311. This is the Sea – The Waterboys
THIS IS THE SEA (1985)
Though many consider this the best album of The Waterboys’ tenure, I much prefer the previous release, which will be found later in the countdown. Either way, the listener cannot go wrong with one of the great bands of the 80’s. Though U2, The Alarm and The Cure received the reconition and album sales, The Waterboys put out consistently phenomenal music with few peers.
The earlier projects (of which this is one) were defined as the “big music” (named after a song from a previous album) era with a Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” type production with huge arrangements complete with brass section accompaniment and Karl Wallingers amazing keyboard work. Band like Simple Minds, The Alarm and a personal favorite, The Hothouse Flowers, would all claim inspiration at one time or another.
Band leader Mike Scott has always had very spiritual content and has laid claim to Christianity, though many in mainstream Christianity would find his views odd or questionable. A significantly more mystical form of Christianity reigns within the lyrical content but is nonetheless present.
There are very few weak moments on either album that will be discussed and this album is nearly flawless. After the nearly 7 minute lead track (Don’t band the Drum) comes a song that should have made the band superstars, The Whole of the Moon. What a wonderful melody and great vocal performance.
The album never relents with great tunes like Medicine Bow, Be My Enemy and the hauntingly beautiful, Trumpets. The latter features an amazing musical arrangement with a hanutingly sexy saxophone backing the entire track.
The album closes with the title track, a nearly 7 minute anthem that is utterly compelling. I only wish I would have been able to see this band live. Every testimony I have heard is that they were an amazing live band and that “This s the Sea” would often steal the show and would nearly cause the show to break out into some sort of new wave rock and worship experience.
Wallinger would soon leave the band to create another band that will also make its way onto this list.