THE TRAGICALLY HIP: SASKADELPHIA (2021)

A huge round of applause for Hip drummer Johnny Fay who unearthed these six songs on this little 20 minute ass kicker of music from The Tragically Hip who hail from my pal Geoff Stephen’s hometown of Kingston Ontario!

“Saskadelphia” is the EP I needed to own on vinyl as the songs on it were recorded back in the fall of 1990 and for myself those first two Hip albums “Up To Here”(1989) and “Road Apples” (1991) are pure Gold in both songwriting, performance and production!

Producer Don Smith (RIP) and Bruce Barris(RIP) on those first two records dialled it in brilliantly as its basically the five Hipsters playing live and boy did they deliver the goods on those first two albums. Two of my all time fave records period!

The Hip thought these tunes were lost in that Universal Fire but Johnny Fay was able to uncover these six tracks well 5 actually (the sixth song “Montreal” is a live version from you guessed it, from Montreal back in 2000) are so good its amazing they were left off of “Road Apples” studio album 30 years ago!

I have told this story a few times but it was around this time that myself and Tbone caught The Hip live. The first time was back in February 1988 at Crocks and the second time was March 1990 at Lakehead University.

That March ’90 show had the Hip rolling onstage at midnight and blitzing through the debut album “Up To Here” in basically its entirety.

What is interesting is The Hip we’re road testing at the time three songs that would not appear until the following year in early ’91 when “Road Apples” was released.

“Fight” and “Three Pistols” were played that cold March night but the opening tune that night was “Crack My Spine Like A Whip”.

Yet when “Road Apples” was released “Crack My Spine” was nowhere to be found on the newly released record!

I was dumbfounded to say the least! For a split second I thought maybe its a hidden track?

Mmm nope..

What happened here? Whose in charge? Who at the record company do I speak to? Where is the “Whip” tune?

Well now 30 years later the problem has been rectified and what a great song, one of the bands best as far as I’m concerned as its the Hip firing on all cylinders as I can still picture them on that University Stage that night playing there style of barroom boogie rock.

Johnny Fay staring straight into a spotlight that night while not missing a beat behind the kit. Bassist Gord Sinclair and Lead Guitarist Bobby Baker hanging out on stage right keeping the band on the tracks while on stage left there is rhythm guitarist Paul Langlois, strumming his 6 string electric guitar. The strap being held by duct tape while a cigarette ash the length of my arm dangled from his mouth as Paul sang the backing vocals.

Singer Gord Downie (RIP) was holding centre stage with his long hair and a big bushy beard as Gord was in another zone that night while delivering the songs and not missing any lyrics. When the band would launch into the guitar solos, Gord like any great rock singer would do at times, he would dump the mic down the front of his pants!

What a great show…

Sorry, I went way off topic but these six songs are so good to finally hear. “Ouch”, “Not Necessary”, “Montreal” (Live) lead off Side A. Three stellar songs.

Side B leading the charge with the “Whip” tune makes me reach for the volume dial on the stereo! “Just As Well” is a hidden gem. The band is cooking by this point while the last song “Reform Baptist Blues” is one kick swift in the crotch as it has the Hip going 100 mph in a 55 mph zone!

Cool that they added Gord’s original hand written lyrics with different titles in the album.

Nice to see the album get to #2 on the charts in Canada as well as getting to #66 in the U.S which may be their highest chart position ever in the States.

It’s amazing these songs were left off the radar for 30 years but thanks to the determination of the guy’s in The HIP we’re all for the better of hearing Gord and the boys delivering some good time blistering rock one last time…

29 thoughts on “THE TRAGICALLY HIP: SASKADELPHIA (2021)”

    1. These tracks are The Hip doing what they do best. Barroom Boogie rock except for the Montreal track really…
      Great time capsule piece as well…
      I miss 1990 nd 91 to be honest with u…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The 5 studio tracks sounds as if the band is live off the floor which they were..
        Sad that three people involved with this release have passed on.. (Downie/Smith/Barris)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear ya Mikey. I really only have 2 choices in town. Sunrise at the mall and one used shop. Sure there are the thrift stores but I can’t be bothered yet.
      If anything we have been lucky as there has always been someone home when the deliveries happen. One courier copy sends us a email notification saying a package will be dropped off in three hours which is a great heads up..

      Like

  1. Exemplary review, Deke!
    Loved the description of Reform Baptist Blues – Sammy Hagar may not be able to drive 55 but the Hip go almost double that speed!
    Such great road apples guitar tones throughout – I don’t think they played Montreal at any of the shows I saw on the 2000 tour, but I really liked what Kate Fenner & Chris Brown added to the sound.
    Add in the handwritten lyrics & gray vinyl, Saskadelphia’s a beauty!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Geoff!
      I was thinking of the Hagar tune as well when I wrote this up. Such a great 6 pack of tunes and you’re right the guitar tones from Baker and Langlois are so good. Those two guys never get there due but they are two of the best. There track record speaks for itself!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Agreed – and I really like how their guitars pair so nicely, they’re not trying to outplay each other, with Gord on bass & Johnny on Drums, just making a great overall band sound.
        And speaking of 6-pack, they’ve got a ‘Lake Fever’ lager that’s supposed to be coming out this summer!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not always a huge fan of bands releasing previously unreleased stuff. Usually can find a reason why it never made the cut. But damn it….the Hip just don’t know how to record a weak song. This is gold baby.
    Love it and love the old Hip story. Heard the Crocks one a few times, but don’t think I’ve ever heard the L.U. story. Thanks for sharing…. And your memory of details of things that happen 30 years ago is impressive

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Darr! I need a time machine lol Probably has something to do with going to the shows basically sober. I could never travel 9-10 hours to see a show and get polluted and feel like crap the next day and travel back…
      Now if we had a few days after thats a different story lol

      Like

  3. I remember you goin on about how much you loved the Crack My Spine Like a Whip song right after we saw the live show you speak of. I refer to that incident as the Tragically Whip……… Boooo …… Hisss ……. Groan …….. Um my Apologies for that terrible joke. But great review Deke!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Man to go back in time to some of those shows would be something but it’s cool if anything that we or I’m still talking about em all these years later lol

      Like

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