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!
I’m late to the Tragically Hip’s 1987 self-titled EP, it being one of the very last albums to add to my collection. It certainly isn’t the first time listening to it, but I think my initial reticence adding it to my collection was that it isn’t as strong an album, and meh, I don’t like any of the songs. Acquiring it was more of a formality.
I’ve been listening to the EP for the better part of a week in preparation for this review and my feelings toward it have warmed up. So far, I feel it is the least polished studio release the Hip have produced, but saying that, I also realize that this IS their first shot out of the gate, so I am careful not to critique it too harshly.
The Hip’s EP is 27 minutes long, eight songs in total (originally 7, but in latter releases on CD and vinyl have an eighth). As tunes go, there is a definite “bar-room band” feel to them, pure rock with a side of Labatt Blue (to pull from the popular beer of 1987). Uptempo beats, typical guitar riffs, and catchy choruses that get their hooks into you after a few listens.
The band doesn’t make strange here: there is little doubt to me that musically, this release sounds like the Hip. Where I initially needed more convincing is understanding that the voice at the mic was in fact Gord Downie. He sounded very different here! In some songs, Gord sounds like he is singing too low for his register; Small Town Bringdown, the first song on the EP, and probably the most known song from this release, is a prime example of this. In others, we can hear some of that good ol’ Gord, like the patriotic tune, Last American Exit or his sad crooning on Killing Time.
Mostly, the song lyrics on the EP revolve around small town life, love and loss in relationships and some shananigans. My favourite song is Cemetary Sideroad for its catchy chorus. The least favourite would probably go to the tune, Evelyn, but overall, there isn’t any particular song that I downright hate. The tune, I’m a Werewolf, Baby did get the ol’ “*skip* Oops did I do that?” from Kevin who obviously finds the song really silly. I find it hilarious:
“I lose control, I just can’t stop
You look so good, like a big pork chop
Ripped my pants, ripped my shirt
Gonna eat your mother for dessert”
Hey, as silly as the lyrics are, i actually really like the tune. Upbeat, catchy, and it has werewolf howls – awoooo!
Of course, there is always a Hip song that hits home for me – Highway Girl reminds me that pre-pandemic, I was once a Highway Girl (and might still be one if COVID ever ends…). There are plenty of us out there who are currently Home Girls, including an unknown colleague and fellow Highway Girl whose Jeep I would silently salute daily in passing in the parking lot at my work adorned with a HIWAYGRL vanity plate and Hip bumper sticker.
All-Canadian Surf Club is the “bonus” track on the EP, and lyrically, it really dredges up the feeling of summers on the beach, with a Canadian flare, especially the “two-four of beer, jean jackets and blonde hair” reference.
It’s always cool to listen to first releases from bands who later achieved massive appeal. In some cases they’re diamonds in the rough; this is how I equate the Tragically Hip’s EP. You can see where they are just getting the “chemistry for greatness” worked out in those early songs. It took a few listens for me to appreciate it, but I’m buying it.
Tragically Hip (EP) – Tragically Hip
Thanks for reading! Now, head over to Kevin’s blog for his take!