Phantom Power 25th anniversary box set features previously unreleased Hip tunes and alternate tracks

By Steve Newton

I always thought Phantom Power was one of the Tragically Hip‘s best albums. Not quite as amazing as Fully Completely or Day for Night or Up to Here or Road Apples, but pretty damn close, overall.

In my original 1998 review of the album, I pointed out that “Vapour Trails” was the standout track among the dozen selections:

When the Kingston quintet tones things down just a notch, as on “Vapour Trails”…the subtle buildup of raggedy guitars leads to an exhilarating clamour that would do Neil Young & Crazy Horse proud. The sheer dynamics of the tune put it on a rush-inducing par with the group’s most memorable songs, “Nautical Disaster” and “50 Mission Cap”.

Later on in the review I mentioned the attractiveness of the singles “Bobcaygeon” and “Poets”.

When the band takes a mellower tack, as on the whimsical “Bobcaygeon”, it recalls the laid-back tone of the vibe-laced “Flamenco”, a noteworthy number from 1996’s Trouble at the Henhouse that revealed the Hip in a delicate new light. As for Phantom Power’s heavily aired first single, “Poets”, it took a few listens, but eventually its slinky guitar interplay, stealthy bass throb, trash-can drumming, and decidedly weird lyrics won me over.

The good news is, if you were a Phantom Power fan like me a quarter-century ago, there’s a 5-LP vinyl 25th anniversary box set coming out on November 3 that boasts a number of goodies, including five previously unreleased tracks from the original recording sessions–“Bumblebee”, “Insomniacs”, “Songwriters Cabal”, “Vegas Strip”, and “Mystery”–as well as an LP of seven alternate tracks curated by the band.

The package also includes a live 1998 show from Pittsburgh, a 64-page book, a replica publicity photo, and other stuff.

For the nerds out there, the Phantom Power 25th anniversary is also available on compact disc.

Man, do I miss Gord Downie. At least I still have that book I wrote about him.

Vinyl box set track list:

LP

Side A

  1. Poets
  2. Something On
  3. Save The Planet
  4. Bobcaygeon

Side B

  1. Thompson Girl
  2. Membership
  3. Fireworks
  4. Vapour Trails

Side C

  1. The Rules
  2. Chagrin Falls
  3. Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man
  4. Emperor Penguin

Side D – Bonus Tracks

  1. Bumblebee
  2. Insomniacs
  3. Songwriters Cabal
  4. Vegas Strip
  5. Mystery

 

Recorded live October 2, 1998 at the Metropol, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Side A

  1. Save The Planet
  2. Twist My Arm
  3. Poets
  4. Gift Shop

Side B

  1. Bobcaygeon
  2. Nautical Disaster
  3. Ahead By A Century
  4. The Luxury

Side C

  1. Fireworks
  2. Springtime In Vienna
  3. Chagrin Falls
  4. New Orleans Is Sinking

Side D

  1. Grace, Too
  2. Escape Is At Hand for the Travellin’ Man
  3. At the Hundredth Meridian

 

Alternates

Side A

  1. Super Farmer Nano Baby
  2. Something On
  3. Chagrin Falls
  4. Fireworks

Side B

  1. Thompson Girl
  2. Escape Is At Hand For The Travelin’ Man
  3. Bobcaygeon

 

Blu-Ray Atmos

  1. Poets
  2. Something On
  3. Save The Planet
  4. Bobcaygeon

Side B

  1. Thompson Girl
  2. Membership
  3. Fireworks
  4. Vapour Trails

Side C

  1. The Rules
  2. Chagrin Falls
  3. Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man
  4. Emperor Penguin

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