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.






20 thoughts on “The Tragically Hip – In Violet Light (2002)

  1. I hadn’t thought of the Phil Collins drum sound, but you’re right.

    I love this album. Love love love. And I know, I know, I say that about every Hip record, but this is yet another one that has my undivided attention from top to bottom. These songs are just so strong, sounding like the Hip and yet still probing new territory.

    Hooray for this record!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of their few albums that I don’t own. I was surprised reading this how many of the songs I actually know from live recordings, Yer Favourites etc. Love the Pearl Jam quip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We all know the songs from the first 3-4 albums, but this is one of those albums that has a lot of songs that although may not have made it onto a greatest hits, are catchy and thoughtful enough to be memorable.


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