Doing a 180: The Waterboys, A Pagan Place

Thursday, August 7, 2014
Doing a 180: The Waterboys, A Pagan Place

This week, we’re offering a 180-gram vinyl reissue of the sophomore full-length effort by the Waterboys, the first one featuring songs recorded with what is generally viewed as the definitive lineup of the group: Mike Scott, Anthony Thistlethwaite, Kevin Wilkinson, and Karl Wallinger, who would later go on to form his own band, World Party.

Sharing its title with an Edna O’Brien novel which Mike Scott, who named the album and wrote the title track, has never actually read, the first sessions for A Pagan Place took place in November 1982, but they only featured Scott, Thistlethwaite, and Wilkinson. By the time the band returned to record the remainder of the album, almost a year had passed (the second sessions didn’t take place until September 1983), and in addition to having added Wallinger to the lineup, the band had also released their self-titled album and scored their first chart hit with “A Girl Called Johnny.”

Unfortunately, A Pagan Place did not result in the Waterboys scoring their second chart hit, despite having high hopes for the album’s first single, “The Big Music,“ and although they weren’t released as singles in the UK, “Church Not Made with Hands” and “All the Things She Gave Me” received a promotional push elsewhere which ultimately came to naught. With that said, however, quite a few critics fell in love with the album, which –if nothing else – at least helped raise the band’s, which doubtlessly assisted them in breaking through to mainstream audiences with their next record, 1985’s This Is the Sea.

Remember “The Whole of the Moon”? Well, if you liked that song and always wondered what the rest of the Waterboys’ music was like, then consider taking a trip to A Pagan Place. It may not be the band’s definitive album – we’re pretty sure most people would still bestow that honor on Fisherman’s Blues – but it’s still a strong piece of work.