With all of the numerous CD and DVD releases that come out over the holidays, it's impossible to be aware of all of the ones truly worth their price tag. One of the wiser 2005 release investments that might have unfortunately gone overlooked by many here in the States is the first-ever career retrospective by Canada's biggest and best-loved band, The Tragically Hip.
Hipeponymous [Universal Canada] is a box set that is positively overflowing with treats for its owner’s eyes and ears. There are 2 DVDs----one is a November 2004 Toronto concert which showcases 24 of the Hip's finest songs and clocks in just under 2 hours. Mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound and PCM Stereo, and shot with 10 separate cameras, the viewer is given the opportunity to truly feel, hear and see the awesome power and energy of a Tragically Hip show in its purest uncut and unedited form. Watching the band's brilliantly eccentric lead singer/songwriter, Gordon Downie, gradually work himself into a head-to-toe sweat-saturated state is an experience unlike any other. He is one of those all-too-rare performers who not only sings amazing songs; he becomes an integral part of them.
The other Hipeponymous DVD has several segments. First, it contains all of the Hip's 23 music videos, in chronological order, enabling the viewer to watch how the band has matured and evolved, both physically and musically, over their 20-plus year career. Secondly, there is a 50-minute documentary film entitled, "Macroscopic," which contains backstage footage, conversation, and antics with the band, as well as feedback from the Hip's seriously hard-core Canadian fans. Lastly, this DVD has a collection of 11 beautifully strange audio/visual creations. The visual portions were designed by "Macroscopic" director and friend of the band, Christopher Mills, and were originally used as video background on stage for the band's 2004 tour. The audio portions are newly-constructed scores, composed by the band specifically for this unique and innovative DVD bonus feature.
In addition to the 2 DVDs, the Hipeponymous package set also contains 2 audio CDs entitled, "Yer Favorites"--a collection of 35 songs chosen by the fans in a poll on the band's website. There are also 2 brand-new, previously-unreleased songs: "No Threat" starts out disc one, and "The New Maybe" closes out disc 2.
And as if all of this isn't enough to make Hipeponymous worth its weight in gold, there is also a 48-page color booklet that features replications of concert posters, photos, weird artwork, as well as random thoughts and lyrics printed in Downie's handwriting.
For both the long-time fan and the formerly uninitiated, Hipeponymous is undoubtedly the ultimate Tragically Hip collectors item; chronicling the rich history and accomplishments from one of rock music's most innovative and awe-inspiring bands. Buy it, become absorbed in it, worship it, and then thank the deity of your choice for its existence.