Music @ Work

[Music] Music @ Work – The Tragically Hip (2000)

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:

I bought the Tragically Hip’s Music @ Work shortly after release, but it would soon wind up being one of those albums that sat on the shelf for years. I might have listened to it a handful of times before digging into it for this review. Through reflection, I am pretty sure I know why.

Music @ Work showcases all of what the Hip are made of, encompassing their familiar bar room rock, with harder edged stylings, interspersed with some easy-listening rock for good measure. You can definitely hear past albums here: think Fully Completely meets Day For Night meets the good bits of Trouble at the Henhouse. There is something in store for any rock-lover’s taste here. The 14-track album is chock full of some pretty great songs. The secret is to listen beyond the second song…

The disconnect for me with this album is how the songs are tracked. The typical rock style of the catchy and contemplative first track My Music at Work is then turned on its ear with the experimental harder-edged Tiger the Lion, a take on Avant-Garde artist and composer, John Cage’s work*. I think this pairing is where I turned off to the album 20 years ago. Tiger the Lion harkens back to the darkness of Day For Night, and although I have since really grown to appreciate it, back then I think it didn’t hit the right vibe with me, and that is where I might have given up on the album.

One shouldn’t be so shallow as to allow one song to marr the enjoyment of the rest, but it did set a grunge tone that by Y2K was getting long in the teeth. It’s a shame since there are some great tunes down the line in Music @ Work, like the Bastard, the Completists, Freak Turbulence, Toronto #4, Sharks (a personal fave)

What if we tweaked the track arrangement of Music @ Work? This thought came together for me when I hit shuffle on my music app by accident one day, and the Completists (track 7 on the original recording) followed My Music at Work. I thought: “Hmm. Ah, yes! That’s better!

I decided to keep the random going…

The original track listing:
My Music at Work
Tiger the Lion
Lake Fever
Putting Down
Stay
The Bastard
The Completists
Freak Turbulence
Sharks
Toronto #4
Wild Mountain Honey
Train Overnight
The Bear
As I Wind Down the Pines
Sarca’s phone’s track listing:
My Music at Work
The Completists
Toronto #4
Tiger the Lion
Lake Fever
Sharks
The Bastard
Putting Down
Freak Turbulence
Wild Mountain Honey
Stay
Train Overnight
As I Wind Down the Pines
The Bear

Music @ Work seems arranged like that mix tape you made that time in 1989 at a friend’s house who had all this decent music, but you only had an hour to get it all dubbed onto tape and had no time to contemplate track arrangement. Seriously, how is it that my Samsung music app could figure out a better arrangement than human beings??

Anyway, please don’t let the track listing ruin your enjoyment of this album. The songs are good in their own right. Overall, I give this one a 3/5.

*By the way, I went on a wee rabbit hole looking up John Cage’s 4’33″…if you are not familiar with his aesthetic, take to YouTube, son!

Music @ Work
The Tragically Hip
2000

Thanks for reading! Please check out Kevin’s take!