Friday, 15 August 2008

“Room To Roam” by THE WATERBOYS. Their 5th Album Is Given A SUPERB COLLECTORS EDITION REMASTER With Genuinely Excellent Bonus Tracks!

This 11 August 2008 re-issue is part of EMI's "COLLECTOR'S EDITION" series and is a 2CD major overhaul and remaster of the Waterboys much loved 5th album.

Here's the breakdown:

DISC 1 (42:43 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 17 are the album "Room To Roam" released September 1990 in the UK on Ensign Records CHEN 16

DISC 2 (49:03 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 17 are "Additional Recordings" - 14 studio outtakes with 3 live recordings

Mike Scott has overseen the booklet, the first half produces the original album credits, lyrics etc - the second half does the same for Disc 2 - including full session details and lyrics - pictures of the band, re-issue credits...

The Waterboys Band and Session Players for the LP were:
MIKE SCOTT on Lead Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards (principal songwriter)
ANTO THISLETHWAITE on Baritone Saxophone, Mandolin
COLIN BLAKEY on Whistle, Flute, Hammond Organ and Piano
STEVE WICKHAM on Fiddle, Hammond Organ and Backing Vocals
TREVOR HUTCHINSON on Double Bass and Bouzouki
NOEL BRIDGEMAN on Drums, Percussion and Backing Vocals
SHARON SHANNON guest player on Accordion and Fiddle

Recorded in Galway in the West of Ireland over many months, "Room..." follows on from the `Traditional Irish Folk Meets Rock' of "Fisherman's Blues" in 1988; it's simply more of the same. But what's improved most here is the SOUND. The remaster is beautiful, clean and clear - loads of space and warmth around the instruments - my 1990 original CD is a bit haggard compared to this. Steve Wickham's lovely fiddle playing on "A Man Is In Love" sails out of the speakers. The bass on all tracks is warm and backdrops everything with a real sweetness. Many of the songs are now LOUD too, but not in that overbearing way, more live-in-your-living-room - and wonderful for it. Improvements would include the fiddle jaunt of "Natural Bridge Blues" which is now so clear - the sax break on "Something That I Lost" - the whack of the drums on the Traditional Irish Air made famous by Planxty, "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy" - all fabulous work done with the master tapes. And the album's best track "A Life Of Sundays" with Noel Bridgeman's great backing vocals is now just HUGE - a wow!

But the biggest surprise is DISC 2, which I feared would be rammed full of worthy but dull filler. It isn't. It does of course have some clinkers - the 3 live tracks are ok, but full of drunken crowd shouts that detract too much and could have been dropped, while the cassette quality of "Florence" in "Danny Murphy/Florence" is unlistenable. But the rest of it is excellent - proper studio out-takes - and some that would make you wonder why they didn't make the finished album. "Three Ships" sounds like something that came off "This Is The Sea" - a trippy instrumental jaunt with Celtic overtones - excellent stuff. "Sunny Sailor Boy" is gorgeous - a genuine bonus track. "A Strathspey In The Rain At Dawn" is simply SHARON SHANNON and her accordion with Irish rainfall and birds tweeting as her backdrop - very pretty. A real rarity, however, is the lovely Irish-Only 1989 single release of "Down By The Sally Gardens" which features the wizened and emotive lead vocals of TOMAS MacEOIN. And as the slow air of "A Song For The Life" draws Disc 2 to a close, it's hard not to be moved.

MIKE SCOTT has always been a magical songwriter to me - an artist who pens a tune that nails you - moves you impossibly - and then you find yourself backtracking - buying up everything that he and his great band have ever done.

To sum up, I've come back to this album not expecting much, but this great re-issue is making me love it all over again. Sure with a bit of judicious pruning on Disc 2, it would have made an excellent single CD and saved us punters a few bob, but I won't begrudge THE WATERBOYS a sausage- anything new by them is good news in my book and worth paying for.

"Room To Roam" COLLECTOR'S EDITION is a nice album made a whole lot better - and a top REMASTER too. Highly, highly recommended.

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