Waterboys Deluxe

I owned this album on vinyl a gazillion years ago, and repurchased it recently on CD. What a great album. Nostalgia aside, reminds me of the best of Arcade Fire: talented multi-instrumentalists jamming to crescendos of passionate Celtic-inspired indie-rock with interesting lyrics. Actually, I like this album better than anything I’ve heard by the Arcade Fire1, probably because I heard the Waterboys first. Helps if you like Irish/Celtic music, or Van Morrison even, but that is not required for full enjoyment.

Fisherman’s Blues


The Waterboys were formed in London in 1981 and led by the singer/songwriter Mike Scott, the group’s only constant member – with the supporting musicians ever changing around him. 1988’s Fisherman’s Blues is the Waterboys’s 4th album for which the band were joined by traditional Irish players like fiddler Steve Wickham, drummer Dave Ruffy, keyboardist Guy Chambers and bassist Marco Weissman, resulting in a stripped-down, folky sound which was a marked step away from the “big music” he founded and pursued in previous albums. It has been called their ‘warmest and most rewarding record’. Complete with a bonus disc of previously unreleased tracks and packaged in a digipack with pvc slipcase – it follows on from the successful re-issues of the first 3 Waterboys’s albums ‘The Waterboys‘, ‘A Pagan Place‘ and ‘This Is The Sea2


Mike Scott had been pursuing his grandiose “big music” since he founded the Waterboys, so it came as a shock when he scaled back the group’s sound for the Irish and English folk of Fisherman’s Blues. Although the arena-rock influences have been toned down, Scott’s vision is no less sweeping or romantic, making even the simplest songs on Fisherman’s Blues feel like epics. Nevertheless, the album is the Waterboys’ warmest and most rewarding record, boasting a handful of fine songs (“And a Bang on the Ear,” the ominous “We Will Not Be Lovers,” “Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?,” and the title track), as well as a surprisingly successful cover of Van Morrison’s breathtaking “Sweet Thing.” Fisherman’s Blues was reissued in 2006 with a bonus disc containing fourteen outtakes, alternate versions and late-night studio jams.

You can hear a free track streamed at LastFM

I don’t remember where I read about the re-issue3, but I’m pleased to have rediscovered an old favorite. Check it out.

  1. and I may be crazy for making the comparison, but hey, these are my ears! []
  2. these are all worth owning too, but Fisherman’s Blues is the best place to start, imho []
  3. if I don’t blog something, fwoosh, there it goes from the rusty sieve of my memory []

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