The title of The Waterboys new album ‘Where The Action Is’ is inspired by the chorus of Robert Parker’s 1960s mod / northern soul classic “Let’s Go Baby”. The is a genre-defying album, a testament to the enduring talents of the band’s founder and front man Mike Scott. One of the finest British songwriters of the past four decades, his songs have been covered and/or recorded by artists including Prince, who crafted two different arrangements of Scott’s classic “The Whole Of The Moon”, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, Steve Earle, and Ellie Goulding, who had a number three hit in 2013 with “How Long Will I Love You”.
The title track’s update of the Parker classic - with lyrics to reflect Mike’s own preoccupations - is a cyclone of a song, all swirling Hammond, lead guitar solos played by Steve Wickham on his fuzzboxed-up fiddle, and female vocals provided by the band’s fabulous Jess and Zeenie. There’s visceral rock’n’roll on “London Mick”, a tribute to legendary Clash guitarist, Mick Jones. The first single from the album, “Right Side Of Heartbreak (Wrong Side Of Love)”, was recorded by Mike at home, guitar and vocal into a single microphone, then sent to Waterboys’ keyboard whizz Brother Paul who added the soundscape, beats and effects at his studio in Nashville. An understated, yet infectious, soulful number addressing the trials and tribs of love, it is one of the album’s standout moments. Further experimentation can be found on “And There Is Love” (a collaboration with brilliant English producer Simon Dine) and “Take Me There I Will Follow You”, with its multi-rhyming lyrics over Brother Paul’s beats.
The two closing songs are inspired by towering literary figures. “Then She Made The Lasses-O” is based on Robert Burns’ poem Green Grow The Rashes-O and the album’s final track is “Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”. This is a reading of the most beautiful part of the chapter of the same name from Kenneth Grahame’s famous book The Wind In The Willows. Cut last summer in a single instrumental take at Real World Studios, with Mike adding the vocal in Dublin, the combination of Scott’s exquisite and emotive reading and the wondrous soundscape provided by Brother Paul and Steve Wickham, bassist Aongus Ralston and drummer Ralph Salmins makes a transcendent piece and an extraordinary ending to the album.
Of the albums stylistic variety, Scott says: “I’m afraid that’s gonna be the case of all Waterboys records, there’s always variety. I don’t work within one style of music. I like them all and feel free to move within them all”. And he hasn’t put the idea of the “mixtape mash-up album” to bed yet, either. “It’s still an entity, I’m still working on that. It’ll come out one day”.