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.



29 thoughts on “The Tragically Hip – Music @ Work (2000)

  1. I said over at Geoffs place the best sounding Hip records were the Don Smith and Berlin produced ones ….
    This album lost me by that point still buying there stuff but something had gone by than but give them credit for changing it up with everything….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Smith for sure. Also, Mark Howard for Day For Night, and Kevin Drew/Dave Hamelin for the new one. As for Berlin, I felt he was a wee bit of a drop off from Mark Howard on Phantom Power (even though I loved it, it was not as loud, and like Gene, I Love It Loud). Although The Hip had self produced Trouble At The Henhouse, so Phantom Power was way better than that one. However, he ruined this album in my opinion. I respect his work. Love Los Lobos, but the production on this album was the wrong direction to go. I gained new respect for him in that CBC article though. I really liked that he wanted the band to work together, and not record their parts separately.


      • Valid points Dude. I can’t really comment about Music At Work as I haven’t listened to it in a long time but I will say Phantom Power I have as recently as this morning on my bike ride into work is that i do like Berlins production on it. I like the Buzz of the guitars especially on Poets and the Bass mix on Something On is slick…..
        Thompson Girl I love that rawness of the instruments on it …wait this is sounding like a review ….hahaha….need to review PP some day…..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tiger the Lion is very cool!
    Your comment for Sharks summarizes my feelings about the bulk of the second half nicely, something about it leaves me wanting more.
    I think Bruce McCulloch directed the my music at work video, another Kids in the Hall connection is never a bad thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • In all honestly, it maybe should have been lower than a 7. I wonder what would have happened if Berlin had said, let’s forget the cello, background singers, boring ass folk shit etc. and bring in Los Lobos to help out on a few songs. Oh, the possibilities. It could have helped both bands as Los Lobos was only known for La Bamba, but were so much more than that.


      • Oh the “what if”! That’s why I’m working on my interdimensional travel machine. We’ll be able to visit the alternate universe where that exact thing happens. Unfortunately every cause has an effect and I’m afraid in that universe, Trump is elected president.

        Liked by 1 person

      • If you had that time machine perhaps you could go back and sell trump’s dad a box of domes. Also convince Brant Bjork he needs to work on this album as well as Los Lobos. Those causes would have the effect of making me smile.



  3. I have read your review, and all the comments to this point, and I have to stand alone and say I love this one. It’s just a different angle, a different fel, but I don’t think it’s lacking anything. It’s just another facet and I love it!* 🙂

    * and this is not just blind Hip love. This one gets as much play as any of the others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that you love it. I have never been a Hip bandwagon jumper. I just prefer the heavier Hip.
      You have a more varied record collection in terms of genres, I am sure, so your perspective is perhaps more enlightened.


      • There’s no bandwagon, as far as I’m concerned. Just one great Hip record after the next! I like ’em all. Fair play, I understand that this one didn’t appeal to everyone, at least not in its entirety. I’m happy to keep the whole thing in the mix, though! 🙂

        As for ‘more enlightened,’ my goodness, nope. I think we’re all pretty damned tuned into music. I doubt my collection is more varied than yours.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah maybe, but I’ll bet there are things you’re into that I don’t know much about. That’s why this blogging stuff is so cool – we can learn from each other!

        Old man, ha. I thought that was Deke! 😉


    • Like all bands willing to expand, they will not always please all of us. Aaron loves this album, so perhaps his review could sway you his way. I still do play this album, just less than the others.
      This series is forcing me to listen to each song in detail and I am quite enjoying it. It’s like work, but with music. Music @ work. Yeah.

      Liked by 1 person

      • J. says:

        There’s something quite wonderful about that listen you intend on writing about, eh? Like opening the album up for the first time, while being awfy familiar with it.

        I’m playing catch up, so I’ll see what I think when I hit this one!

        Liked by 1 person

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