Up to Here

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Up to Here
Hip up to here.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 5, 1989
StudioArdent Studios, Memphis, Tennessee
ProducerDon Smith
The Tragically Hip chronology
The Tragically Hip
Up to Here
Road Apples
Singles from Up to Here
  1. "Blow at High Dough"
    Released: April 1989
  2. "New Orleans Is Sinking"
    Released: November 1989
  3. "Boots or Hearts"
    Released: February 1990
  4. "38 Years Old"
    Released: April 1990

Up to Here is the debut studio album by Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, released in September 1989. It is one of the band's most successful albums: it has achieved diamond status in Canada for sales of over a million copies, earned the band Juno Award for Most Promising Artist, and introduced fan-favourite songs such as "Blow at High Dough", "New Orleans Is Sinking", and "38 Years Old". The album reached No. 13 on RPM's Canadian Albums Chart, and both "Blow at High Dough" and "New Orleans is Sinking" reached No. 1 on the RPM Canadian Content singles charts.


The Tragically Hip toured intensively behind their first release, the EP The Tragically Hip, which had earned considerable airplay on Canadian FM radio and the MuchMusic video station. The band found an audience on US college radio as well and drew the attention of MCA representative Bruce Dickinson while performing at the CMJ New Music Festival in New York City in late 1988. That December Dickinson travelled to Toronto to see the band perform at the Toronto Music Awards, and MCA signed the band later that month.[1]

Dickinson recommended the band record in Memphis, Tennessee, with producer Don Smith.[2] The band entered Ardent Studios[3] with a set of songs they had extensive experience playing live.[4] Smith and the band further developed the arrangements in the studio before recording.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores

Up to Here appeared on 5 September 1989.[5] It sold 100000 copies within its first year in Canada[7] and ranked 14th Canadian Content album for 1989,[8] fifth for 1990,[9] and first for 1991.[10] The album peaked at No. 13 in February 1990 on RPM's Canadian Albums Chart.[11] The album went gold in Canada in January 1990 and platinum that March[12] and later that year earned the band a Juno Award for Most Promising Artist.[13] By 1999 Up to Here had sold enough to gain diamond status.[12]

Up to Here was the band's first release in the US.[14] In 1990 the album peaked on the Billboard 200 album charts at No. 170 and "New Orleans is Sinking" reached No. 30 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock singles charts.[15] Despite strong sales and sustained popularity in Canada, the band and album failed to find a significant international audience;[16] American sales of the album were 10000 in its first year[17] and from 1991 to 1997 amounted to 80000 copies.[16] The Tragically Hip's relative lack of success in the US has been a frequent topic by commenters and interviewers, to the irritation of members of the band.[17]

The songs are credited to the whole band. Typically the instrumentalists of the band developed the backing music while lead singer Gord Downie came up with his poetic lyrics separately, writing them in a notebook and selecting something to fit when the band was ready.[5]


The hard-rocking lead single "Blow at High Dough"[4] appeared in April 1989, before the album's release.[5] It had a strong showing on Canadian radio[4] and was the band's first charting single, reaching No. 48 on the RPM singles chart and No. 1 on the RPM Canadian Content singles charts.[5] "Blow at High Dough" was the theme song to the CBC comedy drama Made in Canada (1998—2003).[18]

In November 1989 appeared the second single, "New Orleans Is Sinking", a loose jam piece which had taken a key place at the band's live shows. In the midst of "New Orleans" the band often débuted new songs or gave Downie the spotlight to improvise.[4] Like "Blow at High Dough", it reached No. 1 on the RPM Canadian Content singles charts,[19] and No. 70 on the RPM singles charts.[5] Music videos appeared for both "Blow at High Dough" and "New Orleans is Sinking".[20]

"Boots or Hearts" came out as the third single in February 1990, and "38 Years Old" that April as the fourth, peaking at No. 41 on the RPM singles charts.[17] Downie's memories of a jailbreak in 1972 at the maximum-security Millhaven Institution inspired the lyrics to "38 Years Old",[3] whose ringing acoustic guitar backing is overlaid with distorted electric guitar leads.[6]


The Tragically Hip went on tour from June 1989, before the album's release.[a] The band continued to tour Canada and the US through 1990, and made its first European appearance at a sold-out headlining show in Rotterdam. The band gained a reputation for its energetic live show and the enthusiasm of its fans.[17]

The band introduced new material while touring that appeared on their next album Road Apples in 1991,[13] as well as numerous songs that have never been officially released.[17]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by The Tragically Hip.

1."Blow at High Dough"4:37
2."I'll Believe in You (Or I'll Be Leaving You Tonight)"4:04
3."New Orleans Is Sinking"4:17
4."38 Years Old"4:20
5."She Didn't Know"3:33
6."Boots or Hearts"3:44
7."Everytime You Go"3:21
8."When the Weight Comes Down"4:44
9."Trickle Down"3:11
10."Another Midnight"3:56
Total length:43:29



  • Gord Downie – vocals[21]
  • Rob Baker – guitar
  • Gord Sinclair – bass, vocals
  • Johnny Fay – drums
  • Paul Langlois – guitar, vocals

Recording personnel[edit]

  • Bruce Barris – engineer, mixing[21]
  • Jeff DeMorris – assistant engineer
  • Paul Eberson – assistant engineer
  • Stephen Marcussen – mastering
  • Don Smith – engineer, mixing, producer
  • Andy Udoff – assistant engineer


  • Jeanne Bradshaw – design[21]
  • Michael Going – photography

Year-end charts[edit]

2002 year-end chart performance for Up to Here
Chart (2002) Position
Canadian Alternative Albums (Nielsen SoundScan)[22] 80


  1. ^ During this tour, the Seattle band Nirvana opened for the Tragically Hip in Madison, Wisconsin, on 7 July 1989 to an audience of 40.[5]


  1. ^ Barclay, Jack & Schneider 2011, p. 595.
  2. ^ Barclay, Jack & Schneider 2011, pp. 595–596.
  3. ^ a b Newton 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Barclay, Jack & Schneider 2011, p. 596.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Shapiro 2017, Chapter 6.
  6. ^ a b Massey 2013.
  7. ^ Aikenhead 2010, p. 34.
  8. ^ RPM staff 1989c.
  9. ^ RPM staff 1990b.
  10. ^ RPM staff 1991.
  11. ^ RPM staff 1990a.
  12. ^ a b Music Canada.
  13. ^ a b Barclay, Jack & Schneider 2011, p. 597.
  14. ^ Wilson.
  15. ^ Up to Here: Awards at AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  16. ^ a b LeBlanc 1997, p. 63.
  17. ^ a b c d e Shapiro 2017, Chapter 7.
  18. ^ Menon 2003.
  19. ^ RPM staff 1989a; RPM staff 1989b.
  20. ^ Ward 2016, p. 220.
  21. ^ a b c Up to Here: Credits at AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  22. ^ "Canada's Top 200 Alternative albums of 2002". Jam!. Archived from the original on December 4, 2003. Retrieved March 26, 2022.

Works cited[edit]