[Music] Up to Here – The Tragically Hip (1989)

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:

Reviewing Up to Here, the Tragically Hip’s debut album, is a bit of a relief for me. This album is in my bones – every song familiar to me on an intrinsic level – whereas it took some effort to really dig in and review their EP.

Technically speaking, Up to Here IS the Hip. It’s good ol’ Rock n’ Roll, and offers up at least 4 of the Hip’s most popular tunes (Blow at High Dough, 38 Years Old, New Orleans is Sinking, Boots or Hearts). Up and down the track listing, this album fits nicely into the Hip canon, the songs so well-delivered, they can easily be mistaken for latter-day releases…Ok, I’ll speak for myself here: New Orleans is Sinking and 38 Years Old, in my mind, sound almost too mature or developed to be on a debut release and for some reason I’ve had to keep correcting myself in my thinking they were on their second album, Road Apples! Talk about a Mandela effect!

There is a definite maturation in the lyrics in Up to Here, that bring a very distinctive Canadiana slant to the songs; a major reason for the band’s popularity in Canada. The stories told in them are often a mix of history (38 Years Old, telling the true story of the ’72 Jailbreak at Millhaven Institute in Bath, Ontario), geography (New Orleans is Sinking) and biography in heartbreak (Boots or Hearts, I’ll Believe in You (Or I’ll Be Leaving You Tonight). The tunes are always thought-provoking in an indentifiable way. I find myself thinking about my own life listening to them. For example, Blow At High Dough, the first song on this album talks of filming a big film production in a small town and how both the Big Timer’s and the Average Joe’s worlds collide in interesting ways. From the first line, “They shot a movie once in my hometown…” I am instantly transported to the time over 35 years ago when a local production company filmed a short movie on my street. Sure, it was small potatoes by Hollywood standards, but it was a big deal for a 10-year-old whose mother actually had to sign a waver to have me in the (very blurry) crowd shots!

The other less-known songs (She Didn’t Know, When the Weight Comes Down, Every Time You Go, Another Midnight, Trickle Down, Opiated) anchor the other hits well. In fact, despite not getting much love or airplay, Another Midnight (a song I interpret to be about financial struggles) is a personal favourite – great harmonies, wonderful lyrics too:

He was a coal miner in the spring
Blinded with its dusty resolutions
Broke his back for higher contributions
Now he'd take anything...

If there was ever anyone who wanted an introduction to the Tragically Hip, I’d hand them a copy of Up to Here. This is one well-produced record, and not a single bad song; a solid debut!

5/5

Up To Here
The Tragically Hip
1989

Thanks for reading! Now head over to Kevin’s blog for his take!

21 comments

  1. Me and Tbone were in Winnipeg August 89 and under the new releases at the record shop we were checking out was “Up To Here”. We couldn’t believe it as a band we seen in Feb 88 in front of 25 people now had a major label release.
    Hard Work pays off as I bought it on CD and Tbone on cassette tape. Needless to say we were blown away by it.
    Fast Forward to March 1990 and The Hip roll into Lakehead University in town and the place was packed with at least 500 people or maybe more.
    They came on at midnight and there’s Downie with his long hair and bushy beard and they opened with ‘Crack My Spine Like A Whip” and just like that they rocked that debut as well as I still recall hearing Three Pistols and Fight as well so it was call they were road testing material.
    Such a great night of rock and recall laughing at watching Langlois jam on that guitar of his duct taped up and a cigarette ash hanging out of his mouth about the length of my arm!
    Good Fuckin Times!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is the album that made me a fan of their music. I got it when they released it and stayed on board for most the journey. This is just a solid rock record with TH showing their stuff. Good review Sarca. They are a special band and this record proved it.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I made a choice to do a take on a TH album (I did Road Apples). I could have picked anyone of the albums I had.
          (Stephen, Ive checked out your takes. I’m not a quiz guy but I just popped over again and seen some interesting takes. I get over and have a better look. Later)

          Liked by 2 people

    2. That’s why I mentioned it. The Hip would often take from their own geography, and it’s easily identifiable. Who else lives in or by a town “with a long French name…” practically everyone in Canada.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was saying over at Kevin’s place that I like this one. There are a couple of tunes that I’m not too keen on (I’ll Believe In You… and the last number) but it’s a Hip album that stuck with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review. As I posted on BoMars.

    I’m coming in without any real knowledge of the band and their music. So with each review I go and check the album out and man I like it.

    Tracks like “Everytime You Go”, “She Didn’t Know” and “When The Weight Comes Down”. Especially “When The Weight Comes Down” as it has this Jim Morrison/Ian Astbury vocal tone.

    Liked by 1 person

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