Over the next week or so I will be reviewing The Tragically Hip albums, with a live one and a bootleg thrown in for good measure.
Growing up in a small town in Southern Ontario in the 80’s involved a lot of bush parties. Usually I knew every song that was played at the party. Often metal and hard rock. Often the host of the party had the same 50 or so albums as the host of the next party. One party I still vividly recall walking by a group of people with my girlfriend at the time, and I stopped in my tracks. I hung out with a group of strangers soaking the music in. My girlfriend wanted to leave, but I wasn’t going anywhere. This music was awesome. Who in the Hell was this. I was stumped. Everyone I asked didn’t know either. I finally found the owner. He brought this tape by a band called The Tragically Hip. He said he saw them and they put on an awesome show. I vowed that I must get everything I can from this band.
The Hip released their Self Titled EP. It was a 7 SONG EP. It wasn`t until years later that I found out they had 8 songs on the cd, so I had to have this as well. This review will be for the 8 song cd. The EP was produced by Ken Greer, the keyboardist/steel pedal player from Red Rider.
Small Town Bringdown. Great early Hip. Catchy tune. Drums and bass are not loud enough for my liking, and the guitar work is tuned a little high for me. But great vocals and backgreound vocals.
Last American Exit. Another catchy tune. Great background vocals. Simple lyrics. It kind of reminds me of a 54-40/Hip song. Check out the hair on Gord Downie in the video below.
Killing Time. Early glimpse of the Gord Downie we will soon come to realize. He has a growl and angst that were missing from the first two catchy songs. Basic drum and bass. In fact I had the bass cranked and could hardly hear it. Subdued guitar that gets better as the song progresses.
Evelyn. Sort of a throw back song. Reminds me of a song that would have been playing on a jukebox back in the 50`s or early 60`s. Basic lyrics but good harmony.
Cemetery Sideroad. Better guitar. More substance to the lyrics. Good beat. Good harmony. Gord starts to raise his voice a little show us the start of what is to come.
I`m a Werewolf, Baby. Fuzzy guitar. Great harmonizing. Drumming finally starting to sound good. After Werewolves of London, this is the second best Werewolf song ever, and it is really good.
Highway Girl. Great Guitar work. Great drumming(about time Johnny Fay). Gord in his wheelhouse growling, yelling, telling a story. The clip below is of the ultra rare Highway Girl live version only available to radio stations. It is commonly known by Hip fans as Double Suicide. I love when singers take liberties and tell a story during a live performance. Therefore I LOVE Gord Downie.
All Canadian Surf Club. Back to the early 60`s. Sort of a little harder version of a Beach Boys tune, sung with a slight snarl, and a scream or two.
This album suffers from poor sound. Poor mixing, mainly not enough drum and bass, simple lyrics, and simple drum beats. I wonder if since a keyboardist was the producer, he was used to asking the drummer and bassist to dial it down. I`m not sure. It was their first recording, so perhaps they had not found their groove yet, but from the report I was hearing they were already a great live band. The vocals and guitar were also dialed down, only showing glimpses of what was to come.
Overall a very good first record from a young band, showing glimpses of better things to come.