Review Summary: Big Country is a band who's guitars sound like bagpipes. Like bagpipes, you say? Like bagpipes, indeed.
Big Country. What a band. Don't look now but lead singer / guitarist and songwriter Stuart Adamson committed suicide 'round the turn of the century, but it's ok. The band carries on today with former Alarm singer Mike Peters at the helm. Not the greatest fit as the band tours here and there, and you gotta admit losing a lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter in just one suicide is a lot to make up for. But Mike tries. He probably shouldn't.
Anywho this is an album from way back when I was a toddler. Me mum used to play it and I would dance around the living room in a little kilt and a tall, fuzzy hat. This album is entitled The Crossing and is largely regarded as one of the most accomplished debut albums in rock 'n roll history. It's lush, majestic, full bodied, and powerful.
If you're a guitar player this album may hold particular interest for you. Kicking off the album is In A Big Country
and what sounds like bagpipes. But they are not its just a guitar. In A Big Country is a song about youthful hope and optimism even in the face of doubt. And the melody is uplifting, lyrics inspiring. Mostly however it is hook laden and at its core a joyous, overblown pop song. It get's the album off right, and the follow up track Inwards
keeps it going. Its this song which makes a listeners ears perk up and go "hmm?" The guitar work is intricate, frantic, and melodious. The lyrics, desperate and bleak, but again with a ray of hope. It helps that rhythm section bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark B. were mates and pros from the word go, having played on Pete Townshend's second solo album. But it also helps they were not hired guns for Big Country, rather a working rhythm section looking to be in a real band. So the passion is genuine and on record you can hear it. And so accomplished this album is.
However the heart of this album is in the songwriting and guitar work of the semi legendary Stuart Adamson. Adamson was a Lit teacher who liked to play guitar and liked to write songs. He put all three together and came up with some good stuff for The Crossing. The songs play out like little movies with themes of war, peace, love, and finding a place to rest and call home. All done in poetic fashion and open to interpretation, Adamson is able to weave tales and write music so entwined you cease to try to separate music from lyrics. You in fact don't want to. Like a lot of great music and songs it's to be taken whole, in one piece. And The Crossing is a big damn piece.
Thats my review, guys. Check out this album. It is one of the best debuts in popular music history, and if a guitar player or simply interested in the sounds they make, you will most likely find something here to delve into. It's 30 years old now, so like this reviewer, a bit dated. And because of technology the sound of the guitars may not be as unique. But for a brief moment in time when new wave ruled the day and synths were a must have among new, popular bands.....this was the push back. Not metal, punk, or new wave, exactly....it is the sound of earnest young men with their hearts on their sleeves saying "we don't need that." And they didn't. Here is the proof =]