My First Series- The Tragically Hip Fully Completely

As the Hip fans that have followed this series can tell you, there was a shift in the order of the albums from start to finish. The Woodstock  ’99 was out of place, and then there were a few days of no submissions. Again, there is a method to my madness. All will be revealed tomorrow. As for today, we are back in the proper order. The next album that should have followed up Road Apples is Fully Completely. If you asked 100 Hip fans what their favourite Hip album is, I can bet that Fully Completely would hold the largest amount of votes, perhaps winning by a small percentage, but coming on top.

This album had a new producer, Chris Tsangrides. He was most famous at the time for producing great metal albums, so perhaps The Hip were looking for a heavier sound on this album. A few things about the artwork and packaging on this album. I love it and hate it. I hate the song order(or lack thereof) on the back cover. To find out what song is next you have to scan all of the songs in a half moon shape and look for the next number. They are not in number. Often the song has started before you know the title. I know them all by heart now, but still frustrating. The lyrics are possibly even worse. The songs are listed on one side of the inside sleeve, but in no order, and often the lyrics blend into other songs. Again, I know the lyrics off by heart, but it took a while to figure them out the first number of listens. The part I love is the artwork. It is an artist rendition of women dancing with breasts hanging out of their tops. It took me quite a while to figure out the band members were in there as well.

Courage(for Hugh Maclennan). This song was inspired by Hugh MacLennan, and namely for his novel The Watch That Ends The Night. In his novel, Maclennan was relaying that our life is a series of opportunities gained or lost through chance. Also related to the song is how Maclennan was often seen by the press and the public in his home country, Canada. He felt that the public wanted him to write what they felt was familiar, and not attempt anything new. Gord Downie read The Watch That Ends The Night on the Road Apples tour, and the novel and McLennan himself struck a chord. Downie could relate to this when fans only wanted to hear familiar songs, and how he, like Maclennan, felt homesick, even at home. The song itself musically and vocally is excellent. Another Gord Downie history lesson, and also the lesson, like in the novel to carry on, no matter what curveballs life throws at you.

Looking For a Place To Happen. “I’ve got a job, I explore.” and “Jaques Cartier. Right this way. Hey man you’ve got a real bums eye for clothes.” Another history lesson about a famous explorer, and possibly about being a free spirit, travelling the world. Great guitar, rhythmic drums and singing about burning bags of shit. What is not to like.

At the Hundredth Meridian. Switching from history to geography, telling us about “where the Great Plains begin”. Awesome guitar effects, great vocal harmonies. Then the instruments go quiet and Gord Downie rhymes off his poetic license. When the sound again pick up Gord asks us to “Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy” I must admit, I did not know who Ry Cooder was before this song, but any song that can introduce people to this magical musician is awesome in my books.

Pigeon Camera. I had never heard of this type of camera before. An actual camera that was strapped to a pigeon to take aerial photographs. However, this song seems to have nothing to do with the camera itself. It may be about a pigeon the Downie family trained, or about some family matters that he doesn’t want to elaborate. A slower song with a very pulsing beat, and great vocal harmonies.

Lionized. ” I can’t draw but I can trace” I can totally relate Gord. “Cold wind blowing over your private parts.” My guess is the song is about drawing a naked model. Unfortunately, I can’t relate to that, as I never took any art classes. Incessant, fast pulsing drum beat, and a guitar riff just a hair slower make for a good beat.

Locked in the Trunk of a Car. Now we’re getting to the meat of the album. This song is f*cking brilliant. I could put the entire song in quotes instead of small bits and pieces to show you how awesome it is. I suggest to pick up the album and read the lyrics as you listen, and enjoy. The song is another history lesson in a way. The song was inspired by the real life kidnapping and murder of Pierre Laporte during the 1970 October Crisis in Quebec.

We’ll Go Too. Great riffing from Langlois and Baker. Not a great song, but very good.

Full Completely. One of the best Hip riffs ever, stretching from 1:26 in to around the 3:00 mark.  The drums continue to pick up the pace until they are at a rapid pace near the end of the song. All the while Gord is using his best ability, his voice to perfection.

Fifty Mission Cap. Any song that has the words ” The last goal he ever scored, won the Leafs the Cup.” will win me over anytime. As a long suffering Leaf fan, it has been over 45 years since they last won. This song is about one of their better players from the heyday, and how he was lost in a float plane accident. The 50 mission cap refers to a wartime bomber pilots hat. After 50 missions he was allowed “work it in to look like that” Like many Hip songs this tells more than one story, and the music and vocals are all top notch. Great song.

Wheat Kings. Quite possibly the best song to play on acoustic while sitting around a fire. Just an awesome song. My wife’s friend had a buddy perform this at her wedding, and I was so jealous. A story about a 16 year old David Milgaard being wrongfully concicted for murder. The term wheat kings represents the grain elevators so present in western Canada, where the story takes place.

The Wherewithal. Another really good, but not great song. Great guitar. Great drumming, just overall one slight step behind many of the others on this album.

Eldorado. A lot of rhyming and repeating on this song, but it all works. “Tired of thinking about drinking, for thinking of drinking, while thinking about drinking, and thinking about drinking.” just seems to make sense, and not seem repetitive. I’m not sure how, but I assume it is the awesome presentation.

Overall an awesome album. 2 lesser-than songs that were a mere sliver away from perfect. I am not sure why Chris Tsangrides was not able to squeeze at least a metal-like song out of the band. Robbie Baker actually did some more sludge metal type riffing on the last album than on this one. Not that the production is not awesome, and the album did well on the charts, and sold well. Many of the songs are on regular FM radio play rotation to this day, so that can’t be all bad.

9.75/10

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21 thoughts on “My First Series- The Tragically Hip Fully Completely

    • I was concerned someone would call out my assessment of Hugh Maclennan (they still may), his novel or the song meaning. Apparently baffling people with bullshit sometimes works. It’s tough on a public forum giving opinion that is construed as fact.

      Thanks for the praise.

      Since this is your fave Hip album, how do you rate it? Do you thint it should have gotten a perfect 10?
      Do you agree that We’ll go Too and The Wherewithal are just a tad weaker than the rest, or do you have a different look on the songs from the album? I’m just curious.

      P.S. I am quite sure if you love this album, you will enjoy the next post as well.

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      • On many other later Hip albums The Wherewithal would have been the best song. However, the songs on this album were so extraordinarily good that the 2 songs I rated just a notch lower were awesome songs superseded by supremely awesome songs. Like saying Shake a Leg and Given the Dog a Bone are lesser than songs on Back In Black.

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