5 of 5 thought this review was well written
Despite being rock legends in their native Canada, The Tragically Hip never seemed to hit it off in the US or elsewhere nearly as much. This could well be that their music and lyrics are so saturated in Canadian culture. Formed in Ontario in 1983, The Hip released their first album in 1987; however it didn’t make much of a splash, even in Canadian charts. The real entrance of the band with their sophomore album titled ‘Up To Here
’ which spawned hits such as 38 Years Old
and Blow at High Dough
. Their third release, this here ‘Road Apples
’, saw the band reach a new level of stardom in Canada with a more accessible sound and fame that that would stay for quite some time and is still going. They would experience some success in The States but mainly the northern regions like Michigan and New York. But unlike many other so-called ‘premier’ Canadian rock bands such as Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman, The Hip have their own unique sound and is easily distinctive between another, and for the better. The Hip continued to release albums throughout the nineties, into the millennium and are still touring and recording to this day with a new album coming out later this month. They were also inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and have claimed countless Juno awards in the past and counting.
, the bands third album, is often regarded as some of the bands finest work along with albums such as ‘Fully Completely
’ and ‘Up To Here
’. It continues in the same vein as their previous two albums, that sound being the gritty, straight forward rock taking cues from past artists alike and adding a new spin. Recorded in New Orleans with producer Don Smith (who also produced their previous album), the album was originally intended to be titled ‘Saskadelphia’, but the record company felt it was ‘too Canadian’. The album was then titled ‘Road Apples
’; thought of by the band, and the company liked it, though not knowing what it meant.
Production-wise, the album is much better than their first two and standing alone, is done well. Clearly audible are all instruments with crisp vocals; however it’s not to the point where it’s ‘over produced’ and cheap sounding. It retains the bands raw touch but with a little refine to it. Lead singer and front man Gord Downie gives a usual excellent vocal performance full of emotion, as he does on all of his albums. His signature voice is difficult to describe, but he sure can sing and shows it off here. From the powerful yelps in Little Bones
to the lingering vocal jaunts on Long Time Running
, he’s one of the main reasons for The Hips popularity. Guitarist Rob Baker (known as Bobby back then) gives a steady outing with the powerful riffs on Three Pistols
to his eclectic solos shown on Fight
but especially Bring It All Back
(perhaps one of his best ever) being a key to bands overall tight musicianship. Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair do a solid job with bass and rhythm guitarsit respectivly, and both provide backing vocals while Johnny Fay stands his ground on drums.
The Hip do not take much chance with diversity and nothing really strays away from their rock/blues/folk influences here. However, when focusing on this one topic, they manage to make some of the best and most coherent songs within the genre, with both hard, driving rock songs, and emotional, moving ballads. The album opener and lead single from the album Little Bones
could not start the album off on a better note. From the opening clean guitar to ‘Little Bones’ which then kicks into the dominant and driving guitar riff, its is one of, if not the best on the record and remains one of the bands biggest songs still getting air time today. Long Time Running
and Fiddler’s Green
are both two of the slower tunes here, and with the easy going instrumentation, it emphasizes Downie’s voice and the overall relaxing feel of the songs. Twist My Arm
, a single released, is a bluesy rocker built around a heavy riff which is noticeable throughout the entire song. However songs like these can get mixed up with songs like On The Verge
with a first listen or two, which goes back to the similarity in some songs. And, as a con, some songs like Fight
tend to drag on a bit too long with nothing really changing from the first few minutes.
As mentioned earlier, a main reason for the bands limited success outside of Canada is their lyrical content often dealing with Canadian subject matter whether it dealing with Canadian politics, hockey, cities, history and so on. Here is no exception, however that doesn’t mean is only limited to those who can relate. Three Pistols
is a song dedicated to the popular Canadian Painter Tom Thomson while The Luxury
makes reference to the provincial symbol of Quebec. Born In The Water
is probably the most open about Canadian themes dealing with the controversy in the ‘Meech Lake Accord’ debate in Ontario in the early nineties with lyrics like “Smart as trees in Sault Ste. Marie; Victorious mother tounge; Passing laws just because; Singing songs of the English unsung”. Little Bones
tells a story which was supposedly inspired by a taxi driver who drove them in New Orleans, which comes of as dark but yet humorous at the same time. However most of the songs offer just well written lyrics of stories and events showing what a good writer Downie is, relatable to anyone.
is one of The Tragically Hip’s best and is a staple in 90’s Canadian rock. Though there isn’t a lot of depth to the instrumental portion in terms of variety, it stands alone as a solid rock album, which was what it was set it to do. And with some first-rate song writing, good quality production and good chemistry between members you have an excellent album here. And just because you may not familiar with some of the terms of lyrical matters, it does not mean that this isn’t for you as it can appeal to any fans of rock. Road Apples
is an excellent album from one of the better yet underrated rock bands out there.
Long Time Running