The Waterboys were formed by Mike Scott in 1983 and Mike is the only member to have remained from then til now. There have been many members over the years, some being: Anthony Thistlethwaite, Roddy Lorimer, Martyn Swain, Kevin Wilkinson, Eddi Reader, Karl Wallinger and Chris Whitten. Their musical style is a mix of Celtic, Folk and Rock N' Roll. Some people have dubbed The Waterboys sound "The Big Music" which is named after a song off the A Pagan Place album. The same term has been used to describe some other bands such as World Party, The Alarm, Simple Minds, The Hothouse Flyers and Big Country, and a lot of their songs are centered around spirituality. The name The Waterboys is taken from Lou Reed's song The Kids.
The self titled debut album The Waterboys was released in 1983 and has one of their most famous songs on it, A Girl Called Johnny. The song is a tribute to Patti Smith who was a great inspiration to Mike Scott alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and David Bowie. The original track listing only had eight songs but the album was re-released in 2002 and has an additional seven songs on it.
When A Pagan Place was released in 1984 it is known that the recording for it started even before The Waterboys album was released. The recording was done in two separate sessions, one in 1982 and the second in 1983 with new band members joining for the second session. This album too was re-released in 2002 with additional songs from the first recording session. Following the release The Waterboys toured the UK, with them also supporting U2 and The Pretenders at Glastonbury Festival.
1985 saw the release of This Is The Sea and was much more successful than the previous two albums and boasts their biggest hit The Whole Of The Moon which reached #26 in the UK. The song could have had more promotion, but Mike Scott refused to perform on Top Of The Pops due to them insisting they must lip sync.
The second phase of The Waterboys style started just before the release of Fisherman's Blues in 1988 and saw them move from The Big Music into the Raggle Taggle Band style which was influenced by Mike Scott moving to Ireland and the folk music there. The album is their most successful album to date containing songs like Strange Boat, And A Bang On The Ear and Fisherman's Blues.
Room To Roam was released in 1990 and followed in the folk style of the previous album. The album is apparently named after a passage in a George MacDonald book, Phantastes. Some of the hits from the album are A Man Is In Love, The Raggle Taggle Gypsy, Further Up - Further In and Something That Is Gone.
My favourite of The Waterboys albums, Dream Harder was released in 1993 and is a return to the more Rock style of their earlier albums. The song The Return of Pan is about the Greek God also the song The Return Of Jimi Hendrix is one of my favourite tracks on the album. Some of the other hits from the album are Corn Circles, Glastonbury Song and Preparing to Fly.
A Rock In The Weary Land was released in 2000 and was the first for seven years due to Mike Scott pursuing his solo career. The album saw another shift in style inspired by Radiohead and Beck, and Mike Scott described the style as "Sonic Rock", another change happened in 2003 when they released Universal Hall which is mostly an acoustic album and a return to some of their earlier Celtic music.
In 2007 The Waterboys released a new album Book Of Lightning and contains some new hits like Love Will Shoot You Down, You In The Sky and The Man With The Wind At His Heels. The Waterboys played at the Return To Peace And Love Festival in Sweden on March 11th 2008.