Ex-Waterboy Rocks To Beat Of Different Drum Machine

Mastermind behind '80s folk-pop band aims to modernize solo sound with electronic beats.

At first notice, Scotsman and modern-day folk-rocker Mike Scott's

decision to employ drum programming on his next solo album may seem a

radical move.

But, as Scott tells it, this isn't as out-of-character as it

might appear.

"I've listened to a lot of records where I loved the drum

programming," Scott said. "The Chemical Brothers' 'The Private

Psychedelic Reel' [from 1997's Dig Your Own Hole] is one

of the greatest rock 'n' roll records I've ever heard."

The vocalist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is probably best

known as the mastermind behind the Waterboys, the '80s Irish folk-rock

band which specialized in sweeping, romantic epics and, later,

neo-traditional folk-rock -- hardly the kind of material geared

for the rat-a-tat rhythms of drum machines.

Still, Scott promised that the as-yet-untitled album, currently

in the demo stage, will be rooted in rock and will follow the

same style of Scott's troubadour-like storytelling, as rendered

on his own and with the Waterboys.

Meanwhile, an ample supply of his past material -- all delivered

with his trademark sincerity and passion -- has been made available

in new form.

EMI Records recently released The Whole of the Moon: The Music

of Mike Scott and the Waterboys, a 16-track compilation of

songs from Scott's two solo albums and the Waterboys' work. That

band was a sensation in Ireland but never matched the U.S. success

of other Irish acts, such as U2.

The Waterboys had their biggest hit with

"The Whole of the Moon" (RealAudio excerpt),

from 1985's For This Is the Sea.

Mike Etchart, director of product development for EMI/Capitol,

is hopeful about the new compilation's chances.

"It's difficult to gauge how the album will do with the big crowd

of releases," Etchart said. "But [Scott] is a core artist at the

alternative radio format."

The Whole of the Moon collection includes cuts from Scott's

second solo album, 1997's Still Burning -- a disc that

was released in the U.S. for the first time in October, on the

Minty Fresh label's new Steady Records imprint. The release means

that such rocking songs as "Love Anyway" (RealAudio excerpt), about sticking with a not-so-nice lover, are now available in the U.S. on two new releases.

The webmaster of Mike Scott/The Waterboys Unofficial Web Site

(http://bath.future.easyspace.com) wrote in an e-mail that he was

overjoyed to see the release of Still Burning. "We had [the album] in the U.K. a year or so ago, and it's great," said the webmaster, who went only by the name C Jazz. "He's certainly improving with each album. The U.S. version of the album comes with four [extra] tracks. 'Man on the Mountain' and 'King Electric' are excellent."

For Scott, Still Burning was "similarly personal and intimate," compared to his folky, one-man debut effort, 1995's Bring 'Em All In. One of the tracks from Scott's first solo LP on the Whole of the Moon compilation is the heavily Bob Dylan-styled folk number, "She Is So Beautiful."

Scott, who turns 40 in December, counts Dylan as one of his biggest musical influences, along with such rock legends as John Lennon and David Bowie and such punk-rock icons as the Clash and Patti Smith.

One of the retrospective's tracks, the top-30 U.K. hit "Glastonbury Song," from the final Waterboys' album, 1993's Dream Harder, was composed of bits and pieces of unused lines -- a method Dylan once said he frequently used.

"'Glastonbury Song' [has] 50 different, disconnected lines about different places in the U.K.," Scott recalled. "I was living in New York [at the time] and homesick for Britain."

Scott was the frontman/leader of the Waterboys throughout the band's history. The Waterboys' 1983 eponymous debut was "the most band-like" album, he said, adding that thereafter the group was basically a collection of backing musicians, including Karl Wallinger, who went on to form the Beatlesque pop band World Party.

Scott added that he's currently eager to continue his solo recording career, for which he is never short on ideas, even when it comes to filming videos for his songs.

For the video to the Still Burning track "Rare, Precious and Gone," Scott used a U.K. airport booth to shoot amateur footage. He said he was more satisfied with the results than with any of his professionally filmed videos.

"I just hope that he releases more and more of the songs that he has hidden away from the Waterboys era and from when he was in Another Pretty Face," C Jazz said. "For the future, we hope there's a tour very soon and, as always, new material."