Friday, February 25, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Led by the literate singer/songwriter Mike Scott, the group's sole constant member, the mercurial Waterboys formed in London in 1981. Born December 14, 1958 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Scott first became involved in music as the creator of the fanzine Jungleland, and later played in a series of local punk outfits. After college, where he studied English and philosophy, Scott and his band, Another Pretty Face, moved to London; following the group's breakup, he formed the Waterboys, so named after a line in the Lou Reed song "The Kids" but wholly appropriate given Scott's recurring lyrical fascination with sea imagery.
A newspaper advertisement calling for musicians led to a response from multi-instrumentalist Anthony Thistlethwaite; along with drummer Kevin Wilkinson, the Waterboys issued their self-titled debut in 1983. Keyboardist Karl Wallinger and trumpeter Roddy Lorimer joined for the 1984 follow-up A Pagan Place, which expanded the group's rich, dramatic sound while further exploring Scott's interest in spirituality. With 1985's This Is the Sea, the Waterboys reached an early peak; a majestic, ambitious record, it earned the group a significant hit with the single "The Whole of the Moon."
However, after the album's release, Wallinger departed to form World Party, which prompted Scott and Thistlethwaite to relocate to Ireland and begin with a clean slate. When the Waterboys returned in 1988 with the acclaimed Fisherman's Blues, they were joined by traditional Irish players like fiddler Steve Wickham, drummer Dave Ruffy, keyboardist Guy Chambers and bassist Marco Weissman, resulting in a stripped-down, folky sound that was continued on 1990s Room to Roam.
The Waterboys - A Girl Called Johnny - 7 inch vinyl on Chicken Jazz Records 1983
Dave Edmunds produced this 1990 album, the first time the two had worked together since a rift broke up Rockpile a decade prior. There's an undeniable punchiness and Edmunds also contributes guitar, but the most recognizable guitar sound is that of Ry Cooder (with whom Lowe played in Little Village, along with drummer Jim Keltner, also present). Sadly overlooked upon its initial release, the word "party" in the title is apt, as the whole thing plays like a flat-out house party. "Shting-Shtang" and "Honey Gun" are simple fun, while Lowe's wit is found to be in fine form on "All Men Are Liars," and his penchant for country-tinged balladry given a turn on "What's Shakin' On The Hill"
Nick Lowe - Party Of One - Cassette tape on Upskirt Records 1995
Cleveland native Michael Stanley became a regional phenomenon, but the singer/songwriter/guitarist and his Michael Stanley Band deserved more national success than they achieved. Stanley, whose real name is Michael Stanley Gee, played bass with the folk-rock group Silk in the late '60s. He then went solo and released two solo albums in the early '70s that fit right in with the "singer/songwriter" era. His talent attracted the likes of producer Bill Szymczyk and guest musicians Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, and David Sanborn from the beginning. He formed the Michael Stanley Band (aka MSB) in 1975 and pursued a more straightforward rock direction. MSB recorded a string of albums through the late '70s and early '80s that were modest successes nationally but major hits in Ohio. In fact, the Michael Stanley Band was such a sensation at home that it still holds attendance records at major concert venues. 1980's Heartland was easily MSB's best album, and Stanley agrees. It included the hit single "He Can't Love You" (sung by vocalist/keyboardist Kevin Raleigh) and the minor hit "Lover" (sung by Stanley and featuring blistering saxophone by Clarence Clemons). MSB's second and last Top 40 hit was Stanley's anthem "My Town" in 1983. After recording for Epic, Arista, and EMI, MSB independently released two albums on their own before breaking up in 1987.
Michael Stanley Band - Right Back At Ya (1971-1983) - Cassette tape on Razor And Tie Records