My First Series-The Tragically Hip-Up To Here

The second album came with a new producer and a new attitude. I honestly am not sure how a young band from a small town in Ontario could lure Don Smith into producing this album. I mean he had just worked on albums by Travelling Wilburys, U2, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks in the last year alone, and had 25 years experience. Perhaps because the Hip gave him free reign. He was the audio engineer, audio producer, engineer, mixer and album producer. In other words, he was the shit. This influx of great talent was what made this album be all it could be. Coming from a sound engineer background, Smith was able to increase the volume on the bass and drums, taking them from elevator music to pure rock. He let the rhythm guitar have a sound of it’s own. He let Robby Baker do what he does best, and that is shred masterfully. I would say he is one of, if not the most underrated guitarists in music today. Quite possibly, in the top 5 or 10 best Canadian guitarists of all time. Finally we have Gord Downie. He showed glimpses in the first EP where the beast was trying to get out, but on this album he is allowed not only to get out, but to thrive. So we have a better producer, better sound, amazing instruments at proper volume, better writing, an unleashed beast, and a boatload of confidence. Sounds like a recipe for a great album.

This album was my first cd purchase ever, so it has a real soft spot in my heart, but all credit is earned

Blow at High Dough. Starts off kind of quiet with a mix of cymbals, rhythm, and Gord singing in the lower octaves. For 40 seconds of this album, some may have felt it was going to be a repeat of the first EP. At the 40 second mark, the blaring Fender Strat and the growl prove this record will be different, and awesome.

I’ll Believe in You(Or I’ll be leaving you tonight) is a clever well written song about a wife that has had enough of her cheating husband. It has a part in the middle that would foreshadow Gord’s penchant for telling a story during the middle of the song during a live set.

New Orleans is Sinking. Awesome lyrics. “Bourbon blues on the street, loose and complete. Under skies all smoky blue green. I can’t forsake a Dixie dead shake. So we danced the sidewalk clean. My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in. New Orleans is sinkin’ man, and I don’t wanna swim.” It brings me right back to New Orleans, every time. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, radio stations in Canada stopped playing the song out of respect for the victims, but it slowly found its way back into regular airplay, and has been a staple in rock radio since it came out.

38 Years Old. A gripping story told by Gord Downie in the first person about his sister being raped, his brother killing the rapist and being in prison. “He’s 38 years old, never kissed a girl.” The song hit a little too close to home as Gord does actually have a brother named Mike, and many fans believed the events to be actual. They left condolences at the family home, and said they were sorry at concerts. The Hip stopped playing the song live for a ling time due to this, which is a shame as it is a really great song.

She Didn’t Know. Great harmony between lead and background vocals.

Boots or Hearts. Has a bit of a country twang to mix it up a bit. Not an annoying twang, more of a 70’s country rock feel.

Every Time You Go. More great vocal harmonies. More great guitar work. “My girl don’t just walk. She unfurls.”

When the Weight Comes Down. This song is kind of haunting and I can’t get it’s meaning. I am not sure if it is a child that has died, a woman he can never have, or the story of Adam and Eve. “In my dreams a candy coated train comes to my door. With a little girl…..I can’t have anymore. You know a letter washes up to the shore. That I cannot read and I should probably ignore.

Trickle Down. Great song. I assume the trickle down is beer coming out of the tap. “Lining up. Waiting on the trickle down.”

Another Midnight. Has a bit of Blue Rodeo-54/40 sound to it. Story of a dying coal miner wanting to see another midnight, dreaming of youth. The song is focused on the happy parts of the miner’s life, so is not a downer.

Opiated. A song about huffing gas and not caring if you live or die.

Overall, not one filler on this album. I have no problems with any part from writing, recording or production. Such a drastic jump between the first EP and the first album.


24 thoughts on “My First Series-The Tragically Hip-Up To Here

  1. J. says:

    Great review. Now, I’m not familiar with the band at all, but both of those songs got me wondering whether that statement is true – major “I’ve heard that before” scenario going on.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Quite possibly one of the best Canadiana bands out there. Always throwing in a Canadian reference in their songs. They have to carry on the torch that Stompin’ Tom and Rheostatics lit.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The bands first 5 or 6 albums were their best. The band is a weird mix of Beck-like eclectic lyrics, spastic lead singer in the Joe Cocker style with a hint of James Hetfield growl(minus the Yeahhh), and great musicianship. Even better live than on the album, so if you ever get a chance to see them, do it.

      Liked by 1 person

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