Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Waterboys The Secret Life Of The Waterboys 81-85

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The Secret Life of The Waterboys is a collection of previously unreleased studio recordings, radio sessions, live tracks and lost "B-sides" from the years 1981-1985. A 1985 BBC radio version of "Medicine Bow" opens proceedings with an extra verse and extended instrumental section to differentiate it from the familiar This is the Sea album recording. "That Was the River" is a wildly different, fast version of that album's title track, with Television's Tom Verlaine (no less) supplying some typically inventive, jagged lead guitar. "A Pagan Place" is a remix of the original master tape and consequently doesn't provide any real surprises. "Billy Sparks" is described by Scott as a raggle-taggle folk rock romp from the Pagan Place sessions presaging the Fisherman's Blues sound by about five years. While there's some validity in that claim (he wrote it after all, so should know what he's talking about!), the song is a slighter thing than any of the tracks on Fisherman's Blues. Rhythmically it's got more in common with the early '80s Ska revival than Irish or British folk music, and the tune is in the same vein as Katrina and the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine." It's equally toe-tapping however, and is the kind of thing that you find yourself humming round the house in spite of yourself. "Savage Earth Heart" has, as Scott notes, been played in hundreds of different versions. This one was recorded on The Waterboys ' first U.S. tour (in 1984) and features some stupendous drumming from Chris Whitten. The following version of "Don't Bang the Drum" is definitely something special. Here's the booklet notes: "This rearrangement was recorded live in one take for a radio session at the BBC's Golders Green studio, a converted and very atmospheric old theatre. Roddy Lorimer (trumpet) and Anthony Thistlethwaite (saxophone) played in two theatre boxes, high above Mike Scott (piano, vocals) and Steve Wickham (violin.) The lights were turned way down low and this is what happened." It's every bit as magical as you might hope. "The Ways of Men" is a fine big music Waterboys song, written too late for A Pagan Place and just too early for This Is the Sea. Thistlethwaite blows up the proverbial storm through this one. "Rags" (Second Amendment) is an earlier version with a different, bleaker lyric. "The Earth Only Endures" is a traditional Sioux lyric set to music and sung by Scott, to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar and a thunderstorm. "Somebody Might Wave Back" is the original, solo demo of the song, recorded by Scott with his acoustic guitar in 1982. Interestingly (for me) this was the first Waterboys song that I heard performed by a busker (who I remember only as Peter). He'd learnt the song from the full band, album version, but unknowingly nailed the song's original form right on the head! "Going to Paris" is the oldest song on this collection, and it shows. Its interest lies mainly in being an example of the writer's early efforts, in the same way as some of The Beatles Anthology 1. "The Three Day Man" is a storming rocker from another BBC session featuring guest drummer Preston Hayman, who was working with Kate Bush at the time. "Bury My Heart" was written in an all night burst after reading Dee Brown's book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee in late 1981. Having completed the song, Scott recorded the whole thing himself (vocals, guitars, piano, and drums), then inexplicably didn't include it on the first Waterboys album. "Out of Control" is an absolute treasure. The track is credited to Another Pretty Face, Scott's main band before using the name The Waterboys . This recording was played on a BBC radio show by John Peel (legendary and much-loved champion of obscure music and undiscovered talent). Nigel Grainge (of Ensign records) heard this on his car radio and vowed to sign the unknown musicians responsible. Three months later he did. The closing song, "Love That Kills," was recorded in 1983 under the influence of the writings of W.B. Yeats and Dion Fortune. The vocal performance finds Scott occasionally over-reaching himself (this was recorded during a mammoth session), but is nonetheless a lost Waterboys classic, and provides an insight into just where Scott's muse was already leading him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Terrific comp ... thanks for sharing

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