Monday, October 22, 2018


The debut album from Sam Roberts, a band, don't forget, named after the singer-songwriter, confusing I know. They eventually changed it to Sam Roberts Band to make things easier. That didn't stop the excitement 15 years ago, when this album went double-platinum and won three Junos, Album, Artist and Rock Album of the Year. To me it always feels like the last of the great Canadian guitar albums, or at least the end of an era.

Maybe it's that turn-of-the-century vibe, with hip-hop, alternative, electro, Idol winners, pop disguised as country, everything else flourishing from that point on, that We Were Born In A Flame feels rather forgotten in the time since. Perhaps this deluxe will remind a few folks of its importance. It is a heck of an album, loaded with recent hits from the band (Brother Down, Don't Walk Away Eileen), new ones (Where Have All The Good People Gone?, Hard Road) and no shortage of strong album tracks.

Roberts had first broken through the year before with The Inhuman Condition EP, which had shockingly managed to go gold and made national stars of the group. It was essentially a set of demos, so good they just got rush-released. Entering the studio with producer Brenndan McGuire (Sloan, By Divine Right), there were no shortage of other grand ones, including Taj Mahal and Every Part Of Me, showing a more contemplative side to the rockers. The group could also work a groove into a great track, The Canadian Dream not much more than four lines, but strong ones: "S.O.C.I.A.L.I.S.M. is here to stay," a track that deserves to be blasted across the border as part of the trade wars. The only minor criticism I have of the original album is the length. It's nearly an hour and 15 tracks, which feels about two too long, but of course length was still an issue in those CD days.

This reissue features a second disc (or third on LP), made up of seven cut. There are more demos from that initial bunch, and three extra tracks left over from the album sessions. Compared to the length of the alum, that feels a little slight, and I suggest it might have been more interesting to include The Inhuman Condition EP in full, plus all the demos in one place, for comparison's sake. Then again, it would really just show how ready the group was. It's certainly one of the best Canadian album debuts ever.

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