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Gordon is the debut full-length album by Barenaked Ladies, originally released on July 28, 1992 by Sire Records. The album was massively popular in Canada immediately, selling over 80,000 copies (thus achieving platinum status) in the first 24 hours of its release and topping the charts for eight weeks. It was the first BNL album to be produced by Michael Phillip Wojewoda.

Background Edit

By late 1991, Barenaked Ladies had been steadily increasing in popularity as a live act in and around Southern Ontario since their debut in late 1988. Their notability suddenly exploded after they were barred from playing a New Year's Eve concert at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto by a staffer for then-mayor June Rowlands who believed the band's name was misogynistic. The move was seen by many as a case of "political correctness" gone wrong and the controversy made national headlines; many incorrectly cast blame on Rowlands herself, though the decision was not actually hers. The band's newfound popularity helped make their cover of Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" a Top 40 hit, and their 5-song EP The Yellow Tape became the first independent cassette release in Canada to achieve platinum status (over 80,000 copies sold).

At around the same time, BNL won the Toronto radio station CFNY-FM's "Discovery to Disc" contest, earning them $100,000 (the equivalent of $155,000 today) to make a debut full-length album. After signing with the major label Sire Records, the band chose Toronto-based producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda--previously known for recording bands such as Skydiggers, Change of Heart and Rheostatics--to make what would become Gordon.

Production and recording Edit

Wojewoda has said that before recording on the album even started, the band had already prepared the graphic design of the liner notes, with "Pig Latin" (he probably meant "lorem ipsum", nonsensical filler text) in place of the lyrics.[1]

For the basic tracks, the band trekked to rural Quebec to record at Le Studio near the town on Morin-Heights, where Canadian progressive rock superstars Rush had famously recorded the albums Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures and Signals.

Because the song "If I Had $1000000" featured improvised banter every time it was performed, the band chose to record a new version of the song every day and later selected the one they liked best as the final version.

Overdubs were later recorded in Toronto at Reaction Studios.

The "naked track" Edit

While preparing to record "King of Bedside Manor", the band decided (on either Jim or Tyler's suggestion) that the band should play the song completely in the nude to give their performance the right kind of energy. The entire band, as well as Wojewoda, would ditch their clothes every time they recorded anything for the song, and even mixed the song while naked as well. From then on, one song from every BNL album session until 2003 was recorded in the nude.

Release Edit

Gordon was released on July 28, 1992 and went to #1 on the Canadian Albums Charts on August 29th of that year, staying in the top spot for eight weeks before being unseated by Eric Clapton's Unplugged.

In 1996, to coincide with the release of Born on a Pirate Ship and Rock Spectacle, an attempt to finally break into the American market, and an effort to part with the band's "childish" image, Reprise reissued Gordon with new cover art designed to be less dated and more appealing. Instead of the band members posing around giant letters spelling "GORDON", the cover now featured the iconic red, white and blue ball floating in front of a striped background; the back cover now featured a stylized painting of the same image with a small image of the previous cover art to assure buyers that it was the same album.

In celebration of Gordon's 25th anniversary, Rhino Records re-released the album for the first time ever on vinyl in a two-disc set on October 13, 2017. This version uses the design of the original cover art but edits out the band members.

Track listing Edit

# Title Runtime Writer(s) Lead vocalist
1 Hello City Steven Page & Ed Robertson Steve & Ed
2 Enid Steven Page & Ed Robertson Steve
3 Grade 9 Steven Page, Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan, Andy Creeggan & Tyler Stewart Steve & Ed
4 Brian Wilson Steven Page Steve
5 Be My Yoko Ono Steven Page & Ed Robertson Steve & Ed
6 Wrap Your Arms Around Me Lyrics: Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Music: Jim Creeggan & Ed Robertson

Ed
7 What A Good Boy Lyrics: Steven Page

Music: Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Steve
8 The King of Bedside Manor Steven Page & Ed Robertson Steve & Ed
9 Box Set Steven Page Steve
10 I Love You Lyrics: Steven Page, Ed Robertson, Jim Creeggan & Andy Creeggan

Music: Jim & Andy Creeggan

Steve & Andy
11 New Kid (On the Block) Steven Page, Ed Robertson & Scott Dibble Steve
12 Blame It On Me Steven Page & Ed Robertson Steve & Ed
13 The Flag Steven Page Steve
14 If I Had $1000000 Steven Page & Ed Robertson Steve & Ed
15 Crazy Ed Robertson & Tim Wilson Ed

Note: CD editions of the album contain a hidden track after a period of silence after the end of "Crazy"; it's a collage of studio banter and outtakes and has been given the name "Dat Fodder".

Credits Edit

Barenaked Ladies

  • Steven Page: vocals, guitar ("Brian Wilson", "What A Good Boy", "King of Bedside Manor"), shaker ("King of Bedside Manor"), wat-ups ("Hello City"), moronic intro synth ("Enid"), cartoon noises ("King of Bedside Manor"), secret noises ("Crazy")
  • Ed Robertson: vocals, guitar, shaker ("King of Bedside Manor"), cowbell ("Box Set"), bionic intro synth ("Enid"), crowd noise and funky mouth ("Grade 9")
  • Jim Creeggan: double bass, vocals, shaker ("King of Bedside Manor"), secret noises ("Crazy")
  • Andy Creeggan: congas, piano, vocals, organ ("Grade 9", "What A Good Boy"), various percussion, marimba ("Blame It On Me"), secret noises ("Crazy")
  • Tyler Stewart: drums, backing vocals, shaker ("King of Bedside Manor"), wat-ups ("Hello City"), secret noises ("Crazy")

The Jimmy Crack Horns ("Enid")

The Horn Cuskers ("Box Set")

  • Nic Gotham: alto & baritone saxophone
  • Gene Hardy: tenor saxophone

Additional musicians

  • Michael Phillip Wojewoda: tambourine & Teutonic intro vocal ("Enid"), stupid keyboard bass ("Grade 9"), shaker ("King of Bedside Manor"), secret noises ("Crazy")
  • Dave Allen: fiddle ("If I Had $1000000")
  • Chris Brown: organ ("I Love You")
  • Chris Howells: flugelhorn ("Wrap Your Arms Around Me")
  • Catherine MacDonnell-Stephens: bassoon ("Wrap Your Arms Around Me")
  • Lewis Melville: pedal steel guitar ("Enid", "Wrap Your Arms Around Me", "New Kid (On the Block)", "If I Had $1000000")
  • Martin Tielli: electric guitar solo ("Crazy")
  • Tom Walsh: trombone ("Hello City")
  • Tim Wilson: bagpipes ("Crazy")
  • Bob Wiseman: accordion ("If I Had $1000000")

The Suburban Tabernacle Choir ("If I Had $1000000")

  • Dave Allen
  • Mike Barber
  • Gregor Beresford
  • Arlene Bishop
  • Chris Brown
  • Erica Buss
  • Meryn Cadell
  • Naida Creeggan
  • Matthew DeMatteo
  • Kate Fenner
  • Gene Hardy
  • Natalie Herbert
  • Shelley Hines
  • Sally Lee
  • Lewis Melville
  • Jason Mercer
  • Janet Morassutti
  • Moxy Früvous
  • Keith Nakonechy
  • Blair Packham
  • Matthew Page
  • Steve Pitkin
  • Jason Plumb
  • Rheostatics
  • Wilma Robertson
  • Tannis Slimmon
  • Earl Stokes
  • Wayne Stokes
  • Bob Wiseman

Trivia & Notes Edit

  • The disc in the CD release is designed to resemble the red white and blue ball with one red half, one blue half, and a stripe across the middle. The original CD release featured a "clear" stripe (that is, the silvery surface of the CD itself showing through), but the 1996 reissue features a white stripe as originally intended.
  • The name of The Suburban Tabernacle Choir (the large number of backup singers at the end of "If I Had $1000000") is a reference to the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, a Toronto-based band contemporary with BNL which featured Gordon guests Chris Brown and Gene Hardy.

"Our Favourite Gordons" Edit

The liner notes of the album contain a list of the band's favourite "Gordons"; people or things named Gordon or who have a connection to the name.

Gordon Who? What?
Gordon Baker Rd. A street that runs through the Greater Toronto Area
Charles Gordon The real name of the Canadian novelist who wrote under the name Ralph Connor and for whom a high school in Scarborough is named
Commissioner Gordon The police commissioner for Gotham City in Batman media
Gordon Cummings Unknown; may refer to a British spree killer who murdered four women in 1942
Gordon Deppe Frontman for the Burlington, Ontario-based band The Spoons
Dexter Gordon Famous American jazz saxophonist
Gordon Dick unknown
Gordon Downie Lead singer and lyricist for legendary Canadian band The Tragically Hip; better known as Gord Downie
Gordon's Fish Sticks A play on Gorton's, a popular brand of frozen seafood
Flash Gordon A comic strip character originating in 1934 and later adapted into several movies
Gale Gordon An American actor best known for originating the role of Flash Gordon (coincidentally) and for playing Lucille Ball's boss Mr. Mooney on The Lucy Show
Gordon Gano Frontman for the American folk-punk band Violent Femmes, a key influence on Barenaked Ladies
The Gay Gordons A popular Scottish dance
Gordon got burnt on a high voltage wire A line from the song "Horses" by Toronto-area band Rheostatics, friends of Barenaked Ladies
Gordon Howe A famous Canadian hockey player whose career lasted from 1946-1980 and many of whose records were later broken by Wayne Gretzky; better known as Gordie Howe
Gordon Johnson Most likely refers to Gordie Johnson, frontman of Canadian band Big Sugar
Gordon Jump An American TV actor best known for playing station manager Big Guy Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati and the Lonely Maytag Repairman in Maytag commercials
Kim Gordon Bassist and singer for the American alternative rock band Sonic Youth
Gordon Korman Bestselling Canadian author of children's and young adult novels, most notably the Macdonald Hall series
Gordon Lewis May refer to Herschell Gordon Lewis, a noted director of horror and exploitation B-movies
G. Gordon Liddy An American lawyer who was a key operative in the Watergate conspiracy during the Richard Nixon administration
Gordon Lightfoot Iconic Canadian folk singer-songwriter
The Lynn River Gordon Likely a reference to the Lynn River in southwestern Ontario
Gordon Martin May refer to a University of British Columbia law student who was rejected from the BC Law Society in 1948 for being a communist
Gordon Martineau A well-known Canadian news anchor
Gordon McRae A goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1970-1978
Hal Miller The second actor to play Gordon on Sesame Street, from 1972-1974
Mrs. Gordon unknown
Officer Gordon unknown
Roscoe Orman The third actor to play Gordon on Sesame Street, from 1974 onward
Gordon Page & Victor Gordon Page Presumably relatives of Steven; Victor Gordon Page may be his father
Gordon Pickering unknown
Gordon Pinsent Prolific Canadian actor
Gordon's Place unknown
Robert Gordon Likely refers to American rockabilly revival singer
Gordon Roberts Likely refers to Gordie Roberts, an American hockey player whose career lasted from 1979 to 1994
Matt Robinson The first actor to play Gordon on Sesame Street, from 1969-1972
Gordon Rudolph unknown
Ruth Gordon American actress best known for her roles in Rosemary's Baby and Harold and Maude
Gordon Sims A character on WKRP in Cincinnati (better known by the on-air name Venus Flytrap), played by Tim Reid
Gordon Sheridon unknown
Gordon Sinclair Noted Canadian journalist and political commentator, best known for his appearances on the panel show Front Page Challenge and for a 1973 radio editorial titled "The Americans"
Gordon Summer Likely a misspelling of Gordon Sumner, the musician better known by the stage name Sting
Gordon Tapp Canadian entertainer and broadcaster best known for his roles on Hee Haw
Gordon V. Thompson Noted Toronto-based music publisher
Veal Gordon bleu A play on veal cordon bleu (French for "blue ribbon"), a Swiss dish consisting of veal wrapped around a filing of ham and cheese, then breaded and fried
Gordon Walker May refer to either a Canadian hockey player whose career lasted from 1983-1991 or a former Ontario politician
Gordon Watson Likely refers to a British antique dealer whose customers included Mick Jagger, Madonna and Freddie Mercury
Gordon Wilson May refer to to a noted Northern Irish peace campaigner during the Troubles
Peter and Gordon British pop duo of the 1960s best known for the song "A World Without Love"
Gordon Cooper Among the first American astronauts, known for piloting the final Mercury mission in 1963

References Edit

  1. Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance by Michael Barclay, Ian A.D. Jack & Jason Schneider; published 2001
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