Friday, February 1, 2013

The Waterboys - Dream Harder (1993)

The Waterboys have been around for some time, gracing the world with their fusion of rock and folk, catchy tunes and fresh somewhat upbeat feel. They formed in 1983, dissolved in 1993 (obviously after this album) and then reformed again in 2000. I believe they were in fact performing in Australia yesterday too. Apparently over 50 people have passed through the band, spending time as a "waterboy" - some short term, others longer.

Now, for this album - which is something of a rockier number from them. I pounced on it in a sale bin in Real Groovy on one of my Wellington expeditions, knowing exactly one song from it - "The Return of Pan". The cover is appeallingly whimsical - depicting a man with guitar, a rather stylised tree, with hills and a rising sun behind him. I would say, acrylic paints have been used. Despite the childlife simplicity of the artistic style, the clouds look delightfully fluffy and it suits the music which seems to have a similarly whimsical innocence to it. Inside - no lyrics, but instead we have a story. Entitled "The Dream" it is short and not particularly well written (says my inner editor). Not sure how it relates to the actual CD, but it is definitely different!

The track opens with the sparkling, rockin' "The New Life". Solid rock bassline, strong vocals; and a uplifting message:
"The world is a miracle, and so are you!"
"Glastonbury Song" seems to be about finding god in the beauty of the English countryside. Again, uplifting rhythms, catching chorus and very catchy. This is a sunshine song, with rolling green hills, streams trickling merrily through grassy plains and around ancient runes. It contains a fresh vibrancy that cannot help but make you feel glad to be alive.

Now for a song about how love makes you feel like "Preparing to Fly". Bright, fresh, vibrant and polished. The music swoops and soars with the vocals, and one cannot help but feel brimming with hope about the future.

The first song I had heard from this album - "The Return of Pan" begins with... panpipes, of course. I remember videoing this from music TV back in the early 90s and thinking "that's a lot of goats". Pan is a pagan god, occasionally confused with the devil because he's cloven hoofed. But Pan is a nature God.  Or rather, was, for he was "killed" with the rise of Christianity. The panpipes weave along with the rock tune, making this the first actual folkish track on this CD. It's a powerful and haunting song, with a little bit of Pan's wildness in it.

We get a little bit country in "Corn Circles". It is a gentler number, the vocals being accompanied only by acoustic guitars.

And I think possibly a bit bluesy in "Suffer". This is the first actual negative song on the album, and it's more a pushing-you-away-because-I'm-sick-of-you-traipsing-all-over-me song than a you've-hurt-me-and-made-me-suffer.
"I'm gonna suffer for you no longer, I'm gonna suffer for you no more..."
So, really, it's more of a self-empowerment song than an angsty number.

Back into the folksy ballads now, with "Winter Winter" bringing with it a touch of the early chill wind, sending shivers down your spine. It is over in a heartbeat and after winter we are into "Love and Death". The blend is so flawless that I failed to notice it straight away. "Love and Death" is a melancholic number, beautiful and haunting, thanks to the additional of a cello's mournful voice..

Bringing a bit more of a spring into the step, with "Spiritual City". Reptitive choruses, nonsensical but fun lyrics and a darned catchy song overall and pleasantly upbeat. And it stars Billy Connolly, as well.
"Hey ho, skedoodle-a-lo..."
 "Wonders of Lewis" is a strange little number. Who's Lewis? Perhaps something to do with drugs? The music is haunting (celo again?), the vocals spiritual and dream-like. Kinda a little bit hazy too.

And one of the most memorable pieces from the album - "The Return of Jimi Hendrix" which is an entertaining rock number with some goodly guitar, perhaps reminiscient of the great man himself.

And what better way to end a CD then with "Good News". Something of a slower, mellower number. It sounds almost melancholic, but flavoured with the bittersweet taste of hope and faith. Rather lovely.

A nicely eclectic CD, with a goodly blend of the rockin' and the mellow. Perhaps a little less folk than some of their fans might like, but definitely worth a listen.

Rating = 8/10.

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