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(jump to: Liner Notes by Tim Barr | Original Liner Notes | Credits)

"From the outside it will look like a real departure
but for us it's what we do and what we are...
what we've done with this album is to emphasise
the different musical sides of the band."
— Stuart Adamson


(jump to: Liner Notes by Stuart Adamson | Original Liner Notes | Credits)

Tucked away at the end of a leafy country lane near the market town of Monmouth, Rockfield Studios betrays little of its heritage as one of the world's most celebrated recording facilities. From the outside, it's a collection of unremarkable rural buildings, indistinguishable from an of the dozens of farms in the surrounding landscape. Yet some of roc music's most iconic moments have been forged behind its closed doors And, as teenagers, Big Country's founder members
— frontman Stuart Adamson and guitarist Bruce Watson
— gave pride of place in their record collections to several albums recorded at Rockfield, notably Be-Bop
Deluxe's Futurama, Shake Some Action by The Flamin' Groovies and Dr Feelgood's Down By The Jetty.

Adamson first got the chance to work at Rockfield in 1979 when his previous band The Skids recorded their classic second album Days In Europa there (not entirely coincidentally with Be-Bop Delux mainman Bill Nelson in the producer's chair). Those sessions had been a joyful affair with The Skids and their old mates Simple Minds sharing Rockfield's two studios, punctuating recording with food fights and practical jokes. "It was a bit mad," remembers Skids singer Richard Jobson. "At one point, we carried out a midnight attack on them armed with heavy weaponry such as shaving foam and buckets of water."

But when Big Country arrived at Rockfield, on 26th February 1991, to begin recording their fifth album, those youthful high jinks were a distant memory. It had been a turbulent time. The gruelling tour to promote 1988's Peace In Our Time had taken its toll and, in Watson's words, "the band went pear-shaped". Homesick and exhausted by life on the road, Adamson had quit. As a result, drummer Mark Brzezicki always in demand as a session player — committed to a number of other projects. By the time, the singer-guitarist, after some recuperation and reflection, opted to return to the fold, the drummer was booked solid for months ahead.

However, the success of 1990's greatest hits collection Through A Big Country, which reached No2 in the UK charts, was a potent reminder that the band still had a lot to offer. Big Country's appeal as a live draw hadn't diminished either. At the time, their agent John Giddings — who also represented David Bowie, Iggy Pop and The Stranglers — confided: "They're one of the few bands I represent that you could put on at any festival in the world at 3pm, in the pouring rain, and get the crowd raving. They send a shiver down your spine." Shows with Tina Turner in Switzerland, Van Morrison in Belgium and a memorable performance at Wembley Arena for the Prince's Trust proved they had lost none of their fire.

"It's a new chapter," Adamson insisted. And few could have disagreed. Armed with some of the best songs of their career — the anthemic We'r Not In Kansas, the raucous Republican Party Reptile and the spine-tingling Ships (which Watson described as "the new Chance" in a reference to 1983's Top 10 single, a benchmark of songwriting quality within the band) — he had reason to be confident.

The songs had been fully worked out during demo sessions in July 1990 (at Glasgow's Ça Va Studios), August/September (at the House In The Woods, Big Country's "home from home" in Bletchingley, Surrey) and October (Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire). A big-name producer, in the shape of Rolling Stones/Peter Tosh studio legend Chris Kimsey had also been lined up. In the event, however, when another of his projects over-ran, Kimsey had to drop out. His replacement, Pat Moran, was something of a Rockfield legend. As resident engineer, he'd worked with Queen on A Night At The Opera (including Bohemian Rhapsody, which was famously recorded using the piano at the Welsh studio) before moving on to production with acts such as Van Der Graaf Generator and Robert Plant. Importantly, Moran had also worked with some of Big Country's key inspirations — including Iggy Pop, Dr Feelgood and Bill Nelson — and was coming to the project on the back of a three-million-selling success as a result of his production work on the Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians album Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars (also recorded at Rockfield).

Moran was hugely positive about the opportunity to work with Big Country. "I've always been a fan of the music," he insisted. The admiration was mutual. Shortly after recording got underway, Adamson explained: "Working with Pat is very inspiring and amazing. He's very into the band. We're trying to make our best album."

The combination of a great studio and a sympathetic producer quickly delivered results. "We were never so at home as we were at Rockfield," recalled bassist Tony Butler. "It was ideal for us — we were surrounded by acres of open land and the studios were really cool. Pat was a lovely guy and we adored working in that environment."

With Brzezicki back on the drum stool as a session musician, the songs began tumbling out. They showed a band eager to explore new musical horizons, swapping the twin-guitar assault of old for a new level of songwriting prowess.

The exquisite Dynamite Lady was just one of their radical departures. It was inspired by the explosive act of fairground performer Alison Bly, who used home-made gunpowder charges to blow herself up as part of a
bizarre sideshow entertainment. Behind the scenes, however, life wasn't going with a bang. "I love romance," the divorced former swimsuit model confessed, "but I'm terrible at relationships." Always one of rock music's finest alchemists, Adamson took the raw material and turned it into songwriting gold. "Stuart really pushed himself to add another dimension to his playing on that song," explained Butler. "It's a fantastic piece of music and a great story. I think it's phenomenal."

Moran introduced the band to keyboard player Richie Close who helped Big Country deliver one of the album's highlights, the haunting Ships. "Originally we recorded the song as a full band," recalled Butler. "It sounded fantastic. But the version Stuart did with Richie — the version that made it to the final running order — was just spine-tingling. The minute we heard it, we were all blown away."

Beat The Devil and Keep On Dreaming, meanwhile, were sublime rockers while the Dylan-esque Beautiful People added a barrelhouse piano to Big Country's sonic arsenal. "We're trying to do traditional things in a contemporary style," Adamson warned. On the thrilling You, Me & The Truth he once again rang the changes, leading the ban through another of the album's most beautifully-crafted moments. Into The Fire, meanwhile, was a homage to another of his teenage heroes, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page.

Six weeks later, when Moran brought down the faders on the final mix, Big Country had created what still stands as one of the most underrated masterpieces of the 1990s. No Place Like Home wasn't an album for those who wanted the band to repeat the wide-eyed, twin-guitar anthems of The Crossing. But it stands as an extraordinary testament to the breadth and depth of their songwriting.

Moran himself was in no doubt as to the quali of what they'd achieved. "This was one of the most enjoyable records I've worked on," he explained. "There was a great atmosphere in the studio and I think that comes through on the record." As they left Rockfield, the band were confident they'd done something exceptional. Yet, just a few months later, the triumph was tinged with sadness when Close died after contracting legionnaire's disease while on holiday in Spain. A dedication to the man they remembered as "one of the sweetest people we ever worked with" was incorporated in the album artwork.

No Place Like Home was announced to the world in August 1991 with the release of the album's first single Republican Party Reptile (though Moran had lobbied for We're Not In Kansas — still considered by many Big Country fans to be "the hit single that got away"). When the album itself arrived in shops just a month later, much was made of the band's change in sound. Adamson responded candidly. "For me," he said, "it's just always been about writing songs that make a difference in people's lives — songs that connect with people."

© Tim Barr - 2014


(jump to: Liner Notes by Stuart Adamson | Liner Notes by Tim Barr | Credits)

What do you do when you are a group that has created one of the truly distinctive sounds in rock and been at the top of your profession for eight years? For Big Country the answer is to take the romantic character and unshakeable integrity that lies at the core of your work, and move on.

For too long the emotionally charged essence of Big Country's music has been obscured by lazy and cliched talk of bagpipe guitars and checked-shirt rock. the application of an American mainstream production gloss to their last album, "Peace In Our Time", was a move which singer and guitarist Stuart Adamson now accepts as being "at a tangent to the plot". The accompanying pilgrimage to Moscow, in the peace-making spirit of glasnost and the unforgiving glare of the Western Media, was both exhilarating and exhausting.

In the wake of that momentous adventure a new Big Country has emerged. In July 1989 drummer Mark Brzezicki departed for the shadowy pastures of the session world. The remaining three members of Big Country - Stuart Adamson, Tony Butler (bass, backing vocals) and Bruce Watson (guitar) - closed ranks and, inevitably revised working practices.

With Brezezicki now in the role of session drummer on "No Place Like Home" the intricate mosaic of syncopations and galloping tom tom tattoos that was such a recognisable feature of the old Big Country sound has gone. In its place a more conventional set of rhythmic patters is sketched with new vigour from a palette of bold primary colours.

The howling slide guitar which graces the opening bars of "Republican Party Reptile" - more dustbowl blues than highland fling - sets the tone for a collection that quarries deep into the rock face and taps into the traditions of country, folk and southern blues with an authority that transcends the dictates of either formula or fashion.

"I grew up playing R' n 'B music", Adamson says, recalling the days before the Skids when he was a 15 year old apprentice in Dunfermline based covers group Tattoo. "So it's still completely natural for me to play it now".

Big Country has used mandolins and acoustic guitars before, but the banjo and honky tonk piano which contributes to the mellow celtic-country swing of "Beautiful People" is undoubtably a first.

With its crisp, open-ended production, "No Place Like Home" is an album of bountiful extremes, encompassing the simple voice-and-piano ballad of "Ships", the belting instrumental coda of "Into The Fire" and the mounting paranoia of the Middle Eastern scnario of "The Hostage Speaks", with its grainy, dessert-baked rift and neurotic wah wah embellishments.

"We're trying to do traditional things in a contemporary style", is how Adamson sums the album up. "It's a new chapter, but for me it's always been about writing songs that make a difference in people's lives, songs that connect with people. There's no master plan. this is what we do now".

-David Sinclair July 1991


Stuart Adamson
Vocals / Electric / Acoustic / Pull String / Wah Wah / High String / 12 String Guitars

Tony Butler
Electric / Acoustic Basses / Vocals

Bruce Watson
Electric / High String / 12 String / Acoustic / E-bow Guitars / Mandolin

Additional Musicians
Richie Close / Keyboards, Programming
Mark Bzezicki [sic] / Drums
Katie Kissoon / Carole Kenyan / Additionsl Vocals

Produced and Engineered
In Moranvision by Pat Moran (Using Mark IV Moranoscope)
Except: Tracks 13,14,15 and 16 Produced by Big Country
Assistant Engineer / Simon Dawson
Recorded at Rockfield Studios, Monmouth, Wales / Thunderbirds Are Go!

Very Special Thanks To:
Pat Ahern (Drums)/ Park Lane Studios, Glasgow (Kenny) / Ca Va Studios, Glasgow (Gavin) / House in the Woods Studios, Surrey ( Giz + Marika) / Chapel Studios, Lincoln (Reg) / Audiocraft Rehearsal Studios, Dunfermline (Shorty) / Manny Charltons Studios, Cowdenbeath, Robin 'Tea Break" Walker (Equipment)

Big Thanks to
Rockfield - Kingsley/ Anne / Lisa and Amanda Ward / Moyra / Lita / Ruth / Gill / Gavin / Otto and Dave Charles.

Moon Guitars / Selectron / Dave at Hohner / Mike Cooper / Godin Guitars / Phil at Tc Electronics / All at Sound Control / Modern Music (Truro) / Dean Markley / Strings & Things / Trace Elliot / Elite Strings / Al Bass Centre / Ian Croft / George Fredericks / Robbie Blunt / Guardian Case Co / Nick at Washburn (Blade Guitars) / Music Man / Ernie Ball Guitars /The Synthesiser Company (Casio Dat) / G&l Guitars / Esp Guita
Guitar Repairs / Stewart Palmer / Dennis Drum Jhs.

Special Thanks to
Ian Grant / Lynda Fletcher / John Giddings / Graham Pullen / Allen Spriggs / Henry Mcgrogan and All at Solo / Marsha Vlasic and All at Icm / David Gentle / Paul Schindler / Steve Lewis and All at Virgin Music /
Singer / Shailesh Gor / All at Phonogram.

Pete Keane / Bob Lopez / Billy Worton / Ron Manigley / Joe Seabrook / Baron Beatmol Troy / Mick Brennan / Steve Hillier and Stuart from Winterland / Ian Calder / Pete Barnes / Big Dennis / Country Club / Inwards Fanzine / We Save No Souls Fanzine and Our Families.

Hair & Make up / Vicky Newman

Clothes Designer / Belinda and Mandy for Hammond Laing

Fan Club / Country Club, PO Box 59, Ashwell, Herts, SG7 5NG

Photography / Peter Anderson Design & Artwork / Zarkowski Designs

This Album Is Respectfully Dedicated to Richie Close

1. We're Not In Kansas 6:08
2. Republican Party Reptile 4:01
3. Dynamite Lady 5:34
4. Keep On Dreaming 4:00
5. Beautiful People 5:32
6. The Hostage Speaks 5:51
7. Beat The Devil 4:02
8. Leap Of Faith 5:41
9. Ships 3:59
10. Into The Fire 5:53
Bonus Tracks
11. Save Me Radio Edit (A-Side Single) 4:28
12. Pass Me By (B-Side to Save Me) 3:58
13. Dead On Arrival (B-Side to Save Me) 3:26
14. World On Fire (B-Side to Save Me) 3:49
15. Heart Of The World (A-Side Single) 3:43
16. Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys (B-Side to Heart Of The World) 3:19
17 Troubled Man (B-Side to Heart Of The World) 4:25

Tracks 1-10 Ⓟ 1991 Mercury Records Limited. Tracks 11-17 Ⓟ 1990 Mercury Records Limited.
Tracks 1-10 produced by Pat Moran. Tracks 11. 15 produced by Tim Palmer. Tracks 12-14, 16-17 produced by Big Country.
Tracks 1-13.15 published by Big Country Music Ltd. Tracks 14,17 published by 10 Music Ltd. Track 16 published by EMI Publishing Ltd. Tracks 1. 3..5. 7-8, 11-12, 15, 17 (Stuart Adamson). Tracks 2, 9 (Stuart Adamson / Bruce Watson)
Tracks 6, 10 (Stuart Adamson / Tony Butler / Bruce Watson). Track 13 (Bruce Watson). Track 14 (Tony Butter). Track 16 (Eddy Grant). This Compilation Ⓟ 2014 Mercury Records Limited © 2014 Mercury Records Limited

1. Comes A Time (B-Side to Republican Party Reptile) 3:53
2. You, Me and The Truth (B-Side to Republican Party Reptile) 5:17
3. Freedom Song (B-Side to Republican Party Reptile) 4:31
4. Kiss The Girl Goodbye (B-Side to Republican Party Reptile) 5:13
5. I'm Only Waiting (B-Side to Republican Party Reptile) 4:38
6. Return of The Two Headed King (B-Side To Beautiful People) 4:30
7. Fly Like An Eagle (B-Side to Beautiful People) 4:25
8. Soul On Fire Demo (Riva Studios, June '89) 5:09
9. Gypsy Girl* Demo (R.E.L. Studios, July '89) 4:00
10. Freedom Song* Demo (Park Lane Studios, Jan 90) 4:03
11. Keep On Dreaming* Demo (CaVa Studios, April 90) /11
12. We’re Not In Kansas Demo (Park Lane Studios, July '90) 5:32
13. Leap of Faith Demo (Park Lane Studios, July '90) 4:44
14. The Hostage Speaks Demo (Park Lane Studios, July '90) 5:13
15. Beautiful People Demo (Park Lane Studios, July '90) 5:34
16. Celtic Dreams Demo (Out-Take, Rockfield Studios, Jan 91) 6:05
*Previously Unreleased
Tracks 1-7. 9, 11-16 Ⓟ 1991 Mercury Records Limited Track 8 Ⓟ 1990 Mercury Records Limited Track 10 Ⓟ 2014 Mercury Records Limits
Tracks 1-4 Produced by Pat Moran. Track 7 Produced by Bruce Watson. Tracks 5-6, 8-16 Produced by Big Country
Tracks 1-5, 10-15 Published by Big Country Music Ltd. Track 6 Published by Bug Music Ltd.
Track 7 Published by Silver Addle Music. Track 8-9, 16 Published by Published By- Fast Tune Ltd.
Tracks 1-6. 10-13, 15 (Stuart Adamson). Track 7 (Bruce Watson)
Tracks 8-9. 16 (Stuart Adamson / Bruce Watson / Tony Butter / Mark Brzezicki)
Track 14 (Stuart Adamson / Tony Butler / Bruce Watson)
This Compilation Ⓟ 2014 Mercury Records Limited © 2014 Mercury Records Limited.

Compiled by Dermot James
roam t Managed for Universal Music by Joe Black at Hey Joe! Designed by Mike Storey and Jason Smith at Storey London Sleeve Notes by Tim Barr
Mastered by Jared Hawkes at Universal Mastering, London
Big Country memorabilia supplied by Liam Donoghue, Barry Gray, Rene Schraven and Derek Phillips.Big
Country, Justin Brown, John Chadwick, Johnny Chandlar, Dave Clarke, Paul and' Helen Cox, Jamie Davidson, Liam Donoghue, Kathryn Gilfeather, Ian Grant, James Grant, Simon Gurney, Jared Hawkes, Richard Binkley, Dermot James, Sheenagh James, Jenson, Pete Matthews, Stuart Ongley, Tasha Pert, Mike Peters, David Rowe, Emma Shalless, Colin Smith, Naomi Smith, Greg Snowdon, Pete Thompson, Allen Ward, Charlotte Wilson and Andrea Wright.