Concert Review : Black Sabbath (The End World Tour -Toronto 2016) #200wordchallenge

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I accepted the 200wordchallenge from Mike Ladano. I already reviewed another Sabbath concert this year. Since this is the last time I ever see Sabbath, I had to write about it. We missed Rival Sons since our train was late. Ozzy’s voice was better this time around, but still not in peak form. Ozzy had a hard time getting the words out in rapid fire. I heard guys talking after about how either Ozzy held the mic too far away, or the sound guy was at fault. I think it is just Ozzy getting old. Also, I would have left 4 songs off the setlist, and would have replaced them with some older songs and a few off 13.

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Tommy Clufetos pounded the drums into submission. Tony Iommi was his awesome self. Ozzy was pretty good for his age. However, Geezer stole the show for me. His amazing finger work was possibly better than any bassist I have ever seen live. The last number of times I saw Sabbath I concentrated on Tony, Ozzy and Tommy. Not this time. I watched Geezer on the big screen and he was on fire.

Goodbye Black Sabbath. I’ll really miss you.

8.5/10

These are the Dave’s I know, I know.

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I went to the Prophets of Rage Concert last night and for the second last song a surprise guest came out on stage. The crowd went nuts. I was half way down the aisle heading for the train when the band announced him. I quickly bolted back to my seat. I’ve never seen him live, so tonight I saw a ton of musicians I had never seen before. A full review of the concert is en route, but here are some shite photies, and a video or two.

 

 

 

 

 

(RePost) The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem (2016)

(Since today may be the last Hip concert ever, I am re posting this from earlier this year)

I went to the record store and asked the young guy behind the counter for my album that I had reserved. I was the first one in the store and so obviously the first purchase. He said “The first purchase of the day and it is the new Hip on vinyl. That is sweet.” We chatted about the Hip. He said his dad always tried to get him to listen to the band, but he ignored them because he felt they were a “Dad’s band”. Now with the news of Gord’s poor health it got him to check the back catalogue and he regrets not listening to his dad. (Don’t we all?). We agreed that they are so Canadian. “Like Rush” he exclaimed. It was refreshing walking into this particular chain and having a guy half my age agree with me on a band. Usually I get the blank stare, glazed over eyes look when I ask about anything not in the top 40, and the “Let me check the computer. How do you spell Led Zeppelin?”

When I got home I was excited to open the shrink wrap (I love gatefold albums, but it sucks that the shrink can not be used to protect this style of album). I was eager to see if the album was coloured. Sure enough, it was pristine, white vinyl. I was unsure if some copies would be white and others black. From all indications, all vinyl copies are white. I wanted the deluxe vinyl edition but they were delayed, were more than twice the price, and the big bonus was only a frame to mount the extra cover on the wall. Yes the deluxe also comes with a cd, but the biggest kicker is I wanted this sucker today, not in a week or two, so the regular vinyl edition it was.

Man – WTF is that at the start? I looked to see if they had cut the vinyl at 45rpm as is the trend now. Since I had the player on 33 1/3 for a normal record, I was not sure this was the right speed needed. After a bit the instruments chimed in and they sounded fine, then Gord sang and I knew all was fine. Still WTF was that start about? It sounds like it was the wrong speed, or kind of a robotic baby talk gibberish. One thing that is abundantly clear. Johnny Fay was going to ensure the drumming on this album was going to be way more pronounced than ever before on a Hip album. The keyboard work was great too. Also, the guitar work, was loud but also loud in a quiet kind of way. What I mean is that this is a great guitarist that can subtly play awesome chords without thrashing and drowning out all of the other instruments. More robot baby talk, and the song makes an abrupt ending.

In a World Possessed By The Human Mind – A real catchy tune. This is the lead single. Great drumming, sweet guitar, and Gord Downie. ‘Nuff said.

What Blue – The sound on this song is a little off. The drums sound a bit too loud, if that is possible. Then after 30 seconds or so the sound is better. The guitar work here is excellent and the background, distant vocals are a cool touch.

In Sarnia – Has almost an old country song start with what sounds a bit like a steel pedal guitar, then the song morphs into a beat a bit like John Lennon’s song Watching The Wheels. John Lennon beat, with way better guitars, drumming and Gord Downie. I am ok with that.

Here, In The Dark – This is another very catchy tune.  The guitar work and drums are stellar, and Gord’s voice is in peak form. This song could well have fit on Road Apples. It reminds me a bit of On The Verge. It`s that good. I dare you to listen to this and not have your toes and fingers tap. Maybe even air drum or air guitar. Don`t say I didn`t warn you.

The tonearm lifts to end side A and I flip the record over, brush off any dust (even though brand new, I have learned that white vinyl is near impossible to see dust on) and settle in for some more Hip.

Great Soul – For a brief few moments of this song it has kind of a AIC-Check My Brain meets stoner rock feel to it. I would have absolutely loved to see the Hip doing an entire song in that vein. It was unfortunately not going to happen though. The song is much more mellow than the beginning would have you believe. The song is nice enough, but the feelings of what could have been are too strong to resist. The slightly distorted guitar mixed with higher pitched, clean guitar and crashing cymbals on this song almost make up for it though.

Tired As Fuck – A mellow song with a cool beat. The guitar near the end of the song has kind of a Nashville feel to it. The title also represents how I feel every morning while the sweet coffee is brewing. I saw on The Hip website they have coffee mugs with this saying. I need one of those.

Hot Mic – 1, 2, 3, 4. Then the wicked guitar and booming drums kick in. Another amazing song. This could have been easily off of Trouble At The Henhouse. I get a definite Springtime In Vienna vibe here.

Ocean Next – Has an acoustic guitar, and a trippy, psychedelic feel to the vocals. To me it is Tragically Hip meets Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet meets early Pink Floyd. How is that for a mashup.

Machine – Drums, guitar and computer generated echoing sounds start this song off. Gord sings in varying degrees of pitch going from deeper than usual to higher than he often does. Wicked guitar kicks in and I am seriously bobbing my head up and down to this sweet song. This really is a great Hip song. If this is the last Hip song ever recorded, I will not be happy, but will be ok.

The album ends and I choke up. The entire thing floods me with emotion. I know the album was recorded before Gord’s diagnosis, but at times it is almost foreboding. Some of the lyrics. The deeper tones. It almost seems like a send off, even if was not intended to be that way.

To me the handwritten credits and lyrics on the cover are not my favourite. I have an issue with bands trying to be cute with album liners. Perhaps legible ones could have been on the album and an insert could have been included with the scratchy, scribbled, almost illegible ones we are stuck with. Another nitpick would be that there is no download card or cd included.  Also, Gord Sinclair`s bass could have been turned up once in a while to let us know he was there, and Paul Langlois could have done his Yin to Gord Downie`s yang as on previous efforts. However, overall this may perhaps be the best album the band has put out since the heydays of the 90`s. If this is the last we hear from The Hip, we know they went out on their own terms, and they delivered a great album to boot.

9/10

 

 

 

Album Review : The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem (2016)

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I went to the record store and asked the young guy behind the counter for my album that I had reserved. I was the first one in the store and so obviously the first purchase. He said “The first purchase of the day and it is the new Hip on vinyl. That is sweet.” We chatted about the Hip. He said his dad always tried to get him to listen to the band, but he ignored them because he felt they were a “Dad’s band”. Now with the news of Gord’s poor health it got him to check the back catalogue and he regrets not listening to his dad. (Don’t we all?). We agreed that they are so Canadian. “Like Rush” he exclaimed. It was refreshing walking into this particular chain and having a guy half my age agree with me on a band. Usually I get the blank stare, glazed over eyes look when I ask about anything not in the top 40, and the “Let me check the computer. How do you spell Led Zeppelin?”

When I got home I was excited to open the shrink wrap (I love gatefold albums, but it sucks that the shrink can not be used to protect this style of album). I was eager to see if the album was coloured. Sure enough, it was pristine, white vinyl. I was unsure if some copies would be white and others black. From all indications, all vinyl copies are white. I wanted the deluxe vinyl edition but they were delayed, were more than twice the price, and the big bonus was only a frame to mount the extra cover on the wall. Yes the deluxe also comes with a cd, but the biggest kicker is I wanted this sucker today, not in a week or two, so the regular vinyl edition it was.

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Man – WTF is that at the start? I looked to see if they had cut the vinyl at 45rpm as is the trend now. Since I had the player on 33 1/3 for a normal record, I was not sure this was the right speed needed. After a bit the instruments chimed in and they sounded fine, then Gord sang and I knew all was fine. Still WTF was that start about? It sounds like it was the wrong speed, or kind of a robotic baby talk gibberish. One thing that is abundantly clear. Johnny Fay was going to ensure the drumming on this album was going to be way more pronounced than ever before on a Hip album. The keyboard work was great too. Also, the guitar work, was loud but also loud in a quiet kind of way. What I mean is that this is a great guitarist that can subtly play awesome chords without thrashing and drowning out all of the other instruments. More robot baby talk, and the song makes an abrupt ending.

In a World Possessed By The Human Mind – A real catchy tune. This is the lead single. Great drumming, sweet guitar, and Gord Downie. ‘Nuff said.

What Blue – The sound on this song is a little off. The drums sound a bit too loud, if that is possible. Then after 30 seconds or so the sound is better. The guitar work here is excellent and the background, distant vocals are a cool touch.

In Sarnia – Has almost an old country song start with what sounds a bit like a steel pedal guitar, then the song morphs into a beat a bit like John Lennon’s song Watching The Wheels. John Lennon beat, with way better guitars, drumming and Gord Downie. I am ok with that.

Here, In The Dark – This is another very catchy tune. I would think this would be another single, but unfortunately nothing is uploaded yet so I can not share. The guitar work and drums are stellar, and Gord’s voice is in peak form. This song could well have fit on Road Apples. It reminds me a bit of On The Verge. It`s that good. I dare you to listen to this and not have your toes and fingers tap. Maybe even air drum or air guitar. Don`t say I didn`t warn you.

The tonearm lifts to end side A and I flip the record over, brush off any dust (even though brand new, I have learned that white vinyl is near impossible to see dust on) and settle in for some more Hip.

Great Soul – For a brief few moments of this song it has kind of a AIC-Check My Brain meets stoner rock feel to it. I would have absolutely loved to see the Hip doing an entire song in that vein. It was unfortunately not going to happen though. The song is much more mellow than the beginning would have you believe. The song is nice enough, but the feelings of what could have been are too strong to resist. The slightly distorted guitar mixed with higher pitched, clean guitar and crashing cymbals on this song almost make up for it though.

Tired As Fuck – A mellow song with a cool beat. The guitar near the end of the song has kind of a Nashville feel to it. The title also represents how I feel every morning while the sweet coffee is brewing. I saw on The Hip website they have coffee mugs with this saying. I need one of those.

Hot Mic – 1, 2, 3, 4. Then the wicked guitar and booming drums kick in. Another amazing song. This could have been easily off of Trouble At The Henhouse. I get a definite Springtime In Vienna vibe here.

Ocean Next – Has an acoustic guitar, and a trippy, psychedelic feel to the vocals. To me it is Tragically Hip meets Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet meets early Pink Floyd. How is that for a mashup.

Machine – Drums, guitar and computer generated echoing sounds start this song off. Gord sings in varying degrees of pitch going from deeper than usual to higher than he often does. Wicked guitar kicks in and I am seriously bobbing my head up and down to this sweet song. This really is a great Hip song. If this is the last Hip song ever recorded, I will not be happy, but will be ok.

The album ends and I choke up. The entire thing floods me with emotion. I know the album was recorded before Gord’s diagnosis, but at times it is almost foreboding. Some of the lyrics. The deeper tones. It almost seems like a send off, even if was not intended to be that way.

To me the handwritten credits and lyrics on the cover are not my favourite. I have an issue with bands trying to be cute with album liners. Perhaps legible ones could have been on the album and an insert could have been included with the scratchy, scribbled, almost illegible ones we are stuck with. Another nitpick would be that there is no download card or cd included.  Also, Gord Sinclair`s bass could have been turned up once in a while to let us know he was there, and Paul Langlois could have done his Yin to Gord Downie`s yang as on previous efforts. However, overall this may perhaps be the best album the band has put out since the heydays of the 90`s. If this is the last we hear from The Hip, we know they went out on their own terms, and they delivered a great album to boot.

9/10

 

 

 

The Tragically Hip – Now For Plan A(2012)

Bob Crock was out as producer (yayy), and Gavin Brown was brought in. Brown was a producer that had worked with the most popular Canadian bands from the late 90’s onward, worked with most of the artists on Canadian Idol, and even worked with Lady Gaga and NKOTB. Perhaps he would bring the band back to their rock roots the way I had hoped Bob would. Let’s find out.

At Transformation – Pounding drums. Booming bass. Amazing guitar work, and haunting vocals. Ten seconds in I knew this album had the potential to be better than the last 2 combined. Then the guitar work gets even more wicked, and Gord’s voice goes from haunting, to wailing, to an angry yell. Amazing song.

Man Machine Poem – The video below was taped at a special event to promote this album in October of 2012. Me and 100 or so of my new found best friends stood in awe as The Hip belted out songs for us 15 feet away. Wow. It was awesome. Then I saw the band close out Ivor Wynne Stadium a few days later. It was quite the week.

The Look Ahead – A song that reminds me of 54-40. It has a catchy beat, and is breezy and fun. Sarah Harmer joins in on background vocals on this one. I can only assume that Gavin Brown made this union possible. Her addition may be the only time I enjoyed an added vocalist on a Hip album.

We Want To Be It – Gord has some punky, angry vocals going on here. Perhaps his angriest ever. The guitar workings of Rob Baker are real cool as well.

Streets Ahead – A fast paced, bouncy song. The difference in Gord’s  voice between the verses and chorus is the highlight of the song for me.

Now For Plan A – A mellow song that has a ton of wah pedal influenced guitar that is quiet but not lost in the mix. Sarah Harmer again joins in, and her voice is a nice compliment to Gord’s.

The Modern Spirit – Gord’s voice is the star here. I love the parts of the song were he yells “yeahhhhhh’. I could not stop my fingers and toes from tapping along to this one.

About This Map – Again we have quiet but still amazing guitar. Also, again, Gord’s voice changes pitch. Quiet and mellow at one point, then loud and piercing the next.

Take Forever – Has a similar sound to The Look Ahead. At times Gord sounds like he is singing in a tunnel, then it cuts to crystal clear lyrics.

Done And Done – Cool but subtle wah influenced guitars mix with Gord’s wonderful voice. I love the sound when he sings the “through and through” section.

Goodnight Attawapiskat – Another classroom lesson by the band. Helping us 1)be socially conscious, 2) learn about Canadian history, and 3) search for places we have not heard of on the map. All in a good musical package.

This album is light years above the last 2 albums in my opinion. The packaging and pictures are cool. The musicianship is amazing. The music was left up to the band as it should be, and the lone addition of a vocalist on 2 songs helps the songs out, instead of hurting.

9/10

 

 

 

 

The Tragically Hip – We Are The Same (2009)

Ok. Bob What’s His Name is back. Maybe he’ll redeem himself here. Thankfully he didn’t do a Partridge family impression on this one and bring his kids along for the ride. I looked at the huge list of additional(which up to this point have always been unnecessary) musicians and was skeptical, but I’ll go in with an open mind.

Morning Moon – Mellow acoustic strings start this one off. 15 seconds in, the tone picks up. This song has both a country charm, and orchestral strings, but surprisingly it works. I could have seen this song to have been a crossover hit on the country and rock charts. In sort of a Blue Rodeo or Steve Earle kind of way.

Honey, Please – More mellow, twangy country sounds. Ok. 1 was fine. 2 may be too much. Especially to begin an album for a rock band, Bob. Neither of these 2 songs are bad, just leading Hip fans in the wrong direction. Some fans may only get 2 songs in and disregard the rest of the album.

The Last Recluse – This song begins off almost Bowie like. A little less mellow than the last 2, but still has a bit of a twang near the middle part of the song. Rob Baker does get some psychedelic sounding guitar licks in though.

Coffee Girl – Has an almost early/mid 90`s alternative beat. It also unfortunately has the same meaningless lyrics found in most of those songs of that ilk.

Now The Struggle Has a Name – Yes It does. Bob. Cool guitar work in this one. At 1:23 of this song, the band completely shifts gears. What a breath of fresh air.

Depression Suite – This song shows some of the Hip of old, but still feels like a wild animal in chains.

The Exact Feeling – I can hear Rob Baker`s wah influenced guitar and no matter how much you know who tries to screw this one up, I know it will be ok. It is a pretty decent song.

Queen Of The Furrows – This song starts slow, but gets a little faster. Around 2 minutes in the pace picks up, and Rob Baker’s guitar wails. That 2 minute mark seems to be the point in which this album awakens as well. I wonder if Bob went to the can, and the band locked him in.

Speed River – The drums are the star on this one. The guitar work is pretty good as well.

Frozen In My Tracks – You can sense something bubbling below the surface on this song. The first minute of the song is a buildup, but after that minute mark the band pounces. The instruments boom and Gord’s voice goes off into an angry, wonderful place.

Love Is A First – The only charting single on the album is an amazing song. It has some similar aspects to TPOH, especially the spoken word section during the fourth verse. The drumming is precise, the bass thumps, the guitar is amazing, and the added effects are cool.

Country Day – Bob must have freed himself, and as punishment forced the band to have a bunch of orchestral musicians join in. It is not an awful song, but Gord seems to be phoning the vocals in, and the background are a whole bunch of strangers. Rob Baker’s guitar is lost in the mix. After the momentum of the last few songs almost saving this record, this song drops it back into the cesspool.

This album should have been an EP. 5 or 6 songs would have been better than 12. The whole Bob Rhymes With Sock experiment completely failed in my opinion. He never brought anything unique to the table. He muddied the waters, restrained the band from doing what they do best, and brought a ton of people that were not needed along for the ride. All at the bands expense, both monetarily, and musically.

6/10

 

The Tragically Hip – World Container (2006)

WOW. Bob Freakin’ Rock as a producer. He has(had) the rock cred. His last name is Rock for heavens sake. Sonic Temple, Dr. Feelgood, Black Album, Keep The Faith just to name a few. This album was going to rock. Bob Rock.

Yer Not The Ocean – Great first song. It comes across as a woman that feels she is all that. Gord let’s her know she is not actually all that. “You’re not the ocean. You’re not even close.” I personally enjoy the jab at Britney Invisible, the guitar work (natch), and the vocal differences between the soft and hard parts of the song.

The Lonely End of The Rink – Screeching guitar and pounding drums begin this song off. Then the bass booms in and Gord chimes in. All four musical components blend for a really good tune. The fact that it has a flamenco guitar section and that it has a hockey theme are icing on the cake.

In View – The drumming starts off like I’m An Adult Now, then the keyboards lighten the song a bit. Not enough to ruin it though. This is another cool tune. The lyrics of “Phone rings once. Phone Rings Twice. Phone Rings Three Times” are actually a highlight for their simplicity and uniqueness.

Fly – Quoting Bohemian Rhapsody is always a good thing in my mind. Also name dropping places in Canada, amazing vocals and wonderful guitar.

Luv(sic) – Cool word play in the title. The subtle yet powerful drums, the trippy background effects and Gord’s voice are the highlights of this one for me.

The Kids Don’t Get It – Gord is the star here. He goes from soft to punk rock belter and back. The song is way too long and repetitive but Gord makes it listenable. His yells especially the whails.

Pretend – WT Flying F is this? Did I mistakenly pop a Michael Buble song in? Ladies and Gentlemen, the award for the worst Tragically Hip song ever goes to…..Pretend.

Last Night I Dreamed You Didn’t Love Me – More drivel from Bob(I refuse to use his last name from this point forward). This song has some decent drums and guitar but the lyrics are droning and repetitive. The lovey dovey theme is following the last awful song and leading the album in the wrong direction.

The Drop-Off – That should have been the song title 2 songs ago to represent the album drop off. The guitar work and Gord’s voice are good here though. Maybe this album can be brought back from the dung heap.

Family Band – This is a good song. Name dropping Dylan, the lyrics “Hey get that kick drum loaded. Into the back seat folded down.”, the great guitar, and Gord’s voice are the highlights for me.

World Container – This is perhaps not the best song to end the album on. Think a slighty harder version of Elton John. Bob even brought his kids along to sing background vocals. Totally professional. The kids don’t get it. Maybe the adults don’t either.

I had high hopes for this album with Bob on board. I was hoping he would harken back to his earlier days in the 90’s and live up to his last name. However, he was also producing softer bands such as Michael Buble and Bryan Adams by this point in his career, and I think he steered the band into softer, perhaps even cheesy territory. Bad move Bob.

I should be fair, as there are good songs on this album. It’s just the totally awful, sappy, lounge lizard songs almost ruin the album for me, but I will look at the album as a whole.

7.5/10

 

 

 

 

 

The Tragically Hip – In Between Evolution (2004)

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The first thing I noticed when I bought this cd was the Parental Advisory Sticker on the front cover. Wow. Yes there are 5 f-bombs on this album, but they are on 2 songs not played on radio. The album has a song that was a tribute to a young man killed in his prime, so that good karma should outweigh the swearing in my opinion. If Tipper Gore has a problem with the language I have 2 words for her. The first one rhymes with truck, and the second word is the opposite of On.

The band chose Adam Kasper to be the producer on this record. His resume reads like a who’s who, especially with his work with the most famous grunge bands of the 90’s.

Heaven Is A Better Place Today – This song was a dual tribute for a man from my hometown, Dan Snyder, and for young men being sent to war. I mentioned this song on my Tribute to Gord Downie. The song sounds a bit like REM. I really want to love this song due to the theme, but I can only like it.

Summer’s Killing Us – Another song I don’t mind. It sounds like a generic early 90’s band to me, which is enough to give you a feeling of nostalgia, but not much more.

Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park – Now we get to the meat of the album. The guitar work is amazing, the bass is booming and the drums pound. Gord sings different here as well. Different in a good way, and the background vocals work too. It all works.

Vaccination Scar – Another great song. I really like the guitar sounds. They have kind of a Mike Campbell from Tom Petty’s band The Heartbreakers quality.

It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night – The f bombs grab your attention for a few seconds, and the band keeps you roped in. It isn’t a great song, but a decent Hip song, which is better than most. The band had a brief cameo on the Canadian tv show Corner Gas in which they portray a garage band practicing this song.

New Orleans Is Beat – The beginning reminds me of Nautical Disaster but does not have the history or the lyrical quality. It is not the same quality, but is a nice Sunday AM listen.

You’re Everywhere – This is a  really good song, with subtle, yet great guitar work. Also, Gord has a energetic and almost punk like vocal delivery.

As Makeshift As We All Are – This one harkens back to the 90’s as well. I can’t quite place the song, but the beat sounds identical to an early 90’s hit. The guitar work is very brief, and I wish they had included more of the riffs throughout.

Mean Streak – Haunting song that could have well fit on the last album. It seems out of place here, but it is a great song. Mellow at one moment and intense the next. Again, the guitar work is amazing.

The Heart Of The Melt – This has a feel of the early Hip. It could have fit right in on Up To Here. That has to mean it is really good. Rob Baker shines again.

One Night In Copenhagen – No surprise, great guitar work begin this song off. The f bombs flow like water in this one, but they are not unwelcome. They kind of suit the song. The lyrics on this song seem to have more meat than some others on this album.

Are We Family – Another nice, mellow song. The layering of the song with the main vocals blending with the background vocals is a neat touch.

Goodnight Josephine – The guitar work, well you know. It almost has a similar beginning to the song tomorrow by Silverchair. A shout out to Tom McGurk for the excellent horn work added.

I think that Adam Kasper wanted to bring some elements of the 90’s (his heyday) into this album, and they did seem to work in some cases. I wish he had gone towards the harder edged banded such as Soundgarden and Foo Fighters. Instead he choose early 90’s radio friendly songs as his influence. I think this could have been a better album if 2 or 3 tracks were left off. I think the power from previous albums was missing as well.

I must admit that I really, really wanted to love this album. I was reeling at the time as Dan Snyder was a  hometown hero that had just been killed. I bought the album and loved 2 tunes, liked a few more, but felt it was one of the weaker Hip albums. Doing this review, I have listened to the songs in more detail, and have found it is a better album than I remember it. The gap between the great and good songs was not as large as I thought it was. I suggest to anyone that wrote the band off at this album to give it a few more listens. Hopefully you can come to like it better than before.

8.25/10

 

 

The Tragically Hip – In Violet Light (2002)

The Hip chose Hugh Padgham as the producer for this album. He had already won 4 Grammys, was voted one of the Top Ten Most Influential Producers, and was the inventor of the “Gated drum sound”. This sound is most famous on the Phil Collins song In The Air Tonight, and was a very popular drum effect in the 1980’s. He obviously had the goods, so let’s see how he would do on this album.

Are You Ready – This song starts off in the right direction. It reminds me of a Pearl Jam song, although the lyrics are completely understandable. No glorified version of a pelican to be found.

‘Use It Up’ – The drumming and guitar work are the stars here. Also there are shout outs to Springsteen and Randy Newman.

The Darkest One – One of the 3 singles from this album. The very start of the song has some eerie guitar work reminiscent of a Rob Zombie song. Both the lead and rhythm guitars are great here. The bass sounds better than the last album, and the drums pound endlessly during this song. The below video has 3 icons in Canada. Don Cherry, Trailer Park Boys and The Hip. I think it should be mandatory viewing for anyone entering this country.

It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken – Dreamy, psychedelic Pink Floyd like guitar work start this song off. In fact Rob Baker does a really great David Gilmour impression here. The song goes back and forth between trippy and mellow and hard edged.

Silver Jet – Gord almost has a bit of a Michael Stipe like quality on this song. Again the drums and guitar are the stars here. The bass is booming just enough to let us know its deep down where it belongs. The song lyrics “there’s a heron outside, inviolate light” is a cool play on words representing the album title and the picture on the album cover.

Throwing Off Glass – The song was included in the soundtrack for the movie Men with Brooms. Possibly the only movie ever made about curling. The film is over the top Canadian, but it has music from The Hip, so it must be ok. The song has some cool guitar effects, and like most Hip songs, great lyrics.

All Tore Up – The guitar work reminds me of Hey, Tonight by CCR. It also has some cool wah pedal effects going on.

Leave – A cool song from a bird’s perspective. Sort of a coffee shop poetry skit done in song.

A Beautiful Thing – This song could easily have come out in 1965. It has aspects of The Byrds, The Monkees and especially Sonny & Cher. The mellower parts remind me of I Got You Babe, but Rob Baker’s amazing guitar work bring it right back to 2002.

Dire Wolf – A song that was a result of a treacherous crossing the band took during stormy waters between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The drum work is similar to I Don’t Care Anymore by Phil Collins. No surprise, the producer on that album was also Hugh Padgham. The acoustic guitar is mellow and nice on this song. As each verse progresses so does the volume level of Rob Baker’s electric, then about a minute in he lets loose. I could not find a studio version of this song online, so I included a live clip. Incidentally I was at this show in 2009.

Dark Canuck – What would you get if you mixed The Hip, a punk influenced rock band in The Headstones vein, and threw in some twangy, country sounding guitars. The first half of this song of course. 3 minutes in though, the band has had enough of the country feel, and switches gears completely. The song sounds like a completely different, harder rock song. The drums and guitar pound wonderfully, the bass booms and Gord’s voice belts out the lyrics. The song ends with some more Hugh Padgham effects. Great, great song.

Thank you Hugh Padgham for not adding unnecessary musicians and singers, for turning the volume back up, and letting these great musicians do what they do best. The little additions you brought to the table were all welcomed.

9.25/10

 

 

 

 

The Tragically Hip – Music @ Work (2000)

This album saw the use of Steve Berlin again as the Producer. He did a great job on the last album, as well as for many other artists. He also brought with him the expertise he had from being in Los Lobos. He met the band during the Another Roadside Attraction cross Canada tours and instantly admired the band for their professionalism. The title of the album comes from the fact that members of the band were becoming fathers, and making music was work.

My Music At Work – We have all heard this song a million times up here in the Great White North, eh. It is still a song that I will not skip over though. It’s really great, and makes you think as so often Gord’s lyrics tend to do. “in a sink full of Ganges, I`d remain.”

Tiger The Lion – This song starts off in a psychedelic sound that changes to being grunge like. Although it is the cooler aspect of grunge, in the STP or AIC vein. It is surprising to me that a band that put out albums through the grunge era, took roughly 9 years to have a similar sound. It really is a loud, cool song.

Lake Fever – Speaking of the 90`s, this song has sort of an Alanis Morissette sound to it. Not in a man bashing kind of way, just the instrumentation reminds me of one of her songs. “I`ll tell you a story about the Lake Fever or we can skip to the coital fury.” Umm. I think I`d rather hear the story, Gord.

Putting Down – The drumming here is really cool. The end of each verse has drums pounding with every word.

Stay – Gord`s voice changes throughout this song. At times he sings normally, at times he goes deeper in a bit of a Leonard Cohen sort of way. Awesome either way as far as I`m concerned.

The Bastard – Mr. Hussein (I`m not sure) adds a flair on tabla here and gives this song a sort of Santana feel. I thought the lyric sheet was wrong, but the lines are actually spoken by Paul Langlois, and are slightly drown out in the mix.

The Completists – The lyrics here are pretty cool. It comes off as if from a women in a fellow band that states her band is “the completists” and Gord  responds that his band is “the complete-est.” Damn right, Gord.

Freak Turbulence – This song is kind of a throw back to earlier Hip. It comes across as more straight ahead rock, in an almost She Didn`t Know kind of way.

Sharks – Cool guitar begins this song off, and continues throughout the song. The drumming is good as well, but something about this song leaves me wanting more.

Toronto #4 – The biggest thing I notice about this song is the addition of background vocalist and a cello player. Very mellow. Possibly a bit too mellow and soft.

Wild Mountain Honey – Sadly this is not a cover of the amazing Steve Miller Band song, but is a pretty good song in its own right. The phrasing in this song is pretty cool. “I don`t (pause) wanna (pause) ask you (pause) what you (pause) got in your head.”

Train Overnight – Finally Rob Baker is allowed to play his guitar the way it meant to be played. Too little too late to keep this album on par with previous efforts, but I`ll take what I can get.

The Bear – This song is just sort of there for me. I don`t hate it, but don`t really like it all that much either. Sedate and muted instruments. Ok lyrics and Gord sort of on cruise control.

As I Wind Down The Pines – Has a bit of the acoustic flavour of Behind Blue Eyes, but none of the meat or power. Excellent song choice if you are trying to get a baby to go for an afternoon rest. Not a great or even good Hip song though. Definitely not a song to attempt to close out an album.

For me the use of extra musicians on this albums sometimes helped, but often hurt. Way, wayyy too mellow for me. Steve Berlin did much better work on the last album, but on this one the band sometimes went from a rock act to a world music, or light rock/folk act. The bass was almost non existent, background singers replaced Paul Langlois for no reason, and the biggest shame is the lack of amazing guitar work from Rob Baker. The difference between the really good songs from the good songs was huge, and there were 3 or 4 songs that were sub-par Hip songs, and should have been left off the album.

7/10