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Universal Hall


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Audio CD, September 9, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This is the follow-up to 2000's critically acclaimed comeback, "A Rock In The Weary Land". Twelve songs in a series of unique, uncompromising, and ground breaking styles containing elements of pop, gospel, acoustic, and minimalism, with lyrics that articulate the clearest vision yet of the spirituality at the heart of Mike Scott's songs.

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While restless musical eclecticism and unabashed spiritualism have been the ruin of many a lesser band, Mike Scott's Waterboys have oft worn them as a badge of honor throughout their rough ‘n' tumble history. And while those shifts from electric to acoustic, anthemic to ethnic have produced nearly as much consternation as transcendence for their listeners, each effort has been true to itself in subtly different ways. That's no less true on this collection of, in Scott's own summation, "one Irish reel and eleven spiritual-based songs." The crypto-religious dimensions of Scott's long dalliance with the Findhorn Foundation are marked from the album's title (a Scottish theater run by the organization) and the upbeat, neo-classicism of the opening anthem, "This Light Is for the World." "The Christ in You" and "Silent Fellowship" continue those themes, but begin to explore the subtle, compelling sonic dimensions that are the album's greatest strength. With fiddler Steve Wickham back in the fold, the band's folk ambitions resonate anew with quiet strength on the lovely "Peace of Iona" and the vigorous reel, "Dance at the Crossroads." Yet "Seek the Light" proves Scott can just as quickly still conjure the challenging electro-angst of the Waterboys "comeback," Rock In a Weary Land , before coming full circle on the expansive, spiritually unapologetic title track.--Jerry McCulley

1. This Light Is For The World
2. The Christ In You
3. Silent Fellowship
4. Every Breath Is Yours
5. Peace Of Iona
6. Ain't No Words For The Things I'm Feeling
7. Seek The Light
8. I've Lived Here Before
9. Always Dancing, Never Getting Tired
10. The Dance At The Crossroads
11. E.B.O.L.
12. Universal Hall

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 9, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 2003
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Minty Fresh
  • ASIN: B0000AQS74
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,752 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "jbstar2" on December 16, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Mike Scott (guitars, Vocal , Richard Niaff (keys) and Steve Wickham (fiddle) have been together just 3 or so years (Scott is the Waterboys with whomever he wishes to work with) and this is the first waterboys album to feature all 3. Magnificient. A truly remarkeable record, where Scott manages to reveal his soul bare and write songs to inspire and move. Written out of a unique profound faith, he twists and restles with his love for faith. Universal Hall the title track is a dreamy story of sending light upon people and land. The track takes its name from a Spiritual santuary for all believers in Northern Scotland. It is a hall in the Findhorn Foundations centre at Findhorn Bay a place where Scott calls his Spiritual home and the place where the record was recorded. The music is intricate yet very simple, and always uplifting. I find it hard to imagine any listener comming away after a listen feeling anything but joy.
One other point. This is a group that must be experienced live, seek them out, you will not regret it.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Universal Hall is almost the complete musical antithesis to the last Waterboys CD (Rock in a weary land). Where 'Weary Land' was mostly angry, electric, dramatic and sometimes sounding like it was "recorded in Hell", "Hall" is gentle, melodic and positive (the track "seek the light" is the musical exception, but the message still fits with the rest of this CD).
Universal Hall finds Mike Scott at peace, and in the same Findhorn environment which brought the muscially similar "Bring 'Em All In". However, where that disk contained questions and cries for help ("Columba heal my back heart", "what do you want me to do?" etc.), Universal Hall provides answers.
The beauty of Mike's words and melodies is found in standouts like "The Christ in You", "Every Breath is Yours", and the sublime "Peace of Iona". Also, the return of Steve Wickham is magical - he has never sounded better, and his tune "Dance at the Crossroads" would not be out of place if heard in The Green Dragon in Bywater!
As always, the sound of the Waterboys has progressed - this is not "Fisherman's Blues", or "This Is the Sea", but it is equally fabulous.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lee Armstrong HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 4, 2004
Format: Audio CD
For those of us who regarded "Fisherman's Blues" as a breathtaking classic, "Universal Hall" will also assume a place of honor. The opener "This Light is for the World" bursts with energy and Steve Wickham's glorious fiddle orchestra, "Send it out with sword of fire, with cymbal, drum & angel choir, music in the heart of it proclaiming that the lamp is lit." "Christ In You" emotionally articulates the New Age Buddha-like view that Christ is a level of consciousness attainment that each can reach, "When I'm looking through the eyes of love." "Every Breath Is Yours" is also a near classic with such a powerful build of spiritual sentiment with acoustic guitar & Mike Scott's piano, "Who is it moves in me, beloved? Whose hands & feet are these?" "Peace of Iona" has a buoyant feel with lyrical repetition that climaxes with "peace of the unseen, peace of the spirit." "Seek the Light" turns to electronic instruments and fuzzed vocal distortions. "Always Dancing, Never Getting Tired" has a great pulsing beat with Mike's hushed vocals quivering with spiritual anticipation. "The Dance at the Crossroads" is a sweet Celtic jig with Wickham's fiddle and Richard Naiff's flute & piano. "E.B.O.L." which stands for "Eternal Being Of Love" is a 2-line homily. The CD closes with the title track that sounds like the lyric came before the melody. While not perfect, this is a wonderful set which keeps jumping into my changer. I've included it on my list of best CDs of the year. Enjoy!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Matthew J. Harris on December 12, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Mike Scott has always seemed to follow his heart as opposed to the pocketbook in his musical releases. The guy can rock and play with the best of them...and he can really deliver on the low key. Never predictable, always literate and without being "fake" or "hyped". I like the CD and the more I listen it simply grabs you...not a knock over the head. Mike Scott and his Waterboys will always be relevant.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard Magee on April 23, 2004
Format: Audio CD
... this cd helps light the way. If you follow Mike Scott into his love of CS Lewis, Eileen Caddy, and the spritual journey ("Been a long way to the Light" as he sang on a previous album," this CD makes perfect sense. Many of the songs are mantras/meditations accompanied by ethereal fiddle playing which, along with the words, lift the listener who is open to epiphany. As for the "oooeeooo" which seemed to bother reviewer Jim so much, I believe this is an example of using sound (as in "OM," to produce spiritual and physical efeects in the singer and listener. Having read numerous books on the subject of the healing power of music, I have to say this is the most uplifting, comforting, invigorating cd in my collection. I love a Waterboys rock-out as much as the next fan, but this collection of songs is extra special. Not music to dance to, so much as music to connect to God with. Definately not for those who eschew the spiritual side of music, but an absolute treat for those of us who do. Mike Scott has been far truer to his religious muse than Dylan or Van Morrison, who after a brief burst of spiritual creativity seem to have returned to other, more secular interests. Also, while Morriosn and Dylan spent a couple years playing only the new spiritual material, Mike Scott has mixed the new with the old in his live shows. Following a UNIVERSAL HALL song with "The Pan WIthin" or "I Know She's in the Building" show that Mike Scott hasn't abandoned his past work, only added to it, and that he sees that the scared and the physically passionate are not mutually exclusive.
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