February 06, 1989 12:00 PM

The Waterboys

Whoa, check that album sleeve. Since last heard from on the impressive if uneven 1985 LP This Is the Sea, this U.K. band has been transformed. The group, founded by Scotsman Mike Scott, has moved to London from Dublin. Keyboardist Karl Wallinger left, and bass player Trevor Hutchinson arrived. The biggest difference, though, is that the Boys have reconstituted themselves as a string band. Fisherman’s Blues is a festival of fiddles, mandolins, bouzoukis, acoustic guitars and such. Yet the rawness and immediacy of most of the songs bely their acoustic nature. Besides, the lively fiddle of Steve Wickham and Hutchinson’s driving bass keep the proceedings from drifting into dreamland. The prettiest songs, When Will We Be Married? and When Ye Go Away, have strong Gaelic accents. But many selections recall Bob Dylan from his mid-’70s period. That similarity is enhanced by Scott’s unaffected, let-it-all-hang-out vocals. With this album, the Waterboys have changed their colors dramatically, and the result is a pleasure to behold. (Chrysalis)

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