Big Country Info Big Country Info

 

King Biscuit Flower Hour presents Big Country
Never-before-released concert recorded live on New Year’s Eve 1983 in Glasgow, Scotland
-Collector's edition liner notes and vintage photos

BIG COUNTRY                  
Tony Butler - Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals
Mark Brzezicki Drums/Percussion and Backing Vocals
Stuart Adamson Guitars, E-bow and Vocals
Bruce Watson - Guitars, E-Bow and Backing Vocals

Recorded on: New Year's Eve, 1983 at Barrowland Music Hall in Glasgow, Scotland
Executive Producers: Len Handler, Steve Ship
Mastered By: Scott Hull at Masterdisk
Liner Notes: Bruce Pilato
Front Cover Photo By: George Bodnar (courtesy of Star File)
Photos By: Justin Thomas
Layout/Design: Amy Fritch
Production Coordination: Jack Ball
Management: Ian Grant Management
Fan Club: Country Club c/o Jan Bremner,  Dixies, High Street, Ashwell,  Herts SG7 5NT England
70710-88022-2  Email: 100647.3550@compuserve.com

1. 1,000 Stars
2. Angle Park
3. Close Action
4. Lost Patrol
5. Wonderland
6. The Storm
7. Dundonald & Dysart Pipe Band Sequence
8. Porrohman
9. Chance
10. Inwards
11. Fields of Fire
12. Harvest Home
13. Drown In My Tears
14. In A Big Country/Auld Lang Syne
15. Interview With Stuart Adamson
©1997 KING BISCUIT FLOWER DOUR RECORDS, INC. P.O. BOX 6700 FDR STATION. NEW YORK, NY 10150 manufactured and Distributed in Ihe United totes by BMG Music
BMG logo is a Registered Trademark of BMG Music.

BIG COUNTRY DISCOGRAPHY
ALBUM TITLE - RELEASED - U.S. LABEL
The Crossing - 1983 - Mercury
Steeltown - 1984 - Mercury
The Seer - 1986 - Mercury
Peace In Our Time - 1988 - Reprise
The Buffalo Skinners - 1993 - Fox/RCA
The Best of Big Country - 1994 - Mercury
Why The Long Face - 1995 - Pure

KING BISCUIT AD

(jump to: Credits)
(jump to: Liner Notes)
(jump to: King Biscuit Flower Hour History)
(jump to: Wolfgang’s Vault Liner Notes)

DIR PRESENTS

The BIG STORY This Fall

Big Country
on KING BISCUIT
October 23

The hottest new band from the U.K. has played only one engagement in the U.S. and King Biscuit was there to capture all the excitement.

All the raw, honest energy of In a Big Country, Fields of Fire and other great songs from their debut album.

Hear them from their only US. concert appearance October 23. King Biscuit on more than 300 of America's best rock radio stations via the ABC Rock Radio Network.

LINER NOTES

(jump to: Credits)
(jump to: King Biscuit Ad)
(jump to: King Biscuit Flower Hour History)
(jump to: Wolfgang’s Vault Liner Notes)

If they are known for one thing, Big Country should always be remembered for its BIG sound. Huge sound. Massive sound. In fact, everything about the band has always been BIG: big vocals, big drum and bass mixes, and big guitar blends.

Featuring guitarist/vocalist Stuart Adamson, guitarist Bruce Watson, bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki, Big Country have remained one of the few bands to emerge from the era that launched the birth of MTV that has survived through the 90s.

This energetic King Biscuit Flower Hour Show was recorded on New Year's Eve 1983/84 in Glasgow, Scotland, near their hometown. "That was a memorable show," says Adamson. "It was New Year's Eve, and everyone was out of their heads. I remember in the middle of the show - at midnight - an entire bagpipe band came on stage and did a few numbers. It sounded so cool, we decided to keep it in the recording."

"New Year's in Scotland is a huge event," says Tony Butler. "In many ways it's a bigger holiday than Christmas. It's called Hogmany. They always have parties and the like and people leave their houses open and everyone just goes partying from home to home.

"For that show, we decided to put this traditional bagpipe band on at 12 midnight," adds Butler. "It was quite an emotional sound. It was the biggest night of the year. At midnight, everyone was hugging and kissing each other."

The show opens with the sounds of rain, thunder and lightning. After a thunderous crash, the effects slowly fade and the band breaks into "1,000 Stars." Big Country's guitars (in their trademark "bagpipe" mode) cut through the song's intro, leading into Adamson's passionate vocals.

The rest of the show is propelled by the band's powerful rhythm section and the interplay between the twin guitar action of Adamson and Watson. "We recorded that show at a venue called Barrowlands in Scotland," said Mark Brzezicki. "When we tour, the gig we always look forward to is the gig on our home turf. The response at that gig is always exceptional."

"I was aware that I had to play me arse off during that period," Brzezicki adds, "because we were coming off an important tour for us. Everything kept getting moved during that gig. The was a surge of people from the front of the stage. Complete mayhem, and the hottest gig I have done ever."

"Angle Park", "Lost Patrol", "Fields Of Fire" and the signature, "In A Big Country", are all here, making this recording a true testament to the quintessential Big Country live show of that era.

"The excitement going on in the room that night was really a Scottish thing," says Watson. "We tried to make it a huge party, as much as possible. We had just gotten back after three months in America. We loved America but we were missing home. And this show was a homecoming."

The performance was held in a hired ballroom, or dance hall, similar to the legendary Roseland dance hall in New York City. "I had a bootleg of this show for many years," says Watson. "I thought the quality was amazing when I first heard it and I think it sounds even better now."

Steve Lillywhite (the platinum producer best known for his work with The Rolling Stones and U2) was the engineer for the recording of the show. Lillywhite had produced the band's first two albums, and wanted to be there as part of this historic performance.

"We knew that the show was going to be taped and shot on video and it was going to be broadcast live around the world and in the States on The King Biscuit Flower Hour," says Stuart Adamson.

"We knew it was going to be an important show," adds Adamson. "and it was. We had just come off a successful U.S. tour, we had a single that was huge in America, and we were on a real high. I think our enthusiasm is evident in the performance."

The roots of Big Country go back to the highlands of Scotland in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band was formed initially by Stuart Adamson, who had come from a band called The Skids - a group that had seen success in England with a handful of hits.

"Around late 1981 or early 1982, I knew I wanted to move on," says Adamson, who formed the first version with Watson and another rhythm section, replaced quickly after the band's onset with Brzezicki and Butler.

"I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew what I wanted it to sound like and the image," says Adamson. "Mainly, I wanted to work with the other three guys. These were people that were all friends of mine and were great musicians, too. We jelled very, very quickly. It only took about two weeks to come together. That song, 'In A Big Country' came together very quickly.

Of particular note was the band's infectious blend of barroom rock and traditional Celtic music. "I remember when we were trying to get a record deal, "says Watson. "Every company showed us the door. It was like that scene in The Rutles. The labels were saying 'Guitar music is dead.' We were determined to prove them wrong...and we did."

"We did demos," adds Adamson. "At the time the music industry was leaning toward synth bands. We were this loud, ethnic rock band. People from the label said they liked it but they couldn't do anything with it."

"I didn't notice a trend difference when we came along," adds Brzezicki "What I noticed was the distinct Celtic vibe and that was what made them different."

"Tony and I were working with Simon Townshend in a band called On The Air," says Brzezicki. "We toured with the Skids. That's how we met up. Then we went on to work with Pete Townshend and Big Country's manager, Ian Grant saw us. He felt the original line up of the band needed a stronger rhythm section, and we were recommended."

"It's a chemistry that just works," says Brzezicki of his work with Tony Butler. "I have worked with Tony since I was 16. My bass playing was developing at the same time Tony's bass playing was developing."

"We've always been very good at what we do," says Butler, talking about how the rhythm section of the band meshes with the guitars of Adamson and Watson. "The sound is because of the spectrums we use in the music. We are conscious to be very melodic and very powerful. We all know where our downbeats land and we all have the same groove."

"Eventually, a guy from PolyGram came down and heard us," says Adamson. "He gave us the money to do four demos. He loved the songs and three of them ended up on the album."

"The name of the band was there first, before we had written the song," remembers Adamson. "I wanted a name that gave you a wide, open expansive feeling, because I thought the music fit the name. There was also a movie of the same name, but the band really wasn't named because of that."

"Our success didn't come as easily in America, but things were starting to happen there at the time we made this recording," adds Adamson. "We had already four hits in England, and we had only been together a year and a half."

The band released its debut album The Crossing to critical acclaim and commercial success in 1983. The Crossing scored a Top 5 hit, "In A Big Country", garnered the band rave reviews, placed them on huge tours opening for U2, David Bowie, and Elton John, and eventually lead to appearances at the Prince's Trust and Knebworth concerts, and a European tour with the Rolling Stones.

The group did two more albums for PolyGram, including Steeltown (1984) and The Seer, (1986) and then spent much of the late 1980s and 1990s moving from label to label without equaling its earlier commercial success.

The band signed to Warner Brothers/Reprise Records and released one album in 1988, Peace In Our Time. "We went over to that label and they put us with a producer named Peter Wolf," says Adamson. "The songs were good, but the production was unsympathetic."

Brzezicki, however, counters: "I think the production was good and the songs were not as commercially viable as they could have been."

Big Country returned in '91 with the European only release, No Place Like Home, but were determined to get back on track in the U.S. In 1993, they returned to the US with an album called The Buffalo Skinners, on the short lived, RCA-distributed label Fox Records. Unfortunately, it too, would fall through the cracks.

"We did an absolutely fantastic record for them, but they were an off-shoot of the TV network and really didn't have it together as a label," says Adamson. "They fell out with RCA and things got changed around, and our project simply just got stopped. It's a shame, because I think it was the best record we ever made."

"The first couple of albums really hit the big time, worldwide," says Butler. "And that was unfortunate for us. People kept setting a standard for us. You're not thinking about that commercial standard when you're hanging out, writing songs."

In 1995, Big Country moved to the indie label Pure Records, where they recorded the critically acclaimed studio LP, Why The Long Face? followed by a European-only released acoustic live LP. In 1996, the band went on hiatus.

"Every label that has had us for the last five years has had a quandary about what to do with us," says Watson, "because they are trying to buck very big trends like grunge or techno."

"We're on hold for the moment, but we will be together again," says Adamson. "At least, I hope so. It's always been a fantastic band to work with. We have a great love respect for each other, and I think we will keep it going."

Adamson is using the time off to launch a solo career, based primarily in Nashville, where he now regularly collaborates with other songwriters. Watson has worked with U.K. vocalist Fish and is recording a project of his own. Butler and Brzezicki remain studio and live support musicians in high demand, working outside of Big Country with such musicians as The Who's Pete Townshend, Sting, Peter Gabriel, the Cult, and Ultravox's Midge Ure. Brzezicki is currently a member of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

"We were in these endless business hassles with record companies," says Adamson. "It was always a fun thing playing-wise but not always business-wise."

"The one thing that the band always had," says Butler, "was a belief in its self-perpetuation. We always believed in our music and we know we can always produce good music, whether or not it is commercially successful, we feel it will endure."

"At the end of the day," says Butler, philosophically. "it's the music that always keeps it together."

Bruce Pilato January 1997

KING BISCUIT FLOWER HOUR HISTORY

(jump to: Credits)
(jump to: King Biscuit Ad)
(jump to: Liner Notes)
(jump to: Wolfgang’s Vault Liner Notes)

The King Biscuit Flower Hour has been a Rock'N'Roll ritual for over two decades. Broadcast weekly over hundreds of FM radio stations, the show was always dedicated to bringing the finest live performances of rock's most important acts.
These recordings are from the extensive King Biscuit archives. They contain some of the most compelling and rare moments in rock history. In keeping with the King Biscuit tradition of superior audio quality, these recordings have been re-mixed and digitally re-mastered from the original multi-track masters with every note kept intact for optimum' sonic reproduction.
We hope you enjoy the music and agree with us when we say that the King Biscuit Flower Hour is a true classic.

___________________________________________________

For thousands of us, it was a weekly ritual. Our grandparents had Amos & Andy. Our parents had I Love Lucy. But for a legion of loyal rockers, The King Biscuit Flower Hour was the only hour each week that mattered.

From the metallic power of Black Sabbath, to the blues assault of Johnny Winter or the progressive rock of Genesis, and finally to the quiet introspection of singer/songwriters like Jackson Browne, The King Biscuit Flower Hour gave us a myriad of brilliant, electrifying, and contemporary musical acts all captured live in concert.

For "The Biscuit", as its fans affectionately called it, no musical style was too outrageous, nor too accessible. Nearly everyone who was anyone played the Biscuit: from The Beach Boys to Motörhead; from John Lennon, The Stones and The Who to Blondie and Adam Ant; from Elvis Costello and The Police to Linda Ronstadt and Elton lohn. Not to mention Clapton, Gabriel, Bowie, Zappa, U2 and countless others.
For some, it was their first big break, and for others it was just the right tease to build the necessary hype needed to bring their respective U.S. tours or current LPs, over the edge. Whatever the reason, it didn't matter. All that did matter was the music, and, of course, The King Biscuit Flower Hour always gave us the best in music.

The King Biscuit Flower Hour debuted on February 18th, 1973 with an eclectic triple bill that included Blood Sweat & Tears, the Mahavishnu Orchestra (featuring fusion greats John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham and Jan Hammer) and, then unknown singer/songwriter, Bruce Springsteen. Now in its 22nd year of broadcast, over 450 artists had been recorded live (many of them multiple times) for over 1,000 one-hour installments.
Named after a legendary 1920s radio program (sponsored by the King Biscuit Flour Co.) thatprovided live blues performances featuring Sonny Boy Williamson, the show had been created by DIR Broadcasting's Bob Meyrowitz and Peter Kauff.

"There wasn't such a thing as syndicated radio at the time," says Meyrowitz, who claims the idea came after seeing Gimme Shelter, the filmed account of the infamous Stones concert at Altamont, in California.

"We had no thought as to the business aspect or the length of time
this concept would last. The thought was simply to bring a giant concert to fans in a safe environment. We wanted to make it so you could get a group of people together, lay back, groove on the music, and do whatever you wanted in the privacy and safety of your home."

"The first show was supposed to be the J. Geils Band," says Bill Minkin, who narrated every King Biscuit broadcast, and acted as a production coordinator for years, "But, that show didn't make it on the air as they didn't generate enough interest at the time."

But the long standing success of King Biscuit lies particularly in the show's continual dedication to introducing new and vital artists and its constant state-of-the-art technical commitment.
For the likes of Springsteen, 10,000 Maniacs, The Police, and' Elvis Costello, The King Biscuit Flower Hour was the first real national radio exposure these acts had in their careers.

"At the time, people didn't know what was coming out of their radio," adds Minkin, who came to the show from WPLJ-FM in Manhattan. "We were broadcasting everything from Bob Marley to Monty Python. We had a lot of cutting edge British acts from our sister show, The British Biscuit, which was recorded in Great Britain."

"There was no specific criteria we had for choosing the bands that were on King Biscuit," says Meyrowitz, in retrospect. "We would see new acts, think they were going to be huge and book them. We also booked a lot of acts that were being hyped in the music industry. It was a lot like the booking policy on the old Ed Sullivan shows. We were wrong on occasion, but we were certainly right a lot of the time."

The King Biscuit Flower Hour always had a total commitment to quality. Using the best remote studio facilities available in the world, they were the first to record on 16, and then, 24 tracks. Eventually, the show employed 48-track digital recording. They were the first to broadcast in quadrophonic and the first to distribute digitally. The costs for a single live recording date could reach as much as an entire studio album. "The show made history. In the beginning, there was no such thing as a syndicated concert series on American radio," says Minkin. "There is still nothing else like it around today. We gave the whole feeling of a concert experience on radio. It was as if the listener was standing off to the side of the stage."
The idea of the shows being commercially available to music fans and collectors will certainly allow for a vast amount of brilliant music to surface, but, in addition, it will also bring back thousands of great memories to those of us who made The King Biscuit Flower Hour a regular part of our rock'n'roll diets.

"We had certain techniques," says Minkin. "Other live broadcasts just took mixes off the board. We insisted that many of the artists (and their producers) take the tapes and mix it the way they wanted it heard. As a result, we got some incredible mixes over the years."

"We worked very hard on the sound," says Meyrowitz. "We wanted a specific sound to make it sound like it would at a concert hall. We weren't trying to make it so clean, we were trying to make it sound like you were attending the show. In the beginning, we were broadcasting in quad, partly because it sounded so incredible, and partly because our first sponsor was Pioneer, who, naturally, wanted to make quad the standard in the music industry."

Artistically, it was a great success, but the problem was, there just weren't enough quad systems in the marketplace. So in the end, that idea didn't catch on. "King Biscuit brought live rock'n'roll into every kid's home," says Meyrowitz. "If you were 15 or if you were 30, and you loved music, it was a great experience. It provided a link to all of us. You could stay home, get off, and it was great. And we did for over 20 years. King Biscuit certainly has a place somewhere in the history of rock'n'roll." King Biscuit archivists undertook an immense labor of love in researching over 16,000 reels of tape to uncover the true best of King Biscuit for this CD series. Great care was taken to insure the integrity of these shows by using engineers that were initially involved with the artists, as well as the artists themselves, for the process of digitally remixing and remastering these classic performances.

For the first time ever, many of these shows are being heard in their original complete and unedited versions, some with tracks never before released, along with several "lost" Biscuit shows, that have never been heard in any capacity.
With this series of releases, it all comes together: time cherished classics, passionate performances, rare and unreleased songs.
During its peak, The Biscuit was heard on over 300 FM radio stations, by over 3 million listeners. Today, nearly 200 stations still air re-runs of The King Biscuit Flower Hour, making it still the most widely heard syndicated concert series in the world.

Despite the listener statistics and the numerous musical milestones attributed to The King Biscuit Flower Hour, that was not what made the show so successful...it was the fans.

For millions, The Biscuit was like a regular, weekly visit with a good friend. And it never let us down.

Bruce Pilato


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WOLFGANG’S VAULT LINER NOTES

(jump to: Credits)
(jump to: King Biscuit Ad)
(jump to: Liner Notes)
(jump to: King Biscuit Flower Hour History)

Stuart Adamson - vocals, guitar, piano; Mark Brzezicki - drums; Tony Butler - bass; Bruce Watson - guitar

This energetic King Biscuit Flower Hour Show was recorded on New Year's Eve 1983 in Glasgow, Scotland, near Big Country's hometown. The show opens with the sounds of rain, thunder and lightning. After an earsplitting crash, the effects slowly fade, and the band breaks into "One Thousand Stars." Big Country's trademark guitars in their "bagpipe" mode cut through the song's intro, leading into Adamson's passionate vocals. The rest of the show is propelled by the band's powerful rhythm section and the interplay between the twin guitar action of Adamson and Watson.

"We recorded that show at a venue called Barrowlands in Scotland," said Mark Brzezicki. "When we tour, the gig we always look forward to is the gig on our home turf. The response at that gig is always exceptional." "I was aware that I had to play me arse off during that period," Brzezicki adds, "because we were coming off an important tour for us. Everything kept getting moved during that gig. There was a surge of people from the front of the stage. Complete mayhem, and the hottest gig I have done ever." "Angle Park," "Lost Patrol," "Fields Of Fire" and the signature "In A Big Country" are all here, making this recording a true testament to the quintessential Big Country live show of that era.

"The excitement going on in the room that night was really a Scottish thing," says Watson. "We tried to make it a huge party, as much as possible. We had just gotten back after three months in America. We loved America but we were missing home. And this show was a homecoming." The performance was held in a hired ballroom, or dance hall, similar to the legendary Roseland dance hall in New York City.

Steve Lillywhite (the platinum producer best known for his work with The Rolling Stones and U2) was the engineer on recording of the show. Lilywhite had produced the band's first two albums, and wanted to be part of this historic performance. "We knew that the show was going to be taped and shot on video and it was going to be broadcast live around the world, and in the States on the King Biscuit Flower Hour," says Stuart Adamson.

Big Country's roots reach back to the highlands of Scotland in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band was initially formed by Stuart Adamson, who had been a member of a group called the Skids, which had seen success in England thanks to a handful of hits. "Around late 1981 or early 1982, I knew I wanted to move on," says Adamson, who formed the first version of Big Country with Watson and another rhythm section, replaced quickly after the band's first experience with Brzezicki and Butler.

The group released their debut album in 1983 to significant critical acclaim and commercial success. The Crossing scored a Top 5 hit, "In A Big Country," and garnered the band rave reviews, earning them spots on huge tours opening for U2, David Bowie and the Eurthymics - and eventually leading to appearances at the Prince's Trust and Knebworth concerts. The group cut two more albums for PolyGram - Steeltown in 1984 and The Seer in 1986 - and then spent much of the late 1980s and 1990s moving from label to label in attempts to equal their earlier commercial success. The band signed to Warner Brothers/Reprise Records and released one album in 1988, Peace in Our Time.

Big Country returned to the scene in '91 with the European release No Place Like Home, but were determined to get back on track in the U.S. In 1993, they attempted to break back onto U.S. airwaves with an album called The Buffalo Skinners, released by the short lived, RCA distributed label Fox Records. Unfortunately, it too would fall through the cracks.

In 1995, Big Country moved to the indie label Pure Records, where they recorded the critically acclaimed studio LP, Why the Long Face?, followed by a European only released acoustic live LP. In 1996, the band went on hiatus, but regrouped in 1999 to put out Driving to Damascus, which contained the hit "Somebody Else," written by Adamson and the Kink's Ray Davies. At the start of the millennium, Adamson announced his intention to retire from touring around the time the limited edition Nashville Album was released. Several months later, a two-disc live album called Come Up Screaming was issued. Tragically, the still loyal reception to Big Country didn't prevent Adamson from succumbing to problems with alcohol, and in December of 2001, he was found dead in a hotel room in Hawaii. His distinctive personality is still alive in the music, though, and recordings such as these reveal just what an inspired performer he truly was. Catch him here - in his prime, on home turf, larger than life.