Big Country

Following on from the critical success of “The Crossing” deluxe edition in 2012 and last year’s Super Deluxe Edition of “Big Country at The BBC” comes the 30th Anniversary release of the band’s Number 1 album, “Steeltown”. Produced by Steve Lillywhite at Abba’s Polar Studios in Stockholm, the album soared straight to Number 1 in the UK. Available on 2CD deluxe edition as well as 2LP, the second disc of the 2CD now features single A-sides & B-sides, plus; 7 previously unreleased mixes including versions of Wonderland recorded at Castlesounds Studios. The wonderful commemorative package also includes a 24 page booklet, complete with rare memorabilia and new sleeve-notes.

Big Country are a band that since forming in 1981 have created a distinctive effect-laden guitar sound that went on to influence a host of artists including the Manic Street Preachers and U2. Stuart Adamson formed Big Country after leaving The Skids in the early 1980’s, he had a very specific idea of how he wanted the band to sound. After putting together a selection of demo’s with a five-piece band including Peter Wish (Later Of Runrig) on keyboards, his brother Alan on bass, and Clive Parker on drums; the line-up went on the ‘Special Forces’ with Alice Cooper. They were out of their depth and were sacked after only two gigs! Adamson then recruited the rhythm section of Mark Brzezicki(Drums) and Tony Butler(Bass), along with Bruce Watson on guitar to form the classic line up of Big Country. Their ground breaking debut album “The Crossing” reached number three in the charts in 1983 with it’s atmospheric, melodic guitars and moving lyrics. The band soon had an army followers with big expectations for the 2nd album.

Big Country

The 2nd album arrived in October 1984 and charted at number one in the UK album charts. The album had a fresh new energy with some fantastic, evolutionary twin guitar work; which came from the amazing chemistry between Watson and Adamson. The album featured three singles: “East Of Eden”, “Just a Shadow” and “Where The Rose is Sown”. The band were able to prove that they were not only masters of the live performance, they could also cut a record in the studio worthy of positive critcal acclaim. It’s hard to believe that the album this year reaches 30 years of age; as when you listen to it now, it sounds as fresh as it did back then.

The new, third re-issue of the album features the original 10 tracks; as well as the addional tracks released on the various formats released on the three singles. If you are a fan you have probably got all these already on the many compilations that have been put out over the years. The collection is worth purchasing for the newly unearthed demos alone. Stuart Adamson was well known for being very hard on himself, and over the years he would try out songs over and over to get things just the way he wanted. These demos recorded at the Castlesounds Studios show the band working towards the finished article, and to be honest they are not that far away at this point. “Wonderland” was a single released around the same time, but it did not originally appear on the album due to being released on an imported mini album/cassette. It’s inclusion here fits perfectly with the rest of the great tracks of possibly Big Country’s finest work.

Big Country

After Stuart Adamson’s death in 2001, the remaining band members tried various ways of getting the spirit of the band on the road again. The first was as a three-piece with Tony taking on lead vocal duties. The second was much more successful with Adamson’s friend Mike Peters of The Alarm taking over on lead vocals. The line-up toured extensively and released a new album called “The Journey”. Things sadly soured and Peters left to return to his own solo career. The band this year confirmed vocalist Simon Hough as their newest member, as well as a tour of the UK to celebrate Steeltown’s 30th Anniversary. The band will never ever be the same without Stuart Adamson, whose immence skill with the guitar and passionate songwriting have left a great legacy for all to hear.

Track Listing
Disc 1
Flame of the West
East of Eden
Where the Rose Is Sown
Come Back to Me
Tall Ships Go
Girl With Grey Eyes
Rain Dance
Great Divide
Just a Shadow

Disc 2
Wonderland (Single A-side)
Giant (Single B-side)
All Fall Together (Giant Remix)
East of Eden (Radio Edit)
Prairie Rose (Single B-side)
Where The Rose Is Sown (Radio edit)
Belief In The Small Man (Single B-side)
Bass Dance (Single B-side)
Just A Shadow (Radio edit)
Winter Sky (Single B-side)
Wonderland (Work In Progress Take 1) *
Wonderland (Work In Progress Demo Take 2) *
East of Eden (Rough Mix) *
Tall Ships (Rough Mix) *
Where The Rose Is Sown (Rough Mix) *
Come Back To Me (Rough Mix) *
Bass Concerto (Bass Dance) *
(*) Previously Unreleased


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Words By Dave Chinery (Chinners)

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