On May 20th, Tragically Hip fans across Canada were surprised to find out the band was releasing a new EP titled Saskadelphia. The title being the original working name of 1991’s Road Apples album of which these songs were recorded for and eventually rejected. The original tapes of the EP’s six songs that were thought lost but found in 2019 lean towards the more rocking end of the band’s oeuvre. “Ouch” starts off the EP, with singer Gord Downie’s voice straining to get the words out as the rest of the band chugs behind him. The swaggering “Just as Well” recalls boogie rock of 80’s hit from The Georgia Satellites “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”.
“Not Necessary” is an early highlight. The melodic rocker sees Downie sing “You’re so calico, you’re all the colours in the world” over the chiming guitars of Paul Baker and Paul Langlois. The live version of “Montreal” about a victim of that city’s tragic Ecole Polytechique shooting is another poignant highlight. The bass of Gord Sinclair holds down “Crack My Spine Like A Whip” which also adds the crisp drumming of Johnny Fay. The EP closes with Downie announcing the introduction of the sped-up blues track “Reformed Baptist Blues”.
The sound here is early Hip, straight forward rock with a bit of the blues added, it lacks some of the subtleties they would later work into their music and lift them from clubs/theatres to selling out arenas across Canada. For fans that grew up the band, this is definitely a nostalgic trip that is hard to separate from the art, especially with the passing of Gord Downie in 2017. There are a couple great songs here along with some good ones. Mostly though, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun hearing “new” music from The Tragically Hip again.