The Waterboys third album This is the Sea, was a major success but it was another three years before the band released a follow up.
In the meantime, lead singer Mike Scott had moved to Dublin and become hugely influenced by traditional Irish music.
Karl Wallinger also left the band and was replaced by Guy Chambers, who would later become famous for his work with British singer, Robbie Williams. Martyn Swain was replaced by Marco Sin, and Kevin Wilkinson left and made way for new drummer, Chris Whitten.
Fisherman’s Blues was released in 1988 and introduced the world to a new sound for the band. Rather than making another epic rock album they flexed their creative muscles and made an album that contained a mixture of folk, country and rock ‘n’ roll. Trevor Hutchinson and Peter McKinney joined the group for the recording of the album.
It reached number 13 in the UK charts and became the band’s biggest selling album. The song, Fisherman’s Blues reached number 3 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and was featured in the Oscar nominated movie, Good Will Hunting.
The album also contains the songs World Party, Strange Boat and a cover of Van Morrison’s Sweet Thing. While some critics were disappointed in the change of The Waterboys’ sound, many others considered to be their best album to date.
Speaking about the band’s change in musical direction, Scott said: “I was in love with Ireland. Every day was a new adventure, it was mythical.”
The band’s fifth album, Room To Roam was released in 1990. It was their second album in the folk-rock genre. Allmusic described it as a ‘Celtic rock classic’.
It contains the single A Life Of Sundays, which reached number 15 on the Billboard Modern Rock Charts and also features the classic Irish folk song, The Raggle Taggle Gypsy. It featured Sharon Shannon on accordion and Colin Blakey on whistle, flute and piano.
Following the release of the album, Wickham, Shannon and Blakey all left as they were unhappy that Scott intended to ditch the folk sound and return to rock for their next album. Hutchinson and Thistlethwaite also left in 1991, leaving Scott as the only member.