Release Date: Sep 19, 2011
Record label: Proper Records
A study into William Butler Yeats’ life would likely prove as fascinating as any into his body of work, for his 73 years were riddled with contradictions. Here was a non-Catholic, non-Gael championing the cause of Irish independence through poetry and politics; an ascribed atheist, ostensibly seeking spirituality and finding it in both the occult and the natural world around him; a man tortured by private tension – clearly visible in his writing – that continually thrust himself into the public eye, first through the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and then by taking a seat in the Irish Senate. His art, too, was constantly shapeshifting, absorbing the myriad influences he adopted throughout his days.
A history, and a literary lesson: in the mid 80s, when world and folk music were making their presence felt in the gap left by the decline of early 80s New Wave, in amongst the Latin rhythms and east European choral ensembles one of the most prominent UK bands were The Waterboys, the Scots/English/Irish folk rock hybrid that it was alright to like. Unusually, chart success didn’t dent The Waterboys credibility too greatly, and tracks such as “Whole Of The Moon” and “This Is The Sea” found their way onto top 40 compilations as readily as their albums helped inspire a fresh generation of acoustic troubadours, alongside The Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang. Line up changes and differences over musical direction took an inevitable toll on the band, and 1993’s Dream Harder album was widely viewed as the Waterboys last full release, with both Mike Scott and Karl Wallinger moving onto different projects.
A passionate, poetic labour of love. Wyndham Wallace 2011 Though Mike Scott’s attempt to marry the poetry of William Butler Yeats to his own music has been promised for two decades, it offers neither the dramatic ‘big music’ of 1985’s classic This Is the Sea, nor the kind of whimsy exhibited on their rendition of Yeats’ The Stolen Child, as declaimed by Tomás Mac Eoin for the 1988 follow up, Fishermen’s Blues, arguably the two most successful albums of The Waterboys’ career. Instead it takes the more MOR sounds of Dream Harder (1993), Scott’s first solo album in all but name – for which he also arranged another Yeats poem, Love and Death – and blends in a measured dram of his beloved Irish folk.