Weekend Spin- Tragically Hip: Up To Here (1989)



When one thinks of stellar debuts The Hips ‘Up To Here’ would have to be one of them.

Up To Here dropped in the Summer of 89 when I was in Winnipeg with Tbone to see a concert. Whenever we hit Winnipeg we always hit all the record shops. One such visit under the New Release section was Up To Here the debut from fellow blogger Geoff Stephen’s back yard of Kingston Ontario, “The Tragically Hip”

When I saw the cover of Up To Here I called Tbone over and showed him it. Just 7 months earlier(Feb-89) we saw The Hip play to a crowd of 20 people here in Thunder Bay at Crocks and they tore the place apart.

I still remember buying there 5 song EP on cassette from one of the guys in the band ( I can’t remember who) for $5 and whichever Hip guy it was thanked me for the gas money to get to ironically Winnipeg!

So there we are in Winnipeg a few months later as me and Tbone both bought Up To Here on that hot August day.

I bought it on CD and Tbone purchased his copy on tape. Don Smith who dialed in the sounds basically let The Hip do there thing! 

Up To Here is 11 Songs of Barroom Boogie Rock. Smith kept the production raw which is what is so endearing to you as a listener. It sounds live with hardly any touch-ups may be no touch-ups as the guys in the band were a well oiled traveling band honing those chops in towns across Canada and this album pays off that in spades.


The songs are catchy plain and simple. Blow At High Dough launches the album off in fine style as Lead SInger and Lyrcist Gord Downie already drop the gauntlet on what a fine talent he has with words.

Want a couple of examples of some classic lyrics?  How about the cool acoustic-driven slip n slide guitar work of the brilliant Bobby Baker on the tune that leads off SIde 2 Boots or Hearts that features some fine words,

Fingers and toes, fingers and toes
Forty things we share
Forty one if you include
The fact that we don’t care

Course Gord had the knack of an impact line like the song that follows Boots or Hearts  which is Everytime I Go with the money shot opening line of,

Like anyone I knew a Dave

followed by,

Drove a Plymouth Shallow Grave
Said, “My girl don’t just walk, she unfurls”
With motorcycle language
He stumbled through his slang pledge
Then he dragged the mud for wedding pearls

Crazy good that Mr. Downie was and what a huge loss when he passed in 2017.

As I mentioned earlier this band is tight live and on this record. Smith let these guys loose and it shows.  The band itself is wicked. Paul Langlois comes from the Keef cool Rhtym Guitar Academy. Paul’s rhythms are tighter than the bolts on a bank safe. Drummer Johnny Fay and Bassist Gord Sinclair anchor the back end of the band brilliantly. Bobby Baker plays all kinds of rock guitar on this. Straight ahead rock leads ( I Believe In You) slide guitar (Blow At High Dough) more cool rock leads (She Didn’t Know).  How about Bobby’s ax manship in New Orleans Is Sinking? The list is endless.

The Hip as you all know was mega in Canada. Look no further than there Canadian sales. The first three Hip releases (Up To Here, Road Apples, Fully Completely)  each sold a million copies in Canada.

To my American pals out there reading this if this was American sales the three Hip albums would have sold 30 million combined! How’s that for a 3-pack of album sales to start your career?

The first three Hip albums were certified Diamond in Canada. I don’t think any other artist or band in Canada will ever pull that feat off.

This is a great record plain and simple so yeah go ahead drop the needle or stream it and crank Up To Here.

Trust me.

You can thank me later!

I was in Montreal(with Tbone) a few weeks after Downie had passed and I was on the vinyl hunt for some Hip and was able to score Up To Here and the followup Road Apples at a cool little record shop called Beatnick Records.

37 thoughts on “Weekend Spin- Tragically Hip: Up To Here (1989)”

  1. Fabulous post, Deke – if we install a new security system here, I’ll get Langlois’s riffs on the job! That Crocks show would have been incredible & the $5 story, priceless!
    It’s funny, I didn’t like Boots or Hearts at all when I was younger (the one hip song I didn’t care for) & think it was the lyrics that started to finally win me over. Now it’s probably my favourite from the album!
    And talk about a successful record shop trip, scoring this & Road Apples, a pair of rock solid investments!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Geoff.
      I was pretty happy to score those two Hip albums basically at the first place we stopped at which was Beatnick.
      Not a dud track on this album. One stellar song after another. Man,those first 4 albums and Phantom Power are so good.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew it would do well Mikey as they played every nook and cranny in Canada back than so they made fans along the way. But to sell a million copies here. No who could have predicted that??!
      Frank told me a great story about The Hip when they played TBay at Crocks they drove straight from NYC to Tbay.
      First thing they asked Frank was for food so he made them a ton of Grilled Cheese sandwhiches.


  2. I really like their music and I don’t understand why they weren’t played more here. I shouldn’t have just found out about them in 2018. Sounds like they are cool guys also.
    Great story with the gas money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Max for reading.
      The Hip had opportunities. Last year my daughters gifted me for my birthday the touring history of Rush called ‘Wandering The Face of the Earth’.
      Neil Peart talks about RUSH offering The Hip all there North American dates to The Hip back in 1991 to open for RUSH , something like 90 Arena dates in which The Hips Management turned it down said there was a buzz building in Europe. and they were going there
      Peart said by them saying no “it was a missed opportunity”
      I couldn’t agree more. They dropped the ball on what would have been playing to 10,000 people a night in the States.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always a pleasure…Man that would have given them tons of publicity. You are exactly right…that could have pushed them over big here. There are bands from history like…Slade, Small Faces and these guys that should have made a dent over here.

        I have found out with the others and now this one…management is usually to blame.
        At first I thought… Slade was maybe was too British…but how can you be too Canadian? Thanks for letting me know Deke…that makes sense.

        They certainly didn’t need to make it over here…they done quite well in Canada…but I wish I would have known about them earlier.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The Tragically Who?

    Now thats what I asked myself right before I dug into them. They should have been more widely known outside of Canada. Absolutely beautiful stuff.

    My favorite is Fully Completely but Up to Here is excellent too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the personal connection you have to this record. I came on board when this was released but I wasn’t in Winnipeg.Real good piece deKE. It is a very good record. When I decided to do a piece on TH, I had a hard time choosing. But hey I’ll get to them all eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeah, there are some grooves on this one that the Hip themselves never beat again. The slide work on Blow At High Dough is brilliant. Brilliant I say! We went to Beatnik two summers ago and found some great stuff in there. I would love to go back someday.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Greetings from a fellow Ontarian, now in Texas… Max mentioned you bought a tape off them for $5 and they thanked you for gas money! How cool! Never saw them live, but had quite a few of their CDs; “Fully Completely” was probably my fave, though I liked the rawness of that “blue EP” debut too. One of Canada’s best kept secrets

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Dave thanks for stopping by. That Blue EP had some real Gems on there like Highway Girl and I still recall Gordie jumping on the back of either Bobby or Paul during I’m A Werewolf Baby on that small bar stage.
      Great times and Great music.
      Have you checked out the deluxe version of Fully Completely that came out about 8 years ago that has a full show from the Horeshoe in T.O?
      Check it out Dave its brilliant.

      Like Gord says..

      “Like anyone I knew a Dave”

      Take care and stay safe down in Texas.


      1. thanks , you too! No, I didn’t know there was a deluxe verson of it… might look into that. I’ve been to the Horseshoe a few times, saw Blue Rodeo play there at least once and photographed this gal who was a folk singer and friend, at her concert there. Now that I think of it, my “six degrees of separation” for the band is two, I guess… in the early-90s I was working in a photo lab and for awhile we had a young woman customer who said she was one of their member’s girlfriends – the dude with the really long hair . I don’t know if that was true but she did have a photo or two with him in it, so maybe it was.
        The Ontario bands that break through seem to really put in the legwork and have that personal connection – I remember being invited to parties with Blue Rodeo in their early days , and having the manager of the Barenaked Ladies stop by our store (pre-major record deal) selling the first cassette out of a suitcase! tough work but it paid off for them, and the Hip and may go aways to explaining the fan loyalty .

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Those are great stories. Whenever I went to Toronto I made sure I went to the GasWorks and El Macambo as well as Rock N Roll Heaven. Some real cool places back than.

        Liked by 1 person

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