When The Tragically Hip launched their third album, Absolutely Fully, in October 1992, it bought over 200,000 copies inside 5 weeks and went on to promote greater than one million at a time when few acts in Canada have been promoting half these numbers.
May The Hip have foreseen that sort of success? It’s unimaginable to say. Absolutely Fully was recorded at a time of confidence among the many 5 members – Gord Downie, Rob Baker, Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair, and Johnny Fay — who have been driving excessive following the success of their sophomore album Street Apples a yr prior.
There will need to have been some trepidation as nicely since Bruce Dickinson (the vice-president at MCA who found The Hip) had instructed they work with an upcoming producer named Chris Tsangarides, who knew as little about them as they did about him.
Tsangarides had made his mark with arduous rock bands like Skinny Lizzy, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath and represented a stark departure from The Hip’s earlier producer Don Smith, who helmed their first two albums. As a substitute of taking part in reside to report within the studio, Tsangarides needed to report the members individually and attempt to seize how they sounded reside.
He needed the rawness and authenticity of their performances, solely greater and extra polished, which appeared like a good suggestion even when it made for boring moments within the studio. This was how most albums had been recorded for the reason that late 70s, however The Hip was an exception. There will need to have been reservations, however they did what they have been requested and created a bit of labor that sounded higher on the radio than something they’d put out earlier than.
Radio can also be the important thing to understanding why Absolutely Fully gained so many individuals over, and so rapidly. The Hip had constructed a popularity for being an astonishing reside band, however this was most likely the primary time an viewers might pay equal consideration to what their songs have been about. Listeners have been all of the sudden uncovered to their nuances and the sort of lyricism that immediately set Downie other than his contemporaries.
Set towards a few of the stadium-filling albums of 1992 – Core by Stone Temple Pilots, the eponymous debut by Rage Towards The Machine, Concern of the Darkish by Iron Maiden, Adrenalize by Def Leppard, or Nirvana’s Incesticide – the tracks that type Fully Fully appear to own an nearly fragile high quality with their give attention to hockey, geography, and sixteenth-century Conquistadors.
Whereas their 1987 debut supplied hints of a considerably skewed strategy to songwriting (“I’m a Werewolf, Child”), and Street Apples noticed Downie embrace his idiosyncratic model with references to Jacques Cousteau and Shakespeare, it wasn’t till Absolutely Fully that he allowed his interior poet to take the higher hand, trying inward the place different bands aimed for worldlier themes of affection, and sexual conquest.
This was evidenced within the album opener “Braveness (for Hugh MacLennan),” the place he paraphrases the Canadian creator within the bittersweet chorus, “There’s no easy rationalization, for something necessary any of us do/And yeah the human tragedy, consists within the necessity of dwelling with the implications.”
Like all Hip information, Absolutely Fully sees Downie litter the album with Canadian references, relishing the specificity of his muse. He namechecks Jacques Cartier, the primary European to map the Saint Lawrence River in “Wanting For A Place To Occur.” On “Fifty Mission Cap” – one in all The Hip’s most enduring hits – he’s impressed by a hockey card that includes Toronto Maple Leafs’ participant William Barilko, who disappeared on a flight along with his dentist in 1951. The workforce didn’t win one other Stanley Cup till 1962 when his physique was discovered.
As for “Wheat Kings,” it’s arguably the one music in rock that opens with the sound of widespread loons, these North American aquatic birds that occupy delight of place on gold-colored Canadian greenback cash. Set in rural Saskatchewan, it referenced a miscarriage of justice involving David Milgaard, who served 23 years in jail for a rape and homicide he didn’t commit. Milgaard was arrested in 1969 and launched in 1992; the yr “Wheat Kings” was born. Nothing concerning the music should have instructed longevity, however it thrived, showing 359 instances on stage and lined by 17 artists over the band’s lifetime.
Finally, it’s unimaginable to outline what precisely makes Absolutely Fully an album value celebrating many years later. It has weathered modifications in tastes, moved from cassette gamers to streaming within the ether, and retained a sure efficiency that marks all nice albums with the stamp of one thing timeless.
Pre-order the thirtieth anniversary of Absolutely Fully, out October 7.
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