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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Revisiting Fisherman's Blues - The Waterboys (October 1988)

Fisherman's Blues - The Waterboys
Produced by Mike Scott, Bob Johnston, and John Dunford
Released October 1988
UK Chart #13
US Chart #76

Side 1

Side 2

Listen To The Album Here:


The cover displays a number of the contributors. From left to right, back to front, are: Jake Kennedy (crew), Colin Blakey, Pat McCarthy (recording engineer), Jimmy Hickey (crew), John Dunford (co-producer), Trevor Hutchinson, Fran Breen, Anthony Thistlethwaite, Mike Scott, and Steve Wickham.
On The Record
    Mike Scott — vocals, guitar, piano, hammond organ, drums, bouzouki
    Anthony Thistlethwaite — saxophone, mandolin, harmonica, Hammond organ
    Steve Wickham — violin
    Trevor Hutchinson — bass guitar, double bass
    Roddy Lorimer — trumpet
    Kevin Wilkinson — drums
    Peter McKinney — drums
    Dave Ruffy — drums
    Colin Blakey — piano, flute, border horn
    Fran Breen — drums
    Vinnie Kilduff — guitar
    Noel Bridgeman — tambourine, congas
    Jay Dee Daugherty — drums
    MΓ‘irtΓ­n O'Connor — accordion
    Alec Finn — bouzouki
    Charlie Lennon — violin
    Brendan O'Regan — bouzouki
    TomΓ‘s Mac Eoin — vocals
    Paraig Stevens — bells
    Jenny Haan — vocals
    Ruth Nolan — vocals
    Rachel Nolan — vocals
    The Abergavenny Male Voice Choir — vocals
    Tomas McKeowen - spoken voice

The Album was issued on Vinyl, CD and Cassette.
There have also been Vinyl Reissues in both 2000 (as a Limited Edition in Clear Vinyl) and 2015.
In 2006 there was a Remastered CD version of the album released that contained a Bonus Disc (this was reissued again in August 2017 as a Collectors Edition).

In 2013 a 25th Anniversary version of the album was released as  Fisherman's Box in a Deluxe Version (6CDs) and a Super Deluxe Version (7CD's and Fisherman's Blues Vinyl).

Singles On Fisherman's Blues
Released on 7", 12" and as a CD Single

B-Side: Lost Highway
Released 1988 (7" was released in January of 1989)*
UK Chart #32

*was also reissued in May 1991 (reaching #75 on the UK Chart) and the 12" and CD Single included a BBC recorded Live version of Medicine Bow.

Released on 7", 12", Mini CD Single and Cassette

Released June 1989
UK Chart #51


Following on from the minimal success that came their way via This Is The Sea the follow-up couldn't have been more different! Blending the sounds of Traditional Irish and Scottish music with touches of Rock and Roll and Country music was seen by some to be a huge departure but it actually worked out pretty good. It provided The Waterboys with their biggest hit album in the UK and was also their first to enter the American Billboard Chart.

Critics were divided on it some declaring it not to be too brilliant others shouting from the rooftops that it was the best album they had made. Two years in the making and you never really grasped how much went into it until you see the Fisherman's Box (mentioned above) that was released in 2013 - over 100 songs were recorded (85 of which were unreleased)! A quick note on this: to me this is exactly how you put together a Box Set. Too many record labels usually just remaster the album, add a few B-Sides and maybe throw in a live recording from somewhere or other and presume that is enough to make some sales. The Fisherman's Box though breaks that mould by taking us on a chronological journey starting in Dublin January 1986 and ending up (via California in December 1986) at the studios in Dublin and Galway between 30th March - 2nd June 1988.

It's an ambitious album that saw the use of many different musicians over the two year period. Back in 1986 my friend Dave Ruffy was playing drums for them and the band were featured on the 100th Episode of The Tube opening with Fisherman's Blues.

One of the great things about the Fisherman's Blues album was their cover of Van Morrison's Sweet Thing (originaly released on 1968's Astral Weeks). This, and their rendition of Morrison's And The Healing Has Begun (that they played live linking with The Thrill Is Gone) sent me back to listening to the music of Van the Man. I always like albums or cover versions that do that because you end up discovering a lot more gems that you were unaware of before.

It's probably my second favourite album from Mike Scott and The Waterboys (it would take something very mind-blowing to unseat This Is The Sea!).

Apologies for not spending more time on the album as I feel quite limited when it comes to the Traditional Irish and Scottish music scenes that I honestly cannot speak of what I know so little of. But regardless of that, it's not my words that really matter because it's the music that should really do the talking and if it you listen to the album today I'm sure you'll hear all you need to satisfy your musical thirst.
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