Strippers Union’s 3 – The Undertaking was released early in 2021, right as I was diving into all of The Hip’s albums, so I put them on the back burner. Yeah, not so fast. It was then pointed out to me how I needed to act quickly if I wanted a copy. This product will not be mass-produced. No CD, and a limited run on vinyl of only 1000 copies. Yikes!
I got there with very little time to spare:
I was surprised to see a low print run considering the band is fronted by Craig Northey of Odds and Rob Baker of The Tragically Hip. As far as I’m concerned, they are royalty on the Canadian Music scene.
According to Baker in his article on Killbeatmusic.com, he loves the music he makes with Strippers Union, but he also takes a financial hit on every release. It looks like this will be the case once again judging by how little The Undertaking was streamed over the past year. Only one song from it, the album’s opener, We Are The Underworld, surpassed 10,000 listens on Spotify. And, the video they released for it on YouTube has under 3,000 views:
Well, this album clearly need’s the ol’ Canadian Grooves bump as there is no way this should be flying under your radar. Not only is it my studio album for 2021… dare I even say it… I’d put it right up there with Tom Petty’s Wildflowers. Yes, it is that good.
I’m not normally a fan of double albums, and this is a long one; 18 tunes adding up to 1hr 9mins if Spotify’s math is correct. And, if you think about it, this album sounds like a terrible idea. The extravagance from The Tragically Hip’s guitarist, stretching his labour of love over two discs. To loosely quote Chandler: Could there BE any more red flags?
But, The Undertaking is an exception. None of its songs are padded as they are all under 5 minutes. There are no mediocre ideas, aimless noodling, or pretentious self-indulgence. The only song I might drop would be Identity Theft as it feels unfinished to me. The rest of the tracklist is aces.
This also cemented Craig Northey in my heart as one of my favourite lyricists of all time. He has always been fantastic at writing tangible and satirical lyrics, but he made my skin vibrate more than usual here. For the sake of brevity, I’ll just give you my top two from The Undertaking:
When I Come Back As A Dog, a song about a person reincarnating as… a dog. It sounds downright silly on the surface. But song’s perspective is from someone who is anticipating a return to the living as a loyal friend without any reserve. It is downright beautiful.
Damn Hallelujah, a brilliant piece of social commentary on consumerism, instant gratification, and waste.
Hail Hail, full retail healing
Hail Hail, I just bought a good feeling
It works for a while, this magic potion
And the sweet junk is all just floating in the ocean
Those words could not ring anymore true than during a pandemic with people panic buying and ordering crap they don’t need online.
There is a bit of Latin on the cover of The Undertaking that translates to “It started as a joke”. It stems from how Baker and Northey didn’t take Strippers Union too seriously at first. Well, from what I have heard on this album, they ended up with brilliance. There are not many double albums that can hold my interest all the way through. This one does with songs that are textured and varied. It can be funky (No Fear), have some country flair (No Rain Tonight), it can be bluesy (Permanent Damage), it can rock (The Invitation), it can be gorgeous (The Enforcer). All held together by the talents of two amazing artists.
The odds are you need more Odds/Craig Northey/Strippers Union in you:
[Album Review] Odds | Neopolitan
[Album Review] Odds | Bedbugs
[Album Review] Odds | Good Weird Feeling
[Album Review] Odds | Nest
[Album Review] Craig Northey | Giddy Up
[Album Review] Northey Valenzuela
[Album Review] Strippers Union | Stripper’s Union Local 518
[Album Review] The New Odds | Cheerleader
[Album Review] Strippers Union | The Deuce
[EP Review] Odds | The Most Beautiful Place On Earth
[EP Review] Odds | Game Face On
[EP Review] Odds | Party Party Party
[Album Review] Strippers Union | 3- The Undertaking