"Avoid Trends and Cliches" - A Bad History of The Tragically Hip - Page 2


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Thread: "Avoid Trends and Cliches" - A Bad History of The Tragically Hip

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by mrmustard615 View Post
    I like how you did your review. It's a lot more detailed than mine are to be honest.

    Interesting note on Locked in a Trunk of a Car. I was watching a rebroadcast of the 1970 World Series which, for some reason, was from CBC instead of NBC. They kept breaking in for news reports about the October Crisis. At that point, Laporte was still assumed to be alive. Of course I'm cursing at the TV because they broke into Boog Powell hitting a Home Run (yes, I'm an Orioles fan ).
    What an odd coinkidink.

    I'm enjoying the expanded format. Helps me fill the hours at work, lol.
    I sprayed spot remover on my dog and now he's gone. - S. Wright.

  2. #12
    Information comes from the album liner notes, Wikipedia, Google, and special mention goes to hipmuseum dot com. All errata are entirely mine alone. Also, this format’s pale imitation was consciously and unconsciously stolen from mrmustard615 and Trollheart.

    A quiet 1996.

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    That last one was a doozy. Trouble has some similarity to the previous album, but I find it a more minimal, sleepy set of tracks. We get a lot of whispering, bass-led grooves, and likely the most drastic loud-to-quiet changes ever. We also have a couple fun rockers.

    There isn’t much in the way of Canadiana and, while I don’t consider that a bad thing in itself, I think in this case the album lags as a result. The Canadiana, while far from pandering, is pretty core to the interesting lyrical topics; Without it, we’re left with songs that feel disconnected and are extremely obscure. Again, I’d bring up the word obtuse. Fuckin’ poets, man.

    Despite that, I believe this was the first Hip album to receive a major award: 1997 Juno Award for Best Album of the Year.

    TRACK LIST

    GIFT SHOP
    Excellent opener here. Huge swelling intro. Apparently it was written about the Grand Canyon which has this aura, attracting people through the ages despite its dangerous size.

    While I never found any other reference, I’ve always felt the first verse was another WWI piece.

    “The beautiful lull, the dangerous tug
    We get to feel small, from high up above
    And after a glimpse, over the top
    The rest of the world, becomes a giftshop”

    “Over the top” was a ubiquitous term to soldiers then – Meaning over the lip of the trench. If you were going over the top, you were about to attack the enemy. A phrase of terror. War on the scale of the Great War certainly dwarfs any man. And finally, the last bit always felt like yet another piece of poetic perfection from Gord. Once you’ve bashed a man in the head with your shovel, survived the march through No-Man’s Land, huddled in a trench during an artillery bombardment (between which you would have a relieving “lull”)… What is the rest of your life but a mere trifle?

    And still more, we get the lines:

    “The pendulum swings
    For the horse like a man”
    (…)
    “We're forced to bed, but we're free to dream
    All us human extras, all us herded beings”

    It all feels very military to me.

    SPRINGTIME IN VIENNA
    I find the cymbals in this track overwhelming, and they become this ringing mess that annoys me. I don’t usually skip, but I do turn it down. A few of the tracks sound that way, but this one is the worst.

    AHEAD BY A CENTURY
    It wouldn’t surprise me that anyone reading this who doesn’t know the Hip DOES know this song. It’s acoustic perfection. Gorgeous simplicity with a hook that gets quoted all over the place.

    “This is our life
    No dress rehearsal.”

    It’s wonderful. It feels like it belongs on a different album, though.

    DON’T WAKE DADDY
    Good song, but flies under the radar. Each time I hear it, I think it’s lovely, but it would never occur to me for a greatest hits list.

    Most interesting thing about is it name-drops Kurt Cobain. Nirvana opened for the Hip in the early nineties to a dinky crowd in a bar. Gord went to introduce himself, but unfortunately Kurt was passed out on a pool table. Hipmuseum dot com posits that imagining “Kurt Cobain reincarnated” as a sled dog was a hopeful wish that he might find a peaceful existence, if not in this life, then the next. I quite like that.

    FLAMENCO
    I don’t really like this one. It feels lazy. I don’t think it is genuinely, but the way Gord sings and the very lackadaisical tempo. No thanks.

    700 FT CEILING
    Fun, fun, fun. This thing just jumps into being and tumbles to the end in such an enjoyable way, I can’t help but love it. The song is about a public hockey rink at night. The lights create a weird illusion of a ceiling, but I don’t think I’ve seen that myself. Our hockey rink was just a pond and, if the guy who lived next to the pond felt like erecting it, a single industrial lamp.

    BUTTS WIGGLIN
    Might be my favourite from this album. Very moody and a very light take on the drug approval process? This is weird, and I like weird.

    “The sweet sound of patent approval comin' down in a not quite fog
    The sweet sound of patent approval comin' down in powdery sparks
    The sweet sound of patent approval comin' down with holiday concern
    The sweet sound of patent approval comin' down in a world of hurt

    In my opinion the drug is ready”

    APARTMENT SONG
    Meh. Similar opinion to Flamenco.

    COCONUT CREAM
    My description of “700 ft Ceiling“ sums this one up well too. Loads of fun. It reminds me of a TV show called Royal Canadian Air Farce that had a segment called the chicken cannon.
    Wow. It’s been a long time since I heard a Jean Chretien impression.

    LET’S STAY ENGAGED
    Nice slow jam. Again, the lyrics aren’t really doing anything for me, but it’s performed so well and make your head move, and toes tap.

    SHERPA
    I like this one a little more than Apartment Song and Flamenco, but only by a bit.

    PUT IT OFF
    Fantastic closer that sums up the quiet tone of this album. This is the song I think of when this album comes to mind.



    With all that said, wait patiently while I find the time to bang out the seventh installment.
    I sprayed spot remover on my dog and now he's gone. - S. Wright.

  3. #13
    Information comes from the album liner notes, Wikipedia, Google, and special mention goes to hipmuseum dot com. All errata are entirely mine alone. Also, this format’s pale imitation was consciously and unconsciously stolen from mrmustard615 and Trollheart.

    In 1997, we get a better bootleg.

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    I’ve never been a fan of live music. I’ve attended a handful of concerts, including Neil Young in an arena in Ottawa around 2008 (He played the Beatles “A Day in the Life” for an encore, which was cool), I saw a bunch of alt-rock bands (Including Daughtry, the Trews, Thornley, Sloan, Finger Eleven – Most of them jammed together by the end.) at an outdoor festival, I’ve seen some live country, and Thrice in a nightclub venue.

    Never really cared for any of it. Arena concerts in particular sound echo-y and blown out and the smell of pot hangs around to choke you.

    So in a way, I don’t regret never seeing the Tragically Hip live. I’ve never felt the desire to see them, nor felt a pang of regret if they passed through town. But, as with Neil Young playing the best Beatles song, you do get some interesting and often unique experiences with a live performance.

    The Hip were well-known for playing great shows, and the mainstay was Gord. In writing around the net, Gord is described as a troubadour. Seeing him in live footage, I can totally see it. He’s Canada’s Lizard King. On top of all the stage antics, Gord is also well-known for changing the words and the delivery, injecting rants or snippets of poetry, or even reciting lyrics from other songs during the set.

    For years, bootleg recordings were passed around and their value or mystique was often tied up in these rants. In my research, multiple writers recounted how radio stations playing bootlegs late at night introduced them to the poetic world of the Hip, especially “The Killer Whale Tank”.

    Lots of songs that featured on the albums discussed began as lyrical experiments and were incubated in long jam sessions live on stage. That’s pretty damn cool. I have a collection released in 2005, and there’s some verse nuggets from the DVD the later appeared on 2006’s World Container. It felt like being in the club.

    I love the performances on Live Between Us. This show is electric, Gord is mesmerizing, and the songs are clearly for a high-energy, bombastic experience. On the Trouble for the Henhouse I mentioned I wasn’t crazy about “Springtime in Vienna,” but here it is fantastic.

    One of the best bits is on “Blow at High Dough,” Gord sings some John Lennon but adds and inverts it:

    “"I didn't even get my feet wet/I didn't paddle an inch/I've never fought for a thing/I've never fought for anything/I was raised on TV/Like so many of you I see around me. Nothing to kill or die for / No religion, too.”

    In "Courage," we get a taste of an unreleased track written about the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique Massacre in which 14 women were killed. It can only be heard in full on bootlegs and it depicts, I believe, a mother deciding what her slain daughter should wear to her funeral.

    “The snow is so merciless
    Poor old Montreal
    In spite of everything that's happened
    Yeah, in spite of it all
    Don't you worry
    Her mama's gonna make her look good”

    I’m pretty sure every track has something odd to offer.

    Back in the introductory post I mentioned Davis Manning, a former member who was in the band from '84 to '86. When the band was going on tour, he had to decide if he wanted to sacrifice his relationship with his band, or with his girlfriend. He chose his girlfriend and apparently spray painted the message "The Hip live between us" in an alley. A photograph of the artwork appears on the disc, though the original was painted over in the 2000s.

    TRACK LIST
    1. Grace, Too
    2. Fully Completely
    3. Springtime in Vienna
    4. Twist My Arm
    5. Gift Shop
    6. Ahead by a Century
    7. The Luxury
    8. Courage
    9. New Orleans Is Sinking
    10. Don't Wake Daddy
    11. Scared
    12. Blow at High Dough
    13. Nautical Disaster
    14. The Wherewithal

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    With all that said, wait patiently while I find the time to bang out the eighth installment.
    Last edited by BadHouses; November 8th, 2019 at 12:24 AM.
    I sprayed spot remover on my dog and now he's gone. - S. Wright.

  4. #14
    Information comes from the album liner notes, Wikipedia, Google, and special mention goes to hipmuseum dot com. All errata are entirely mine alone. Also, this format’s pale imitation was consciously and unconsciously stolen from mrmustard615 and Trollheart.

    1998: Ice storm & Sunshine

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    This album is a shiny spot in the discography. When I think of this one, I recall the sweet and joyous sounds permeating it. Even the slower and more somber sections are uplifting, filled with wistfulness, as opposed to melancholy. Topics here range from penguins who mate for life, pretentious poets, small town shenanigans, environmentalism, young love, and being in a small band trying to break big.

    Trouble at the Henhouse was the first album to have a cardboard packaging. I hate it. It was immediately squashed. Most I've come across over the years disappoints me, typically by getting dog-eared and limp. Phantom Power is probably the only CD that has great cardboard packaging! Although they have a plastic insert for the CD. But still, it's excellent and has held up well during the years of listening and moving boxes. The album won an award for visual art, which seems well-earned, although the liner notes are nigh unreadable, being black on grey background with line-drawings and images.

    I'm no sound engineer, but I find this album to be mixed superbly. Everything feels like its in its right place. Nothing overwhelms, nothing stands out when it shouldn't. It feels crisp. This seems apropos given all that I will say about the tracks down below. This album has no "patience, tolerance, or restraint."

    POETS
    Yet again, a wonderful opener. When you hear this song, you know you're in for a pleasant ride. You're gonna hop in your car and cruise out of town, get ice cream, and watch the sunset.

    One of the best bits ever on this track:
    "He's been getting reprieve from the heat in the frozen food section, yeah
    Don't tell me what the poets are doing
    Don't tell me that they're talkin' tough
    Don't tell me that they're antisocial
    Somehow not antisocial enough"
    (...)
    "Don't tell me how the universe is altered
    When you find out that he gets paid, awright"

    This track has such a lounging beat to it, and as usual the guitar weaves in an out of focus, unassuming but far from simple. The video depicts a band practicing in a living room, but the lights keep getting turned on, ruining their "venue" lighting . The band is called the Rodents, the name of the proto-Hip band from 1984 consisting of Sinclair and Baker.

    SOMETHING ON
    This one just makes my heart sing. Every note of it is made of positivity.

    "Outside there's hectic action
    The ice is covering the trees
    And one of 'ems interconnecting
    With my Chevrolet Caprice"

    The band was trapped in the studio because of the 1998 ice storm.

    SAVE THE PLANET
    The cadence of Gord's singing on the verses in this one hits my ear in just the right way. In fact, this whole album is essentially Gord nailing his singing. I envision them recording these tracks, wind and snow ravaging outdoors, and them belting away with the biggest grins they've ever had in their lives.

    BOBCAYGEON
    Gord takes us to a small Ontario town for a pretty little love song that would become quite possibly their most recognizable tune.

    "I left your house this morning about a quarter after nine
    Coulda been the Willie Nelson coulda been the wine
    When I left your house this morning
    It was a little after nine
    It was in Bobcaygeon I saw the constellations
    Reveal themselves one star at a time"

    THOMPSON GIRL
    If I use the word lovely a thousand times in this post, you can't blame me. This song oozes loveliness, has a lovely girl, depicts a lovely scene in lovely Northern Canada. Gord just keeps on giving. He compares winter to a siege. Fuck, I love that! In this, and the next, song he references springtime, newness, greenness, refreshingness, optimism.

    "Thompson Girl, walking from Churchill
    Across the icy world with polar bears, it's mostly uphill.
    But when she saw that nickel stack
    She whistled hard and I whistled back, Thompson Girl"

    "She says springtime's coming
    Wait til you see
    It poking through with them shoots of beauty
    It's the end of rent-a-movie weather
    It's time we end this siege together
    Thompson Girl"

    Thompson, Manitoba, is a town that was created after surveyors discovered nickel. I knew a guy who lived there once.

    MEMBERSHIP
    This is tied for absolute favourite Hip song. I love the straight forward river analogy, I love the evocative lyrics that are powerful and succinct. In particular, I'm obsessed with the lines:

    "Bring on the butterscotch river over-spilling its banks"

    With just one word he conjures images that we've all seen of flooding. In particular, it reminds me of the periodic flooding of the Red River in Manitoba. It brings it to mind so perfectly, so clearly, and so expertly, I marvel at the line every time I hear it.

    FIREWORKS
    In 2017, Canada celebrated her 150th birthday. We spent that night watching fireworks off the balcony of a friend's apartment, rums and beers in hand. I put this on, and the whole cramped apartment filled with singing voices.

    I'm no patriot, but in that few minutes where we belted "fireworks, emulating heaven til there are no stars anymore," I felt a profound and overwhelming sense pride, happiness, and privilege and being part of a place so God damned awesome.

    VAPOUR TRAILS
    This one reminds me of Trouble at the Henhouse, centered around a domineering bass line, but the chorus brings everything back with explosions, and a line I adore the line:

    "There's nothin' uglier than a man hittin' his stride!"

    I always forget how much I enjoy this one. Each time I spin this album, I'm pleasantly rocked.

    THE RULES
    A slow little thing. Kinda forgettable, and not in a good way, and breaks into the momentum terribly. It makes me want to rewind to the last track, or skip. I like the bit about the sales pitch:

    "Salesman says this vacuum's guaranteed
    It could suck and ancient virus from the sea
    It could put the dog out of a job
    Could make traffic stop so little thoughts can safely get across"

    CHAGRIN FALLS
    Weakest track. It feels aimless and cobbled together. I skip it regularly. The verses don't sound so bad, I like the rhythm he hits, but the chorus annoys me. Not terrible but... Meh.

    ESCAPE IS AT HAND FOR THE TRAVELLIN' MAN
    Here the wistfulness hits its peak, with a song about bands' paths criss-crossing, making friends before a set only to never be seen again by the next day. The title is the name of one of the bands. There are a few named bands and songs here, and they're all as weird. I like it. Accompanying the lyrics is a very sedate sound.

    "We were fifth and sixth on the bill
    We talk a little about our bands
    Talk a little of our future plans
    Not like we were the best of friends
    Times they are a heartbeat."

    They meet, connect, plan to meet up again at their hotel , but it falls through cuz "they checked our a hour ago."

    EMPEROR PENGUIN
    Good tune, though not one I find very memorable. It's still a decent closer, leading us out with a softer sound, as though we've had a long, full day and are prepping for a well-deserved rest. Some sage advice on this one:

    "Don't wipe your asses with your sleeves"

    And also a statement of fact:

    "Your voice is all detached on a radio wave breeze
    We have another caller with a bachelor degree
    Talkin' alien invasion is the only chance for unity
    Well sorry to interrupt you caller
    But that's a physical impossibility
    That's a physical impossibility
    That's a physical impossibility"


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    With all that said, wait patiently while I find the time to bang out the ninth installment.
    I sprayed spot remover on my dog and now he's gone. - S. Wright.

  5. #15
    Information comes from the album liner notes, Wikipedia, Google, and special mention goes to hipmuseum dot com. All errata are entirely mine alone. Also, this format’s pale imitation was consciously and unconsciously stolen from mrmustard615 and Trollheart.

    2000 out of 10.

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    As the opening title track comes to a close, you might think Music @ Work is simply Phantom Power 2.0. The opening lines of this banger should probably give you a clue, however:

    “Everything is bleak. It’s the middle of the night.
    You’re all alone and the dummies might be right.”

    What we get from then on is an atomic left turn, a twisting, surreal, varied exploration of sound. We’ve got lots of additional instruments: a sprinkling of studio vocalists who bring a new accompaniment to Gord, synthesizers, keyboard, cello, and tabla. Originally, the album was supposed to be recorded in a train, though those plans fell through. They touch on this disappointment in “Train Overnight.”

    Lyrically, we take a trip through a series of situations and references that are on par with the strangeness. Baseball preachers, plane crashes, and remembering cholera. This album has huge, mountainous songs with a few quiet valleys in between. Tracks here are some of the most powerful that sweep you forward. Nearly every track here make me close my eyes and relish each second.

    TRACK LIST
    MY MUSIC AT WORK
    The opener sets a scene of radio-listening cubicle drudgery to soaring guitar. We also get some “carpe diem” type messages here that have permeated the past albums as well, seemingly in advice to avoid the preceding painting.

    “On a star beyond the chart or the dark side of a drop of rain.
    Determining where you are, in a sink full of Ganges, I remain.”

    You what?

    “The rain came down berserk.”

    TIGER THE LION
    Here we get the creepy synth sounds, like some kind of robotic horn. This particular song has two main sources: The first is fighter pilot language from WWII, and the second are paraphrased lectures by a philosopher called John Cage. Once the intro is over, we have a loping beat with a wall of sound, a feature that will recur.
    The opening line is supposed to be a radio transmission, though the code names and message are… florid?

    “This is Tiger the Lion, gimme the Knuckles of Frisco.
    If there’s danger in the language gentlemen,
    I suggest no further use of the two-way radio.”

    One of John Cage’s beliefs is summarised by Gord:

    “John Cage had come to feel that art in our time
    was far less important than our daily lives”

    As in the previous track, there’s an underlying positive message regarding the seizing of one’s day and of making one’s fortune.

    LAKE FEVER
    A masterpiece still heard on the radio, “Lake Fever” is a softer cut. The scene is two young lovers at the edge of a river. The boy is trying to find a way to make a move, the girl is waiting for him to do so, and in a nervous turn of events the boy begins babbling about a cholera outbreak that took place on this very river. The girl, to her credit, isn’t put off, but merely speaks softly that he should get on with it.

    The boy is a little baffled by the intricacy and the unspoken aspects of seduction:

    “I'll tell you a story about the lake fever or
    we can skip to the coital fury.
    You didn't say yes or no, neither.
    You whispered, hurry.”

    Coital fury is the best description of sex I’ve ever heard. It conjures a frenetic, inexperienced energy that I think aptly sums the undocumented outcome of this story. The close of this song is this lovely sexual analogy. The vocals run through a series of parallel lines that build and build in volume until they break, explosively in one final standalone verse, after which we get a decelerating outro (Backing vocals in parenthesis):

    “Want to be a nobody without peer. (Hurry)
    Want to be a thought that's never done (Hurry)
    Want to shake your faith in human nature (Hurry)
    Want to break the hearts of everyone.
    Want to be your wheezing screen door. (Wanna be)
    Want to be your stars of Algonquin. (Wanna be)
    Want to be your roaring floorboard. (Wanna be)
    Want to break the hearts of everyone. (Wanna break)

    And cause discontent until They,
    ceasing their investigation,
    bring back the days events, (Ah-ah)
    good citizens and time well spent, (Ah-ah)
    til we're talking in whispers again. (You whispered hurry)
    Until we're talking in whispers again. (You whispered hurry)”

    PUTTING DOWN
    We pick up the pace a little for a cute little track. So much of this album rides on Gord’s delivery. Words seem to flow and cascade from his mouth in expertly crafted beats.

    “United State of ricochet
    From the boardwalk to the Appian way
    The diamond files, the corporate raves
    You'd practically kill not to be afraid
    And I'm starting to choke on the things I say.”

    On the Fully & Completely podcast, the hosts make the argument that this is a little political jab at the US. Given the American attitudes towards guns, corporations, and fear – And considering this album came out one year after Columbine, I found it a compelling case of Gord suggesting the “chickens have come home to roost,” as they put it. (Listen)

    STAY
    One of those songs that I think I don’t like, but it turns out I do. The first verse is the part I remember most, with Gord dropping into a rare lower vocal sound which I find very enjoyable. The instrumentation is stripped back here, very sparse with the occasional surge during the choruses where a couple more layers are added.

    Dunno what this one is about. Even hipmuseum dot com doesn’t have a reference page.

    THE BASTARD
    Fabulous tabla work as this track opens and we pick up the pace. As the guitars drop in, we develop this surging, chaotic sound. Love this one, and we get some excellent lines:

    “And all of this augers well,
    even though it's presaging pell-mell.”

    “As the sun groomed the plane with crepuscular rays.
    When I saw you”

    “Billy Sunday” is name-dropped here. The Hip always have the best references, and they usually make you hit the books (Or Google) to find out what the hell they’re talking about. Billy Sunday was a womanizing, hard-drinking baseball player from the late 1800s who suddenly found Jesus and became a travelling preacher. Despite being offered huge sums of money to go back to playing, he refused them, apparently out of devotion to his faith work. Sunday was known for putting on these wild performances with crazy gesticulations and bodily movement. I’m sure the comparison to Gord’s on-stage mania was not lost on the boys. (Video) (Video/Audio)


    THE COMPLETISTS
    I hate the intro to this song, but once the singing begins, I find my distaste ebb, and once the band kicks, suddenly I love it. Well done, guys. I don’t know what this one’s about, exactly, but the female vocalist they brought in for a few lines is really great and pleasantly surprising.
    This track is quick, peppy, and enjoyable. Solid.

    FREAK TURBULENCE
    The first in a trifecta of meh. I’m up and down on this one. It might be the fastest song here, and it’s got some great lines, although sometimes they have this stream-of-conversation stylings that aren’t that nice. The lines detailing the airplane’s distress are fun.

    “Satan backhands our nose and our chin
    The wings tell the tailfin
    ‘It’s freak turbulence’”

    If this song were longer, I might skip it sometimes.

    SHARKS
    Another so-so. I wouldn’t call it a dud, especially since the central portion is great. Once all the instruments kick in to produce that wall of music, it picks up and the delivery of the lyrics sell me. The words themselves do much for me though, drifting into inscrutableness. Lotta that here.

    TORONTO #4
    An ode to Gord’s grandmother that has some odd metaphor choices. As noted by both Fully & Completely and hipmuseum dot com, Gord compares his grandmother to the “rock plug” of Mt. Vesuvius. The rock plug being, of course, the cap on the conduit which causes a build up of pressure and results in a volcanic eruption that is violence and destructive.
    This once is sweet. That’s all I can really say. I don’t like listening to it.

    WILD MOUNTAIN HONEY
    When I see this song come on my iPod in the car, I turn it up loud. The intro is this eerie, light acoustic guitar. Little does my passenger know that thirty second in, they’re going get a boot to the face from Johnny Fay’s drums. I adore this track. Gord’s word tumble out of his mouth, the drums fall from high to low, the guitars follow suit. The concept of a mountain is all over the composition.
    “Diplomacy goes even better with drinks”

    “OK, we agree to disagree.
    Giving up.... Giving Up the Embassy
    is a whole lot better than
    The Embassy's Surrendering.”

    “…the confetti cannon blows with litigious force.”

    TRAIN OVERNIGHT
    The defining “wall of sound” track on the album. This thing is as huge and unstoppable as the train its referencing. As mentioned, the album was originally supposed to be recorded in a train car. Unfortunately, it turned out the train they were arranging was deemed too old and decrepit to be used by its owner, and so they were forced back to a conventional studio. On the bright side, we get this gorgeous piece lamenting that loss, but also loaded with mysterious lyrics. I don’t even care about their elusive meaning.

    “Outside the train overnight,
    bloodlines wheel-burnished in moonlight.
    A great candescent white skeleton of flight.”

    THE BEAR
    A standout and contender for best Hip song ever recorded. This understated song moves at a decent clip and has stupendous verses front to back. Gord tells the tale of a wayward bear in Algonquin Park who wanders in the winter out to an island. When the bear wakes from his hibernation, the ice that carried him over has melted and in a ferocious hunger, he kills and eats some campers. After this, hunters come to kill him.

    Fuck it, here’s the whole thing:
    “I was first attracted by your scent
    Your heart must be a caramelized onion
    By the time I saw your flame
    it was all over for you and whashisname.

    I think it was Algonquin Park
    It was so cold and winter-dark
    A promised hibernation high
    took me across the great black plate of ice.

    Now I'm the Islander.
    I found a place to call my den
    and dreamt of the Ferry and
    the Enormous Man
    Huge as were his children
    following around after him

    I'm the Islander
    woke up in the furtive Spring
    more capable of anything

    I waited for more men to come (I waited for more men to come)
    They docked their boats and cocked their guns (They docked their boats and cocked their guns)
    The time for truth and reconciliation's gone (The time for truth and reconciliation's gone)
    But with my belly full I intended to get (But with my belly full I intended to get)
    Something done (Something done)

    I'm the Islander"
    woke up in the dead of spring
    more hungry than anything
    Islander”

    Apparently the line “with my belly full I intended to get something done” is borrowed from the movie “Alive,” which recounts the true tale of a plane crash in the Andes in which the surviving passengers cannibalised the corpses of the unlucky.

    AS I WIND DOWN THE PINES
    Gord kinda sounds bad on this track – However, it works. It’s just him in this dreamlike acoustic bit that fades out the album. Someone on YouTube put this track to a video of a canoe drifting along a river with jack pines sliding along the shore. Frickin’ bang on.



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    With all that said, wait patiently while I find the time to bang out the tenth installment.
    I sprayed spot remover on my dog and now he's gone. - S. Wright.

  6. #16
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Now that I'm back, just wanted to drop in and say thanks for flying the flag for journals by other than myself or Musty. It's nice to see someone else put in the effort, and though this band doesn't sadly interest me, you do a very good job of putting them across, and I'm sure it's damn interesting for those who are into them. So thanks again and keep them coming!
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  7. #17
    Your kind words are much appreciated. This has been a fun exercise so far, though I'm gonna have to work on my vocabulary or my review "angle" - I feel very repetitive.

    If you don't mind my asking, you guys keep referring (not in this thread, but elsewhere) to the "other music forum" - what the heck is it? You and mrmustard don't seem to have a glowing opinion of the place.
    I sprayed spot remover on my dog and now he's gone. - S. Wright.

  8. #18
    Let's just say the maturity level at "That other place" isn't very high. It's called music banter and they seem to emphasize the banter over the music. To be honest, I think Troll and I are having much more success here with our musical pieces here than we ever did over there. Troll was very prolific over there and hardly anybody cared- and it was a music forum for Ozzy Osbourne's sake!
    Hidden Content Hidden Content Hidden Content Hidden Content

    And check out Gertie's blog on her favorite top twenty-five albums between 1955-2017 Hidden Content

  9. #19
    Information comes from the album liner notes, Wikipedia, Google, and special mention goes to hipmuseum dot com. All errata are entirely mine alone. Also, this format’s pale imitation was consciously and unconsciously stolen from mrmustard615 and Trollheart.

    In 2002 I was in Grade 7 I think?

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    The boys pack up and head to the Bahamas’ Compass Point Studios to record. After the grueling recording sessions of the last two albums which were edited in a very fussy, intricate way with lots of tracks and tweaks, they wanted something more vacation-y.

    This time The Hip switch out producers again, opting this time for prolific Hugh Padgham who has produced such acts as Phil Collins, the Police, the Human League, XTC and is the inventor of the “gated reverb” drum sound, according to la wik.

    I vaguely remember the release of In Violet Light, mainly lots of airplay for the single “It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken.”

    “This outing is solid, but I wouldn’t call it stellar.” That’s what I wrote on the first go-round, but in the intervening days since I started researching, reading into the lyrics, and listening again, I have had to re-write this section. Despite my natural inclination to do so with the other albums, it would seem I never gave a good long look into the tracks here. Shame on me! I’m really glad I gave this one the deep treatment, way beyond even what comes through in this little review.

    I’d also like to mention that between this and the last album, Gord Downie released his incredible solo album Coke Machine Glow in 2001. I’m not going to get into it, but if you’re looking to spin a record you’ve almost certainly never heard before, this is a great one to choose. Gord’s poetry is more central than anything in the Hip, naturally, and musically it is a complete change-up. More of a coffee shop vibe, I guess? Fave tracks are Chancellor and The Never-Ending Present.

    TRACK LIST
    ARE YOU READY?
    As expected, a solid start with an explosive first note. I put this on my stereo and forgot I had the volume cranked. Scared the scheiße out of me.

    Though I mentioned in the intro I had rewritten some of this review after considering the tracks, I can see why I might have gained the impression I had of the album so long ago. The opening line is an interesting one though, as it appears this blooming rock song about love has some deathly imagery.

    “Hear the ol' whistle blowin'
    they're pulling the plug
    we got to get goin'
    they got our hole dug
    are you ready? are you ready, are you ready to love?”

    The rest of the poetry is less interesting to my ear.

    USE IT UP
    Good song that seems to revel in the enjoyment of music. It starts with a laziness that gives way to an exalting loudness as the chorus comes around. It feels like talking about a favourite album. As you introduce it you find your excitement growing exponentially as you can’t wait to preach and reveal a secret knowledge to someone new.

    We get direct reference to both Randy Newman and Springsteen.

    “Use it up, use it all up
    Don't save a thing for later
    If there's music out there laying in wait
    To pounce and drain every ounce if you
    wait or hesitate”

    Gord’s got an interesting delivery for these verses, with some odd but lovely pauses and held notes, however the word “Away” is almost always somewhat annoying.

    THIE DARKEST ONE
    Excellent track. Gord is powerful and the band woven behind him make this a gem. The song has an interesting structure: The first verse beckons you, and the second verse describes the place you’re welcomed to. That structure repeats later as well. And in this place outside of the rigors of life is a place where you can speak and think as you wish “without shame.” But Gord does not describe a place where you can think your secret racist thoughts, or expound to nobody your communist ideology, or any of the other trillions of thoughts in people’s heads that might be anathema – What Gord describes is more basic than that, more universal a need to feel unshackled:

    “Come in, come in, come in, come in
    From under these darling skies come in
    It's warm and it's safe here and almost harkening
    Off to a time and place now lost in our imagination

    Where you don't complain-but you still do
    and you don't explain-but you still want to explain
    Where you believe what you say without shame, 'I just do'
    To say what you mean you don't mean what you say
    -or you do”
    (…)
    Come in, come in, come in, come in
    From thin and wicked prairie winds, come in
    It's warm and it's safe here and almost heartening
    Here in a time and place not lost in our imagination

    Where you don't explain-but you still do
    And you can complain-if you want to complain (To complain)
    Where you're real instrumental or supple
    Or sexy as hell
    Where you say ‘I believe’" or say without shame
    'I can't tell'

    The video for this track features Don Cherry and the Trailer Park Boys.

    IT’S A GOOD LIFE IF YOU DON’T WEAKEN
    This one’s a masterwork and almost the pick of the litter. A contemplative piece with minimal instrumentation gives Gord a chance to just perform. His voice is haunting, quavering, ethereal. On a couple occasions he lulled me to sleep over the radio with a cadence and rhythm that is innately pleasing.

    “Let’s get friendship right
    Get life day-to-day
    In the forget-yer-skates dream (Forget-yer-skates dream)
    Full of countervailing woes (Full of countervailing woes)
    In diverse-as-ever scenes (In diverse-as-ever scenes)
    Proceeding on a need-to-know (Proceeding on a need-to-know)
    In a face so full of meaning
    As to almost make it glow (Almost make it glow)"

    Once again, the imagery of death is interspersed.

    Apparently, this piece was written way back in the 80s. Curious to think this was simmering just beneath the surface of the raucous bar band.

    SILVER JET
    A wicked rock song. Intro’d with some harsh metallic guitar tone.

    “It’s quiet again
    When a car like Big Ben
    Radio dopplerin’
    ‘For all you Gregory Peck fans
    Let us now praise famous men
    To take some pressure off the wondrous
    To fight”
    (…)
    “and your heart jumps too
    As if the wolves of Northumberland
    Were rumored to be en route”

    The Fully & Completely podcast makes a good point with this track. In 2002, the imagery of an airplane might have been especially stark in the wake of 9/11 having just shaken North America. Lots of fear imagery here as well. Jumping hearts, legendary Wolves, “a heightened air of peril,” “a still in the night.” Several colours are mentioned and implied here as well, mainly grey, violet, and green, which are a combination inspiring unease to my mind. The song also references the cover art and title with “There’s a heron outside / Inviolate light.”

    THROWING OFF GLASS
    The imagery of this song is very suburban and well-written, but musically I find this a little unnecessary. However, it has taken on a new meaning since I’ve learned it is about Gord’s daughter. The childlike speech, the repetition, the urban setting makes a lot more sense:

    “’Why is the world so creepy?’ she asked
    After a car full of haircuts drove past
    A backseat full of 'the boys'”

    “And just like after she heard
    the word 'iridescent'
    and everything was iridescent for awhile,
    It wasn't long
    before she exalted out of nowhere,
    'Isn't this exquisite?'”

    The title isn’t mentioned except for the end, in which we return to the image of the boys driving past. They were described as “cads” in another verse as well. The meaning of breaking glass isn’t expounded, but when I think of young boys in a car, I think of them tossing beer bottles out to watch them smash spectacularly. But I also wonder if they’ve maybe witnessed a car accident, though maybe a minor one. I can remember a scene exactly like this as a child riding in my parents van; It was a crappy Chevy Cavalier weaving through traffic, blasting contemporary music sung-to, and side-swiping a car in an ill-fated attempt to thread the needle. Nobody hurt, but I can still see it quite vividly. No broken glass though.

    ALL TORE UP
    This track sounds autobiographical. A bar band romp about a bar band romping. The scenes Gord paints are of a band’s explosion into the mainstream stemming from just playing sets for fun.

    “We were a blow-out of wicked proportions
    An accidental company
    If we said, 'We're gonna go out
    and get all tore-up tonight
    then we did
    we got a little happenin'”

    “With Dottie, the bluegrass singer
    baring her local breast
    singing, ‘You want an open concept!?
    -I'll give ya open concepts!’”

    “Ya play yer Fuck-Off-Nows right
    and don't clear the place
    Wreak some havoc on the way out
    You might make it”

    We also get a little interstitial quote that makes it plain:

    “Drink up folks. It’s getting on time to close.”

    LEAVE
    I could not for the life of me remember how this one went. I should’ve – It’s incredible! We get Gord’s low voice which is always a treat when he busts it out. The track begins with a watery, acoustic-y sound and Gord suddenly emerges – The volume, the intensity, the instrumental layering builds ever skyward, as though he were going to the moon.

    This song has one of my favourite Gord lines. A picture is apparently worth a thousand words, but an expert like Gord can craft a picture from a single sentence:

    “Watching a dog charge a flock
    of birds exploding in congregation”

    Birds are the central subject of the song. It begins with a more pedestrian view of the dog above and the birds discussing this dog’s attacks amongst themselves. As the song builds there’s an expanding view of a bird’s life and the possibilities presented by flight. I like how after the first chorus, the song doesn’t return to its previous sound, it just keeps going louder. Death imagery returns at this point:

    “It's a routine flight for this bird tonight
    There's more worms than earth
    in the afterlife
    Where the blind feed the blind,
    whispering things like;
    'On the money' and 'Bullseye'”

    We get a thesis statement that comes up on other tracks as well: “Where there's love, there's hope”

    “'Well I don't know... but why suppose it's
    not the way it should be?
    When you can squawk and wait for word from above
    and change yourself into something you love
    When you
    Leave”

    This is the best track on the album. “Leave” is a single-minded composition in which every single aspect serves this greater thematic purpose. The graph for all aspects of this song is linearly positive. Every piece is serving the concept of lifting, flying away, and leaving:

    • Gord’s voice goes from low to high, even falsetto by the end
    • The instruments are minimal in the beginning, but are added as the song goes on
    • The song begins with one bird, then expands to a flock and eventually the song seems to be from high in the sky, and then even to “the afterlife.”
    • The volume goes quiet to loud with only a few blips on the journey
    • The choruses are not high points, they’re only the highest point thus far. There is no return to normalcy for the next verse, only greater escalation.
    • By the end, this song is exalting in all ways


    This is a “100% song” for me.

    BEAUTIFUL THING
    A song I remember alternately liking and disliking. Death is in the fore here. The song kicks off:

    “In the ulcerating silence
    Perspective comes
    The way it always does-for it's random
    So randomly somebody calls
    The phone rings and it brings Niagara Falls
    At 3 o'clock in the morning
    'You'd better be dyin'-and you were
    -So we talked about time
    and where it went,
    unremarkable events,
    and how one day took two days
    and they got spent.
    How you'd continue, carefully, in degrees
    trying to do one true beautiful thing”

    The outro is preceded by a nice guitar solo as well.

    THE DIRE WOLF
    Not too shabby. This one is inspired by a poem called “Sea Surface Full of Clouds.” The titular canine is a stand-in for the ocean or perhaps the shoreline which chews up the wayward ships – In either case, a terrifying beast.

    There is a whole lot going on in this song. It's ostensibly about another nautical disaster. A girl named Ann Harvey, her family (and their Labrador dog) rescued 163 people from a shipwreck near Isle-Aux-Morts (Eng.: Island of the Dead) in Newfoundland Canada.

    Interestingly, through that Wiki article, we get a reference to an earlier song. “Ann was known as the 'Grace Darling of Newfoundland', after the Englishwoman who, with her father, saved seamen wrecked on the Northumberland coast.”

    I’ve never been to Newfoundland & Labrador, but I have been to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the maritime feeling is pervasive. Always and everywhere the sea is this fearsome force that at any moment can giveth and taketh away. Fishing and boating are part of everything, from the industry, the leisure, and the tourism of those sea-side regions, and its iconography is ubiquitous. Shipwrecks are commemorated up and down the coasts and you can often find maps which dot and date them through the centuries by the hundreds. “Newfoundland’s claws” have claimed a great deal of materiel, to say nothing of the countless lives.

    I think this song does that kind of required obsession justice. The reticent and folksy instrumentation complement the maritime feel, particularly with the lines that speak a caution to sailors to never overestimate their chances; plenty have done and paid dearly:

    “when better boats been (Ooo)
    done by this water (Ooo)
    where bigger boats been done by less water (Ooo)
    and betting boats been done by this water (Ooo)
    when bigger boats been done by less water (Ooo)
    and better boats been done by this water”

    We also get references to two actors whose lives were turbulent and marked by early death. Both of them starred in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat. Gord and his movies.

    THE DARK CANUCK
    Movies again, one real, one fictional. The song takes place at a “drive-in double feature” and the song itself has two distinct halves. The first is a yelpy, twangy, stream-of-consciousness musing. The second half follows this super satisfying and sinister time change.

    This song is apparently about soldiers. I don’t really see it, but that’s on me.



    BONUS TRACKS
    I didn’t know these existed until now. Some CDs came with a Tragically Hip fan club card and a download link to three tracks, but I wouldn’t have internet in my home until around 2007 anyway. These tracks serve as an omen of the oncoming digital music era, which I find to be a fascinating aspect.

    PROBLEM BEAR
    Peppy little song featuring the word Memphremagog. Feels like a bonus track, a little oddball, and I like it. The title right off the bat makes me think of bears which scamper through backyards stealing bird feeders or congregate at garbage dumps. Mischievous silliness with a little bit of destruction, though be sure not to get close.

    Gord talks about people arguing in another room, unseen, and he’s just sitting trying to write a damn song but can’t concentrate with all the racket.

    “Shakespeare, you're a drunken savage
    Well, you're a sober and green-eyed Voltaire
    It almost sounds funny
    Like two tough-talking goalies
    Who are really going at it upstairs”

    ULTRA MUNDANE
    According to hipmuseum dot com, this song is a play on the term Ultramontanism, a papal notion that the Church ought to be dictating how Catholics worldwide to live and govern. I suspect an artist like Gord and the Hip would balk at such a proposition, viewing a traditionalism as little more than a repressive, creativity-killing endeavor. I also suspect there’s a circular thing going on here, where the youth break the tradition to make new ones, only to have their progeny do the same to them.

    Musically, I think this song is fine. Another peppy ditty.

    FOREST EDGE
    An acoustic-y, country tune. You get full on gang-vocals here rather than the echoed, emphasis-providing backing vocals that are a staple up to now. Enjoyable!
    “Like all great relationships (Like all great relationships)
    This one started with an apology (This one started with an apology)”

    PHEW. That was a big one, and I had to write and re-write several sections over and over. I expected to change my mind on some albums but wow, I didn’t expect it to be with which I was so familiar, nor did I expect it to be so drastic. I think the first two tracks had bits that I wasn't I love with and it soured me on the whole experience. Again, shame on me.

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    With all that said, wait patiently while I find the time to bang out the eleventh installment.
    I sprayed spot remover on my dog and now he's gone. - S. Wright.

  10. #20
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
    Join Date
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    I think the thing about Music Banter has to be put into context. Yes, they can be dicks and often are, and sometimes just for the fun of it. They can and did often seem like a pack of wolves searching for a new sheep to tear apart, or an old one in my case. There were people there who could sense weakness or perhaps just a reluctance to get into confrontations, and who capitalised on that. Like all bullies and gang leaders, their cronies piled in and soon you were fighting on several fronts, usually with no chance of winning. All verbal, obviously, I hasten to add. Other than one guy who apparently threatened another with his Glock... that was after I had left though.

    However, there are always two sides to the story and no issue is ever black and white. It would be grossly unfair to say I had no support or appreciation there. On the contrary, I had a great many friends there, and even those I wasn't on good terms with occasionally might grudgingly admit something I had written was good. My writings were in general well received and I think everyone, bar no-one, appreciated the contribution I made to the forum and realised it would not be the same without me (head beginning to swell now) and I see at the moment that appears to be the case. Everyone who would enjoy it got a great kick out of the three years when I set aside a separate month to feature nothing but heavy metal - my Metal Months - and they were on the whole a great success.

    The real trouble was when people who had nothing else to do got bored, or decided to pick a fight. It was easy with me - just question my music taste, beliefs or slag off my sister and I was on the warpath. This situation would then be exploited to its fullest and others would join in, eventually leaving me a metaphorical broken and battered corpse on the ground. Never stopped me, but it was hurtful. I don't mean to suggest that I was the only target of such attacks, of course. Some people had it much worse, and more frequently than me. It was kind of like going out into the school yard and meeting the tough guys who would beat you up before the bell for class rang again.

    But to be completely fair to them, when the bad times hit they were there for me. When I was in such a bad depression that I couldn't eat, at all, for three days and almost collapsed and ended up in hospital, they were all very supportive. When my aunt died and five months later one of my beloved cats had to be put to sleep, they all stood by me and sympathised. Every single one. They're not quite rough diamonds, but they're not unfeeling bastards either, though I did have knock-down rows with some individuals and said things I probably should not have. The thing is, when you know who they are and how they work, things that they might say that could really offend someone else who doesn't know them just washes over you. You learn to fight fire with fire and not to take offence.

    I would be frequently and regularly advised to kill myself, but without any real malice. Slurs would be made against my family, but I learned to give as good as I got. When one guy answered the question as to where he had been with "in your mom" I told him I hoped he had not got too tired digging her up, as she has been dead for over a quarter of a century. These are not things I would normally say, but you learned to hit back in the same way as they did. When they saw that the most brutal - but not meant to upset you - things they could say to you did not faze you, they either accepted you or left you alone. The fun, to some extent, of baiting you was gone out of it for them. I guess it could be seen as a sort of test, or hazing; they wanted to see if you had "the right stuff", maybe.

    There was definitely good and bad, and days there where I just wanted to leave, as I eventually did. But they were and are still people I consider my friends, and say about them what you will, they almost to a man knew their music, and it was great to talk to and learn from them, even if they did slag off my music taste. One thing you could be assured of with them was lively debate and, of course, banter, though not always about music.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

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