As someone that never understood the hype around Canada’s legendary Tragically Hip, I do have an appreciation for the earlier years when the band had a raw, hungry energy that seemed exciting. The songs of Up To Here and most notably, Road Apples, invites listeners to an era when the band was discovering the direction and experimenting with guitar sounds and upping its poetic lyrics.
Enter Saskadephia, an EP of music that could easily be part of either of those two classic albums, but exists as a collection of unreleased songs from the Road Apples recording sessions.
This is The Hip that makes my ears perk up; it’s passionate, powerful and hungry. For diehards, it’s a peek at the rest of the album that Road Apples could have been, but for casual listeners and audiophiles it completes the picture of a certain era in time. It even borrows its Saskadephia title from the original working title of what was originally going to be a 1991 double album.
Standouts on the EP include the rockers Ouch, Not Necessary and Just As Well, which capture that Road Apples vibe perfectly. Songs like Montreal (long forgotten until recorded live in that very city in 2000) show a bit of the experimentation that was to come on future albums and Reformed Baptist Blues comes across like a band that just wanted to jam.
While Saskadelphia won’t change my opinion of the band, it does bring back some memories of a cool little Kingston band that was on a mission to rock the country back in the early 90s. For fans, its another piece of a puzzle they knew existed but never heard.