[Opinion] The Tragically Hip 15 Studio Albums & EPs | Ranked Worst to First

It has been a bit of a busy week behind the scenes here at Canadian Grooves which left little room to make the time for reviewing an album. So, to make up for it I’ve decided to cash in on a bankrupt idea instead! Like the title says: Here are all 15 of The Tragically Hip’s studio LPs and EPs ranked from worst to first:

15. THE TRAGICALLY HIP | SELF TITLED EP

The cool thing about a debut being first (last) on such a list is what it means. They ONLY went up from here! I can respect how this EP is special to many who welcomed the band before they became a household name. For me, listening to it in the present has me hearing a band that is not yet cooked fully.
Best song: Highway Girl
Review Score: 2.5/5

14. IN BETWEEN EVOLUTION

The last three songs on In Between Evolution are aces. Unfortunately, I don’t think many sat through its weak opening and below-average middle to hear them. Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park is cool though.
Best Song: Goodnight Josephine
Review Score: 2.5/5

13. TROUBLE AT THE HENHOUSE

Oooo… Am I getting saucy by placing one of The Hip’s mega sellers so low? Not really. The sales for Trouble At The Henhouse were inflated by the timing of its release and the amazing hit single, Ahead By A Century. For me, the album has a weak 2nd half and runs overlong at 52 minutes. Butts Wigglin’ could have and should have been sacrificed.
Best Song: Ahead By A Century
Review Score: 3/5

12. SASKADELPHIA EP

Saskadelphia is a mostly solid listen with Montreal being the only song I’m not fond of. This 2021 EP was tied in with Road Apples but I found it more to be an Up To Here, Part 2 experience. This is not a bad thing.
Best Song: Crack My Spine Like A Whip
Review Score: 4/5

11. IN VIOLET LIGHT

I would have called shenanigans if you told me before when I started this that In Violet Light wouldn’t make my top 10 Hip albums. And here it is at #11! That is how good the rest of the catalog is. The Hip were going for the band’s early vibe when they turned onstage jams into studio songs. It works well for the most part with just a few questionable songs holding the overall experience back.
Best Song: It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken
Review Score: 3.5/5

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10. MAN MACHINE POEM

Man Machine Poem was released after Gord Downie received his diagnosis for brain cancer, but it was recorded prior to it. The benefit of this is it makes The Hip final studio album a reflective and heartfelt listen, but not a tough one. It is heavy on the pensive and light on the melancholy. More earnest than bleak. Knowing Gord, that is what he was aiming for.
Best Song: In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
Review Score: 4/5

09. MUSIC @ WORK

There was a real effort to give this one a bright-pop vibe, and Tiger The Lion aside, Music @ Work pulls this off flawlessly. The production quality is not only aces, it is probably the best the band has ever had. I know many consider Phantom Power to mark the end of The Hip’s “classic period”, but I would stretch that notion for one more album and include this.
Best Song: Lake Fever
Review Score: 4/5

08. WORLD CONTAINER

After the weak release of In Between Evolution, The Hip came back strong a few years later with the consistently good World Container. There is not a bad song on it. The first of two Bob Rock produced albums, he didn’t exactly clear the Music @ Work bar but the songs themselves are some of the band’s best.
Best Song: In View
Review Score: 4.5/5

07. WE ARE THE SAME

We Are The Same is made of beautiful songs buried under bloated production. Coffee Girl could have been a complete classic if it wasn’t tarted-up with a synthetic drum loop.  I don’t blame Bob Rock for his 2nd go with the band. This comes off as a Gord Downie solo project and I believe that is why it sounds the way it does. With that said, the songs are so good even some questionable production can’t put a dent in them. Not. A. Dent.
Best Song: Depression Suite
Review Score: The songs: 5/5, The arrangements: 1/5

06. NOW FOR PLAN A

Now For Plan A was released during The Hip’s lowest point in popularity post-Road Apples which means many missed out on a great album. Don’t worry, I did as well until I dropped the needle on it last year. So, there is still time for you. A couple of songs that hold it back from earning a place in the top 5, but the writing, execution, and production are firing on all cylinders for the rest. This one hits all of the right spots.
Best Song: The Modern Spirit 
Review Score: 4.5/5

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05. UP TO HERE

I love the bar-band vibe of the early Hip albums, but when it comes to grading it against their entire body of work, you need to nit-pick. My only complaint about Up To Here would be that Opiated doesn’t really make for a strong closer. That is it. Otherwise, a perfect album.
Best Song: New Orleans Is Sinking 
Review Score: 4.5/5

04. FULLY COMPLETELY

Fully Completely doesn’t have a tune as deeply moving as Fiddler’s Green or a big guitar-driven riff like in New Orleans Is Sinking, but it is the most approachable Hip album. This is where I would recommend any new listener to begin their journey with the band.
Best Song: 50 Mission Cap 
Review Score: 5/5

03. PHANTOM POWER

As a follow-up to Trouble at the Henhouse, The Hip sound rejuvenated on Phantom Power. They drove themselves to be better and it shows up on the recording. I don’t know why I didn’t give it a perfect 5 when I reviewed it as it contains some of their best work ever recorded. Gord’s lyrics are really strong and the band sounds fantastic. I think I had become shy with all of the “5”s I was handing out at the start of the series… or maybe it was that falsetto backup singer on Poets.
Best Song: Escape Is at Hand for The Travelling Man 
Review Score: 4.5/5

02. ROAD APPLES

Road Apples is a pure classic. From the deeply personal Fiddler’s Green to the bar band hop of Twist My Arm, the widest arrange of emotions within me are felt whenever I listen to it. It just never lets me go.
Best Song: Fiddler’s Green 
Review Score: 5/5

01. DAY FOR NIGHT

Yep. I’m going with the dark and brooding one as my favourite. An odd choice for me since I’m more of a Marvel than DC fan. Anyway, when it comes down to it there is no other Hip album that has stuck with me better. Part of it has to do with it being my first Hip album but I also credit its lyrics for giving me the “deep thoughts”. Such as seeing heaven in the most practical way I can. Now, that is deep, baby.
Best Song: Tie – Grace, Too and Inevitability of Death (Hey, when you’re #1, you get two.)
Review Score: 5/5

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Get More Hip from Canadian Grooves!

[EP Review] The Tragically Hip – Self Titled EP
[Album Review] Up To Here
[Album Review] Road Apples
[Album Review] Fully Completely
[Album Review] Day For Night
[Album Review] Trouble At The Henhouse
[Album Review] Live Between Us
[Album Review] Phantom Power
[Album Review] Music @ Work
[Album Review] In Violet Light
[Album Review] In Between Evolution
[DVD Review] That Night In Toronto
[Album Review] Yer Favourites
[Album Review] World Container
[Album Review] We Are the Same
[Album Review] Now for Plan A
[Blu-ray Review] Bobcaygeon
[Album Review] Fully Completely Deluxe Edition
[Album Review] Man Machine Poem
[Blu-ray Review] Long Time Running
[Blu-ray Review] A National Celebration
[EP Review] Saskadelphia
[Book Review] The Never-Ending Present | The Story Of Gord Downie And The Tragically Hip

11 thoughts on “[Opinion] The Tragically Hip 15 Studio Albums & EPs | Ranked Worst to First

  1. So Phantom Power gets a 4.5 and is ranked third yet Fully Completely is ranked fourth with a 5/5 score?! Interesting lol. I’m old and like to nit pick at times. lol
    Seriously though a really cool list. I need to get Phantom on vinyl but its very pricey but yeah a solid list but too be honest after Phantom came out I kinda tailed off and buying much of there stuff of course until the recent box set …

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting ranking . I personally think Phantom Power is overrated… the beginning of the meh period of the band for me . Well written and defended though. Well done

    Like

    1. Thanks, Meat! I will admit, a lot of my enjoyment from Phantom Power might be due to the timing of its release. It came out just as Sarah and I got together. We did a lot of traveling in the years that followed and I remember putting her CD onto a cassette so we could listen to it in my ’92 Chevy Corsica. A lot of good memories are tied into its songs for me. So yeah, my extremely bias view of it will remain extremely biased, lol

      Like

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