The Waterboys – A pagan place (1984)

Something so pure

I discovered The Waterboys during my Uppsala years in the end of the eighties. They had already moved into folk music with their “Fisherman’s blues” but I happily delved into the three first albums as well. The early years Mike Scott and his band of players did their own variant of post-punk pop-folk-rock. Highly enjoyable. 

One of the first Waterboys songs I fell in love with was the enigmatic and emphatic “Red Army blues”. It has a true and horrific lyrics that drew me in. I still need to put on an armor on my emotions to be able to listen to it. 

The whole album is really filled with classics. “Church…”, “All the things…”, “Somebody might..:” and “The big music”. What an output for “the hard second album”.

I love how Mike sings early in his career. Lately he has changed his singing style. Maybe it is heavy post production in the studio, I don’t know. You know what I mean if you know.

The band is good, the sound production is tight and clear. I like sound pictures where the instruments are separated more than muddled and rowdy. This was before he started the heavy use of the fiddle (hey Steve!). So here we have some saxophone love instead, beautiful played by Anthony. And there is a violin here also, on the fantastic “The thrill is gone”. 

“The big music” defines The Waterboys at this stage in his career. The music is pretentious and pompous but very good if you let it in. Mike seems to be a very serious person, which probably is quite boring. Artists that take themselves too serious are often boring, see Peter Gabriel, Sting, Bono and Roger Waters. If they start talking too much politics outside their art, I am out of the door in a flash. The only artist I allow politics from is Neil, actually. Funny how it is. Eat a peach.

“Red Army blues”, great but super serious and the lyrics are political. It reflects on some horrific atrocities committed by the cute communists in the Soviet Union post WWII.

The album is really good all the way through. I hadn’t listened to it for a long time and I was a little surprised of how good it is.

My rating: 7/10

Side A:

  1. Church not made with hands
  2. All the things she gave me
  3. The thrill is gone
  4. Rags

Side B:

  1. Somebody might wave back
  2. The big music
  3. Red Army blues
  4. A pagan place

Best songs: “The thrill is gone” and “The big music”

Released in June 1984

Media: US vinyl, 1986

4 thoughts on “The Waterboys – A pagan place (1984)

  1. Waterboys refears to their three first album as The Big music and it is BIG MUSIC. My favorites is Church, Rags, and a Pagan place. Good album.


    1. Yes I knew that but failed to note it in my review. All those songs are great! The album is even on a high level. Hard topick the best ones… The good kind of “problem”! 🙂


  2. Great review, Henke. I bought this in 1985 and loved it. I listened to it again tonight and I was struck again by its grandeur and power. Mike Scott over-reached in places but I love his ambition. Big themes, big emotions. It shows up a lot of the vapid crap doing the rounds today. I’ll have to read some of your other reviews and maybe find a new favourite!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Charles and welcome to Oneliuder. It is always nice to sort of rediscover an old favourite. For me it began when I started to collect vinyl records agaion after many years of only digital. This record is one of the few I had left from my old huge collection. Most of the collection was sold back then, I am sad to say.

      Yes, Mike Scott seems to be a thinking gentleman who is reaching high with his ambitions. It is nice, but maybe not so much for the youth of today.

      I am afraid I have not come aroud to write about any more Waterboys (yet), but I hope you wil find other interesting artists on the site.


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