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The Best of the Waterboys

The Waterboys

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Album Review

What separates The Waterboys' music from other bands of the same Celtic, folk-rock sound is the intricacies that lead singer Mike Scott puts into his work. His lyrics are forever tangled up in metaphors and philosophy, brightened by accompanying mandolins, saxophones, and even trumpets. Rich in its boatyard appeal and seaside caricature, The Best of the Waterboys harbors their most renowned pieces from 1981 straight through to 1990, bringing to light their dockside effervescence with songs like "Fisherman's Blues" and "Strange Boat." Superb at conveying atmosphere with their instruments, the Waterboys added depth and uniqueness to a decade that was being saturated with arena rock, synth pop, and heavy metal. The sweetness of tunes like "A Girl Called Johnny" and "Spirit" are blanketed with the comfort of Anthony Thistlethwaite's sax and upright bass strumming, and "A Bang on the Ear" loses itself in its cozy Englishness. The prettiest of all the songs is by far "The Whole of the Moon" from This Is the Sea, which has Scott singing his most passionate assortment of romantic lyrics to the relaxed pace of Karl Wallinger's synthesizer. The beauty of their music unfolds throughout their vivid collaboration of voice and instrument, heightened in tracks such as "A Man Is in Love" and "All the Things She Gave Me." Here, the small village idioms wrap themselves around the music to produce a certain innocence that forever binds itself to Scott's persona. It is this collaboration of esoteric lyricism and jovial harmonies that cast wonderment throughout each separate piece. This compilation is an excellent discovery point for anyone interested in the gorgeous complexity of the Waterboys' music. [This album was reissued in 2003 as Essential].

Biography

Formed: 1981 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Led by the literate singer/songwriter Mike Scott, the group's sole constant member, the mercurial Waterboys formed in London in 1981. Born December 14, 1958, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Scott first became involved in music as the creator of the fanzine Jungleland and later played in a series of local punk outfits. After college, where he studied English and philosophy, Scott and his band, Another Pretty Face, moved to London; following the group's breakup, he formed...
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The Best of the Waterboys, The Waterboys
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