Gordon is the debut album by Canadian band Barenaked Ladies. It was released through Sire Records on July 28, 1992. After The Yellow Tape was certified platinum in Canada, the group won a contest hosted by a local radio station. With the winnings, Barenaked Ladies were able to hire producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda and record the album at Le Studio, north of Montreal. Though most of the album was recorded without incident, difficulty with "The King of Bedside Manor" caused the band to record the track naked—a tradition they would continue on other albums. Horn parts, guest vocalists, and nods to other bands including Rush allowed Barenaked Ladies to expand on the sound they had developed while touring. "They had a real clarity about what they wanted [the album] to be... I just captured what it is they do," said Wojewoda.
In 1991, after the gold certification of The Yellow Tape—an independently recorded and manufactured cassette—Barenaked Ladies won Discovery to Disc, a contest hosted by CFNY-FM, a Toronto based rock radio station. With the prize winnings of $100,000, the band hired Michael Phillip Wojewoda to produce the album. Wojewoda felt the band had potential, specifically demonstrated with the track "The Flag", "there was definitely some wisdom in their young years." To get better acquainted with the band Wojewoda invited Barenaked Ladies to sing back-up vocals for "California Dreamline" during the recording of Rheostatics's Whale Music. While in the studio the band met Rush drummer Neil Peart, who had influenced some of the Barenaked Ladies. The band selected 14 songs out of 20 candidates that they had written to record in the studio. "...they didn't need a lot of shaping. It was... a matter of shifting through a lot of great moments and finding the ones which fit best on the record," said Wojewoda. With the tracks selected Wojewoda and the band drove to Le Studio. The band worked on the album for ten to twelve hour sessions each day, with little conflict among members. At night the band would commute to their house by skiing in the moonlight.
After some difficulty recording "The King of Bedside Manor" it was suggested that the band members record the song naked. Wojewoda and engineer Jean Diamont were also required to remove their clothes; said Wojewoda, "I think the recording has this totally over-the-top nervous energy as a result of being naked." Led by Jim and Andy Creeggan the band developed horn parts for "Enid", "Wrap Your Arms Around Me", and "Box Set". Guest musicians are used throughout the album including Lewis Melville, Chris Brown, and members of the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir. "I don't think there're many musicians from Toronto who aren't on Gordon," said Brown. The album was mixed in March 1992. Before the album's release Sire Records had to receive clearance from various parties for music that Barenaked Ladies had included various tracks of Gordon. Having played the songs during live performances Barenaked Ladies integrated themes from Styx, Rush, The Housemartins, and Vince Guaraldi into various tracks.Gordon was released on July 28, 1992.
Two covers of this album were released. The original Sire Records cover features all five band members in front of a big gray word which spells "Gordon" and has the band name in front of a red and blue ball with a stripe on it (a reference to the Universal Pictures logo), while the Reprise Records cover features the same ball from the original cover on an indigo background with black stripes. The band's name is in a font similar to the one on their 1998 album Stunt and the disc is stylized as the ball. The original cover is seen at the top right on the back cover of the Reprise Records printing.
Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote, "It's not easy to be hyperactive, brooding, and whimsical all at once, but the Barenaked Ladies do just that." MacKenzie Wilson of Allmusic wrote that the album approaches, but does not cross the "bound[ry] of silliness." She went on to call the "shared vocals... refreshing and upbeat," concluding that "Gordon is a great introduction to the Barenaked Ladies' sweet comic relief."The Miami Herald called the album "funny and punny, more inventive than you might expect," stating that "it switches directions on you just when you're least expecting it."
Gordon sold 80,000 copies in Canada during its first 24 hours of release, topping the Canadian charts for eight consecutive weeks. In the United States, initial album sales were stronger in larger cities, however, a spike in sales was not seen until the releases of Rock Spectacle and "One Week."Gordon was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in August 1998. According to Steven Page, the number of "fans who know every word of every song" outnumbers the number of units sold by four times. "Gordon must be the most bootlegged album in [United States] history," said Page. In 2000, the album achieved diamond status in Canada, selling over one million copies.