The Tragically Hip – Fully Completely (1992)
What was your Tragically Hip gateway?
For me, the memory remains vivid.
Fall 1992. Seeing the video for Locked in the Trunk of a Car enter the Coca Cola Countdown.
My eyes have never been wider.
As Fully Completely was my first Hip album, it is inevitably my favourite.
But even if it wasn’t my intro to The Hip, I struggle to see it being ranked much lower.
Mostly because Fully Completely is a perfect microcosm of all the things that makes the band so special.
I’ll attempt to keep it to one item per track:
Courage (for Hugh McLennan)
The lessons in literacy continue. The third verse is paraphrased from MacLennan’s 1958 novel, The Watch That Ends the Night. Another solid Gordie book recommendation.
Looking for a Place to Happen
What separates a good song from a great song? Often the second verse, usually the extra flourishes that were missing the first time around. Here, Looking goes from good to great, thanks to some subtle yet devastatingly effective Bobby Baker guitar details.
At the Hundredth Meridian
The spoken/whispered/sung third verse. I can’t help but speak/whisper/sing along every time.
The Hip are master crafters of the not-quite-ballad track. Like the eventual Bobcaeygeon, Toronto #4, or The Dire Wolf, Pigeon Camera is an early example of what would become a trademark song-style.
The best albums aren’t necessarily Greatest Hits collections. As with many Stanley Cup winning teams, you’ll have the superstars of course, but you’ll have key contributions from the role players. An album track like Lionized is part of what makes Fully Completely so effective as a whole. It has role to play in the running order, it picks the tempo up from where Pigeon Camera left off, setting the stage for the side one closer.
Locked in the Trunk of a Car
Perhaps a microcosm within a microcosm (whoa) of what makes The Hip so exceptional. Every inch of tape is indelible, from Johnny Fay’s opening ride cymbal through GD’s “Let me Out” screams & outro fade out. Did I mention the video?
We’ll Go Too
A welcome respite following Locked‘s grisly subject matter. Great guitar tones too.
A studio recording that somehow captures the intensity of a live performance. Give it a spin to see for yourself. Wait and you’ll see, just wait and you’ll see.
Fifty Mission Cap
They don’t always sing but when they do, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair provide some timely & memorable backup vocals. Such as their “in overtime” and “worked it in” contributions here. And seeing as the sleeve for Fully Completely did not contain the lyrics, here is 13-year-old-me’s attempt at transcribing them!
If you can play G,C,D on the guitar, you can play Wheat Kings. Simply beautiful.
Terrific juxtaposition with Wheat Kings.
A curious choice for a closer but the more I think about it, it’s the only appropriate finale. Leading up to Fully Completely, the band had stronger individual tracks kicking around (the as of yet unreleased, Get Back Again, to name but one, is gorgeous). That being said, another heavier/lighter, faster/slower track just wouldn’t provide the same closure.
Enough closure for 13-year-old-me to declare Fully Completely the #1 Hip album to date.
In 2016, the #1 to date declaration stands.
The Hip Tour/My Post Schedule
Jul 30 2016 The Hip plays: Edmonton, AB. I play: Day for Night (1994)
Aug 1 2016 The Hip plays: Calgary, AB. I play: Trouble at the Henhouse (1996)
Aug 3 2016 The Hip plays: Calgary, AB. I play: Live Between Us (1997)
Aug 5 2016 The Hip plays: Winnipeg, MB. I play: Phantom Power (1998)
Aug 8 2016 The Hip plays: London, ON. I play: Music at Work (2000)
Aug 10 2016 The Hip plays: Toronto, ON. I play: In Violet Light (2002)
Aug 12 2016 The Hip plays: Toronto, ON. I play: In Between Evolution (2004)
Aug 14 2016 The Hip plays: Toronto, ON. I play: World Container (2006)
Aug 16 2016 The Hip plays: Hamilton, ON. I play: We are the Same (2009)
Aug 18 2016 The Hip plays: Ottawa, ON. I play: Now for Plan A (2011)
Aug 20 2016 The Hip plays: Kingston, ON. I play: Man Machine Poem (2016)