The Tragically Hip – Phantom Power (1998)
When speaking of years, many tend to rely on the acronyms BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini), thus dividing the passage of time into 2 categories, with everything classified as occurring either before or after a singular significant event, the birth of Christ.
With The Hip discography, I’m beginning to believe a similar classification system applies. I therefore propose the acronyms BPP (Before Phantom Power) and APP (After Phantom Power), with Phantom Power representing the equivalent of Year 0. Granted, this timeline proposition is a theory replete with holes/cherry-picked data. But to borrow a Gord Downie line, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it 🙂
Why is Phantom Power the singular significant, era-defining & dividing event in their career?
1. Conveniently, it represents the midpoint in my TTH collection.
2. It’s likely the album where Hip fans of all ages can see eye-to-eye.
Ask someone who saw The Hip perform at a Kingston high school dance back in the day. Ask someone who’s still in high school. Chances are, no other album in the catalogue will be as universally appreciated.
3. It’s a wonderfully representative sample of both Before & After.
It simultaneously sounds like new & old Hip, in a balance that no preceding record could & no subsequent record would. Which may curiously make Phantom Power, the catalogue midpoint, the optimal starting point for Hip exploration.
4. One fan’s gateway is another fan’s swan song.
Take any of the 3 big singles (Poets, Bobcaygeon, Fireworks); you can fill-in-the-blanks & practically hear the familiar comments aloud, “They haven’t been the same since ______,” or, “ever since I heard ______, I’ve been a fan.”
5. Change was inevitable.
Over a decade into their recording career, they’d proven they weren’t going to record the same record over and over again. With this recording, The Before Phantom Power (BPP) era was officially closed, a new era was on the horizon.
Would albums in the APP (After Phantom Power) era be better or worse?
Well, both. And neither. And they would be noticeably different.**
We’d just have to wait and see what Album 1/Year 2 of the APP era would bring.
*It’s worth noting, Phantom Power shouldn’t be misconstrued as a ‘compromise’ record, one of those albums that everybody likes, but nobody really loves. Because many, many, many fans (myself included) really, really, really do.
**But some things will never change. Regardless of the era, I’m a fan. Carried away by the club’s long-term Membership.
The Hip Tour/My Post Schedule
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 (2012)
Aug 20 2016 The Hip plays: Kingston, ON. I play: Man Machine Poem (2016)