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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving on with style
This is a moving, beautifully crafted album, taking the Waterboys onto a new level. The title track, 'e.b.o.l', 'peace of iona', 'the christ in you', are just four of the outstanding songs which mix fine melodies, interesting structures and a non-preachy message. I was disappointed with the last album 'A Rock in the Weary Land' which re-trod old ground, and added little...
Published on 22 Oct 2003

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hints of Big Music, bit disappointing...
Since the Waterboys re-re-formed in the last few years, I welcome each record with more than quite anticipation. Long gone the days when the Big Music was in vogue, now we float from Walls of Sound (Weary Land) and Gospel revue (Too Close to Heaven) into this new Buddhist mantra, which I can cope with, but I do prefer the combination of complete lyrics and stories...
Published on 19 July 2003


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving on with style, 22 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
This is a moving, beautifully crafted album, taking the Waterboys onto a new level. The title track, 'e.b.o.l', 'peace of iona', 'the christ in you', are just four of the outstanding songs which mix fine melodies, interesting structures and a non-preachy message. I was disappointed with the last album 'A Rock in the Weary Land' which re-trod old ground, and added little to the wonderful early catalogue of the band. This, however, is vital music for the C21st, with Mike Scott singing better than ever. Catch them live if you can - I saw them last week for the first time in nearly twenty years, and they still pack an amazing emotional and musical punch. Sit back and enjoy........
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peace of Iona, 11 Jun 2003
By 
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
After the harsh and often heavy "Rock in a Weary Land", Mike Scott's second "return" LP with The Waterboys is a quieter, much more gentle affair. "Universal Hall" has Scott's spiritual side to the fore and the songs therein are unltimately of a personal hue. Perhaps only an artist so at one with himself, his muse and his life could have penned such touchingly brilliant songs as "Every Breathe Is Yours" and the standout title track. Indeed the song "Universal Hall" is utterly beautiful rising to a stunning crescendo of longing, hope and resolution at its conclusion. Magnificent.
For those looking for another slab of the "big music", "Universal Hall" might disappoint. For those marvelling at a song writing craft that is now almost unique in contemporary music, this album will delight.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Brilliant!!!, 17 Jun 2003
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
The thing that has always killed me about Mike Scott's songwriting is his absolute fearless abandon. No matter how deep or complex the emotion or subject, he gives himself over completely and without self consciousness, and he's done it again on Universal Hall!!! It takes alot of courage to write about joy, and peace and love in a world of cynics. Not a false move. This is as good as it gets.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An opinion of 'Universal Hall', 14 July 2003
By 
Mike Gould (Southampton, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
Like most Waterboys works, it improves with each listen. Whilst the album may lack the lyrical intensity and musical power of "A Rock In The Weary Land", it offers other qualities and shows Mike Scott as a man at peace with himself. Steve Wickham's fiddle playing is, at times, sublime and this factor combined with the songwriting powers of Scott, elevate songs such as "Peace Of Iona" and "Universal Hall" to The Waterboys hall of classic songs. There may never be another "Fisherman's Blues", but Mike Scott still has much to offer. His songs are a source of inspiration and deserve to be heard by a wider audience. So, if you're fed up with all the mainstream mediocrity served up by our popular radio stations, buy a copy of "Universal Hall", sit back and relax. Furthermore, go and see The Waterboys play live. Believe me, it is always a great experience - Mike.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some new classics, some mediocrity, 28 July 2003
By 
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
So Steve Wickham's back with Mike Scott, and Scott's back in the basement of Findhorn Foundation Community's Universal Hall, where he recorded his solo album Bring 'em All in in '94/'95. This new album is a lot like Bring 'em All in; predominantly acoustic music with lyrics concentrating on Scott's spiritual life. The main difference actually lies in the length of the lyrics. Possibly inspired by Buddhist mantras (or possibly by a writer's block) they are often minimalistic, containing in one case no more than two lines. But the songs are rescued by strong melodies, Scott's intense vocals and good instrumental work, though one cannot help but wonder how great they would have been had Scott used his immense literary talent for what it's worth.
Some of the arrangements are a bit poor, with "Seek the Light" being the worst example. Had it been featured on the Waterboys' previos effort, A Rock in the Weary Land, it would have been a more fiting, though definitely below par track. Here it is not only a poor song, but it also ruins the flow of the album.
The good news is that tracks like "This Light Is for the World" and "Ain't No Words for the Things I'm Feeling" are really good songs, and especially in concert they come across as new classics. But here's to hoping Mike Scott will get his literary muse back!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most beautiful work of inspiration., 10 Jun 2003
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
This album made my wife cry. I should point out that she is pregnant at the moment, but that is by the by. This album should make you cry.
It's simplistic powerful lyrics and the sparse but incredibly sole full instrumentation make it a powerful work indeed. The lyrics are in places similar to Buddhist chants or prayer. The beauty of the songs back this simplicity with beauty. I cannot recommend it enough.
Until now "This is the Sea" has always been my favourite Waterboys album. I think that is about to change. I urge you to click the button and by this album....
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation!, 10 Jun 2003
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
The Waterboys are the only band that have surprised me with every album, each being completely different, and 'Universal Hall' is no exception. But unlike their last two releases ('A Rock In The Weary Land' and 'Too Close To Heaven') they have not made a single mistake. Every single track is brimming with spirituality and heart-wrenching lyrics and melodies. By far the best song, however, is the title track, with the fantastically romantic lyrics: 'I sacrifice my power on the altar of your love'. Not many artists could get away with this display of religion, but Mike Scott can. And Steve Wickham's wonderful fiddling adds an ethereal element, making it impossible to stop listening.
On first listen you may think 'Universal Hall' is a low-key, acoustic album, which it is to some extent, but there are undoubtedly hints of the Big Music throughout. Try listening to 'Peace of Iona' and not being moved.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Music in a Quiet Room, 30 Jan 2005
By 
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
This may not be my favourite Waterboys album (Fisherman's Blues is) but it is the one which marks out Mike Scott for greatness.
Reunited with Steve Wickham and Richard Naiff, he creates a minimalist acoustic template for his spiritual and passionate
music. The lyrics are mantra like and cast off the Dylanisms of the past in favour of a more direct and resonant approach.
Most importantly I cannot think of a record that sounds like this one and 'Live' these songs take off to another level.
Highlights are The Christ in You, Peace of Iona (developed from an ancient Celtic blessing) and the title track, Universal Hall,
which brings the album to a fantastic climax.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An opinion of 'Universal Hall', 14 July 2003
By 
Mike Gould (Southampton, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
Like most Waterboys works, it improves with each listen. Whilst the album may lack the lyrical intensity and musical power of "A Rock In The Weary Land", it offers other qualities and shows Mike Scott as a man at peace with himself. Steve Wickham's fiddle playing is, at times, sublime and this factor combined with the songwriting powers of Scott, elevate songs such as "Peace Of Iona" and "Universal Hall" to The Waterboys hall of classic songs. There may never be another "Fisherman's Blues", but Mike Scott still has much to offer. His songs are a source of inspiration and deserve to be heard by a wider audience. So, if you're fed up with all the mainstream mediocrity served up by our popular radio stations, buy a copy of "Universal Hall", sit back and relax. Furthermore, go and see The Waterboys play live. Believe me, it is always a great experience - Mike.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hints of Big Music, bit disappointing..., 19 July 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Universal Hall (Audio CD)
Since the Waterboys re-re-formed in the last few years, I welcome each record with more than quite anticipation. Long gone the days when the Big Music was in vogue, now we float from Walls of Sound (Weary Land) and Gospel revue (Too Close to Heaven) into this new Buddhist mantra, which I can cope with, but I do prefer the combination of complete lyrics and stories (complete sentences!) together with the music. Mike Scott seems to be over simplifying his messages with haiku like precision.
Now to the songs, they are great, intimate and profound musically. Loved a couple of them, but I don't believe it will be on my top 3 Waterboys albums...
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