This eponymously named debut album from The Waterboys was recorded in several studio sessions between December 1981 and November 1982. Allmusic describes the sound of the album as "part Van Morrison, part U2".
The album cover is a photograph of lead singer Mike Scott by Panny Charrington and designed by Stephanie Nash. The Waterboys logo appears in the pale blue box in the upper right-hand corner of the original album cover (pale pink on 2002 reissue). The symbol, which symbolizes water, continued to be used throughout the band's history. It was designed by Stephanie Nash of Island Records.
|Studio album by The Waterboys|
|Recorded||December 1981 - November 1982|
|The Waterboys chronology|
In 1981 Mike Scott was working in the punk rock band Funhouse, who had recently changed their name from Another Pretty Face. Signed to the record label Ensign Records, the group had moved to London to record their music. Scott had been unsatisfied with the group's sound, which he described as "similar to a jumbo jet flying on one engine", and in December 1981 decided to use Redshop Studio to record some of his own songs solo, after prompting from Ensign Records to consider a solo career. With the help of a drum machine, Scott sang, played the piano and guitar on each of five songs. Two recordings from this studio demo session would eventually make their way onto the first Waterboys album, "December" and "The Three Day Man". The quality of the session convinced Scott to leave Funhouse. Scott made further series' of recordings on his own at Redshop in February, April and August 1982, which yielded the following tracks: "Savage Earth Heart", "It Should Have Been You", "Gala" and "Where Are You Now When I Need You?".
In spite of his label's advice, Scott instead began forming a new band to work with. In early 1982 he recruited Anthony Thistlethwaite for the new project, which became The Waterboys. Scott first heard Thistlethwaite on a Nikki Sudden album. Thistlethwaite brought in a friend of his, Kevin Wilkinson, as a drummer. Sudden describes the events as Scott "stealing" the two away, but notes that Scott could afford to pay Thistlethwaite and Wilkinson, whereas Sudden could not. Scott and Thistlethwaite recorded "A Girl Called Johnny" in Spring of 1982, and with Wilkinson and bassist Nick Linden they recorded further new tracks in November 1982 at Redshop Studio, Islington, of which one, "I Will Not Follow", appears on this album.
Ensign flew Scott to New York to record with Patti Smith's guitarist, Lenny Kaye, as the producer. The recording session went poorly, and the material was not released in favour of recordings from the various London sessions. After two single releases of "A Girl Called Johnny" in March 1983, The Waterboys was released that July (see 1983 in music).
A remastered version of the album with a number of extra tracks was released on 23 April 2002 by Capitol Records.
"A Girl Called Johnny" had been released both as a seven-inch and as a 12-inch single in March 1983, preceding the album by four months. The song, a tribute to Patti Smith, "narrowly failed" to become a hit. The B-side on the seven-inch was "The Late Train to Heaven", the "Rockfield mix" of which was eventually released on a re-issue of A Pagan Place, the group's next album. The twelve-inch contained "Ready for the Monkey House", the Another Pretty Face song "Out of Control" and an acoustic version of "Somebody Might Wave Back", the last of which would appear in a full studio version on A Pagan Place.
"December" was also released as a single (for the Christmas season) in both seven-inch and twelve-inch formats, with similar commercial results. The seven-inch's B-side was "Where are You Now When I Need You?", while the twelve-inch included an alternate recording of "The Three Day Man" and "Red Army Blues", a song that would be included on A Pagan Place.
An extended live version of "Savage Earth Heart", a song which had eventually become a "live show stopper" was re-released as a B-side on the single for "Is She Conscious?" from A Rock in the Weary Land.
All songs written by Mike Scott, unless otherwise noted.
The original vinyl LP had eight tracks.
The original vinyl LP had five tracks.
The 2002 re-release contained additional songs, from the original demo recordings, single releases, and other early Waterboys work.