On this, their debut recording for a major label, Canada's quirkiest musical troupe introduced the world to their unique blend of scathing humor, skillful musicianship, and flat-out fun. Packed with songs that have become ... more »anthems to their adoring fans, Gordon is practically a collection of Barenaked Ladies' greatest hits. This CD features "Brian Wilson," an homage to the biggest Beach Boy and an exploration of the relationship between art and neurosis; "Be My Yoko Ono," a musician's entreaty to his winsome muse; "Box Set," a relentless indictment of one-hit wonders and washed-up rockers; and the staple sing-along "If I Had $1,000,000," which you can walk around humming all day without getting bored. Literally every song on this disc features the intelligent lyrics, tight arrangements, and astonishing vocalizations that BNL have made their stock-in-trade. It's a winner all the way around. --L.A. Smith« less
On this, their debut recording for a major label, Canada's quirkiest musical troupe introduced the world to their unique blend of scathing humor, skillful musicianship, and flat-out fun. Packed with songs that have become anthems to their adoring fans, Gordon is practically a collection of Barenaked Ladies' greatest hits. This CD features "Brian Wilson," an homage to the biggest Beach Boy and an exploration of the relationship between art and neurosis; "Be My Yoko Ono," a musician's entreaty to his winsome muse; "Box Set," a relentless indictment of one-hit wonders and washed-up rockers; and the staple sing-along "If I Had $1,000,000," which you can walk around humming all day without getting bored. Literally every song on this disc features the intelligent lyrics, tight arrangements, and astonishing vocalizations that BNL have made their stock-in-trade. It's a winner all the way around. --L.A. Smith
Joanne K. (JerseyGirl-exit30) from SOMERS POINT, NJ Reviewed on 8/15/2006...
Especially love "Grade 9" and "If I Had $1,000,000"
PLAY IT ONCE, YOU'LL LOVE IT!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Listen...put down the STUNT CD(which is BNL's 5th CD, by the way) and pick up GORDON. This first album is one of the music industry's best kept secrets. It is an infectious album with great lyrics, solid music, and loads of fun. It shows that BNL could play any style of music they want...After the first 5 songs, you'll think you're listening to a greatest hits album. From the classic "Brian Wilson" to the jazzy" Hello City" to the peppy, funny "Grade 9" and "King Of Bedside Manner"...you will not be disappointed! And listen to their lyrics, you'll laugh, you'll love it. Other highlights include the classic "Enid", the very funny "Be My Yoko Ono," and ofcourse the signature sing-a-long "If I Had A Million Dollars." Yes, the new CD "Stunt" is excellent, but there are 4 other great Cd's out there....including one of today's best live albums..."Rock Spectacle." This is not a one hit wonder band...they are finally getting the attention they deserve. Get Gordon...it will be one of your favorites. In a time when artists sell 2 million copies because of one song on an otherwise awful record, Barenaked Ladies is a refreshing bright spot."
One of my 100 favourite CDs ever
Greg Brady | Capital City | 03/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I shy away from making pronouncements about "best ever" until I've had at least 5 years to live with a CD. Often a disc you thought brilliant in 1995, when you were looking for "something new" to listen to, seems just average when you look at it in the cold grey light of 2005. It's now 13 years later and I still find myself putting this disc in the player and singing along almost the whole way through.
The Canadian band, for those not initiated, plainly have a love for melody, often trade in strong harmonies, adore pop culture, and believe that a good sense of humour is a good thing, avoiding the pretentions of "serious" musicians. That's not to say they don't have anything to "say"....just that it's usually buried under the surface and you have to find it for yourself.
Their fascination with pop culture shows itself two ways...in frequent medleys of covers of current pop hits they're fond of throwing into concert sets (anything from Prince's "When Doves Cry" to Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious") and tossing in riffs and references. Here they namecheck Duran Duran, Star Trek, the Our Gang series, Michael Landon TV shows, Yoko Ono, the Elephant Man, Rush, Styx...and that's just a few of them.
Singling out the "best" songs is difficult, but the songwriter's lament in "Brian Wilson", geekdom ode "Grade 9", whimsical "If I Had $1,000,000" and obsessive love song "Be MY Yoko Ono" are criminally catchy.
Besides those, others that rate nearly as high include "Box Set" (which alternates between pity for the singer's fans buying it "Maybe it's a lack of inspiration that makes me stoop" and himself because he's not allowed to evolve by fans who want the 'hits' ad infinitum "Every time I try to do something new, all they want is 1973"), the juxtaposition of tender and creepy in "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" (it leaves you wondering if the song's main character is trying to renew a battered relationship..or if he's singing it to a lover he's killed in an effort to keep her with him forever), the on-again off-again lovers of "The Flag" and the boyband salute in "New Kid (On the Block)".
Perhaps the biggest tribute to the staying power of this disc is it that it's multilayered. I'm still hearing musical parts and countermelodies afresh...still pondering turns of phrase for new nuggets.
There are a few misses that keeps it out of the 5 star range. The sound effects laden "King of Bedside Manor" crosses the line from whimsy into inanity for me, "I Love You" is too slight to really connect and "Crazy" is why there's a 'skip button'. But out of 15 songs, 12 are good to great and that's rare. And the best ones are so superb that I keep coming back.
4 1/2 stars "
Their best studio release, still.
Greg Brady | 12/19/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Barenaked Ladies' first is still probably the best of their four studio releases. The album fluctuates from brooding and dark (Wrap Your Arms Around Me) to upbeat and playfully ridiculous (Be My Yoko Ono) and everything in between, and almost all of it works. The album is filled with strong songs, including such BNL standards as Brian Wilson (still their best song, in my opinion), Hello City, If I Had a Million Dollars, and What a Good Boy, but some of the real gems are the ones you maybe haven't heard before. The aforementioned Wrap Your Arms Around Me is quietly powerful, and Grade Nine and The King of Bedside Manor have a manic energy that is hard to resist, as does the clever Box Set, which uses a boxed set as a metaphor to look at the career of a fading rock & roll sellout. Gordon may not hook you at first, but a few listens and you won't be able to get it out of your CD player. A wise investment for any music fan."
Roots and derivations
Tony the Tiger | Sequim, WA | 05/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This very early Barenaked Ladies disc shows their background and their sourcing of ideas. Some of the songs are very well produced, others are not. What struck me first -- and other reviews haven't really addressed -- is the frequency with which the songs on this album are derived from particular other songs or song styles.
Sometimes these relationships are obvious -- for example, the vocal harmonies in "Brian Wilson" are Beach Boys style harmonies but without the high falsetto. (The harmony on "Be My Yoko Ono' on the other hand reminds me more of the Four Freshmen.) 'Box Set' musically relates to bossa nova, but even more directly to Barry Manilow's Copacabana. The take-off is well done enough so it's not immediately audible, but if you listen to these two songs one after the other you can almost see the Barenakeds yukking it up in the background.
The most direct quotation, though, is the even less likely "I Love You" which is scored like, performed like, and features harmonies similar to several Manhattan Transfer songs. It even includes an excellent take off on Cheryl Bentyne in the verse that goes "You've given me a start, I ain't no doctor ..." that's sung really quickly, (just as C.B. often does).
For those who only know the Barenakeds from their recent radio outings, "Everything to Everyone" is probably a better choice --it has better production values and somewhat better songwriting, plus it's more consistently like itself -- there's fewer musical references to other things.
If you want to hear the Barenakeds from the early days, when they listened to lots of different music, and did takeoffs of it, and could have gone on to be what they are today -- or could have turned out to be another Weird Al Yankovic -- type band -- this record's really fine."
The best band by a huge mile & great CD too
Damon G. Bransom | Sydney | 11/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first found out about the Ladies from the QuickTime samples of an old Mac OS 8 Install CD (There Apple Masters btw) & have been hooked ever since.
I have to say this is my favourite out of all there CD, I'm not saying it's there best or they have not done better or evolved musically since this CD as I believe they have. It's just one of my all time favourites.
The thing I love about the Ladies is there sense of fun, whimsy, heart, soul & mateship (listen to the commentaries on there DVD's there so funny!). Also the fact that musically there brilliant & Stephen Page has a voice that an angle would be envious of. Check out there live CD's cause when Steve sings 'Break Your Heart' live... well you know the reason I'm a huge fan & you should be too.
Just get this CD & the rest of them too & the DVD's, Inflatable dolls, T-Shirts, action figures, etc... I am sure the Ladies all need new kitchens or help putting there kids through school or retire to houses in the country. Also you will be doing yourself a huge musical favour too!
There music won't cure the common cold but my god it will make you happy your alive!"