution to that unit. Whatever his reasons, I hope they move on. Get a new singer… or, don’t get a new singer, just keep going. Write some new songs as the talented musicians you are and get past it. Let him go do theatre, or whatever he claims he’s chosen next.

Frankly, to me it’s a footnote. I stopped REALLY caring about the band around the time of Maroon. I wish them every success in the future, and I will always follow what they do, but somehow this doesn’t hit me as hard as it would have a few years ago. Still, good luck Steve. Really.

A Conspiracy Is Afoot

I’ve been hasty. I was assuming that that horribly-howling woman was responsible for every one of these disgusting, life-sucking renditions of popular songs. But I recently heard a disembowelment of Howard Jones’ No One Is To Blame and a train-wreck of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over over the speakers at work. Both as covered by insipid-sounding, song-wrecking (not that it takes that much, in Jones’ case, natch, but you get the drift) Lite FM bullshit artists.

Note the plural there. Artist(s). See, I’ve begun to think that a conspiracy is afoot. Where I used to believe it was all one (purely evil) woman, now I think it is a coven, and they all sound the same.

So, perhaps there’s a cartel afoot, a group of horrid time-wasters wailing away into indifferent microphones, ruining original songs that might maybe have had some relevance at some point to somebody somewhere on some level, ultimately rendering the tunes impotent, useless, and in need of a good shower to wash off the ickyness. Can we not stop this horde before they record any more of this tripe? PLEASE?

Church Hymns At Work

There’s a guy at one of my jobs who definitely marches to his own little drummer boy. Today I heard him singing while he worked alone in a corner of the warehouse. Singing a church hymn. Incorrectly. Hilariously incorrectly.

“Bringing in the sheep, bringing in the sheep, we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheeeeep!”

It works on so many levels.

Ahead By A Century

So I watched this movie called Jumper the other day, largely because I am a fan of science fiction and the premise seemed promising. And what has this to do with music? Stick with me.

The movie, of course, sucked totally. The idea was good enough, but they did everything wrong that they possibly could have done, and all the important bits on which I would have focussed were tossed off like so much inconsequential stuff to be forgotten. The acting was atrocious, the story ended up being insulting, and so I spent two hours of my life that I can never get back. I mean, there were plot holes large enough to drive Sherman tanks through them, and Hey! Wake up, Hollywood! I know you think that Hayden Whatshisname can “emote,” and “do tortured and angst-filled” really well because you’ve been sold that very idea like the nitwits you are but, uh, he totally can’t, OK!? Did you actually see him in Star Wars? That was awful! Oh, and Samuel L. Jackass does nothing for me, and here was just more of the same. Whatever, man.

But I was pretty pleased to hear, at one point in this waste of celluloid, the Tragically Hip’s Ahead By A Century playing, and not just for a second or two, it was definitely on for a little while. Right on. I sure do like me some Hip.

Now, I imagine this all came about because Hayden Whatshisname is Canadian and probably a fan and so he used his “star” clout to get them on the soundtrack for the film. Way to go, thanks, that’s great exposure for our boys because all kinds of people probably tuned in to this crap and stuck it out at least long enough to get to the point in the film where the Hip song is playing.

That was all I had, really. Way to go, Hip! It’s just too bad that it was in such a crappy, idiotic film.

Labatt Blue 2004 Music Series (samplers)

Trolling a local used bookshop recently, I found three (cheap!) CDs that had to come home. They appear to be freebie 3-song sampler discs of Canadian bands tossed into cases of beer sometime in 2004. All three bands had albums coming out that year, too, so there’s some advertising value there as well.

The ones I found were still in their shrink-wrapping, too. Interesting. I wonder why whomever found them didn’t at least play them once… I’m not sure if there are others in the series, but I got Sum 41, Our Lady Peace and the Tragically Hip.

I played the Sum 41 disc first (by virtue of it being on the top of the pile). I can’t really comment on the music here, as I haven’t made a great effort to listen to this band in general to date. It sounds to me like generic pop-punk with snot-nosed lyrics, and an occasional acoustic guitar thrown in to make people think they have depth. Green Day Of The North. Still, it was fun enough to play these songs and I didn’t hate them. I just can’t imagine playing it a lot.

Next up was the Our Lady Peace disc. I don’t know why, but I have never really liked this band. I mean, their first album was acceptable, at the time, but I just never got too excited about them after that. I think the singer’s voice, which is quite grating and nasally annoying, that puts me off their stuff in general. Their disc in this series sounds, to me, like typical OLP, so for fans I’m sure this was great. There was some suspect ‘live crowd sounds’ on the ‘concert’ tracks that just sounded like they were added later in a studio. Weak. I once read that OLP was bigger than the Hip in this country, and I say bollocks to that. This disc was fine, but it ain’t for me.

Lastly I played the Hip, and it made the other two seem like a warm-up. Sure, I’m biased, but I’m also right. So there. First we get a pre-In Between Evolution album track, followed by two live tracks (and they actually sound like they were recorded on the date given). Gordie does some of his babbling, the guitars are intricate and gorgeous and, like every live Hip track I’ve heard, they make me wish I was at a Hip show. Right now.

So yah, of the three, I liked the Hip’s disc the best, but from them I knew what to expect and I got it. The other two were OK, but nothing to get all hot and bothered about, really. All deference to the other bands themselves. I’m sure that beer-sponsored money came in handy.

Track Listings:
Sum 41
01 Moron
02 Over My Head (Better Off Dead)
03 No Brains

Our Lady Peace
01 Do You Like It (live)
02 In Repair (live)
03 Not Afraid (previously unreleased)

Tragically Hip
01 Heaven Is A Better Place Today
02 Bobcaygeon (live 6-21-03)*
03 Music @ Work (live 6-21-03)

*listed on this package as “In Bobcaygeon.”

Tragically Hip – World Container

Welcome to another instant Hip classic, whether people ultimately pay attention to it or not (and if you don’t, especially if you’ve grown jaded, you should be ashamed!). Such a release is still an event in this country, for those of us who know a good thing when they see it.

Here we have a strong first single, experiments with island beats, Gordie’s poetic rantings and soaring vocals,and Just Great Rock Songs with driving drums and stellar guitar licks. These songs will, I know, kick serious ass in a live setting (whether it’s a small club gig, or an outdoor show with 50,000 of your closest, sweatiest friends singing along). The new songs will meld seamlessly into the rest of the repertoire, creating an even greater whole, not just more of the same. In short, it’s another Hip record. Don’t tell me you still have questions.

Walk, crawl, stumble drunkenly or get your Mom to drive you to the mall so you can grab your copy of the new Hip. Remember that I told you so. This is important. There will be a test on this material later.

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