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Gordon: 20 year anniversary!

It’s a special Barenaked anniversary, as BNL’s debut album Gordon is 20 years old today!

At the risk of making many of our readers – and the band themselves – feeling rather ancient, today marks 20 years since BNL’s classic full-length debut was released.

Gordon’s (scary) original cover

On the 28th July 1992, BNL and Sire Records introduced the world to Gordonand the public response was incredible. Gordon sold 80,000 copies in its first 24 hours on sale (it has since reached diamond status in Canada – selling over 1 million copies). Gordon topped the Canadian charts for a staggering 8 consecutive weeks and spawned hit singles such as “Be My Yoko Ono”, “Enid” and “Brian Wilson”, as well as BNL concert staple and Canadian anthem “If I Had a Million Dollars”.It’s amazing to think that such an iconic album is now 20 years old, and BNL are still going strong. Tracks from Gordon still find their way into rotation in BNL sets and have become real fan favourites, if relatively rare treats. Over the years, the band have adapted and experimented with Gordon‘s tracks: from incorporating “Moondance” into “Bedside Manor”; to dressing up as clowns for a performance of “Box Set”; to inviting British comedians to sing “Be My Yoko Ono”; Gordon‘s tunes maintain a sense of childlike fun and energy that remain an integral part of BNL’s unique sound.Critics also received the album warmly; John Pareles of the New York Times wrote:
“It’s not easy to be hyperactive, brooding, and whimsical all at once, but the Barenaked Ladies do just that”.

Likewise, preceding Gordon‘s recording sessions, producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda revealed an admiration not only for the band’s fun nature, but also for the often under-appreciated darker, more serious side:

“Many of the songs I had already heard on the radio. But it was “The Flag” that made me realise they had this great potential. There was definitely some wisdom in their young years. Like the best Shakespeare, they liked to surf that line between comedy and tragedy. I realised that we could maybe make a really great record”.

MPW worked very closely with the band during these recording sessions, even contributing keyboards, sound effects, tambourine, vocals and shakers himself – and it was the band’s dedication and unanimous commitment to making a great record that impressed him most:

“The sessions were really focused – very long ten to twelve hour days with very little band conflict. No fights at all. I’ve worked on other albums where emotions have run high, buy they had really worked out their musical ideas. They had a real clarity about what they wanted it to be so they seemed to feel very inspired”.

(MPW quotes taken from Paul Myers’ brilliant biography on the band, well worth a purchase, available here).

Gordon cartoon

Gordon also marked the beginning of a Barenaked tradition: recording a song nude. After some difficulty recording “The King of Bedside Manor”, it was suggested that the band members strip off and record the song completely naked. Michael Phillip Wojewoda (Gordon‘s producer and to this date a frequent collaborator with the band) and engineer Jean Diamont were also required to remove their clothes, with Wojewoda commenting: “I think the recording has this totally over-the-top nervous energy as a result of being naked”. BNL have since gone on to record a song from each album in the buff; a tradition which ended after 2003’s Everything to Everyone, as the band no longer considered seeing each other’s bare flesh as the amusing sight-gag it once was…

20 years on, we at BNLUK are very glad that the band continues to make great music, and look forward to the new releases and exciting projects that will soon be coming our way. But every once in a while, it’s nice to indulge in some nostalgia (as Mark did so brilliantly for a recent guest blog); and Gordon will certainly bring back a lot of great memories for BNL fans.

For more nostalgic fun, check out the following pages for videos from the Gordon era:

What is your favourite track from Gordon? Do one of the singles get your vote? Or perhaps a forgotten gem is your favourite? Vote away!

What is your favourite track from Gordon?

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Stay tuned to BNLUK’s Facebook and Twitter as we will be posting some cool stuff from the Gordon era for you to enjoy over the weekend!

Leave your comments about Gordon below! Does the album hold special memories for you? Were you one of the 80,000 who rushed out and bought it on the first day of release? Let us know!

 

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