Ever since Mike Scott released the sublime Fisherman's Blues in 88 I have been a big fan of this cd. Listening to it clountless times over the decades the music never seems to date, always sounding fresh and fulfilling. So what to make of the new disc 2? Well, in short it's easily the equal of disc 1... if not better! From the first track Carolan's Welcome we're given the impression that this is a solid continuation of the first and original album, there's the beautiful tin whistle accompanying fiddles and bouzouki... but wait...there's a country-rock arrangement figuring heavily in the next song, Killing My Heart which is fantastic!! Then we have You In The Sky, a never-released, never-performed-in-concert song inspired by an American Indian poem set to gospel music. What follows then is music I can only describe as a joy that'll put a big fat smile on your face... this is so good you wonder what was the logic in keeping it under lock and key for so long. This is a goldmine! The uptempo blues If I Can't Have You is worth the album price alone...and just wait till hear Rattle My Bones And Shiver My Soul!!! Trust me, if you like the original Fisherman's Blues then you're gonna love this one. The sound is a vast improvement over the 80's recording that up until now was the only version available. In short, this has been given the same treatment as the remastered This is The Sea 2 discer... but this is much much much better.
After releasing the majestic This Is The Sea in 1985, lead Waterboy Mike Scott realised that he couldn't take the Big Music of his first three LPs any further and sought a change in direction. Fortuitously, he met the brilliant fiddler Steve Wickham at about the same time. Steve invited Mike to Ireland for a week's holiday - he ended up staying several years...
From early 86 to mid 88, Mike, Steve, Anthony Thistlethwaite and other assorted Waterboys recorded the songs which eventually found their way on to Fisherman's Blues. The Fisherman's sessions are the stuff of legend with far more excellent songs recorded than could be fitted onto the original LP. Mike Scott finally came back to the recordings in the early noughties and released a second LP Too Close To Heaven in 2001. He has now dipped into the sessions again for a remastered version of the original album with a second CD of further previously unreleased songs and versions.
So are the songs on disc two worth their belated release? Definitely because they add further historical context to the Waterboys' Fisherman's period and include a handful of lost classics which are finally unearthed to the outside world. We finally get to hear the studio version of late 80s live favourite Meet Me At The Station as well as the superb scratchy jazz-blues of If I Can't Have You. Best of all perhaps is the epic You In The Sky, a lost treasure liked so much by Scott that he has recorded a new version of it for the new Waterboys LP Book of Lightning.
As well as containing excellent music, the Collector's Edition of Fisherman's Blues is also superbly packaged with an enlightening essay by Mike Scott on his lengthy Irish sojourn and musician credits and commentary for every song. The Collector's Edition is a fascinating document of a semi-legendary musical adventure and splendid souvenir for the Waterboys' loyal fanbase. It is also a very worthy addition to the collection of any contemporary or roots music fan.
"Fishermans Blues" on its original release in 1988, marked a significant step away from the grandiose "big music" they had produced for their earlier albums "A Pagan Place "and "This Is The Sea". It was the guest appearance of violinist Steve Wickham on the track "The Pan Within" from "This Is The Sea" that precipitated the bands change of musical direction to a mixture of more organic folk, country and traditional Irish music. Mike Scott had relocated to Dublin after spending time in Ireland with Wickham and it had a profound effect on his writing as he ,by some sort of musical osmosis, drew on the culture and history around him to produce an album that at the time divided the critics but for me ,was and still is, their best album . It is intimate and warm yet still retains the striking romanticism and epic scope of their previous work.
As ever it's the quality of the songs that really raises "Fishermans Blues" to the mezzanine level of brilliance. Though there are covers - A lovely version of Van Morrisons "Sweet Thing"- and an interpretation of a traditional song -"When Will Be Married?" the originals are just fabulous There is also an almost un-bearably poignant setting to music of William Butler Yeats poem "The Stolen Child" sung by Irish vocalist Tomas Mckeown with tender backing by Scott. THis is one of those songs, like The Triffids "Save What You Can" or "The Forgiveness Song "by The Walkabouts that always leaves me with a lump in the throat the size of a pomegranate.
The album revolves around fiddle, violin, mandolin, Hammond organ and is suitably effervescent and for the main part joyous. The title track more or less confirms this within thirty seconds from Scott's first euphoric whoop and the blissfully whirling violin. There is the country tribute to Hank Williams "Has Anyone Here Seen Hank?" and the more traditionally rock strains of "World Party" , co-written with Karl Wallinger, who of course went on to form a band of the same name. The amusingly whimsical "And A Bang On The Ear" is Scott's run down of his former romantic attachments. "Strange Boat" has a hypnotic melody and a more reflective aura, while "When Ye Go Away" is simply a gorgeous lovelorn lament. The highlight though is "We Will Not Be Lovers" which has furious squalls of violin and a Scott vocal bordering on the demonic, the sound of someone trying very hard to convince himself of something he is not entirely sure about.
The extra tracks come from the same recording sessions where the band recorded over 100 masters .Some from those sessions have already seen the light of day on 2002 compilation "Dream Harder" and like that they are a mixed bunch. There are alternate versions of the title track, "When Ye Go Away", here called "Killing My Heart" and "When Will We Be Married" that add little to the definitive versions. Also here are two Dylan covers "Girl Of The North Country", a truly great song and "Nobody Cept You". None of the new songs make you long for their inclusion on the original, in fact they vindicate the initial choice of songs but they are at the very least compelling compliments to the original and as are all the songs from these sessions are wonderfully arranged and performed.
"Fishermans Blues" is an album I never tire of hearing. The sheer joy and contagious brio that the musicians communicate with their playing transcribes itself on the listener and even in its doughtier moments that passion is still tangible. Music this detersive is sadly all too rare. I reiterate, easily The Waterboys finest album, a wind swept salty gem.
A perfect blend of Rock and Folk Music - Fishermans Blues may have been a radical departure for the Waterboys but it is a classic. This album needs to be played at full volume for the best effect. From the grand title track to the more sombre final song 'The Stolen Child' there is something for all fans of the band. Stand out tracks are the excellent cover of Van Morrisons 'Sweet Thing', 'World Party' and the sad lament of 'When ye go Away'. Buy it, Play it and Enjoy.
This was a start of a classic period for in my humble opinion the greatest band ( band in the loosest sense) there has been. Ever evolving and brave enough to turn their back on America and becoming another U2/ Simple Minds (yawn), this was a classic album. Now you have the chance to obtain it with an extra CD of tracks recorded at the time this album was released. Not going to bore you with reviews of tracks, others can do that, simply to say the opening salvo of the Title track, We will not be lovers and Strange Boat is simply top draw and is the momentum is maintained until the final very beautiful The Stolen Child, complete with the mussings of Tomas McKeown, STUNNING!!
Also note that on the 11th August 2008 the Collectors Edition of the evening more brilliant ROOM TO ROAM is released with 17 extra tracks, what more could any Waterboys follower desire BUY IT!
I remember the first time I heard "Fishermans Blues" was in Brighton during a backpacking trip back in 1990. I was blown away and have ad it in my player ever since! I'm a diehard fan I guess you could say! Well the new collectors edition is just as amazing. "Killing my Heart" is an upbeat version of "When Ye Go Away" and the title track has been revamped with flutes and a laidback bouncieness that is truly refreshing. The Dylan covers rock and there are a few of the best tracks from "The Live Adventures Of The Waterboys". Its a great 2nd disc as good as the first. For those that don't have the first yet. It's a classic and if you like Irish folk/rock music it belongs in your collection.
"Strange Boat", "We will not be Lovers", "Fisherman's Blues", & "A Bang on the Ear" - This is how songs should be written and how they should sound. Scott lets us into his world and it's fantastic. The second disc is full of treasures. One of the greatest Waterboys albums.