Home Read Album Of The Week: Strippers Union | The Undertaking Disc 1

Album Of The Week: Strippers Union | The Undertaking Disc 1

The Can-rock superduo return with a strong set of indie-cool pop-rock nuggets.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In 2006, Strippers Union, fronted by Rob Baker (The Tragically Hip) and Craig Northey (Odds), released their debut LP Strippers Union Local 518, and then followed it up with The Deuce a short five years later. Now, nearly a decade later the band have shared their third LP The Undertaking, a double LP recorded at The Bathouse Studio with drummer Pat Steward and bassist Doug Elliott. Disc 1 of the double LP is out now; Disc 2 will arrive March 12.

Why so long a wait between albums? “These last 10 years have had their share of unexpected twists and turns,” says Baker. “Suffice it to say that my life was in upheaval. My lifelong dream, which was embodied by The Hip, had come to a sudden and very final end. It was, oddly, both profoundly sad and fulfilling, and it left a void for me. What was I to do now? With my dream done and my sense of personal identity badly shaken, I began the process of trying to figure out what I might do with the remainder of my life. I descended into my home studio and applied myself to the one thing I can count on to keep the demons at bay, which is songwriting and recording. Apparently there were more demons than I realized, and before long I was overflowing with demos… more than 50. Originally I thought I would include an album’s worth of personal tunes with a book that I’m writing about my misadventures and shared laughs in The Hip … and I may still do that, but it struck me that a lot of these tunes were Strippers Union material.

Photo by David Bastedo.

“I convened with Craig in the spring of 2018 and began playing him demos that I’d accumulated over the past year or two — songs which I felt might be SU contenders. We nailed the lyrics and melodies for five tunes in three days. Over the next 18 months we had three more writing sessions as well as exchanges of ideas through Dropbox. By the start of 2020 we were up to 18 tunes. Initially my plan was to use my bass lines and programmed drums — I’d spent a lot of time getting them right and I was pretty proud of the work — my ego wanted to see ‘all instruments played by Rob Baker’, but my better judgement told me to give Pat Steward and Doug Elliott a crack at those parts. These guys have been playing together so long that they are a well-tuned machine — ruthlessly efficient and tasteful. I headed to North Van with my hard drive in tow and spent three days in Craig’s Doghouse of Thunder Studio with Pat and Doug nailing down the bass and drums on 18 tunes in three days!”

Why a double album … why make an album at all? “Excellent questions,” says Baker. “A double album because I really like this batch of tunes and feel that it is an eclectic set that covers a broad expanse and represents our diverse interests. We didn’t do it for you — we do it to please ourselves. I’ve always operated under the assumption that I am not special or unique — so if it’s something I like, then there are lots of others who will like it as well.

“I’m proud of these songs. I’m proud of the work. When we were young we wanted to conquer, to be respected and adored. Time marches on. These songs reflect who we are now – a little less bravado and a little more restraint, less inclined to thrash and more inclined to find a little truth, a little meaning, and to revel in the little pleasures.”