The Waterboys

The Waterboys are an English folk and rock band that released a self-titled album on Island/Chicken Jazz in 1983, followed by four albums on Ensign between 1984 and 1990. Bassist/keyboardist Karl Wallinger departed after the third album to launch World Party.

Members: Mike Scott (vocals, guitar, piano, drums, bouzouki), Anthony Thistlethwaite (saxophone, bass, mandolin, 1982-91, 2013), Kevin Wilkinson (drums, 1982-85), Norman Rodger (bass, 1983), Preston Hayman (drums, 1983), Adrian Johnston (drums, piano, 1983, 1985), Karl Wallinger (keyboards, bass, 1983-85), Roddy Lorimer (trumpet, 1983-90, 2007), Martyn Swain (bass, 1984-85), John Caldwell (guitar, 1984), Eddi Reader (vocals, 1984), Chris Whitten (drums, 1984-85), Frank Biddulph (fiddle, 1985), Marco Sin (bass, 1985), Lu Edmonds (bass, 1985), Max Edie (vocals, 1985), Guy Chambers (piano, 1985-86), David Ruffy (drums, 1985-86), Steve Wickham (fiddle, mandolin, 1985-90, 2001-present), Trevor Hutchinson (bass, bouzouki, 1986-91, 2013), Peter McKinney (drums, 1986-88), Fran Breen (drums, 1986-88), Liam O’Connor (accordion, 1987), Vinnie Kilduff (uilleann pipes, tin whistle, 1987-89), Colin Blakey (flute, whistle, piano, 1987-90), Tomás Mac Eoin (vocals, 1988-89), Jay Dee Daugherty (drums, 1988-89, 2001), Sharon Shannon (accordion, fiddle, 1989-1990, 2004), Noel Bridgeman (drums, 1989-90)


The Waterboys was the second-recorded band of Mike Scott after Another Pretty Face (aka Funhouse), a Scottish new wave group behind five 1979–82 new wave singles.

Scott (b. December 14, 1958, Edinburgh) developed childhood literary interests through his mother Anne, an English teacher. At 12, the Scotts moved to Ayre, a Southwest coastal town where Mike acquired his first guitar, inspired by Hank Williams and the single “Last Night In Soho” by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. In the early 1970s, Scott and classmate John Caldwell formed Karma, a Hindu-named band with assorted rock and folk influences (The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie). Scott’s second band, White Heat, instigated local punk activities.

During the 1977–78 school year, Scott studied literature and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He started the music fanzine Jungleland, which ran for nine issues with features on Bowie, The Boomtown Rats, Cafe Jacques, The Damned, John Cale, Iggy Pop, The Stranglers, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, Roy Harper, Television, Ultravox, and The Velvet Underground.> After a spell in Edinburgh punks The Bootlegs, he re-teamed with Caldwell in Another Pretty Face.

Another Pretty Face / Funhouse Singles

May 1979 on New Pleasures, NME Single of the Week
A. “All the Boys Love Carrie”
B. “That’s Not Enough”

15 Feb 1980 on Virgin, Sounds cover feature, opening act for Stiff Little Fingers
A. “Whatever Happened to the West?”
B. “Goodbye 1970’s”

Dec 1980 on Chicken Jazz
A. “Heaven Gets Closer Everyday”
B. “Only Heroes Live Forever”

Peel Session on 18 February 1981

Apr 1981 on Chicken Jazz
A1. “Soul to Soul”
B1. “A Woman’s Place”
B2. “God On The Screen”

Move to London

Funhouse [UK]
5 Mar 1982 on Ensign
A. “Out of Control”
B. “This Could Be Hell”

The Waterboys Form

In December 1981, Mike Scott booked time at London’s Redshop Studios. Aided by a drum machine, he self-recorded five songs Aided by a drum machine, including “December” and “The Three Day Man.” Inspired by the (and Ensign’s encouragement), he disbanded Funhouse and started work on a solo album. In February and April, 1982, he held further Redshop sessions that produced the songs “Gala,” “It Should Have Been You,” “Savage Earth Heart,” and “Where Are You Now When I Need You?”

Despite his new solo contract with Ensign, Scott recruited musicians for a new band, tentatively called The Red and The Black. He invited saxophonist Anthony Thistlethwaite, a Lutterworth native who plays on “A Girl Called Johnny,” Scott’s ode to Patti Smith.

Thistlethwaite (b. August 31, 1955) busked for a time in the Parisian Latin Quarter and played on 1981 albums by ex-Soft Boys frontman Robin Hitchcock (Groovy Decay) and Swell Maps mastermind Nikki Sudden (Waiting on Egypt). Scott — who knew Sudden through underground zine circles during APF’s run — liked Anthony’s sax part on the Egypt track “Johnny Smiled Slowly.”

Anthony invited his drummer friend Kevin Wilkinson (1958–1999), a recent member of Robert Fripp‘s League of Gentlemen and a backing player for ex-Holly & The Italians frontwoman Holly Beth Vincent. With the addition of bassist Nick Linden, Scott held another Redshop session in November 1982 that yielded “I Will Not Follow.”

Scott named his new band The Waterboys, taken from the line “I am the Water Boy, the real game’s not over here” from “The Kids,” a song by Lou Reed on his 1973 album Berlin.

The Waterboys

The Waterboys released their self-titled debut album in July 1983 on Ensign.

1. “December” (6:48)
2. “A Girl Called Johnny” (3:57)
3. “The Three Day Man” (4:08)
4. “Gala” (9:31)
5. “Where Are You Now When I Need You?” (5:06)
6. “I Will Not Follow” (5:18)
7. “It Should Have Been You” (4:30)
8. “The Girl in the Swing” (4:27)
9. “Savage Earth Heart” (6:40)

Recorded December 1981 – November 1982
Studio Redshop Studios, London, England
Farmyard Studios, Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, England

Mike Scott – vocals, piano, guitar, Danelectro Bellzouki electric 12-string guitar, bass guitar, mandolin
Anthony Thistlethwaite – saxophone and percussion on “A Girl Called Johnny”; saxophone and backing vocals on “I Will Not Follow”
Kevin Wilkinson – “some” drums and backing vocals on “I Will Not Follow”
Delahaye (alias of Mike Scott) – organ
Nick Linden – bass guitar and backing vocals on “I Will Not Follow”

Norman Rodger – bass guitar on “It Should Have Been You”
Ray Massey – “some” drums on “The Girl in the Swing”; percussion on “A Girl Called Johnny”
Rupert Hine – percussion on “A Girl Called Johnny”; programming on “December”
Stephen W Tayler – bass; keyboards on “Gala”; programming on “December” and “It Should Have Been You”

Rupert Hine – producer on “A Girl Called Johnny”
Jim Preen, Stephen W Tayler – engineer
Jason Stokes – engineer on “The Girl in the Swing”
Panni Charrington – photography

“A Girl Called Johnny” / “The Late Train to Heaven”
Released: March 1983

7″ single
1. “A Girl Called Johnny” 3:41
B. “The Late Train to Heaven” (3:34)

12″ single
1. “A Girl Called Johnny” 3:41
2. “Ready for the Monkey House” (4:02)
3. “Somebody Might Wave Back” (2:51)
4. “Out of Control” (4:02) from a Peel Sesssion by Another Pretty Face.

“December” / “Where Are You Now That I Need You”
Released: October 1983

12″ single
1. “December” 6:48
2. “The Three Day Man” 3:32
B. “Red Army Blues” (8:05)

In late 1983, Scott hired Welsh keyboardist Karl Wallinger (b. October 19, 1957, Prestatyn), an alumnus of Charterhouse Public School for boys (the breeding ground of Genesis) who’d played in the unsigned bands Pax and Quasimodo, a precursor to The Alarm.

A Pagan Place

The Waterboys released their second album, A Pagan Place, in June 1984 on Ensign.

1. “Church Not Made with Hands” (6:05)
2. “All The Things She Gave Me” (4:34) features trumpeter Barbara Snow and former Waterboys bassist Nick Linden.
3. “The Thrill Is Gone” (4:33)
4. “Rags” (5:21)
5. “Somebody Might Wave Back” (2:43)
6. “The Big Music” (4:45)
7. “Red Army Blues” (8:06)
8. “A Pagan Place” (5:13)

Recorded November 1982 at Redshop Studio
September 1983 at Rockfield Studio

Mike Scott – vocals, guitar, Danelectro Bellzouki electric 12-string guitar, piano, bass
Anthony Thistlethwaite – saxophone, bass, mandolin
Kevin Wilkinson – drums
Karl Wallinger – piano, organ, percussion, backing vocals

Roddy Lorimer – trumpet
Tim Blanthorn – violin
Eddi Reader, T.V. Smith, Ingrid Schroeder – backing vocals

Stephen W Tayler – mixing (2,4,6,7,9)
Jim Preen, John Brand, Richard Digby Smith, Stephen W Tayler, Ted Sharp – engineer
Sheila Rock – photography

This Is the Sea

The Waterboys released their third album, This Is the Sea, on September 16, 1985, on Ensign.

1. “Don’t Bang the Drum” (6:46) Scott, Wallinger
2. “The Whole of the Moon” (4:58)
3. “Spirit” (1:50)
4. “The Pan Within” (6:13)
5. “Medicine Bow” (2:45) Scott, Thistlethwaite
6. “Old England” (5:32)
7. “Be My Enemy” (4:16)
8. “Trumpets” (3:37)
9. “This Is the Sea” (6:29)

Scott began writing songs for This Is the Sea in the spring of 1984, beginning with the song “Trumpets”
The first recording session for This Is the Sea began in March 1985 at Park Gates Studio in Hastings, England with engineer and producer John Brand. – August 1985

The Waterboys
Mike Scott – vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, piano, percussion, synthesiser, drum machine programming, bells and effects
Anthony Thistlethwaite – saxophone, double bass, bass guitar, mandolin
Karl Wallinger – bass synth, piano, organ, keyboard programming, synthesiser, celeste, percussion and backing vocals

Steve Wickham – violin
Marek Lipski – violin
Roddy Lorimer – trumpet, background vocals
Stewart Bartlett – French horn
Kevin Wilkinson – bass guitar, drums
Martin Swain – bass guitar
Chris Whitten – drums, cymbals
Pete Thomas – snare drum
Martin Ditcham – percussion
Max Edie – background vocals
Lu Edmonds – bass
Matthew Seligman – bass

Mike Scott (1, 2 & 8)
Mike Scott & Mick Glossop (5, 6, 7 & 9)
Mike Scott, John Brand & Mick Glossop (4)
Mike Scott, Mick Glossop & Karl Wallinger (3)
Barry Clempson, Felix Kendall, Graham Dickson, John Brand, Keith Andrews, Mick Glossop, Nigel Gilroy – engineer

Lynn Goldsmith – front cover photography
Artwork includes the 1896 William Strutt etching Peace, based upon Isaiah 11:6–7.

Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) 4
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 6
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report) 23
UK Albums (OCC) 37

Fisherman’s Blues

The Waterboys released thier fourth album, Fisherman’s Blues, in October 1988 on Ensign.

1. “Fisherman’s Blues” (Mike Scott, Steve Wickham) – 4:26
2. “We Will Not Be Lovers” (Scott) – 7:03
3. “Strange Boat” (Scott, Anthony Thistlethwaite) – 3:06
4. “World Party” (Scott, Trevor Hutchinson, Karl Wallinger) – 4:01
5. “Sweet Thing” (Van Morrison) – 7:14
6. “Jimmy Hickey’s Waltz” (Scott, Wickham, Thistlethwaite) – 2:06
7. “And a Bang on the Ear” (Scott, Wickham, Thistlethwaite) – 9:14
8. “Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?” (Scott) – 3:19
9. “When Will We Be Married?” (Traditional, adapted: Scott, Thistlethwaite) – 3:01
10. “When Ye Go Away” (Scott) – 3:45
11. “Dunford’s Fancy” (Wickham) – 1:04
12. “The Stolen Child” (Words: W.B. Yeats, Music: Scott) – 6:55
13. “This Land Is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie) – 0:56)

Recorded 1986-88
Studio Windmill Lane Studio & Spiddal House
Length 54:37
Producer Mike Scott, Vinnie Kilduff, Bob Johnston, John Dunford

Mike Scott — vocals, guitar, piano, hammond organ, drums, bouzouki
Anthony Thistlethwaite — saxophone, mandolin, harmonica, Hammond organ
Steve Wickham — violin
Trevor Hutchinson — bass guitar, double bass
Roddy Lorimer — trumpet
Kevin Wilkinson — drums

Peter McKinney — drums
Dave Ruffy — drums
Colin Blakey — piano, flute, border horn
Fran Breen — drums
Vinnie Kilduff — guitar
Noel Bridgeman — tambourine, congas
Jay Dee Daugherty — drums
Máirtín O’Connor — accordion
Alec Finn — bouzouki
Charlie Lennon — violin
Brendan O’Regan — bouzouki
Tomás Mac Eoin — vocals
Paraig Stevens — bells
Jenny Haan — vocals
Ruth Nolan — vocals
Rachel Nolan — vocals
The Abergavenny Male Voice Choir — vocals
Tomás Mac Eoin – spoken voice

“Fisherman’s Blues”
Released: October 1988

Cassette single
1. “Fisherman’s Blues” 4:23
2. “Medicine Bow” 5:18
3. “Lost Highway” (4:18) originated as a 1948 Bullet Records b-side by blind American country singer Leon Payne

“And a Bang on the Ear”
Released: June 1989

CD single (US release)
1. “And a Bang on the Ear (Edit)” 6:45
2. “And a Bang on the Ear” 7:25
3. “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy” (4:35) Scottish trad ballad

Norwegian Albums (VG-lista) 7
UK Albums (OCC) 13
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 15
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan) 18


  • The Waterboys (1983)
  • A Pagan Place (1984)
  • This Is the Sea (1985)
  • Fisherman’s Blues (1988)
  • Room to Roam (1990)


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