A Rock In The Weary Land

The Waterboys

Razor And Tie Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/13/2001

Look, I've always liked the Waterboys. I was one of the nine guys in the US who bought their classic 1985 CD, This Is The Sea, when it first came out, and once got lucky while "The Whole Of The Moon" was playing. I have a copy of Fisherman's Blues somewhere. I even liked 1991's Dream Harder, which a lot of Waterboys fans think is only useful as a drink coaster or mini-frisbee. I can handle the fact that the original lineup of the Waterboys, Mike Scott, Anthony Thistlethwaite, and Kevin Wilkerson, is history, and that now 'The Waterboys' is Mike Scott and whoever else of his friends shows up.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But I cannot listen to what is at best a mediocre CD and be nice to it because it's a band I have sentimental attachment to. Sorry, I have a reputation to protect. And the latest release by The Waterboys, A Rock In The Weary Land, is about two-thirds crap.

Mike Scott is a talented musician, don't get me wrong. When he's on, he's on. But like a lot of talented musical visionaries - Neal Morse of Spock's Beard and Paula Cole come to mind - he has released a work that is so experimental as to be almost dysfunctional. I'm sure it's a lot of fun to sit there in the recording studio and twiddle yer knobs until the music sounds really wacked out. Hell, Trent Reznor's made a career of it. But if it gets in the way of the song, it's no longer serving its purpose. A Rock In The Weary Land is so full of distortion, effects generator effluvia, and fuzz as to be unlistenable in several places, specifically on "Dumbing Down The World", "Let It Happen", and "The Charlatan's Lament". In addition, this CD is touted as the return of former Waterboys fiddler Steve Wickham, but I'll be damned if I hear much fiddle anywhere on this CD. I'm not asking for a return to Room To Roam, but it'd be nice to hear a little of it.

Most of the songs on the CD are mediocre to fair, neither impacting nor really offending. Some of them might even be nice if I could hear them through the fuzz. Exceptions include "My Love Is A Rock In The Weary Land", which is a brilliant, soaring romp through gospel-tinged wide-screen rock; "Is She Conscious?", with its unblinking vignettes; and the oddly gripping "Crown", the only track where Scott's effects-intensive style works on this CD.

I really wanted to like A Rock In The Weary Land. But, frankly, I don't; it's a perfect example of how tricks and a touch of self-indulgence can get in the way of real artistry. Unless you're an absolute die-hard fan, pass this one by.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2001 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Razor And Tie Records, and is used for informational purposes only.