Gordon (album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 28, 1992
StudioLe Studio, Morin-Heights, Quebec
ProducerMichael Phillip Wojewoda
Barenaked Ladies chronology
Variety Recordings
Maybe You Should Drive
Sire Records cover
Cover from Sire Records/Reprise Records release
Cover from Sire Records/Reprise Records release

Gordon is the debut studio 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, Quebec. 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. "[T]hey 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 on various tracks of Gordon. Having developed 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]


Two covers of this album were released. The original Sire Records cover features all five band members amongst large grey letters which spell "Gordon." The band's name appears in front of a red and blue ball with a stripe on it. The Reprise Records cover features a similar ball as seen on the Sire Records cover in front of an indigo background with black stripes. The band's name is written above the ball on this cover and the album's title is featured below the ball. The Sire Records cover is featured on the top right of the back cover of the Reprise Records version. Both versions feature a disc stylized to look like the ball seen on both releases.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[13]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[15]
Select2/5 medals[16]

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."[17] MacKenzie Wilson of AllMusic wrote that the album approaches, but does not cross the "boundaries of silliness."[18] 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".[18] 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".[19]

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".[20] Gordon was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in August 1998.[21] According to Steven Page, the number of "fans who know every word of every song" outnumbers the number of units sold by four times.[22] "Gordon must be the most bootlegged album in [United States] history", said Page.[22] In 2000, the album achieved diamond status in Canada, selling over one million copies.[23]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Steven Page and Ed Robertson, except where noted.

No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Hello City" Steven Page, Ed Robertson3:22
2."Enid" Page4:07
3."Grade 9"Andy Creeggan, Jim Creeggan, Page, Robertson, Tyler StewartPage, Robertson2:53
4."Brian Wilson"PagePage4:47
5."Be My Yoko Ono" Page, Robertson2:45
6."Wrap Your Arms Around Me"J. Creeggan, Page, RobertsonRobertson4:35
7."What a Good Boy" Page3:52
8."The King of Bedside Manor" Page, Robertson2:24
9."Box Set"PagePage4:48
10."I Love You"A. Creeggan, J. Creeggan, Page, RobertsonPage, A. Creeggan, J. Creeggan, Robertson4:08
11."New Kid (On the Block)"Scott Dibble, Page, RobertsonPage4:13
12."Blame It on Me" Page, Robertson3:54
13."The Flag"PagePage3:53
14."If I Had $1000000" Page, Robertson4:27
15."Crazy"Robertson, Tim WilsonRobertson4:08
16."Dat Fodder" (hidden track)  0:38




  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. 101–102
  12. ^ "Gordon: Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
  13. ^ Allmusic Review
  14. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  15. ^ Wolk, Douglas (2004). "Barenaked Ladies". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  16. ^ Scott, Danny (August 30, 2014). "Barenaked Ladies: Gordon (Sire/Reprise)". Select: 67. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  17. ^ a b Myers 2001, p. 102
  18. ^ a b Wilson, MacKenzie. "Gordon: Review". Allmusic. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
  19. ^ "Frozen North sends a Surprise: Barenaked Ladies". The Miami Herald. December 30, 1992. p. 7E.
  20. ^ Myers 2001, pp. 102–3
  21. ^ "Search: Barenaked Ladies". Recording Industry Association of America. August 28, 1998. Retrieved May 18, 2009.
  22. ^ a b Myers 2001, p. 103
  23. ^ "Gold Platinum Database: Barenaked Ladies – Gordon". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved December 24, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ "Barenaked Ladies: A World-Wide Deal". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2009.

Works cited