This Week In History: The Tragically Hip Release Their Debut LP ‘Up To Here’

On September 5th 1989, The Tragically Hip changed Canadian music forever when they released their debut full-length album, Up To Here.

Canada’s national musical treasure, The Tragically Hip, has given us thirteen studio albums since the band first started releasing music back in 1987. But their first full-length album, the certified diamond Up To Here, surprisingly still remains their most successful record. Released in the fall of 1989, the album contains some of the band’s most beloved songs: “Blow At High Dough”, “New Orleans Is Sinking”, and “38 Years Old.” The record earned them the Juno award for Most Promising Artist that year.

The Hip had been making a name for themselves on the road playing songs from their 1987 self-titled EP and new material that would later appear on Up To Here, all the while generating a huge buzz on Canadian radio and MuchMusic.

Much of the initial buzz also came from their charismatic frontman and his mesmerizing on-stage persona. They quickly signed to MCA, and moved to Memphis to record Up To Here.

Before the album even came out they released “Blow At High Dough” as a single, and right away they had their first chart hit. “New Orleans Is Sinking” was released as the second single, which also charted. The fourth single “38 Years Old” chronicled the 1972 jailbreak at Millhaven prison near the band’s hometown of Kingston, Ontario. Writing songs about overlooked events in Canadian history would become a trademark of the Hip.

Up To Here sold 100,000 copies in its first year in Canada. But despite success in Canada, the Hip failed to secure an international audience – a trend that would continue through their career. But they proved that Canadian artists didn’t need American validation to be successful at home. And their achievements in their home country would help to define them as the most Canadian band of all time.