By Stan Ashbee
Celebrated, iconic Canadian band The Tragically Hip released a brand-new album prior to the May long weekend May 21.
“Saskadelphia,” according to a recent media release, is made up of six previously unreleased tracks written in 1990. Five recorded in that same year during the classic “Road Apples” sessions in New Orleans, and one live track, “Montreal (Live from The Molson Centre, Montreal, Dec 7, 2000),” written at the same time, but for which the original recording is yet to be found.
“With no shortage of material and higher-ups at the American record label resisting the band’s call to release a double album, countless tracks were left behind on the studio floor. And so one album, “Road Apples,” heads out into the world, a rung on The Tragically Hip’s climb to legend status, while the rest of the tracks are tucked into boxes and moved out of sight,” it was stated in the release. “Until now.”
Welcome to “Saskadelphia” — the record that stayed in the wings as “Road Apples” hit the stage. The title, a term coined by the band in a nod to the extensive touring they were doing in the early 1990s, was the original working title for “Road Apples” before it was rejected by those same label execs, as being “too Canadian.”
From lead single “Ouch,” which greets listeners with the familiar roaring vocals of late singer and lyricist Gord Downie, to “Not Necessary” — a song whose fiery sound is layered with gentle and emotional lyrics — are pure, un-distilled The Tragically Hip, as Rob Baker (guitar), Gord Downie (vocals, guitar), Johnny Fay (drums), Paul Langlois (guitar) and Gord Sinclair (bass) lay the groundwork for their unmistakable sound.
“I went ‘Wow’ when I heard ‘Ouch’ after all this time,” stated Rob Baker. “We were a pretty good little band.”
After rediscovering the tracks they wrote more than three decades ago, The Tragically Hip knew they had to share the music with fans. Of these abandoned souvenirs from the past, Johnny Fay said, “We didn’t know what was there, so this meant baking them and listening to them, as they were being transferred. Hearing them for the first time in 30 years was crazy.”