This Is The Sea (2Cd Edition) – The Waterboys

Label: Emi

There are a number of things we have to forgive The Waterboys for. The first was their misleading yet durable Irishness (Mike Scott was a native of Scotland – only relocating to Ireland when he re-formed the band for the album ‘Fisherman’s Blues’). The second has to be for spawning the wilfully preposterous and quirky Karl Wallinger and World Party (who is equally guilty of spawning the first of many ballads for cheeky chappy, Robbie Williams). And lastly we must forgive them for failing to recover the richly uplifting form that ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ and ‘This Is The Sea’ provided. That was 1985 and the world (and yes, even the party) is still waiting.

Re-issued with copious sleevenotes describing the climate of recording and the background to the songs, as well as a second-bonus disc of rare and previously unreleased material (including Mike Scott’s 1985 answer phone message, ‘This Is The Sea’ (2 CD Edition) is still the BIG SOUNDING spiritual rout that it was twenty-years ago, and still retains some of the most lyrical and intense moments put to record, but for all its legitimate claims to greatness, its production has dated greatly (or not so greatly, depending on how pejorative we’re getting). The drums and the brass that sounded so frighteningly big and authentic in 1985, now appear for exactly what they were: tactlessly saturated in slick, shiny swathes of reverb. The production literally fizzes with Eighties ‘hi-fidelity’ and the keyboards sound just like every other DX7 ‘polyphonic synthesizer’ around at the time. And let’s face it, the saxophone dates this period with far finer precision than any tree-ring could, that’s for sure.

Still if you thought ‘Whole Of The Moon’ was uplifting, your eyes are going to swell with brimful joy to discover the concluding tracks, ‘Trumpets’ and ‘This Is The Sea’. And if you were galled the first time round by the appallingly short versions of ‘Spirit’ and ‘Medicene Bow’ (which should just about illustrate the kind of commercial straitjackets imposed by the majors during this period) then you’ll be chuffed as a butty to learn that the bonus CD includes the tracks at double their original length.

A very welcome repeat. Which is more than can be said for the egg mayonnaise I had earlier.

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Release: The Waterboys - This Is The Sea (2Cd Edition)
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Released: 28 March 2004