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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Revisiting: This Is The Sea - The Waterboys (September 1985)

This Is The Sea - The Waterboys
 Produced by Mike Scott, John Brand, Mick Glossop, and Karl Wallinger
Released 16th September 1985
UK Chart #37 

Listen to The Album Here:


    Mike Scott – vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, piano, percussion, synthesiser, drum machine programming, bells and effects
    Anthony Thistlethwaite – saxophone, double bass, bass guitar, mandolin
    Karl Wallinger – bass synth, piano, organ, keyboard programming, synthesiser, celeste, percussion and backing vocals

    Steve Wickham – violin
    Marek Lipski – violin
    Roddy Lorimer – trumpet, background vocals
    Stewart Bartlett - French horn
    Kevin Wilkinson – bass guitar, drums
    Martin Swain – bass guitar
    Chris Whitten – drums, cymbals
    Pete Thomas – snare drum
    Martin Ditcham – percussion
    Max Edie – background vocals
    Lu Edmonds – Bass
    Matthew Seligman – Bass

Singles on This Is The Sea
Released as 7" and 12"
12" Track Listing:

14th October 1985
UK Chart #26
US Chart N/A

A. Don't Bang The Drum*
B. The Ways of Men (Previously Unreleased)**
(German Release Only)

*The Single version was edited to 4 minutes and 57 seconds. As I couldn't find that version on You Tube I went with the far superior album version.
 ** B-side produced for BBC Radio 1 Peter Powell Show.


This Is The Sea was the third Studio Album from The Waterboys and their first Top 40 album (though it only peaked at #37!). Whilst their Self-Titled Debut (1983) and A Pagan Place (1984) were good it was this third outing that Mike Scott penned some of his finest songs (Karl Wallinger co-wrote Don't Bang The Drum and Anthony Thistlethwaite co-wrote Medicine Bow).

This Is The Sea was the final album that Karl Wallinger contributed to as a Waterboy before he upped sticks to form his band World Party and it was the first to feature the mind blowing violin playing of Steve Wickham (he teamed up with the band after Scott had heard a Demo Tape of SinΓ©ad O'Connor on which he had played. After the release of the Album Wallinger left and Wickham joined full time).

There's always a tendency to want to try and pigeonhole an album or an artist and whilst there are elements of Celtic, Folk-Rock etc on This Is The Sea, there is also a sense that it transcends both of those Genres or Categories. To put it plainly it is just a mighty fine slice of music that is poetic and passionate and has some spritual depth to it that was rarely present on anything else at the time.

From start to finish it is pretty much a perfect album (my only gripe being after I heard the full version of Spirit I wondered why on earth they didn't include it rather than the very brief snippet on the A-Side!). Played live it was out of this world as well (it's not the best quality footage but have a look at this 28 minutes from Glastonbury 1986).

This Is The Sea is what I call a "Must Album" - Must Have, Must Hear, Must Play Lots!

People always moan about the 1980's regarding the music that was coming out and in 1985 when This Is The Sea was released there were actually loads of other quality albums around or about to be released. Some of the things I was listening to at the time (and it's not an exhaustive list by any means) were: Strength - The Alarm, Once Upon A Time - Simple Minds, Head On The Door - The Cure, Mad Not Mad - Madness, Steve McQueen - Prefab Sprout, Psychocandy - The Jesus and Mary Chain, First and Last and Always - The Sisters of Mercy, Songs From The Big Chair - Tears For Fears, Slave To The Rhythm - Grace Jones, Meat is Murder - The Smiths, Suzanne Vega - Suzanne Vega, Love - The Cult, Cupid and Psyche 85 - Scritti Politti, A Secret Wish - Propaganda, New Day Rising - HΓΌsker DΓΌ, and Low Life - New Order - 1985 didn't seem to bad a year when you think of some of those albums (even back then I was very oepn to listen to a lot of different sounds)! Top of the pile for me along with Strength - The Alarm was clearly This Is The Sea.
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