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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Waterboys - "The Irish Basement Tapes"
This review is of the Waterboys "Fisherman's Blues Deluxe Edition" a birthday present that arrived with angels wings. It is difficult to recall today the sniffy response this album received on release. It was seen by many as a deviation from the "Big Music" which Mike Scott had driven so hard and with such passion on previous releases. It was argued that "Fisherman's...
Published 8 months ago by Red on Black

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A case of too high expectations - A disappointment
Without a shred of doubt, Fisherman's Blues is one of the finest Folk/Rock/Celtic Soul albums I have ever heard, I loved it from the day it came out. After, the initial shock, I preferred it to this is the sea. Time has moved on and although my love for the original has remained true, the complete fisherman's blues sessions has sadly been a disappointment, I suspect that...
Published 5 months ago by Papalamour


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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Waterboys - "The Irish Basement Tapes", 4 Nov 2013
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Red on Black - See all my reviews
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This review is of the Waterboys "Fisherman's Blues Deluxe Edition" a birthday present that arrived with angels wings. It is difficult to recall today the sniffy response this album received on release. It was seen by many as a deviation from the "Big Music" which Mike Scott had driven so hard and with such passion on previous releases. It was argued that "Fisherman's Blues" was a sharp rupture from the Waterboys previous output; a unfortunate dalliance with "traditionalism". In fact it was a logical continuation of Scotts great vision. The brilliant "This is the Sea" is full of Celtic inflections and he was always a musical magpie drawing from an astonishing gamut of styles and influences. What is fascinating about this release is the sheer scale of experimentation, exploration and emotion that went into constructing a single album. "Fishermans box" proves that Scott, Wickham, Thistlethwaite and comrades in effect recorded the "Irish Basement Tapes". It is a magnificent box, VFM in spades and if the packing quality could have been notched up a ratchet or two, the music implores us to live with the shame. Below is a review of the six main discs of the box set. The primary source for much of the information is the detailed analysis in the excellent booklet in the set plus the Waterboys web site (well worth checking out)) onto which this reviewer has added some personal thoughts.

CD 1 was recorded in its entirety on Jan 23 1986, the first day of the Fisherman's Blues sessions. Thus begins a journey for the band in to new territory which was ill understood by critics who roundly berated the departure from the powerhouse rock of "A Pagan Place" and the anthems of "This is the sea" in what was described by one critic at the time as a "descent into a folk backwater". Scott admits that he had become obsessed with Irish music although the songs on this desk are an electric mix of old country and gospel numbers plus new originals. Two of the tracks "Fisherman's Blues" and the cover of Van Morrison's "Sweet Thing" are remasters from the original album and sound great. The cover of Dylan's "Girl from the north Country" is excellent but has been aired before ditto "Meet me at the station" Of the unreleased stuff the cover of Hank Williams "I'm so lonesome I could cry" is workmanlike but the piano version of "World Party" is a joy. The highlight however is a 10 minute long feast of the live staple "Saints and Angels" finally released in album form.

CD 2 was recorded between March and September 1986 in Dublin's Windmill Lane Studio. You can hear Scott and co really beginning to breath out and expand their musical reach. The period sees them jumping with musical ease from country, blues and folk music. It opens with one of the greatest Waterboys songs the sheer power of "We will not be lovers" now at its remastered best. It remains an inescapable puzzle of life why "Too Close To Heaven" was left off the main album unless its length just precluded inclusion. Scott's obsession with Hank Williams continues with a nice version of "Lost Highway" which in turn impacted on later songs Bonny Bramlett's and Leon Russell's "Lonesome and a long way from home" being a case in point. The bulk of tracks on this disc are previously unreleased and whilst including some fragments highlights include the prototype "Higherbound" and a rousing version of "Will the Circle be unbroken".

CD 3 was recorded Dec 2-7 1986 in Fantasy Studios, California, with producer Bob Johnston and with access to range of top notch US session musicians not least the brilliant drummer Jim Keltner. As for the songs the great remaster of "Lonesome Old Wind" sounds superb and gives further proof what a great singer Mike Scott is. Ditto the pounding sax driven "Blues for your baby". Ok the cover of the Beatles "Sgt Peppers" was clearly great fun in the studio but perhaps should have stayed there. Yet taking the rough with the smooth is the key to enjoying this box set. Alternatively the early version of "You in the sky" is a clear equal to the smoother remaster. This disc also majors on prototype versions of several songs and another 11 tracks are previously unreleased.

CD 4 was recorded between December 1986 & February 1987. The nucleus of the Fisherman's blues sound is too be found on this disc not least in the stunning "I will meet you in heaven again" and the in particular Waterboys classics like the 11-minute "Higher In Time Symphony". This is a song which suggests that FB should have at least been a double on release. "The Golden Age" actually sounds like a mix of alt country and Irish music while Anton Thistlethwaite singing on "Billy The Kid" should convince Scott to hand the microphone over more regularly. A fair chunk of this disk was on the 2006 remaster and "Higherbound" is not quite perfected on this disk. 10 tracks here are previously unreleased.

CD 5 was recorded Feb-Sept 1987, mostly in Dublin's Windmill Lane. "Higher bound" is completely signed, sealed and delivered at last. Songs like the earlier version of "When will be married" are more traditionally Irish than the final album versions, It contains unreleased songs and nice versions of the album mainstays "Fisherman's Blues" and "Strange Boat" which has a slightly Phil Spectorish ambience to it. Granted the blues version of "If I cant have you" is solid but not necessarily a key track and on this disk the recorded studio foolery sees tracks like "Headphone mix song" wearing a bit thin. Yet who can deny that overall Disc 5 is one of the key culmination stages on this musical journey with 12 tracks here are previously unreleased.

CD 6 contains all the recordings made at Spiddal House, near Galway, in the spring of 1988. The Celtic folk influences scream out of this disc which has the highest level of previously unreleased tracks - some 17 songs altogether. Indeed this is "Fisherman's Blues" evolving into "Room to Roam" with two versions on the disk of that albums "In Search of the Rose" (which Scotts perfectionism took to 99 takes) and an early "Spring comes to Spiddal". It contains a nice version of the classic Scottish folk song "Twa Recruiting Sergeants" a song popularised by The Corries and the evolution of Yeats "Stolen Child" which finally evolves from piano and vocal demo to full recording. It also confirms emphatically that "When Ye Go Away" is truly one of Scott's greatest songs. The version of Guthrie's "This Land is your Land" is rather disposable but rounding the whole thing is off with a sweet version of Dylan's "Bucket of Rain" from "Blood on the Tracks" is a nice touch.

And so the curtain comes down on a musical feast of the highest order. It was the producer Richard Curtis who once boldly ventured the opinion that 'I'm starting to feel, to my own surprise, that the Waterboys are the next best group after the Beatles". Perhaps a claim to far but at the same time the ongoing misperception of this band as some sort of hazy 1980s relic is a criminal understatement of Mike Scott's musical importance and premier status in the canon of rock music. With "Fisherman's Box" there is now tangible and overwhelming proof of the Waterboys standing as one of the most important British bands of the past 25 years and fully achieved their aim of producing "The Big Music". You really do struggle to think of other musicians who embarked on such an authentic eclectic pilgrimage that took in so many pit stops and which led to such joyous quality outcomes. "Fishermans Box" is a true musical event.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the wait!, 20 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Fisherman's Box: The Complete Fisherman's Blues Sessions 1986-88 [6 Disc Box Set] (Audio CD)
As an owner of the original single and collectors double CD versions of Fisherman's Blues, plus the Too close to Heaven / Fisherman's Blues Part 2 CDs, I was a little worried that the additional material provided in this set would disappoint. I needn't have worried - and should have known better as Mike Scott has always struck me as having far too much integrity to release material not worthy of him and his ever changing, expanding and evolving band of musical brothers. In brief, if you liked the original, you'll adore this. I haven't stopped playing it since receipt, each new listening providing something different at which to marvel. The accompanying booklet is great too, Mike's comments painting little camoes the sum of which comprise the giant canvas of Fisherman's Blues era Waterboys, a canvas which I will always treasure. No problems with the packaging either (I elected the 6 CD version so it may be different packaging to the other version) which others have unfortunately experienced.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Careful when you open it!!!!!!!!!!!!, 4 Nov 2013
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As others have said, something went badly wrong in packaging. The foam insert, glue and CDs all seem to have been put into the box at the same time. Since the spaces for the CD sleeves are cut right through the foam, and the glue hadn't set that means CD sleeves stuck to the back of the box.

That's really poor packaging error on such an expensive release.

I fortunately read on here and only one of my disc sleeves was, and still is, stuck. Don't break your boxset or rip the stuck sleeve(s), just be gentle and fold the sleeve forward and the CD will come out.

That said, the music is stunning. The first disc, covering the initial session is amazing and could easily have been a release in its own right. So many of these songs are familiar from live tapes and it's now such a great feeling to here them in their studio forms. Since the majority was recorded live, it really is like sitting in on the band playing. I'm looking forward to several months worth of getting to know these recordings of a band in their absolute prime.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musical evoloution before your very ears, 28 Jan 2014
This review is from: Fisherman's Box: The Complete Fisherman's Blues Sessions 1986-88 [6 Disc Box Set] (Audio CD)
The Box chronologies the change in the Waterboys sound. They begin in a C&W, Gospel sound, with the band clearly enjoying the freedom of just playing heartfelt music. Disc one in fact is a fine stand-alone album in and of itself. Then toward the end of disc 2 Mike Scott hears Steve Wickham and a few Irish fellows jamming with an Irish groove and then it all clicks and slowly more and more Irish is added into the C&W, Gospel sound until the climax is disc 6 when they hit the West Coast of Ireland for 2 months of pure Irish indulgence. No drummer on disc six either, apart from ones imported for the odd session. A real journey in musical discovery played out in front of us. Amazing.

This is a band at the top of their game, in fact this is musicianship and musical discovery at the top of its game.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fisherman's Frenzy, 18 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Fisherman's Box: The Complete Fisherman's Blues Sessions 1986-88 [6 Disc Box Set] (Audio CD)
It is tempting, as one gets older, to mythologise albums that were important to you when you were young. However, in the case of Fisherman's Blues it may be justified, as this box set demonstrates. For an album to begin with Mike Scott booking a recording studio in secret and grew into something approaching a lifestyle choice, Fisherman's Blues remains a remarkable achievement and is the high water mark (pardon the pun) of Mike Scott's career so far.

The box set expands on this, offering up a series of songs and surprises from the Fisherman's Blues sessions. At its best, it's incredible, jaw-dropping stuff and you wonder why some of this didn't make the album, or even the "Too Close To Heaven" release some years ago. At its worse, it's pretty grim, but then, there's no way you're going to like everything on a 6 CD box set.

Listing favourites would make this review far too long and boring. Suffice to say that, as I neared the end of the sixth CD and having spent so much time in the company of these fine gentlemen, I felt a genuine sorrow that I wouldn't hear these songs for the first time ever again.

Perhaps the oddest thing is that there's no Big Music version of Higherbound. I could've sworn I heard it once, but now I can't find it. Maybe I heard it in a dream. (A sentence which pretty much sums up how I feel about The Waterboys.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, 6 Mar 2014
By 
ccpb59 (Colchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fisherman's Box: The Complete Fisherman's Blues Sessions 1986-88 [6 Disc Box Set] (Audio CD)
The Waterboys have to be one of the most inspirational bands. Mike Scott's breadth of thought as he put Fisherman's Blues together is fully highlighted in this fantastic box set. Working versions, out takes etc, all show the development of what could be The Waterboys' most complete album. Wonderful!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The heart of the celtic soul...., 30 Oct 2013
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I've waited for this set since long before it was announced this summer.

'Fisherman's Blues' was the first Waterboys album I bought (I worked my way back to the 'Big Music'), and like the prime albums of Dylan, the Dead, and one or two others, it's never left my dansette since. I similarly loved 'Room to Roam', hoovered up the deluxe editions of each on release, and sought out the two-disc version of 'Too Close To Heaven'. Other snippets, mostly on bootleg have come my way, and I was lucky enough, all though probably not in Mike Scott's eyes to get the long disappeared 'Live Adventures..' album.

But it was the section of The Waterboys official website accorded to the full session listings from the long period of recordings which formed this album that I repeatedly returned to, crossing off odd tracks as they became available on archival releases, and seeking out obscure single releases.

Much as I love the original album, I always thought it a bit idiosyncratic: the two sides - in the context of the original LP - so different, taken by and large, as I subsequently discovered, from two distinct periods in the overall sessions. This is where this box makes more sense in a lot of ways following the path that Mike, Steve and Anto took during the course of their musical discoveries.

I'm not going to say much about the individual tracks. It's enough to say that if you love all aspects of the original album that you'll love this.

As to the eight-disc box/package, the booklet and inserts are lovely; the LP vinyl beautifully mastered; and, the seventh CD of 'musical signposts' an education. I'll pass on the foam partitioning the individual card packaged CDs sit in, but that's a very small criticism. It's the music that counts, and you won't regret buying this.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Trawl Through The Past., 24 Oct 2013
By 
Mr. R. C. Neil "spirit of vambo" (Prestwick Ayrshie) - See all my reviews
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At last the long awaited box set has arrived. I have to declare it was well worth the wait. The whole package looks and sounds great.
The booklet starts with an essay by Decemberist, Colin Meloy paying homage to his favourite album. Then we have a track by track breakdown by Mike Scott himself. The three 12x12 prints are of fine quality and the 180g vinyl is great to have as my old copy is almost worn out.
The we have six cd's of amazing music. All the tracks help to build a picture of the conflict inside Mike's head as he tried to get his musical vision committed to tape.On evidence present here we could have had a folk/roots "Sandanista" all those years ago. At least three albums of high quality or maybe more are contained within these sessions.
I remember seeing The Waterboys playing Mike's old stomping ground of Ayr on the original "Fisherman's Blues" and it was a fantastic gig. Something magical was certainly happening then as you can hear on these discs.
The bonus cd "Fisherman's Roots" is also a great addition to a perfect box set.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best music box set out there, 22 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Fisherman's Box: The Complete Fisherman's Blues Sessions 1986-88 [6 Disc Box Set] (Audio CD)
5/5 for the music content, a must have for any waterboys fans out there, although the same can 't be said about the booklet, yeah the contents of the booklet are superb but sadly the pages fall out in your hands as if it was put together by a child but thanks Amazon for sending me another booklet which I am scared to open.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get it in the US, 21 Dec 2013
By 
JacobC (Post Falls, ID USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fisherman's Box: The Complete Fisherman's Blues Sessions 1986-88 [6 Disc Box Set] (Audio CD)
I wish I had this music 25 years ago along with the Fisherman's Blues album. I couldn't wait any longer for it to come out in the US so I ordered here and had it shipped. There is a little bit of everything on these discs, from trad to folk to rock to blues to gospel. Overall I'm very happy with this set!
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