[Book / Music / DVD / Art] The Tragically Hip: Fully Completely Limited Edition Super Deluxe Box Set

I have to tell you, I was excited when I learned the Tragically Hip remastered their 1992 album, Fully Completely, and were packaging it up in a box set that would include a DVD and a book! I am not one to buy music box sets…I have a couple of Led Zeppelin sets…but there was just something about this one that made me want it, probably because Fully Completely is one of my favourite albums. Not a day goes by that one of the songs from that album isn’t playing in my head (today, it’s Pigeon Camera). I still have my Fully Completely t-shirt from 1994 that I still wear proudly today, in all its bewbly glory. I love Fully Completely, fully and completely. Every song is a gem. The album artwork is glorious, unique and intricate. The whole album stands the test of time, and brings me back to my university days. I wound up buying the Limited Edition Super Deluxe Box Set, and it arrived in the mail on December 23 – just in time for the Christmas Holidays.

Calling this a “box set” is a bit of a misnomer. It is actually a book, with the CDs and DVD tucked away in pockets situated inside the book. The cover of the book is emblazoned with the recognizable album cover artwork of the bewbly woman dancing front and centre. A piece of gloss paper with a description of what the set contains was oddly affixed to the back of the book with a loonie-sized dollop of rubber cement. The set’s contents: 2 CDs, a DVD, 5 lithographs and of course, the book (acting as the box).

When I opened up the book, five 8.5 by 12 inch cardstock pages fell out of the book and slid across my living room floor. Guess I found the lithographs…These were images taken from the original album’s liner notes. I find those a little disturbing in small scale – imagine Gord Downie’s big screeching mug, blown up onto 8.5 by 12 cardstock! At any rate, I was a bit bothered by the contents of the box set falling out as soon as I opened the book for the first time. Why are these loose? Why aren’t they tucked away like the CDs and DVD were?

The book itself is short (about 40 pages), and is called, “An Oral History of Fully Completely.” Printed on a sturdy cardstock, the stories told on these pages are, for the most part informative, if a little dry. Going song by song, the book gives a history on how a song’s music and lyrics came to be from the vantage point of every member of the band. What you read here is basically a longform interview with the band. The publication includes pics, newspaper clippings from the time, concert posters and images from the album cover. Not a bad keepsake, really, but not something I would buy on its own. What I enjoyed reading about here was artist Lieve Prins’s process in creating the Fully Completely album cover. Of particular interest to me was finding an image of a news article from July 1993, from the Globe and Mail, reviewing the Markham, Ontario leg of The Tragically Hip’s own nine-date touring event, Another Roadside Attraction, which happened to be the very same two day concert extravaganza my sister and I attended July 23 and 24, 1993. What good fortune!

Let’s talk about the music! The Fully Completely CD, was remastered by the legendary Bob Ludwig. What can be said? I don’t have the most sophisticated hearing by any means, but this album sounded crisp and clear. Included are two bonus tracks – a song called Radio Show, and another called So Hard Done By which integrated well with the original album.

Disc 2 is a previously unreleased live CD recording of the Hip performing in Toronto, Ontario at the Horseshoe Tavern, September 13, 1992. They performed their entire Fully Completely album pre-release, also performing the hit, Twist My Arm for good measure. The performance was well mixed – I could hear all instruments clearly. This, my friends, was excellent, and really showcases how good the Hip are live.

The most disappointing piece in the limited edition package was the DVD, titled Heksenketel, which was old footage of the Hip on their tour bus as they crossed the country to perform for Another Roadside Attraction. Initially, when I learned this was from ARA, I thought maybe I’d see some footage of the concert I attended. How exciting that would have been! To see a very young Sarca staring back at me from my TV! Ha! Alas, Heksenketel didn’t show my concert…and barely showed any live concert footage! I mean, there was some. But, barely did we get a full song of the Hip performing before the video would transition to the interior of their tour bus. The ONE FULL song we saw them perform, Blow At High Dough, isn’t even from Fully Completely! The quality of the video was… for a lack of a better term, shite. Terrible sound and video. I recognize this footage is from 1993 and that they were likely using shitty video cameras…but no effort was made to clean the tape up in post production. It looked like one of the guys took the original Maxell VHS tape to Walmart and asked them to dub it to DVD…and what the hell? Let’s put it in the box set and raise the price another 10 bucks!

(No, let’s not, and act like we know better…)

The DVD just looks cheap and awful…The whole time I was watching this I kept thinking: “Where is the Hip in CONCERT?!” followed by, “I could have watched this on YouTube!”

Take this from someone who never blows at high dough: honestly, for what I paid for this set ($49.99), I have to admit, although the CDs kicked ass and the book wasn’t bad, I was still a bit disappointed in the Tragically Hip’s release of this deluxe box set. It’s the lousy DVD and lithos that cheapen the set for me, I think. The Hip lacked attention to detail in the finished product (case in point, the sloppy presentation of the loose-leaf lithos). They really could have done a lot more with this package than they did.

What I would have done in creating a super deluxe package is charge more money and create a documentary…a la Classic Albums, where you see and hear the band discuss the making of Fully Completely with the master tapes, and show them remastering the album. That would have been freaking awesome! They could also include their work with Lieve Prins. And instead of having to read a transcript of the interview (as it is in the book) we see an actual taped interview with the guys talking. Put it out on Blu-Ray, package it up in a 3-Disc set with a little booklet, leave out the lithos and Bob’s your uncle! I’d pay to have that in my collection!

That said, if you are a mega fan and need to have this set, then give ‘er! But, if I were to do it again, I would skip this Super Deluxe box set, and just buy the Fully Completely 2-CD Deluxe package instead, which includes the choice remastered album and live CD for $9.99. It is, after all, about this incredible album.

2 CDs – 5/5

Book – 3/5

DVD and lithos – 1/5

Overall package – 9/15

Tragically Hip: Fully Completely Limited Edition Super Deluxe Box Set
Released: November 2014

CODA, May 28, 2015: I have since done a swap of this Box Set with Aaron from Keeps Me Alive, who had the Deluxe 2-CD set. Read all the details here!

 

Advertisements

52 comments

  1. Notes: So Hard Done By appeared as an album track on the next album, Day For Night, in 1994. I understand that this FC-era version is quite different. I haven’t heard it yet. Also, Heksenketel was indeed a VHS tape lost in the mists of time. Copies are so rare. I’ve never seen one, in all my travels of this country. It was on my grail list so long, I took it off. Sad that they simply transferred the VHS to DVD with no clean-up. Ah well, I suppose that preserves the original copy?

    As you know, I have the 2CD set here (still haven’t played it). As you write it up, the DVD and lithos sound superfluous, though the book sounds way better than the arty weirdo pages in the Hipeponymous set.

    I’ve seen a show at the Horseshoe (Immaculate Machine!!! Wooo!!! and I met Kathryn Calder and she’s super nice woooo!!!!) and it’s a pretty small room. Maybe 300 people fit in there? Seeing the Hip that close, in that era, would have been AWESOME! I’m glad the CD sounds good. Of course I will review it when I get to it!

    In sum: When this was first released, I drooled. I wanted what you got. I am a big Hip fan, why not just go full meal deal! Given druthers, I’d have it too. Of course, money ruled and the 2CD set would have to do for me. If you ask me, you’re still very fortunate to have it. It’s a cool collectible and has lots more than just the 2CD set has. I would still like to see the DVD, I wish they’d released that seperately, maybe. I could pick it up down the line. Ah well.

    I still say NICE SCORE, SARCA! Thanks for writing it up!

    PS. I read reviews online that the vinyl re-release of this album is of quite shoddy quality. Warped records, terrible sound, flaws in the records… Plus it has no bonus tracks (just a coupon for downloads), and now live second disc. So, caveat emptor, on the vinyl copy, to those considering it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the nice comment…at 1 in the morning? You crazy mofo!
      I can tell it to you straight, Heksenketel was not worth it. I don’t think I would have even enjoyed this at 19, let alone today. The lithos really get to me. As I was putting the set away following my shite photie session, I put the loose-leaf lithos back into the book, and they were sticking out from beyond the hardback. Just looks so…afterthought! I am really bothered by them!

      Like

      1. Yeah it was around 0100. Sometimes I get past tired and then I spend sme quality time by myself thinking ‘oh man getting up in the morning to get the kids up and my boy ready to go to school is gonna suuuuuuuck!” It happens fairly regularly.

        Shame about the DVD, I really wanted that part of it! Ah well, maybe it’ll end up on the youtubes. The lithos are too bad too. Maybe you can frame them – make some nice wall art and stop them from falling out of the packaging!

        One pro tip: if the CDs were just slipped into paper holders in the packaging, put them in jewel cases (I use the slim ones) and store with the package. Nothing worse than getting an expensive box set and then having the discs marked up after only two or three plays because of the stupid packaging!!

        Like

      2. Sorry, I wasn’t clear in my Pro Tip. Some pro! I just meant to store the jewel cases beside the original package. I do that all the time. In fact, my box sets are on their own shelf, and the CDs are in slim cases in with the CD collection!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. But then HMO said the Ulver set was awesome… I dunno, it’s probably just a case of labels trying to maximize profit while minimizing cost of production. I’d be curious to know how much of a hand the Hip hand in making this, versus someone at the label just making it happen.

        Like

        1. What is very odd about the book…no ISBN. No title and verso pages. No author credit. No publishing credit! It’s like no one wants to lay claim to this package!
          I wondered how much they were involved too. Then again, it’s for sale on their website, so someone had to have agreed to it.

          Like

      2. That is strange. Ah well. I still say you’ve got a cool keepsake! But I’m a collector geek and a Hip fan too, so if it were me spending Christmas money on it, I’d still be happy with it!

        Like

  2. If this were on my site I would call this Epic Review Time. Well done. Just about all my questions have been answered.

    Regarding Heksenketel — I remember selling out of it almost immediately when it came out, so I always assumed it was some kind of holy grail for Hip fans to finally have on DVD. I’m disappointed to hear that not only was the actual video shoddy, but that the digital transfer was worse! If I buy this I’ll stick to just the two CDs. Thanks Sarca.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. YES – I would support a Hip Classic Albums Doc!
    That would be awesome to see them isolating the different tracks & talk about how the songs developed in the studio.
    I have Heksenketel on VHS, even as a teen when I was obsessed with them, I don’t think I even made it through. I do remember a roadie talking about some days he feels like he should have stayed in school, which I suppose is a good lesson!

    I enjoyed the breakdown of the different components, and that’s good advice about the 2CD set being better value,

    Those hip live shows from around then are terrific. I love hearing songs in the construction stage.

    Fully completely song in my head right now: Looking for a place, no complaints about that!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s