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The Tragically Hip – Music @ Work (2000)

August 8, 2016

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It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?”
– Charles Montgomery Burns

Paradoxically, depending on whom you ask, or what part of the album you ask about, Music @ Work represents some of the peaks and/or valleys of The Hip’s career.

The opener, My Music at Work, is custom-made for radio: just over 3 minutes, appropriate intro length for the radio DJ to “hit the post” (talk up until the vocals hit), major chords, major catchiness. This immediate accessibility makes the track either revered or shunned, rarely in between.

But then things get really interesting on Track 2, Tiger the Lion, arguably the most polarizing Hip tune there is.

Now this was a few years before the ‘Liger’ in Napoleon Dynamite (speaking of polarizing entertainment) and after the toe-tapping opener, this one comes out of left field.

Whaddya think?

.

Whadda I think?

I simply adore it.

And the next track (Lake Fever). And then the next four (Putting Down, Stay, The Bastard, The Completists) are all really solid too. What a side A!

Though with the exception of the exceptional Toronto #4, the second half just isn’t as memorable. The songs are never bad per se, just not engaging.

For me, it’s that disparity between the fantastic first & forgettable second side that makes Music @ Work both the best & blurst of times.

However, the beauty of The Hip is that the studio album is only part of the experience. I had the pleasure of seeing them a few times in support of this album. As you can imagine, the underwhelming side B tracks were improved in concert. And the stellar side A tracks? Somehow even stellar-er!

A picture of some photographs, taken on a non-digital camera, from the front row of one of the shows (yours truly in the Dougie Gilmour jersey). I don’t think I was the photographer – I think my friend must have gotten the roll developed & given me doubles, talk about life in Y2K. 🙂

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hipThe Hip Tour/My Post Schedule

Jul 22 2016 The Hip played: Victoria, BC. I played: The Tragically Hip (1987)
Check out these TTH (1987) reviews by: Brian, Aaron

Jul 24 2016 The Hip plays: Vancouver, BC. I played: Up to Here (1989)
Check out these Up to Here (1989) reviews by: Brian, Aaron

Jul 26 2016 The Hip plays: Vancouver, BC. I played: Road Apples (1991)
Check out these Road Apples (1991) reviews by: Brian, Aaron, Deke

Jul 28 2016 The Hip plays: Edmonton, AB. I played: Fully Completely (1992)
Check out these Fully Completely (1992) reviews by: Brian, Aaron, Sarca

Jul 30 2016 The Hip plays: Edmonton, AB. I played: Day for Night (1994)
Check out these Day for Night (1994) reviews by: Brian, Aaron

Aug 1 2016 The Hip plays: Calgary, AB. I played: Trouble at the Henhouse (1996)
Check out these Trouble at the Henhouse (1996) reviews by: Brian, Aaron

Aug 3 2016 The Hip plays: Calgary, AB. I played: Live Between Us (1997)
Check out these Live Between Us (1997) reviews by: Brian, Aaron

Aug 5 2016 The Hip plays: Winnipeg, MB. I played: Phantom Power (1998)
Check out these Phantom Power (1998) reviews by: Brian, Aaron

Aug 8 2016 The Hip plays: London, ON. I play: Music @ Work (2000)
Check out these Music @ Work (2000) reviews by: Brian, Aaron

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)

 

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31 Comments
  1. I’d rather vote for Pedro than for 4 of the songs on side 2.

  2. Will have to revisit this one Geoff! Outside of the leadoff single I don’t really recall much of these tunes….having said that it’s a strong leadoff track but at the time this album did not resonate with me like the others before did….
    Nice front row action pics as well my friend! Hip To Be Square! Ha …..

    • Hip to be Square, Huey Lewis & The News! Thanks Deke – being front row was something else, just an amazing experience!

      • No doubt….I was front row at Bryan Adams/Steve Miller/Extreme/DrunkASS Jordan show in the Peg in 1992 where it pissed rain all day!
        MY pic is my avatar from that day where Sarca called me the Unablogger! hahaha…..

      • The unablogger, the king of yammering, A blogger of many names!

      • HAHA..Thanks Dude!

  3. Awesome! I saw them at an unadvertised, surprise warm-up gig in Montreal for this tour. We were 15th row, right in the center. It was Theatre St-Denis. GREAT SHOW! You’re lucky to have seen them multiple times for this – they were doing their thing, kicking ass as usual.

    I am a fan of Side B of this record. I think I said in my own review of it, that this band is creative and tries new things and I embrace and excourage that effort! They may not all have been radio singles, but this record stands up just fine in the discography, top to bottom! 🙂

    • That surprise gig sounds spectacular! I think it was Bruce who first introduced me to the appreciate vs. enjoy distinction – I’d say here, I appreciate side B’s expanding of the band’s horizons, but really enjoy side A!

      • It was a great gig. Our buddy called us up at 6:30 to tell us about it, he’d seen it scrolling on the bottom of the news on TV. We ran to the venue, no line-up, no nothing. Crazy.

        Perhaps with time the other stuff will come into better standing. mean, if MMP is the last Hip record (and I hope beyond hope that it isn’t), then with only so many songs to hear, the lesser known stuff may gain in stature…

  4. Argh! The curse of the fantastic first and forgettable second sides. Always frustrating and often such a buzz kill.

    I’d commented over at Bop’s place that I’m not all that enthusiastic about discovering this one. Dare say I could put it off a bit (still to listen to the last two, anyhow!)

    • I often compare front loaded albums to ‘So I married An Axe Murderer’ – first half, what a movie, why don’t I watch this more often! Second half, well, less memorable.
      I’m impressed you’ve been keeping up J – it’s worth at least hearing Tiger the Lion for something unlike anything they’d done before or since!

      • Whhhaaaaaaat? You don’t like the second half of SIMAAM?

      • haha, well not as much as the first half at least! I’d say from “we have a piper down!” it’s not quite as strong.

      • Yes Geoff exactly — I would immitate known customers. The new kids would think I was making it up. I’d say, “Oh, you haven’t met so-and-so yet? Don’t worry. You will!”

      • The last few times I was in a record store I saw the type of crazy the staff has to deal with every day.
        Today it was a guy telling boring jokes. One after the other. The time before that political ramblings. Then hearing the staff say a guy was in the store for 4 hours.
        I was caught in a conversation that never ended a month or so ago. The guy liked my Rush shirt and rambled endlessly. Then he would walk to the front door, get half way out and came back. He did this 10 times and every time I thought “good, he’s leaving.”
        But it was all a ruse.
        When he finally left the store guy apologized as if was his fault.
        Lately I really have an even bigger respect for you folk in record stores.

      • Oh man. OH MAN! I go one in a different direction. People approach me and ask me questions like where something is, assuming I work there. It happens more often than not. When I tell them I do not work there, they look confused, or like I’m joking with them. But really, I do not work here!

        The sad part is, I can usually direct them to what they were looking for, and even make recommends for other bands if they like that one… Maybe I SHOULD work there!

        As for crazies, man. OH MAN. They’re everywhere. Some people just need anyone to talk to, and if you engage, they have you! One time in Port Elgin I said to a guy, in passing, hey I like your Dropkick Murphys t-shirt, great band. He smiled and proceeded to regale me for 15 minutes about how he roadied for them, how they are super-nice guys. Actually, in retrospect, that wasn’t a crazy. He was just telling a cool story. Anyway, as you were!

        But there is a basement bookshop on Bloor in Toronto, if you want crazies. I’ve never once been in there and NOT overheard the wildest stuff. Tinfoil hat-level stuff. Awesome.

      • I think that is is unfortunate, but people in retail are the only captiv audience many of those folk have to talk to. They may not talk to people all week. Also, the staff are stuck and have to listen.

        I have sat and talked to homeless dudes before, or street musicians. Most are cool, but the ones that are way out there, I peace out.
        I feel bad they have issues, but feel even worse for the staff at stores that are stuck listening to them.

        Do you not get it at your job?

      • Captive only by choice, sometimes. All you gotta do is ask if there’s any help they need, and say you’ve got to get back to work, thanks for the chat. Done it myself, they understand.

        I don’t get this at work much, no. I work in the back room. No public. YAY!

      • Good shout – the second half of So I Married An Axe Murderer reminds you why you don’t watch it more often!

        I’m doing my best to keep up with the discography as you review ’em. Naturally some have been cursory listens, so definitely need to dig further.

      • Hey even if they’re cursory ones, I appreciate that you’re listening J!

      • I’m hoping it’ll earn me Canadian citizenship! 🙂

      • Or at least a few bucks for the Jim Dead Canadian Tour

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Tragically Hip – World Container (2006) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. The Tragically Hip – We are the Same (2009) | 1001albumsin10years
  3. The Tragically Hip – Now for Plan A (2012) | 1001albumsin10years
  4. The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem (2016) | 1001albumsin10years
  5. Top 5 “I’m Grateful For…” | 1001albumsin10years

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