Reason #323 Why the ’80’s Didn’t Suck: This Is The Sea

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I can remember a time when The Waterboys were talked about as, at least among rock critics at the time, a contender for The Next Big Thing tag. That time was around the release of this album, helped in no small part by the brilliant The Whole Of The Moon. And while the follow up (Fisherman’s Blues) was equally brilliant, more so in my opinion, the time between the two and the nicheness (my very own made up word!) of the content prevented them from bothering the upper echelon of the North American charts.

I just love the power of the album opener, Don’t Bang The Drum; I can’t find another like it in their discography. It’s loud, and fast, and hard, three descriptive words not usually associated with the music of The Waterboys. Oh, they’ve always been grand, a little pretentious, even. But this is something a little different from the norm, and a most welcome shock. DBTD perfectly segues into The Whole Of The Moon, one of their most popular and endearing songs. If I have one quibble about this (and the opener, and a couple of others here, and Waterboys songs in general) it’s that it seems to go on a bit past its due date. What takes 6:46 could have been more effective at perhaps 4:30, etc. I’m not opposed to long songs, either, believe me. I have many songs on my ipod that range from 7 minutes to well over half an hour! But for the most part the songs here are some of their most accessible, and the album itself is an excellent entry point for neophytes. When great bands with big sounds from the ’80’s are discussed The Waterboys usually, and unfairly, get left out of the conversation. They belong in the same league, for better and worse, as Big Country, Simple Minds, U2, and Echo and the Bunnymen.

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