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Critics were divided on its release with some disappointed at the change of direction and others ranking it among The Waterboys' best work. The album was the Waterboys' best selling album, reaching a number 13 placing on the U.K. charts on release, and 76 on the Billboard 200.
The title track reached third place on Billboard's Modern Rock chart. The single for the song reached position 32 on the UK singles charts in 1989 and position 75, when re-issued in 1991. "Fisherman's Blues" was used on the pilot episode of the TV series Lights Out, and has appeared on the soundtracks of the movies Good Will Hunting, Waking Ned Devine and Dream with the Fishes.