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Waterboys Reel In “Fisherman’s Blues” Box for October, November

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Fisherman's BoxIn their heyday as one of Europe’s premiere post-punk bands, there were three words associated with The Waterboys: “the big music.” The Scottish-Irish-English band, led and anchored by singer/songwriter Mike Scott, hit it big on the other side of the Atlantic with emotionally resonant rock, awash in ringing guitars and evocative lyrics. Leave it to someone like Scott to break the mold with the band’s fourth album, Fisherman’s Blues – which is the subject of an exhaustive box set released today.

Recorded over two years in Dublin and Galway, Ireland and Berkeley, California, Fisherman’s Blues was a dramatic change in The Waterboys’ sound, eschewing electric rock for stripped-down sonics heavily influenced by rootsy American rock and country trappings as well as the rich musical traditions of the band’s home countries. Though both singles, the title track and “And a Bang on the Ear,” were low-to-middling U.K. chart hits, the album itself remains their best seller, and one that introduced the group to a much larger worldwide audience.

The raucous, near-mythical sessions that produced the record have been the subject of much focus in The Waterboys’ back catalogue. A European compilation, Too Close to Heaven, was released in 2001 with a bevy of unreleased outtakes; that disc was released in the U.S. with another EP’s worth of material as Fisherman’s Blues Part 2. Five years later, the album was remastered and reissued with another bonus disc of extra session material.

But on Fisherman’s Box: The Complete Fisherman’s Blues Sessions 1986-1988, Scott has arguably outdone himself and his contemporaries in terms of anthologizing. Six discs, featuring all of the tracks released on albums, singles and other compilations plus some 85 unreleased tracks, are featured herein – from early versions of familiar tracks to lively covers of traditional tunes and vintage pop/rock selections. A deluxe version of the box adds a seventh CD of tracks that influenced the recording of the album, including cuts by Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and The Carter Family, plus the original album on vinyl and three 12″ art prints.

Somewhat bizarrely, both versions were slated for release today, but only the bigger version is ready. Reportedly demand for the six-disc version (which was a rather phenomenal value) outstripped production supply; the basic version is expected November 11. In any case, pre-order links are after the jump, as well as an exhaustive breakdown of every disc.

Fisherman’s Box: The Complete Fisherman’s Blues Sessions 1986-1988 (Parlophone (U.K.), 2013)

6CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
7CD/1LP: Amazon U.K.

Disc 1: Dublin – January 23, 1986

  1. Stranger to Me
  2. Girl of the North Country **
  3. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
  4. Fisherman’s Blues (Piano Version)
  5. Fisherman’s Blues *
  6. Meet Me At the Station **
  7. I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight
  8. Born to Be Together
  9. The Wayward Wind
  10. World Party (First Version)
  11. World Party/A Golden Age
  12. Sleek White Schooner
  13. Drunken Head Ghost of Rimbaud Blues
  14. Sweet Thing *
  15. Sweet Thing (Conclusion)
  16. Saints and Angels

Disc 2: Dublin – March-September 1986

  1. We Will Not Be Lovers *
  2. One Step Closer
  3. My Beautiful Baby
  4. She Could Have Had Me Step by Step
  5. When the Ship Comes In
  6. The Ladder +
  7. Will You Ever Be My Friend?
  8. Too Close to Heaven (Rolling Piano)
  9. Higherbound (Prototype)
  10. Happy Birthday BP Fallon
  11. The Prettiest Girl in Church
  12. You Don’t Have to Be in the Army to Fight in the War
  13. Dee Jay Way
  14. Lonesome and a Long Way from Home ++
  15. Thistlethwaite’s Declaration
  16. Strange Boat (First Play)
  17. Lost Highway (B-side to “Fisherman’s Blues” – ENY 620, 1988)
  18. Higherbound Blues
  19. Let Us Be Drinking and Kissing the Women
  20. Will the Circle Be Unbroken
  21. Tenderfootin’ +
  22. Too Close to Heaven +
  23. Space Out There, Trevor

Disc 3: Berkeley, CA – December 2-8, 1986

  1. Steve and Anto’s Overture
  2. Ain’t Leavin’, I’m Gone (Alternate Mix) ++
  3. When Will We Be Married (First Version)
  4. When I First Said I Loved Only You, Maggie
  5. Love is Letting Go
  6. On My Way to Heaven (First Version)
  7. You in the Sky (First Version)
  8. The Secret Place of the Most High
  9. Too Hot for Cleanhead
  10. Wickham’s Proclamation
  11. Blues for Your Baby +
  12. Lonesome Old Wind +
  13. If Jimi Was Here
  14. Soon As I Get Home (Full Version)
  15. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Disc 4: Dublin – 12/20/1986-2/28/1987

  1. Billy the Kid
  2. Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down
  3. Come Live with Me (B-side to “How Long Will I Love You” – Ensign/Chrysalis 1C 016-3 23611 7, 1990)
  4. I Miss the Road
  5. Higher in Time (Two Pianos) ++
  6. Too Hot for Cleanhead (Fast Version)
  7. Higher in Time (Scottish Version)
  8. Higherbound (Third Tune)
  9. A Golden Age (Alternate Mix) (original mix was B-side to “The Whole of the Moon” – Ensign ENY 642, 1991)
  10. You in the Sky **
  11. I Will Meet You in Heaven Again
  12. Nobody ‘Cept You **
  13. (He Hasn’t Been the Same Since) Jimmy Shand
  14. Rattle My Bones and Shiver My Soul **
  15. The Scotsman’s Delight
  16. Killing My Heart (Alternate Mix/Edit) (from The Best of The Waterboys ’81-’90 – Ensign CHEN 19 (U.K.), 1991)
  17. Industrial Mr. Brown
  18. Custer’s Blues (Alternate Mix/Edit)
  19. Shall We Gather by the River
  20. Higher in Time Symphony (Alternate Mix/Edit)

Disc 5: Dublin – February-November 1987

  1. Higherbound (Third Version)
  2. The Grief of Pan
  3. World Party (Long Version) *
  4. Working on a Building
  5. If I Can’t Have You **
  6. Killing My Heart (Second Version – Alternate Mix) **
  7. Trunk Call
  8. Headphone Mix Song
  9. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
  10. When Will We Be Married (Second Version) **
  11. BP’s Bathtub Boogie
  12. We Will Not Be Lovers (Sax Solo)
  13. Heading Down the Highway
  14. Strange Boat (Long Version) *
  15. Fisherman’s Blues (Second Version) **
  16. Has Anybody Here Seen Hank? (Bridgeman Version)
  17. On My Way to Heaven (Alternate Mix/Edit) +
  18. Let Me Feel Holy Again **
  19. A Home in the Meadow (Alternate Mix/Edit) +
  20. Strange Boat (Third Version)/The Good Ship Sirius
  21. The Stolen Child (Prototype)

Disc 6: Spiddal House, Galway – 4/13-6/2/1988

  1. On My Way to Tara
  2. Twa Recruitin Sergeants
  3. Incident At Puck Fair
  4. And a Bang on the Ear *
  5. Mr. Customs Man
  6. Strange Boat (Acoustic)
  7. Spring Comes to Spiddal
  8. In Search of a Rose (Band)
  9. The Stolen Child (Piano Demo)
  10. When Will We Be Married? *
  11. In Search of a Rose (Duo)
  12. The Good Ship Sirius (Set of Jigs)
  13. This Land is Your Land (Complete) *
  14. Jimmy Hickey’s Waltz *
  15. Live Aid and After
  16. Carolan’s Welcome **
  17. When Ye Go Away *
  18. When Ye Go Away (Frankie’s Fiddle)
  19. Has Anybody Here Seen Hank? *
  20. The Stolen Child (Vocal Demo)
  21. Dunford’s Fancy *
  22. The Stolen Child *
  23. Pictish National Anthem (Comati)
  24. Bo Diddley Was a Caveman
  25. The Last Jam
  26. Buckets of Rain

Disc 7: Influences

  1. On My Way to Heaven – Blind Roger Hays
  2. Meet Me At the Station – Brother Williams
  3. The Carter Family – Can the Circle Be Unbroken? – The Carter Family
  4. The Gospel Train is Coming – Guitar Evangelist
  5. This Land is Your Land – Woody Guthrie
  6. Honky Tonkin’ – Hank Williams
  7. I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore – The Carter Family
  8. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams
  9. Lost Highway – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  10. Will the Circle Be Unbroken? – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  11. The Raggle Taggle Gypsy – Planxty
  12. Maggie – De Dannan
  13. Carolan’s Welcome – The Scottish Fiddlers of Los Angeles
  14. The Humours of Castlefin – Noel Hill & Tony McMahon
  15. Gold Ring – Donal Lunny
  16. An Cailin Allain – Tomas MacEoin

* from original album – Ensign LP CHEN 5 (U.K.), 1988
** from deluxe edition – EMI 09463 57673 2 2 (U.K.), 2006
+ from Too Close to Heaven: The Unreleased Fisherman’s Blues Sessions (RCA 74321 88152-2 (U.K.), 2001)
++ from Fisherman’s Blues Part 2 (Razor & Tie 79301 82880-2 (U.S.), 2001)

Written by Mike Duquette

October 23, 2013 at 09:44

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