The Tragically Hip
Road Apples



by tom79 USER (79 Reviews)
October 8th, 2006 | 11 replies

Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

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.

Road Apples, the Hip's third album,contains some of the bands finest work. It continues in the same vein as their previous two albums, the gritty, straight forward rock, taking cues from classic rock artists while adding their own spin. Recorded in New Orleans with producer Don Smith, 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.

The Hip don't really stray too far away from their rock/blues/folk influences on Road Apples. They know what they're about and they do it exceptionally. The album opener and lead single from the album Little Bones could not start the album off on a better note. From the opening guitar of ‘Little Bones’ which then kicks into the momentous guitar riff, it is one of, if not the best on the record. Long Time Running and Fiddler’s Green are two of the slower ones here, and with the easy going instrumentation, it emphasizes Downie’s voice and the overall relaxing feel of the songs. Twist My Arm 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.

Road Apples 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.

Recommended Tracks:
Little Bones
Three Pistols
Long Time Running

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user ratings (54)

Comments:Add a Comment 
Two-Headed Boy
October 8th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Tommy Gun, my man, this review takes some cake.

I have their whole discography at my disposal, but I need to listen to about 50% of it. This is a great album, ranking among their best.

October 8th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

i only like a few songs by tis band, great review though.

The Jungler
October 8th 2006


This sounds pretty cool, I can honestly say I have never heard of this. By the name I would guess 00's indie pop boys, but I guess I would be wrong. Good review Tom.

Zesty Mordant
October 8th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

yes, the Hip rule. I had to sound like a jingoistic dick but if you don't like the Hip then you simply aren't Canadian.

great review too. I've been thinking about reviewing Fully Completely for some time now.

[QUOTE=Jungler] his sounds pretty cool, I can honestly say I have never heard of this. By the name I would guess 00's indie pop boys, but I guess I would be wrong. Good review Tom. [/QUOTE]

The Hip are kinda like a very blues-heavy rock band. Very straightforward shoot-from-the-hip rock that is amazingly not very bland sounding. I know you dig Drive-by Truckers and they're somewhat similar to them if that helps.This Message Edited On 10.09.06

March 5th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I'm really digging this band, now. I found 5 of their cds, but haven't gotten to this one yet.

if you don't like the Hip then you simply aren't Canadian.

Pretty much.This Message Edited On 03.05.07

March 5th 2007


I like'em. I don't have enough stuff to rate them, but what I heard was excellent.

April 5th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

It's taken a while for me to get to this. I got stuck with Henhouse, Up To Here, and Fully Completely. Really good cd. Just what I expected.

Long Time Running and Little Bones are currently my favorites.This Message Edited On 04.05.07

February 8th 2011


Kanye West got inspired from the album cover , no ?

February 1st 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Amazing review, classic album!

Digging: Wesley Willis - Greatest Hits Vol. 2

February 1st 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

I read the review, but couldn't find the actual definition of "Road Apples". Did you note that it means horse shit?

December 18th 2016


Album Rating: 5.0

Most canadain band ever. Bless these guys for eternity.

Digging: Woe - Hope Attrition

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