The Waterboys – The Magnificent Seven: Album Review

Whichever is your favourite period from  the mercurial Waterboys this personally approved and collated assembly of gems by the enigmatic Mike Scott is a must for true Waterboys followers.

Release date: 3rd December 2021

Label: Chrysalis

Format:  Digital / Vinyl

Super Deluxe Edition

  • 5x CD and 1x DVD in Hard Back Folder
  • 1x 240pp Hardback Book (approx. A4 sized)
  • 1x Rigid Slipcase to hold above two books.

Clamshell Box

  • 5x CD and 1x DVD in card sleeves
  • 1x 54-page booklet with band commentary on the tracks 

The Waterboys, emerged initially as a rock band. In a recent radio interview Mike Scott explained his reasons for the new Celtic sound for the Fisherman’s Blues/Room To Roam album era. Quite simply he wanted a change.

Apart  from knowing the single – The Whole Of The Moon – it was music from this period that  somewhat belatedly introduced me to The Waterboys and consequently I ventured into their more rocky material pre and post the 15 month period of  The Magnificent Seven.

What sets this compilation apart from others is that rather than focus on a specific classic album it tells the story of a much loved and revered era by the musicians Mike Scott assembled for a special project that he looks back on lovingly and respectfully.

Building on the nucleus of Steve Wickham (fiddle/mandolin/organ), Anto Thistlethwaite (saxophone/mandolin), Colin Blakey (organ/piano/whistle) and Trevor Hutchinson (bass) he discovered and recruited  new and unknown talent of  Sharon Shannon (accordion), Colin Blakey (uilleann pipes/flute) and Noel Bridgeman (drums/percussion) who were named by the latter as The Magnificent Seven. 

The first 4 CDs adopt a seasonal theme. Disc one, Celtic Summer, is a mixture of live recordings, demos, radio sessions and the band joyously recasting traditional Scottish and Irish music, as well as covers.  Disc two, The Rambles Of Autumn, is made up of live recordings from concerts from  Paris and  various North American cities  and  some spontaneous  recordings as they toured. Disc three, Winter’s Work, includes live recordings and demos of material, some of which ended upon Room To Roam.   Disc four, Atlantic Spring has jams and rough mixes of what would become Room To Roam, mostly recorded at Spiddal House in the spring of 1990 giving us an excellent insight into how an artists material develops into the  final studio produced album  Disc five is the Room To Roam album. 

For the Super Deluxe Edition an extra  DVD is added – A Band For All Seasons (Home Movies). Unofficial recordings of  performances at 1989 Glastonbury Festival and in Milan, Mike Scott’s home movies of the 1990 Spiddal House recordings, a short 2010 documentary extract telling the history of Spiddal House and a 2012 Spiddal Reunion documentary of a concert where Mike, Steve and Anto performed for a local charity. 

To accompany this mouth watering collection Chrysalis Records will publish a  240-page book. In  it Mike Scott gives a personal account of how he assembled ‘The Magnificent 7’  and a plethora of Waterboys memorabilia. 

The  outstanding feature to me is that it is irrelevant  that there  are noticeable omissions of recordings and  demos etc from Fisherman’s Blues. There may be rough edges and unexpected inclusions but what is included is more than relevant because this is the story of seven fabulous musicians discovering themselves, playing out of their comfort zones, acquiring new skills and adapting their talent to produce something that is not only memorable to followers of The Waterboys  but also has the affection of  the group artistically at a time of creativity and when they had fun too!!

Fans may have been astounded and confused in equal measure when The Waterboys began and ended this period in their history but quality music never dies. This compilation is proof that there is life and breath in the Celtic sound period. I wish I had Mike Scott’s linguistic writing talent to give full justice to this  anthology of  the period.

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