Big Country Info Big Country Info


19 June 2015

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Hosted by Svein with special guest co-host Arlin Bartels.

Pleasuretime – song deep dive by Arlin and Svein.

  • A song with strong musicianship and good playing.
  • Perhaps not the strongest melody – especially the chorus is less esteemed.
  • The lyrics are very interesting, and almost paint the story of a spy drama from the 1960s, with cheerful government paranoia in it. The government is feeding its populace a wonderdrink called “Pleasuretime” which keeps everybody happy and under control. The character telling us the story is the one guy holding out, who isn’t drinking, which is why he has a government official spying on him. It’s also got the vibe of “1984” and “Brave New World” to it.

Old Money – song deep dive by Svein and Arlin

  • “Old money” vs. “new/young money.”
  • Perhaps the most English song on the album. A song about how the traditionally rich (i.e. the “old money”) pulls the strings to control a lot of people’s lives, while also not being very connected to how real life really is like.
  • This is a rarity on the album in that Tony does not go for a passionate delivery – it seems to come from a more intellectual place, and is sung in a lower register.
  • The way the song ends – one and a half minute of “old money” repeated over and over into an eventual fade. We wonder how long the song actually goes on for?

Can You See Heaven? – song deep dive by Arlin and Svein

  • The sound of this song is a very conventional sounding American country-rock song – not very distinctive, sounding like a lot of other bands.
  • The second of two Mark Brzezicki-contributions on the album – shouldn’t we expect it to sound different than all the other songs?
  • The “Sha!” on the album: “Guitar!”
  • The lyrics is a fun, lighthearted take on what happened when the Lord came back after 2000 years, saw the terrible state we left the world in, and wanted to leave again straight away. They match the playfulness of the music well.

Oblivion Road – song deep dive by Svein and Arlin

  • Tony’s tribute to The Who.
  • The song is a feast of riffs! Not just the first kick-ass riff that kicks of the song, and not just the second one that comes in and plays over the first, but the whole song – in many wonderful layers!
  • The vocal melody – extremely creative, very passionate, utilizing a wide range. It does not follow the song, but creates a different part which works against the instrumental track. Inspired!
  • The old trick of starting with a chorus and going into the verses. A great songwriting trick.
  • The lyrical themes are the clincher: a song about addiction. Someone has had a lot of bad breaks, and is looking for salvation in dope or drink.

How Many Times – song deep dive by Arlin and Svein

  • A break from the previous relationship songs on the album! This is a very deep, personal, and utterly romantic expression of love to another person.
  • A very touching vocal performance gives the song a very sincere and honest expression. We believe every word, and Tony sells this song magnificently.
  • Look out for the vocal bridge in the song – a magnificent choir of Tony’s!
  • A great, understated, rhythmic yet subtle bassline. One of the best on the album. This is something you need to be a fantastic player to pull off.
  • Not an immediate song, but one that might seep into your soul and prove itself over time.

The Man With the Hooded Face – song deep dive by Svein and Arlin

  • Another song with a solid rock expression, and some great Thin Lizzy-inspired twin guitar themes running through it.
  • The man in this song sings to a lady that he loves, but whom he has let down. He is asking her to wait for him for two years, when he can come back. The song indicates that he wanted to build a future with her, did something wrong, was caught, and lost his freedom – possibly going to jail. There is a desperation in his pleas; he does not seem convinced that she will wait for him.
  • The best lyrics on the album may come in this song: “A desperate man finds desperate ways to find his dignity, but they’re the wrong ways.”
  • Musical highlights: listen for the section filled with understated backup vocals over the twin guitars, and the numerous lead guitar lines filling the song in several sections.

But I Still Want You – song deep dive by Arlin and Svein

  • A follow-up from the previous song? The acapella intro is “So now I’ve turned my life around yeah - one… two…”. Is it a count-in, or is it “the man with the hooded face” who refers to his two years, saying that he turned his life around and came back?
  • In any case, the guy in the song has received a “Dear John”-letter – i.e. the woman left him by way of leaving a letter. The song is him talking to himself, almost reconciling himself with his situation, making plans, generally being in a good place, yet revealing that he still has feelings for the woman.
  • Musically, this is a pleasant mid-tempo song with nothing worth highlighting beyond how it feels like a complete piece. It is enjoyable and somewhat peaceful, feeling like a good companion piece to the lyrics.

Everyday – song deep dive by Svein and Arlin

  • The grand finale of the album, and the second song on the album which builds into an epic (the first being the title track).
  • The song is about poverty – it describes a future where water is a scarce commodity. The character in the song is out of a job and also lacks money. He does however have priorities that make you question whether his situation is self-inflicted – he wants water not to drink, but to water his roses, wash his car, etc.  He wants money not to cover basic needs, but to go to expensive restaurants, buy a T-bird, and shop expensively.
  • The song is very melodic and well-played. The music is very epic, especially the choruses. It gets a tremendous momentum, with layers of guitars and a huge sound.

Wrap-up discussion

  • Our collective ranking of the album.
  • The three bonus tracks on the Deluxe Edition of the album.
    • The New Frontier: a slightly country-tinged song with banjo on a loop (and Mark on drums).
    • My Heart Is My Home: nice and pleasant with good harmonies, and with a nice BC lead guitar line.
    • Another Misty Morning: clearly the best song of these three, which was also a Big Country b-side (on the Somebody Else single). It was the last song released by the Stuart-led incarnation of Big Country chronologically, making it a bookend song, which we find funny as it’s a song about wanking.

Another Misty Morning” – Tony Butler live acoustic at Zaandam, 2002.

  • The album’s place in the wider Big Country family of albums.
  • Is it fair to dismiss this album – let alone any album – if you don’t think it manages to evoke the same feelings as The Crossing or Steeltown?
  • Arlin summarize his podcasting experience and what he found to be the biggest challenge.