Big Country Info Big Country Info

 

LINER NOTES (2003 BRILLIANT RECORDS)

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BIG COUNTRY

The sad death of Stuart Adamson in December 2001, aged just 43, wa much mourned as tributes spoke unanimously of the immense likeability and decency which lay behind his troubled personality ; h: has left a legacy of highly individual music with an inspirational, panoramic sound befitting the name of his band Big Country.

Adamson had been a member of the Scottish pop/punk outfit The Skids in the late 1970s, enjoying considerable success with three albums, before he returned home to Dunfermline to form Big Count with old friend Bruce Watson in 1981. Signed to Phonogram, three singles made the charts two years later, beginning with Fields Of Fir: which first established the band, followed by In A Big Country and Chance. These were all included on their landmark debut album The Crossing (immaculately produced by Steve Lillywhite), which gave them major league status, huge in America, and sold over three million copies worldwide.

Big Country also became a big live attraction, fans drawn irresistibly to their unique sound, once described as "bagpipe guitar" ; they certainly had a distinctive vision, often linked to subject matter concerning their native Scotland, and performances focused on their swirling, anthemic melodies. It was defiantly guitar-based, in contrast to the surplus of synthesizer bands around at the time.

1984's Steeltown entered the U.K. album charts at No.1, such was thei popularity by then, and they continued to record and perform as a hig profile top act throughout the 80s, achieving further success in the singles charts with Look Away and with albums The Seer and Peace In Our Time. The following decade showed some signs of repetition, although 1999's Driving To Damascus contained a fine duet with Eddi Reader and two songs written by the Kinks' Ray Davies : the great songs from the mid 80s, however, instantly recognisable as Big Country, will always be their most fondly remembered.
Neil Kellas 2003


Greatest Hits Live
 

LINER NOTES (2005 ELAP RECORDS)

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Scotland's BIG COUNTRY was formed by frontman Stuart Adamson in the early 80's as one of the most promising rock bands. With their bagpipe-like twin-guitar sound the debut single "Harvest Home" and follow-up "Fields of Fire" made it to the U.K. Top Ten. In 1983 the debut album "The Crossing" was launched with a unique celtic-inspired sound. The album went gold in America and its success was spurred by the Top 20 hit "In a Big Country". In 1984 Big Country returned with the hit single "Wonderland" and their second album, "Steeltown", entered the charts at number one. The third album "The Seer" from 1986 included their biggest hit yet "Look Away". In 1988 a tour of the Soviet Union accompanied the release of"Peace in Our Time". With their sixth album "Buffalo Skinners" the group had another British top hit "Ships". With Big Country's straightforward attitude to life and music they play folk music with loud guitars. This album is a compilation of live recordings throughout Europe in the late 1990s.

Peace In Our Time
 

LINER NOTES (2012 COLLECTORS DREAM RECORDS)

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131 Big Country comprised Stuart Adamson(formerly of The Skids, vocals/guitar/keyboards), Bruce Watson (guitar/mandolin/ sitar/vocals), Tony Butler (bass guitar/vocals) and Mark Brzezicki (drums/percussion/vocals) though a variety of other drummers had played in the band at various times throughout its existence, including Simon Phillips and Aaron B. Prior, to the recruitment of Butler and Brzezicki; an early incarnation of Big Country was a five-piece band and it featured Peter Wishart, later of Runrig and now an SNP MP, on keyboards, his brother Alan on bass, and Clive Parker, drummer from Spizz Energi / Athletico Spizz '80 (Rough Trade & A&M Records).

The manager Ian Grant brought in Brzezicki, and Butler, and along with Watson, the main band Big Country line-up was formed. Although the band's music drew from Scottish traditional music, none of its members were born in Scotland. Adamson grew up in Dunfermline though, and his family was of Scottish descent, so to that extent his Scottish accent was genuine.

Formed initially as a five-piece band in 1981, their first single was "Harvest Home", recorded and released in 1982. It was a modest success, reaching #91 on the UK Singles Chart. Their next single was 1983's "Fields of Fire", which reached the UK's Top Ten and was rapidly followed by the album The Crossing. The album was a hit in the United States (reaching the US Billboard Top 20), powered by in a Big Country", their only U.S. Top 40 hit single. The song featured heavily engineered guitar playing, strongly reminiscent of bagpipes; Adamson and fellow guitarist, Watson, achieved this through the use of the MXR Pitch Transposer 129 Guitar Effect. Also contributing to the band's unique sound was their use of the e-bow a device which allows a guitar to sound more like strings or synthesizer. The Crossing sold over a million copies in the UK and obtained gold record status (sales of over 500,000) in the U.S. The band also performed on both the Grammys and Saturday Night Live,

Their second album Steeltown (1984) was a hit as soon as it was released, entering the UK Albums Chart at number one. The album featured three UK top 30 hit singles, and received considerable critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, but like Wonderland (and, in fact, all subsequent releases) it was a commercial disappointment in the U.S, peaking at #70 on the Billboard album charts.

1986's The Seer, the band's third album, was another big success in the UK, peaking at Number 2. It produced three further Top 30 singles, including the Irish number one hit "Look Away", which would also prove to be the band's biggest hit in the U.K., peaking at #7. Kate Bush provided backing vocals on the album's title track, and as was the norm for the band at the time, the album received good reviews from the music press. In the U.S., The Seer sold a little bit better than Steeltown, reaching #59 on the Billboard charts.
In what some critics felt was an apparent attempt to regain their dwindling U.S. following Big Country used producer Peter Wolf for their next album, Peace in Our Time (1988), which was recorded in Los Angeles. It reached #9 in the UK Album chart, but sold poorly in the United States. During the "Peace In Our Time" Tour, the band were supported by Diesel Park West and Cry Before Dawn.

No Place Like Home (1991) not only effectively killed off the band's commercial hopes in the US, it nearly broke up the band. Drummer Mark Brzezicki returned to the studio as a session drummer after leaving the band. The album found the band trying to reinvent themselves and shift away from their '80s image. It was not a commercial success and was not released in America, although two re-recorded tracks showed upon 1993's The Buffalo Skinners.

In 1991, the band was dropped by Phonogram, the label that had released all of their material for ten years. After that, Big Country became a minor act, popping up in the lower echelons of the charts in the UK and Europe with the release of every subsequent album.

Of growing concern was the mental and emotional health of lead singer Adamson, who reportedly had struggled with alcoholism for several years. Adamson split with his first wife, who later spoke to Scottish and English tabloids about his heavy drinking. He moved to Nashville in the mid-1990s where he took up residence and married a hairdresser. While in Nashville, he met artist Marcus Hummon and released a studio album with him under the moniker The Raphaels. In 1995 Big Country released another album, Why the Long Face?.

1999 saw the release of Big Country's eighth and final studio album, Driving to Damascus Adamson said publicly that he was disappointed that the album did not fare better on the charts, which led to depression. In November 2001, Adamson disappeared. Numerous appeals were put on the Big Country website asking for Adamson to call home and speak to anyone in the band, the management company, or his ex-wife. The website also requested that any fans who might have been 'harbouring' the singer to contact the management company and alert them to his whereabouts. Mark Brzezicki and Tony Butler had indicated they were concerned but the reason Big Country had lasted so long was they stayed out of one another's personal lives, and both later noted they were unaware of the extent of Adamson's problems. He was found dead in a room at the Best Western Plaza Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii on 16 December 2001. The autopsy revealed that he had hanged himself.

A memorial to Adamson was held at Dunfermline's Carnegie Hall in January 2002, followed by a tribute concert at the Barrowlands in May. It brought together the remaining members of both Big Country and The Skids; Adamson's teenage children, Callum and Kirsten; as well as Steve Harley, Runrig, Simon Townshend, Midge Ure and Bill Nelson.

 

CREDITS (CONSOLIDATED)

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1 Harvest Home 4:17 (W. Adamson) EMI Virgin Music Inc.
2 Fields Of Fire 3:58 (W. Adamson / M. Brzezicki / A. Butler/Watson) EMI Virgin Music Inc.
3 In A Big Country 5:48 (W. Adamson / M. Brzezicki / A. Butler/Watson) EMI Virgin Music Inc.
4 Chance 5:34 (W. Adamson / M. Brzezicki / A. Butler/Watson) EMI Virgin Music Inc.
5 Wonderland 4:22 (W. Adamson / M. Brzezicki / A. Butler/Watson EMI Virgin Music Inc.
6 Where The Rose Is Sown 4:53 (W. Adamson / M. Brzezicki / A. Butler/Watson) EMI Virgin Music Inc.
7 Just A Shadow 4:43 (W. Adamson / M. Brzezicki / A. Butler/Watson) EMI Virgin Music Inc.
8 Look Away 4:07 (W. Adamson) EMI Virgin Songs Inc.
9 The Teacher 4:34 (W. Adamson) EMI Virgin Songs Inc.
10 King Of Emotion 6:06 (W. Adamson) EMI Virgin Songs Inc.
11 Thirteen Valleys 4:33 (W. Adamson) EMI Virgin Songs Inc.
12 Peace In Our Time 3:24 (W. Adamson) EMI Virgin Songs Inc.
13 Ships 6:08 (W. Adamson) EMI Virgin Songs Inc.
14 Republican Party Reptile 4:54 (W. Adamson / B. Watson) EMI Virgin Music Inc.

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{2012 Collectors Dream Records} Rauheckstraße 10 / D-74232 Abstatt / Germany
Licensed from San Juan Music Group Ltd., 499 Ernston Road, Parlin, New Jersey 08859, USA    
Recorded Live in Concert 1986-1991
STUART ADAMSON lead vocals, guitars
BRUCE WATSON lead guitars
TONY BUTLER bass guitar
MARK BRZEZICKI drums