Gordon (album)

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Gordon
Studio album by Barenaked Ladies
Released July 28, 1992
Recorded Spring 1992 at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec
Length 58:15
Label Reprise/Sire
Producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda
Barenaked Ladies chronology
Variety Recordings
(1991)
Gordon
(1992)
Maybe You Should Drive
(1994)
Alternative cover

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.[1]

Background and recording[edit]

In 1991, after the gold certification of The Yellow Tape—an independently recorded and manufactured cassette[2]—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."[3] 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,[4] who had influenced some of the Barenaked Ladies.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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."[8] Led by Jim and Andy Creeggan the band developed horn parts for "Enid", "Wrap Your Arms Around Me", and "Box Set".[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] Gordon was released on July 28, 1992.[12]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [13]

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."[14] MacKenzie Wilson of Allmusic wrote that the album approaches, but does not cross the "bound[ry] of silliness."[15] 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."[15] 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."[16]

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."[17] Gordon was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in August 1998.[18] According to Steven Page, the number of "fans who know every word of every song" outnumbers the number of units sold by four times.[19] "Gordon must be the most bootlegged album in [United States] history," said Page.[19] In 2000, the album achieved diamond status in Canada, selling over one million copies.[20]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Steven Page and Ed Robertson, except where noted. 

No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Hello City"   Steven Page 3:22
2. "Enid"   Steven Page 4:07
3. "Grade 9" (Jim Creeggan, Andy Creeggan, Steven Page, Ed Robertson, Tyler Stewart) Steven Page, Ed Robertson 2:53
4. "Brian Wilson" (Steven Page) Steven Page 4:47
5. "Be My Yoko Ono"   Steven Page, Ed Robertson 2:45
6. "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" (Jim Creeggan, Steven Page, Ed Robertson) Ed Robertson 4:35
7. "What a Good Boy"   Steven Page 3:52
8. "The King of Bedside Manor"   Steven Page, Ed Robertson 2:24
9. "Box Set" (Steven Page) Steven Page 4:48
10. "I Love You" (Jim Creeggan, Andy Creeggan, Steven Page, Ed Robertson) Steven Page, Jim Creeggan, Andy Creeggan 4:08
11. "New Kid (On the Block)"   Steven Page 4:13
12. "Blame It on Me"   Steven Page, Ed Robertson 3:54
13. "The Flag" (Steven Page) Steven Page 3:53
14. "If I Had $1000000"   Steven Page, Ed Robertson 4:27
15. "Crazy" (Ed Robertson, Tim Wilson) Ed Robertson 4:08

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Myers 2001, pp. 96, 99
  2. ^ Myers 2001, p. 76
  3. ^ Myers 2001, p. 92
  4. ^ Myers 2001, p. 93
  5. ^ Myers 2001, pp. 20, 49
  6. ^ Myers 2001, p. 94
  7. ^ Myers 2001, p. 97
  8. ^ Myers 2001, pp. 97–8
  9. ^ Myers 2001, p. 99
  10. ^ Myers 2001, p. 100
  11. ^ Myers 2001, pp. 101–2
  12. ^ "Gordon: Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  13. ^ Allmusic Review
  14. ^ a b Myers 2001, p. 102
  15. ^ a b Wilson, MacKenzie. "Gordon: Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  16. ^ "Frozen North sends a Surprise: Barenaked Ladies". The Miami Herald. December 30, 1992. p. 7E. 
  17. ^ Myers 2001, pp. 102–3
  18. ^ "Search: Barenaked Ladies". Recording Industry Association of America. 1998-08-28. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  19. ^ a b Myers 2001, p. 103
  20. ^ "Gold Platinum Database: Barenaked Ladies - Gordon". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  21. ^ "Barenaked Ladies: A World-Wide Deal". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-05-18.