Collaboration post! Sarca from Caught Me Gaming and Kevin from Buried On Mars take on The Tragically Hip, Canada’s National band! Each week, we will travel through the history of releases by The Tragically Hip, going through EVERYTHING they’ve ever released in audio and video form – studio album, live show, video releases. So don’t forget to check out Kevin’s blog too!
Need to catch up? Previously:
- The Tragically Hip – My “Un-plucked” History
- Review: The Tragically Hip EP (1987)
- Review: Up to Here (1989)
- Review: Road Apples (1991)
- Review: Fully Completely (1992)
- Review: Day For Night (1994)
- Review:Trouble At the Henhouse (1996)
In May 1997, I was about to embark on big life changes. I was graduating uni, and planning to make the big move to North Bay, Ontario to attend Canadore College to gain some practical skills in the Graphic Design program, and maybe eventually get a job in the field. All I really remember about this time musically is the weekly Spice Girls spotlight marathons on Much Music. I was in my own little world when it came to music, happily listening to RUSH, Tom Petty and the Crowes. By this time, the Hip had faded from my lips…but it continued to be in my ears without even trying.
Traditionally, I never really wanted to bother with concert albums, and through reflection for this blog post, I figure it had a lot to do with whether or not there was an accompanied visual component. In my past, I acquired Duran Duran’s concert album, Arena, in 1985 and INXS’s Live Baby Live when it debuted in 1991, but both have a concert video equivalent, so it felt ok to have the audio. What about the rest? I would take a ‘meh’ attitude. Is it because the album isn’t full of unique material? Is it that the band doesn’t perform as good live as they do on their albums? Is it because I feel I need a visual to feel connected to the performance? Is it jealousy because I wasn’t there in the crowd witnessing the band perform live? Maybe a little of all of it. I can say that with time and maturity, my musical taste for live albums has improved greatly over the years, and I find myself really enjoying them today.
The Tragically Hip’s Live Between Us is a concert album I never acquired until very recently… Although it wasn’t present in my mind, this release was getting daily radio play in the Spring of 1997, and surely still does. Having the reputation in Canada as being the best-selling live album by a Canadian band between 1997 and 2016, several of the songs were aired all the time on radio. According to RPM, Canada’s now defunct weekly music chart publication, Live Between Us began at #1 on the charts its first week (June 2, 1997) and continued to make the charts through that summer. It ended its tenure in the top 100 by late October that year. Springtime in Vienna got the ball rolling, debuting on the charts at #71, May 12, 1997, and topping to #7 in July. Yeah, like it or not, anyone with a radio living in the Great White North heard at least one of the songs off this album.
Critically, Live Between Us is pretty good as a live album. It showcases 14 songs from their November 1996 performance at the Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The band is tight, and Gord Downie’s voice is strong. Gord goes off on tangents and adds lyrics of other songs to his performances here – as was his way in concert – but in a fashion that fits the context of the song. What I don’t understand, however, is why they chose to only showcase one concert from one venue; perhaps this was the best one from the Trouble at the Henhouse tour?
The only thing left to ponder is the choice of songs on Live Between Us. All five studio albums released thus far are included here. Trouble At the Henhouse, the last studio album to be released before this one, and for which the Hip were out promoting, got four songs. Fully Completely and Day For Night have three songs a piece, while the first two releases, Up To Here and Road Apples have two songs each. I suppose you cram in what you can, but it seems a bit of a sacrilege to not include Locked in the Trunk of a Car or 50 Mission Cap, or Little Bones, instead opting for lesser known tunes like the Wherewithal and the Luxury. One thing I can say is that the lesser known tune, Don’t Wake Daddy, was my favourite performance here. Really, all of the tunes on Live Between Us are perfectly fine. The devil’s advocate says that it’s nice to hear some of the lesser known songs performed live for once! Maybe this album would have been better served as a double? Hmm.
At any rate, it’s pretty good. 4/5
Live Between Us
The Tragically Hip
Thanks for reading! Now check out Kevin’s take!