Big Country Info Big Country Info

 

CREDITS

(jump to: Liner Notes)

Guitar - Bruce Watson
Guitar/Vocals - Stuart Adamson
Bass - Tony Butler
Drums - Mark Brzezicki

 

LINER NOTES

(jump to: Credits)

In the heady days of 1978, few people ever dreamt that the guitarist of a noisy Dunfermline punk band called The Skids would ever end up leading one of the biggest stadium rock success of the 80s. But then, no one would have thought that their square-jawed singer, Richard Jobson, would go on to be a TV presenter, actor and media clothes horse...

Ironically, out of the two chief Skids, guitarist Stuart Adamson looked less well-equiped to reinvent himself as a front-man in the aftermath of punk. His role in the group has always been overshadowed by Jobson's natural bent for showmanship, which included everything from dancing wildly on stage, to dying his hair and reading poetry. Yet it was Adamson who provided the Skids with their trademark guitar sound, and who disciplined the group on stage - and it was always Adamson who had crafted many of the group's catchiest tunes, like "Into The Valley" and "Masquerade".

After the Skids art-rock took a worrying Nietzschean turn, with Jobson fencing with Spandau Ballet over who could (ab)use pre-war German imagery to keenest effect, Adamson departed in 1981 to start his own outfit. Returning to Dunfermline, he recruited his schoolboy chum Bruce Watson as second guitarist, re-emerging a few months later with Big Country - a group with a strong sense of their Scottish roots and a muscular rock sound built around a twin 6-string assault, which occasionally combined to produce bagpipe melodies.

In the spring of 1982, Phonogram fended off stiff competition from Ensign to sign the group, and Tony Butler (bass) and Mark Brzezicki (drums, ex-On The Air) replacing the temporary rhythm section, they set to work on a debut album with producer Steve Lillywhite.

Their originality and power won them a prestigious support spot on the Jam's farewell tour in December 1982, and in February 1983 they soared to their first top 10 with the anthemic "Fields Of Fire", followed by their classic signature "In A Big Country" and "Chance". The singles formed the centrepiece of "The Crossing", whose measured rock and lyrical themes of overcoming physical and spiritual hardships aligned the group to the 19th century Gaelic balladers, and this traditional aspect helped win them a loyal Scottish and American fanbase.

The sophisticated rocker "Wonderland" heralded the arrival in 1984 of the No 1 album "Steeltown" - home to "East Of Eden" adn "Where The Rose Is Sown" - though it was 1986's "The Seer" that marked the group's commercial and artistic apex. Spawning the hit "Look Away" and the stand-out track "I Walk The Hill", it realised Adamson's dream of successfully marrying an expansive stadium rock sound with an overt pop sensibility. Sympathising with the lot of the ordinary man - workman's check shirts and jeans were the sartorial order of the day - Big Country had become Europe's answer to Bruce Springsteen, and were even out-Bossing the Boss in his own country.

A need to capitalise on their Stateside success resulted in a more mellow sound for their next LP, "Peace In Our Time", released around the time this live set was recorded. The stand-out track from the album, "King Of Emotion", gifted them with yet another worldwide smash. But behind the scenes the band were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their record company's role and after the disapointing "No Place Like Home" (1991), they quit Phonogram to sign with Chrysalis, who issued the far tougher "Buffalo Skinners" album in 1993. This LP included several reworkings of earlier material, together with feisty guitar barrages like "Long Way Home", thus underscoring their relevance to 1990s rock. All a long way from their days playing punk rock in the sweaty Marquee club... 


-Pat Gilbert, Record Collector Magazine, August 1995