I guess you could say there are two schools of thought on the Hip. Either you think they’re, like, the best fuckin’ band ever, or they’re just an overrated bar band with a few decent songs that got huge cuz people think they represent some kind of weird, abstract notion of the Canadian identity. Chances are, anyone picking up this box set’ll be of the former persuasion. Hipeponymous’s two audio CDs contain 37 mostly memorable songs (and all the radio hits, eh) stretching way back to their 1987 debut.
But here’s the problem: for an almost two-decade retrospective, there’s hardly anything new or unreleased except for two songs. This is obviously a package for hardcore fans (there are also two DVDs), so why the lack of stuff they might not have heard yet? Shit, even alternate versions or outtakes. As for the live DVD filmed in Toronto, the concert is beautifully shot and easily captures the crowd’s enthusiasm, not to mention Gord Downie’s wild-eyed performance, even though he really does kind of act like a parody of his former self these days.
Aside from the bonus DVD full of video clips and a lengthy booklet displaying a bunch of old band art and some scribbled poems by Downie, there’s little here to warrant dropping cash. It smacks of a holiday cash grab and should be taken as an insult by the Hip’s loyal fans.