The Tragically Hip Dropping Surprise 'Saskadelphia' Album

Gord Downie
Frans Schellekens/Redferns

Gord Downie performs with the Tragically Hip at the Paradiso on Nov. 29, 1994 in Amsterdam.

The new album features six previously unreleased songs written in 1990.

The Tragically Hip surprised fans on Thursday (May 20) with the announcement of a surprise new album, Saskadelphia, which will feature six previously unreleased songs. The collection, due out on Friday (May 21) is made up of tracks written in 1990, five of which were laid down during the Road Apples sessions in New Orleans, according to a press release.

The sixth one is a live version of "Montreal" recorded at The Molson Centre in Montreal on Dec. 7, 2000; it was also written around the same time, but the band has yet to find the original recording. "With no shortage of material and higher ups at the American record label resisting the band’s call to release a double album, countless tracks were left behind on the studio floor," reads a statement about the collection. "And so one album, Road Apples, heads out into the world, a rung on The Tragically Hip’s climb to legend status, while the rest of the tracks are tucked into boxes and moved out of sight."

1991's Road Apples was the second studio album from the Canadian rock band fronted by beloved late singer Gord Downie, who died in Oct. 2017 at age 53 from brain cancer; the band retired the name a year later.

"Welcome to Saskadelphia: the record that stayed in the wings as Road Apples hit the stage," the release continues. "The title, a term coined by the band in a nod to the extensive touring they were doing in the early 1990s, was the original working title for Road Apples before it was rejected by those same label execs as being 'too Canadian.'"

“I went ‘Wow’ when I heard ‘Ouch’ after all this time,” said guitarist Rob Baker. “We were a pretty good little band," with drummer Johnny Fay explaining why the band felt they needed to share the three decade-old recordings with fans. “We didn't know what was there, so this meant baking them and listening to them as they were being transferred," Fay said. "Hearing them for the first time in 30 years was crazy.”

The tracks include: "Ouch," "Not Necessary," "Montreal," "Crack My Spine Like a Whip," "Just As Well" and "Reformed Baptist Blues." The band will receive the 2021 Humanitarian Award Presented by Music Canada at the 50th annual Juno Awards on June 6 in Toronto.