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Fisherman's Blues(2007)

Buy at Townsends

Listening to the remastered 2CD set, STEVE WICKHAM casts his mind back to the Fisherman’s Blues recording sessions.....

1. Fisherman's Blues
Myself and Anto arrived at Windmill lane studios unaware that a day of recording lay ahead. Mike had simply said "meet me down at the studio". Such a day! The song "Fisherman's Blues" came into focus like a boat on the horizon as we played through it a few times. I think I first heard the chords as the engineer set up the microphones. It soon found its own shape and dynamics. My experience was simple, sheer joy at being in the studio, making music with my friends.
2. We will Not Be Lovers
I remember the crack of Dave Ruffy's snare and Mike's razor sharp lyrics and delivery. I was thinking about Margaret Thatcher at one point during the song as I tried to match the vitriol.
3. Strange Boat
Myself, Anto and Trevor visited Mike when he was staying on the banks of Lough Ennel outside Mullingar. We had a grand day out on a little rowing boat singing songs and acting the eejit. The day was beautiful, warm and calm. I was thinking of this during the recording of Strange Boat.
4. World Party
This epic song, I'd love to try it live! I had the luxury of a day to myself if the studio working on the strings. I overdubbed lots of fiddles into the wee hours driving John Grimes, my engineer, up the wall.
5. Sweet Thing
I remember we made this recording towards the end of the day and there were a few non-band people knocking around including a guy called Dog Brain! Peter Mc Kinney's explosive drumming was so connected to the song it drove us on. The tape ran out before we reached the end. What a moment !
6. Jimmy Hickey's Waltz
Jimmy ( our stage manager at the time ) asked me to play during his forthcoming church wedding to Ceppi. So I came up with this little waltz for him, Anto added the middle bit. Mike shaped it and brought us up a key at the end. It was knocking around as a kinda joke tune within the band for a while. I remember there was a big gang dancing around the studio when we recorded it and pints of porter to be had.
7. And A Bang On The Ear
We played a lot of takes before we got this right. It is often the simple ones that are the most difficult. What is a bang on the ear - that's what I want to know. I love Jay Dee's ceili drums and of course Mairtin O’Connor's lively accordion.
8. Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?
We had been listening to a lot of Hank Williams records. I had even found Luke the Drifter (Hank’s alias) records out in San Francisco. I love the pure tone and lyricism that Hank's fiddler Jerry Rivers achieved - surely a real master.
9. When Will We Be Married ?
I carried this traditional tune that is embedded in this song for a long while. I can't remember where I learned it, but I used to play it with my cousin Hughie. Late nights working with Mike at Charlie Lennon's house in Spiddal shaped it into the version here.
10. When Ye Go Away
I had a go at making a tune up for this. Myself and Frankie Gavin failed to make the grade and Charlie's meliflous 'River Road Reel' got the votes of the Moscow jury.
11. Dunford's Fancy
This tune was composed in Charlie Lennon's house. There must be something in the water. Steve Dunford (brother of John) was around in the house egging me on with his bodhran. Thankfully Mike recorded our shenanigans, otherwise it would have been lost and this more polished version with Brendan O Regan wouldn't exist at all.
12. The Stolen Child
Myself and Anto called out to Carraroe in Connemara to find Tomas Mac Eoin after hearing his tape. We arrived at a pub called "Realt na Maidne" (the morning star) and discovered that he lived nearby. So we bought a bottle of whiskey from the beautiful bar maid and called around to his cottage. He told us to Feck off!
13. This Land is Your Land.
Mike or Anto gave me Woody Guthrie's "Bound for Blory" to read. It is a really great and inspiring book. I've been a Woody Guthrie fan ever since. The verse I sing with the Irish placenames came to me whilst staying in Doolin, Co Clare, just across from the Aran Islands.
1. Carolan's Welcome.
It was a great experience playing with Alec Finn and Frankie Gavin of De Dannan on this tune. The sun was streaming in through the windows of the old ballroom of Spiddal house as we were recording.
2. Killing My Heart.
Drummer Noel Bridgeman took everybody by surprise when he revealed his talent on the accordion, his first instrument! I love this version - it’s Mike with the Alexander brothers!
3. You In The Sky.
This is one of my very favorite Waterboys' tracks. We only played it once on stage, during a soundcheck in Milton Keynes Bowl. I will remember that to my dying day.
4. When Will We Be Married?
With Vinnie, Donal and Liam this great version is serious trad! I loved the way we could really conquer it. Anto's caterwauling harp is amazing.
5. Nobody 'Cept You
I really got Bob T Dylan's lyrics on this one. We played around with this song a lot. I love Anto's fog-horn baritone sax, like a ship coming in!
6. Fisherman's Blues
I can hear 'the blues' in this version. Vinny's pipes and whistle playing are really great and lonesome.
7. Girl of the North Country
This is real "raggle taggle" in my opinion -and a beautiful inspired song.
8. Lonesome And A Long Way From Home
Mike, Anto and myself rwere all eading Chet Flippo’s 'Your Cheatin Heart', a great biography of Hank Williams. The spirit of ol' Hank drifted around with us for a while and wafted into this song.
9. If I Can't Have You
Kevin Wilkinson, who drums on this one, was a former Waterboy who at the time of this recording was playing with China Crisis. He had a lot of shared history with Mike and Anto and I remember laughing a lot when he was around.
10. Rattle My Bones And Shiver My Soul
We played live all the time in the studio during the making of Fisherman's Blues, and we must have driven the engineers mad! They never knew whether anything was a record or a Jam. Did it matter? I would play a tune and everybody'd join in. Anto would play some old blues song he'd just learnt. Mike would sing a Gospel song or Elvis or something. I sometimes didn’t know if we were playing a Mike song, a Hank song or a Gospel song! This was one of those songs. Keep the head down and stay in tune if possible!
11. Let Me Feel Holy Again.
As well as Claddagh records in Dublin one of my favorite record shops was a little gospel record shop, Miracle Records in Brixton, quite near the Brixton Academy. Mike and myself went to a gospel concert in Brixton around this time and we were both blown away by the power, majesty and grace of the service. Some influence of that occasion comes into this recording. It’s also got a beautiful mixture of flute and whistle playing against each other. I remember the athmosphere in the studio at times could be a combination of awe and powerful anticipation - this song was like that.
12.. Meet Me At The Station
We are on the gospel train again here. This became a staple Waterboys live song for a while.
13. The Good Ship Sirius.
We played a gig on the decks of the greenpeace ship 'Sirius', while she was tied up at the Dublin docks. Her berth was two minutes walk from Windmill Lane studios where we were recording. After the gig some of the Greenpeace crew came back to the studio. Their cook sang a beautiful song for us in Spanish and I felt honour bound to make up this little tune in reply.
14. Soon As I Get Home.
Bob Johnston just let the tapes roll.......bassist John Pattatuci had a new fangled bass with removable neck. Drumer Jim Keltner said to me "man, you make that fiddle sound like an electric guitar".