The Waterboys Albums Ranked

The Waterboys are a Scottish-Irish folk-rock band formed in Edinburgh in 1983 by Scottish musician Mike Scott. The band’s membership, past and present, has been composed mainly of musicians from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England. Mike Scott has remained the only constant member throughout the band’s career. They have explored a number of different styles, but their music is mainly a mix of folk music with rock and roll. They dissolved in 1993 when Scott departed to pursue a solo career. The group reformed in 2000, and continue to release albums and tour worldwide. Scott emphasizes a continuity between The Waterboys and his solo work, saying that “To me, there’s no difference between Mike Scott and The Waterboys; they both mean the same thing. They mean myself and whoever are my current traveling musical companions.” Here are all of The Waterboys albums ranked.

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10. A Rock In The Weary Land (2000)

A Rock in the Weary Land - The Waterboys | Songs, Reviews, Credits |  AllMusic

“Mike Scott has created a new style and sound, which is very different from earlier Waterboys efforts. I love Pagan Place and This is the Sea, and this new one is just as good, but very different. Scott has combined eras–60s folk and Beatles-pop, 70s arena rock power chords, 80s new wave, and 90s grunge to create a truly imaginative but also very listenable style. The songs are passionate and deeply layered musically and lyrically, but still catchy and entertaining. In my view, it is Scott’s best work yet.”

9. Modern Blues (2015)

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“An unexpected late career triumph, filled with remarkable imagery and killer hooks. The playing is utterly impeccable — getting Muscle Shoals Swamper David Hood to play on this (and in the live band) is a genius stroke. This is the guy who drove Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin records, and he does the same for Scott here.”

8. Dream Harder (1993)

Dream Harder by The Waterboys (Album, Pop Rock): Reviews, Ratings, Credits,  Song list - Rate Your Music

“Dream Harder is a different sound than much of the Waterboys’ music. That’s not to say this is any better nor any worse. It’s just different. Scott’s infatuation with all things Irish is gone here. As I said, this is a much different sound. It is still mystifying, swirling and sensual, it’s just not the same as you might used to be when you listen to them.”

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7. The Best Of The Waterboys 81-90 (1991)

The Waterboys – The Best Of The Waterboys '81 - '90 (1991, CD) - Discogs

“Blend of traditional Irish sounds with pop/rock makes great listening. Appointment with Mr. Yeats is, however, their very best album with imaginative and original settings of Yeats poems, including The Lake Isle of Innisfree as a blues.”

6. An Appointment With Mr. Yeats (2011)

The Waterboys - An Appointment with Mr. Yeats Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

“Here’s another example of why Scott is one of the most interesting of contemporary musicians. This came out in 2011 and is a collection of songs with lyrics taken from poems by William Butler Yeats the famous Irish poet and playwright. To do something like this and do it artistically successfully is not easy. At the very least the singer has to sing with absolute clarity so that every word is heard by the listener, and not only that but it has to convey the rhythm of the poem as created by its author. The music then has to mirror the poem’s tone and tempo. Lastly it has to appear seamlessly as an organic unit as if it was always a whole piece, not just a poem set to music.”

5. Room To Roam (1990)

The Waterboys - Room To Roam - CD - -

“This is an outstanding album from The Waterboys. For me, a much more diverse album than Fisherman’s Blues with both up tempo and quiet tracks interspersed throughout. Also you get a superb disc 2 with alternate versions of the songs. It would be difficult to say which disc is the best as both are high standard. Excellent colourful packaging too that adds further to the really good value of the whole.”

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4. A Pagan Place (1984)

Waterboys - Pagan Place - Music

“This in my opinion is one of the best albums of the 1980s. It is a mix of rock anthems and flavored with irish folk music. Church not made with Hands is one of the strongest tunes ever written. Some may be put off by its artistic intentions but its rock and roll heart will win you over.”

3. The Waterboys (1983)

The Waterboys - The Waterboys - Reviews - Album of The Year

“My love for Mike Scott and the Waterboys (1983) from this album through Dream Harder (1993) is one of the most treasured parts of my music collection. These albums feel like they can barely contain the wild Scottish romantic – his passion burn through these albums. His initial vision was something he called “The Big Music”, deep in an echo pit and sounding like wind on mountain. His first offering is understandably a little rawer, a little more tied to punk than later releases. Best Songs: “December”, “The Three Day Man”, “I Will Not Follow” (an answer song to U2’s first hit), and “It Should Have Been You”. Unlike the other re-releases, the bonus tracks do not add much.One person found this helpful”

2. Fisherman’s Blues (1988)

Fisherman's Blues -

“This is a terrific old style Irish CD from a lovely band. Check out This is the Sea as well. A very different album, but equally valuable in its own right. The Waterboys are definitely the best band on the planet. It’s great to have their music while I’m travelling.”

1. This Is The Sea (1985)

Happy Anniversary: The Waterboys, This Is The Sea | Rhino

“If you only get one Waterboys album, this should be the one. I fell in love with it from the first few notes of the brilliant opening to Don’t Bang the Drum and the whole album is absolutely superb. There’s not a duff track on it and I love it as much now as when I first heard it all those years ago in my friend David’s car on the way to a gig at the Comedy Club – thanks for the introduction, mate! The second disk has a lot of tracks that I’ve never heard, so this was a bonus, as the majority of them could have made it onto the released albums. All in all, one of my favourite ever albums from one of my favourite ever bands, the big music that The Waterboys gave us should have been far more successful commercially, but I’m sure that all of us who picked up on it still bang the drum on behalf of Mike Scott and the boys. Awesome.”