1983, Music

The Waterboys (1983)

Note: The version I listened to on Google Play was the remaster which, as others have noted, adds bonus tracks, not on the end, like a normal new edition, but in the middle of the album, so I have heard a slightly different version of this record than that which was released in 1983.

This is my first Waterboys record and the “Van Morrison meets U2” comparison feels apt at times (except Mike Scott is Scottish) but at other times feels way off.

Scott seems to be very much a songwriter in the tradition of people like Morrison, who write contemporary songs that fuse American roots music with modern music and touches of traditional folk music. But this is very much an ’80s rock album.

They do occasionally sound a little too much like a softer, folkier U2 without The Edge but mostly they don’t, mostly (at least on this record) they’re not quite anthemic enough to be U2. That, to me is a good thing.

Rather, this feels a lot closer to early American alternative, at least spiritually, if not in actual sound. In fact, I think you could make an argument that this album is part of the birth of British alternative rock, given how much it borrows from American roots music, and how far removed from other British post punk it sound.

But it’s not quite a classic. I’m not sure Scott’s songs are uniformly strong enough. And the aesthetic, though appealing, has dated a little (as has the production, which doesn’t sound all that great, particularly how the keyboards were recorded).

But it does make me think about listening to more of their music, which is good.


All songs written by Mike Scott, unless otherwise noted.

  1. “December”
  2. “A Girl Called Johnny”
  3. “The Three Day Man”
  4. “Gala”
  5. “I Will Not Follow”
  6. “It Should Have Been You”
  7. “The Girl in the Swing”
  8. “Savage Earth Heart”
  • Mike Scott – vocals, piano, guitar, 12-string “bellzouki” guitar, bass guitar, mandolin
  • Anthony Thistlethwaite – saxophone, bass, mandolin, drums
  • Kevin Wilkinson – drums
  • Delahaye (alias of Mike Scott) – organ
  • Nick Linden – bass guitar, background vocals
  • Norman Rodger – bass guitar
  • Ray Massey – drums
  • Stephen W Tayler – bass, keyboards

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