Big Country – Steeltown (1984)

FrontCover1Steeltown is the second studio album by Scottish band Big Country. The album was recorded at ABBA’s Polar Studios in Stockholm with Steve Lillywhite producing. It was released on 19 October 1984, in the UK and 29 October 1984, in the United States. It was released on CD only in Germany, as well as remastered and reissued there.

Steeltown is the band’s only UK number 1 album, topping the chart for 1 week in October 1984. The title track Steeltown was written about the town of Corby, telling how many Scots went to work at the Stewarts & Lloyds steelworks when it opened in 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, but later found themselves unemployed when the steelworks declined in the early 1980s. (Source: Melody Maker, 1984)

The 1996 reissue contains all of the B-sides from the album’s single releases as well as the extended version of “Wonderland”

“East Of Eden” was the only Top 20 single from the album, reaching #17 in the UK chart. (by wikipedia)

Ad“Clanging and crackling with energy, this second album from Big Country rings natural evolutionary changes on the band’s stirring twin-guitar sound even as it frames still better news: bandleader Stuart Adamson has rapidly matured into a songwriter capable of bringing meticulous craft to his obvious passion. (Fred Schruers, Rolling Stone)

For their second album, Big Country took a heavier direction, both in terms of sound and in lyrical content. Where their exuberant, mega successful 1983 debut, `The Crossing’, used their bagpipe guitar technique to tell somewhat mythical `Boys Own’ stories of heroic soldiers, ships and soaring romance, `Steeltown’ was a darker, more political work. It was full of social observation and examinations of the problems of the British working classes. The romance was still there, but it had become muted and tragic, the soldiers angry and disillusioned. In a way, `The Crossing’ could be seen as a patriotic call to arms and `Steeltown’ the awful post-war reality of husbands killed in war, dole queues and domestic violence.

Lead singer and guitarist, Stuart Adamson’s lyrics are more developed and poetic on `Steeltown’, telegraphing that he had very serious intentions for this band, which went far beyond the gimmick of their guitar sound. In grand imagery, the soaring hard rock attack of the opening track, `Flame of the West’, tells the tale of a visit by a rich politician or industrialist (US movie star President, Ronald Reagan?), to the impoverished mining towns. Adamson sets the tone for the album here – it is working class outrage. The slower, dirgier second track, `East of Eden’, is beautiful and angry, as he takes on the part of a worker in the modern industrial machine (“I looked west in search of freedom and I saw slavery, I looked east in search of answers and I saw misery”). Then the aggression of the towering, anthemic title track makes it abundantly clear that exploitation of the working classes is his main concern this time out (“We built all this with our own hands, But who could know we built on sand”).


The songs that follow look at the hypocrisy used to motivate young men to go to battle (`Where the Rose is Sown’), the plight of a young mother whose husband is killed in war (`Come Back to Me’) and the frustration of dead end work that ends in relationship breakdown (`Just a Shadow’). Other songs are less overt, but take on a resonance from those around them (`The Girl with Grey Eyes’, `The Great Divide’).

Adamson’s vocals are an impassioned cry on much of this album, but beautifully tender and sadly contemplative on the slower tracks (`The Girl with Grey Eyes’, `Just a Shadow). The musicianship is first rate throughout and Mark Brzezicki’s drumming is fantastic. Steve Lillywhite (U2, Peter Gabriel, Souxie and the Banshees, XTC) once again produces, coating proceedings with a slick sheen while retaining just enough grit to keep it sounding authentic.


Though `Steeltown’ indisputably retains the Big Country sound, it is not an immediately accessible album, but it is one that delivers great rewards with repeated listens. (by B S Marlay)

I added the remastert versions from this LP as a bonus.


Stuart Adamson (guitar, piano, vocals)
Mark Brzezicki (drums, percussion, vocals)
Tony Butler (bass, vocals)
Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin, sitar, vocals)


01. Flame Of The West 5.01
02. East Of Eden 4.29
03. Steeltown 4.39
04. Where The Rose Is Sown 4.58
05. Come Back To Me 4.35
06. Tall Ships Go 4.38
07. Girl With Grey Eyes 4.47
08. Rain Dance 4.19
09. The Great Divide 4.50
10. Just A Shadow 5.38

Music: Stuart Adamson – Mark Brzezicki – Tony Butler – Bruce Watson
Lyrics: Stuart Adamson



More Big Country, one of my favorite bands from the 80´s (click on the pic):



Big Country – The Crossing (1983)

FrontCover1The Crossing is the first studio album released by Scottish band Big Country. The album reached #3 in the UK; overseas, it hit #4 in Canada on the RPM national Top Albums Chart and #18 in the US on the Billboard 200 in 1983. It went on to be certified platinum in the UK and Canada. It contains the song “In a Big Country” which is 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.

:Critic Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone gave the album a glowing review, writing:“ Here’s a big-noise guitar band from Britain that blows the knobs off all the synth-pop diddlers and fake-funk frauds who are cluttering up the charts these days.

Big Country mops up the fops with an air-raid guitar sound that’s unlike anything else around, anywhere … Like the Irish band U2 (with whom they share young, guitar-wise producer Steve Lillywhite), Big Country has no use for synthesizers, and their extraordinary twin-guitar sound should make The Crossing a must-own item for rock die-hards”.


With producer Steve Lillywhite at the helm, Scotland’s Big Country managed to deliver earnest, socially conscious arena anthems in a similar vein to U2 and the Alarm. The twist was their trademark bagpipe sound, achieved through the use of E-Bow. The unique sound of “In a Big Country” garnered the band considerable attention and a Top 20 single in the U.S. The Crossing, however, is an album whose richness goes beyond the single. The more subdued “Chance” is sparser and its personal lyrics are every bit as heartfelt as the more populist-inclined anthems like the wonderful “The Storm” or the thundering “Fields of Fire.” The lyrics are straightforward and, despite the grand themes of many of the tracks, manage to steer clear of being overly pretentious. While this album earned the band a gold record, Big Country’s sound and image (reinforced by the members’ tartan checked shirts) resulted in them being tagged a novelty, and they never duplicated their initial success in America. (by Tom Demalon)

This is one of my favorites bands… and their debut album is a classic album for his own !

Big Country

Stuart Adamson (vocals, guitar, piano, e-bow)
Mark Brzezicki (drums, percussion, vocals)
Tony Butler (bass, vocals)
Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin, sitar, vocals, e-bow)


01. In A Big Country 4.40
02. Inwards 4.36
03. Chance 4.21
04. 1000 Stars 3.53
05. The Storm 6.14
06. Harvest Home 4.16
07. Lost Patrol 4.46
08. Close Action 4.13
09. Fields of Fire (400 Miles) 3.28
10. Porrohman 7.49

All songs written by Stuart Adamson, Mark Brzezicki, Tony Butler, Bruce Watson




I’ve never seen you look like this without a reason
Another promise fallen through, another season passes by you


I never took the smile away from anybody’s face
And that’s a desperate way to look for someone who is still a child

In a big country, dreams stay with you
Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered

I’m not expecting to grow flowers in a desert
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime

In a big country, dreams stay with you
Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

In a big country, dreams stay with you
Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

So take that look out of here, it doesn’t fit you
Because it’s happened doesn’t mean you’ve been discarded
Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming
Cry out for everything you ever might have wanted
I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered

Shock, 1, 2

I’m not expecting to grow flowers in a desert
But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime

In a big country, dreams stay with you
Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

Stuart Adamson
William Stuart Adamson (11 April 1958 – 16 December 2001)

On 16 December 2001, his body was found in a closet in his room at the Best Western Plaza Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. According to police, Adamson hanged himself with an electrical cord from a pole in the wardrobe. An empty wine bottle was found in the room. At the time of his death, Adamson had a blood-alcohol content of 0.279%

Big Country – Driving To Damascus (1999)

frontcover1Driving to Damascus is the eighth studio album by Scottish rock band Big Country. It was released in 1999 as both a standard edition and a limited edition digipack, and with bonus tracks in 2002. In the U.S. it was released under a different name, John Wayne’s Dream. The limited edition version featured different cover artwork, and included two tracks by Stuart Adamson’s alt-country side project, The Raphaels (“Shattered Cross” and “Too Many Ghosts”, subsequently released on the 2001 album “Supernatural”), although there was no indication in the credits that these were not by Big Country. Driving to Damascus marks the band’s last studio album to feature vocalist Stuart Adamson (who would die in 2001) and bassist Tony Butler (who retired from the band in 2012), and the last studio album until The Journey was released in 2013 with The Alarm vocalist Mike Peters taking over for Adamson and Simple Minds bassists Derek Forbes replacing Butler. (by wikipedia)

Frontcover of the US version of this album called “John Wayne´s Dream”

Big Country’s 1995 album, Why the Long Face, was a very tough act to follow. But they succeeded brilliantly with their first full-length studio album, Driving to Damascus. This is one of their finest moments, full of trademark Big Country sounds (the guitar, the heavy beat, and Adamson’s fantastic vocals). What sets this CD apart from their other releases is the strong use of melody tied together with heartbreaking stories and well-constructed arrangements. Listening to the harmony vocals melt with the guitars in “Fragile Thing,” it’s difficult not to be moved. Adamson has never sounded better, and the band is tighter than ever before. Hearing this album, it is hard to believe that the band was celebrating their 20-year anniversary and still sounding so fresh and excited. This is a group who have not mellowed out, but are able to structure melodic, driving songs. There are a couple of interesting points with this album. First, Ray Davies (of the Kinks) co-wrote two songs with Adamson (the brilliant “Somebody Else,” and the wonderful “Devil in the Eye”). To hear these, one would never guess that there was any involvement from Davies. The songs fit for Big Country, but would be out of place on a Davies’ or Kinks’ album. Also, the CD appears on the Track Records label (famous for Hendrix and the Who, to name two). It seems fitting that Big Country is signed to the resurrected label — it just fits. It is the mixture of old and new that helps Big Country form their own distinct (and brilliant) sound. This album is highly recommended. (by Aaron Badgley)


Stuart Adamson (guitar, vocals, mandolin, slide-guitar, synthesizer)
Mark Brzezicki (drums, vocals)
Tony Butler (bass, vocals, vibraphone)
Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin, sitar, slide-guitar)
Josh Phillips (keyboards)
background vocals:
Eddi Reader – Kirsten Adamson – Rafe McKenna


01. Driving To Damascus  (Adamson/Brzezicki/Watson) 3.58
02. Dive In To Me (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 5.02
03. See You (Adamson) 3.50
04. Perfect World (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.02
05. Somebody Else (Adamson/Davies) 4.04
06. Fragile Thing (Adamson/Watson) 4.33
07. The President Slipped And Fell (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 2.57
08. Devil In The Eye (Adamson/Davies) 4.15
09. Trouble The Waters (Adamson/Brzezicki/Watson) 4.10
10. Bella (Adamson) 3.34
11. Your Spirit To Me (Adamson) 5.13
12. Grace (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 5.10
The John Wayne’s Dream extra tracks:
13. Loserville (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler) 5.18
14. This Blood’s For You (Adamson) 3.43
15. I Get Hurt (Adamson) 4.30
16. John Wayne’s Dream (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler) 4.58





Big Country – Live Barrowland Glasgow (1983) (VHS rip)

frontcoverThis energetic 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.

bigcountry01“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.(by

The best concert ever. we need it released. I was there and it was the best night of my life.(by h m forrest)


Stuart Adamson (vocals, guitar, piano)
Mark Brzezicki (drums)
Tony Butler (bass; background vocals)
Bruce Watson (guitar, vocals)
Dundonald & Dysart Pipe Band


01. One Thousand Stars (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.25
02. Angle Park (Adamson/Watson) 4.32
03. Close Action (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.13
04. Lost Patrol (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.48
05. Wonderland (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.10
06. The Storm (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 5.16
07. Dundonald & Dysart Pipe Band Sequence (Traditional) 3.40
08. Porroh Man (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 7.51
09. Chance (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 5.56
10. Inwards (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 05:54
11.  Fields Of Fire (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 6.38
12. Harvest Home (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.38
13. Tracks Of My Tears (Robinson/Moore/Tarplin) 3.15
14. In A Big Country / Auld Lang Syne (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson/Traditional) 8.13





Various Artists – The Prince´s Trust 10th Anniversary Birthday Party (1987)

FrontCover1The Prince’s Trust celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in 1986 with a concert at Wembley Arena attended by the then Prince and Princess of Wales. It is a more of a curiosity concert now in light of the fact that most of the stars and groups on show have either split up, moved on, or have shuffled off this planet (Stuart Adamson committed suicide years later) Inevitably, the performances are some of the big names at the time, for example, Suzanne Vega and Level 42 were top ten in England and Mark Knopfler was riding high post-BROTHERS IN ARMS with Dire Straits. Tina Turner and Eric Clapton duetted on “Better Be Good To Me”, Rod Stewart performed his classic “Sailing” …. and the concert culminates in Paul McCartney singing “Long Tall Sally” and “Get Back”with Tina Turner.

Professionally done with some good music to boot, THE PRINCES TRUST BIRTHDAY PARTY is more of interest now to fans of the decade.(by Doom Templer)

Nothing special in term of performances,it’s only a curious relic piece on collector’s shelve like mine to satisfy our addiction of music performed by our darling masterclas. (by Guitar Kiko)


Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Francis Rossi, George Chandler, Jimmy Chambers, Jimmy Helms, John Illsley, Mark King, Paul Young, Ray Cooper, Rick Parfitt, Samantha Brown*, Sting, Trevor Morais, Vicki Brown and much more


01. Dire Straits: Money For Nothing (Knopfler) 5.20
02. Midge Ure: Call Of The Wild (King/Mitchell/Ure) 4.21
03. Suzanne Vega: Marlene On The Wall (Vega) 3.16
04. Phil Collins: In The Air Tonight (Collins) 4.58
05. Big Country: Fields Of Fire (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.26
06. Howard Jones: No One Is To Blame (Jones) 4.12
07. Level 42: Something About You (Gould/King/Lindup/Gould/Badarou) 5.07
08. Elton John: I’m Still Standing (John/Taupin) 3.47
09. Joan Armatrading: Reach Out (Armatrading) 4.40
10. Tina Turner: Better Be Good To Me (Chinn/Chapman/Knight) 5.02
11. Rod Stewart: Sailing (Sutherland) 5.25
12. Paul McCartney: Get Back (Lennon/McCartney) 3.33
13. Paul McCartney: Long Tall Sally (Johnson/Penniman/Blackwell) 2.36



Big Country – Eclectic (1996)

FrontCover1 Big Country’s 1995 comeback with their album Why the Long Face included an accompanying tour. This CD is a representative package of that tour and it is also a terrific album. Culled from two stripped down, acoustic performances, this particular live recording is interesting due to the choice of songs. None of the hits are here, with the exception of “King of Emotion,” but rather favorite album cuts, as well as cover versions. Quite honestly, the cover versions, while remaining faithful to the originals, become Big Country songs. Although this is an acoustic set, this is not an “unplugged show.” Their trademark guitar sound is there, accompanied by Mark Brzezicki’s heavy beat. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is a prime example. The basic song structures remains somewhat the same, however Adamson’s tone and the tight playing of the band make it their own.

LiveThe same can be said for all the covers, and what interesting choices they are: “Eleanor Rigby,” “Summertime,” “Big Yellow Taxi” (featuring stunning vocals from Carol Laula), “I’m on Fire,” and Steve Harley’s “Sling It,” featuring Steve Harley on vocals. It is a strong CD full of great songs, played very well. While fans of Big Country will love this collection, it has a wide appeal to music fans in general. (by Aaron Badgley)

Recorded live at Dingwalls, London, March 20-21, 1996

Stuart Adamson (vocals, guitar)
Mark Brzezicki (drums, background vocals)
Tony Butler (bass, background vocals)
Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin)
Aaron Emerson (keyboards on 02., 04. – 06., 08., 12. + 13.)
Steve Harley (vocals on 09.)
Carol Laula (vocals on 03.)
Kym Mazelle (vocals on 02., 05.)
Hossam Ramzy (percussion on 01., 03., 07., 09., 11. + 12.)
Mohammed Toufiq (percussion on 01., 03., 07., 09., 11. + 12.)
Bobby Valentino (violin)

01. River Of Hope (Adamson) 4.06
02. King Of Emotion (Adamson) 4.10
03. Big Yellow Taxi (Mitchell) 3.50
04. The Buffalo Skinners (Watson/Adamson) 5.58
05. Summertime (G.Gershwin/Heyward/I.Gershwin) 3.57
06. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Robertson) 3.44
07. Eleanor Rigby (Lennon/McCartney) 3.47
08. Winter Sky (Watson/Adamson) 4.06
09. Sling It (Harley) 3.04
10. I’m On Fire (Springsteen) 2.39
11. Where The Rose Is Sown (Watson/Brzezicki/Adamson/Butler) 4.10
12. Come Back To Me (Watson/Brzezicki/Adamson/Butler) 4.43
13. Ruby Tuesday (Jagger/Richards) 4.14



Big Country – The Seer (1986)

FrontCover1The Seer is the third studio album by the Scottish band Big Country, released in 1986. The album featured very traditional Scottish musical settings, reminiscent of the band’s debut album The Crossing (1983). Kate Bush worked on the title song in a duet with lead singer and lyricist Stuart Adamson. The album’s first single, “Look Away”, was an Irish number one, and was also the group’s biggest hit single in the UK, reaching #7.

The album reached #2 in the UK Albums .Chart.(by wikipedia)

When Big Country first roared onto the American scene with The Crossing in 1983, the band was humanism’s revenge on soulless pop posturing. Its soaring guitars, folk-derived jigs and reels and unfettered passion shattered the technopop anomie dominating music at that time. But while its battle’s been won – big hearts and big guitars are no longer merely accepted but are even fashionable, courtesy of U2 – Big Country hasn’t yet been able to cash in on the victory. Steeltown, the band’s sturdy 1984 LP, failed to grip listeners as strongly as The Crossing did; plans for touring in the United States were ill-timed; and it’s taken the band nearly two years to release The Seer, its third album and possibly its strongest effort to date.

BigCountryProduced by Robin Millar, who’s worked with Sade, The Seer tones down the storm and clang of the band’s two LPs with Steve Lillywhite at the board, and the (relative) restraint proves effective. All the elements of Big Country’s distinctive sound remain – the surging dual riffs and elegant E-bow flights of Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson’s guitars; the yearning strain in Adamson’s vocals; the ballast of bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki’s solid bottom. But Millar creates more sonic space than Lillywhite allowed in his assaultive wall of sound. As a result, the songs, rather than evoking detached awe, seem easier to enter.

Happily, Big Country’s vision – articulated by Adamson’s songwriting – is as generous and determined as ever. The single “Look Away” and the ballad “Hold the Heart,” both chronicles of lost love, capture Adamson’s grim romanticism, his characteristic urge to transcend but not deny emotional ravishment. “One Great Thing,” “I Walk the Hill” and “Eiledon” are stirring expressions of the desire for individual integrity and a future filled with peace. And Adamson’s folkloric mysticism suffuses “The Seer” (where Kate Bush contributes a haunting vocal) and “The Teacher.”

On “The Sailor,” the closing track of The Seer, Brzezicki and Butler swing the band with a looseness and ease they haven’t shown before. The open-ended lyricism of that track’s closing instrumental passage evokes the quality of Big Country’s hopes this time out – as well as the scope of their potential success if this LP gets the exposure it deserves.  Anthony Decurtis, Rolling Stone No. 481)

Stuart Adamson (guitar, vocals)
Mark Brzezicki (drums, percussion, vocals)
Tony Butler (bass, steel guitar, vocals)
Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin, sitar)
Kate Bush (background vocals on 02.)
Davie Duncan (bodhran)
June Miles-Kingston (background vocals on 05. + 08..)

01. Look Away  (Adamson) 4.24
02. The Seer (Watson/Adamson) 5.25
03. The Teacher (Adamson) 4.06
04. I Walk The Hill (Brzezicki/Adamson/Butler) 3.31
05. Eiledon (Adamson) 5.38
06. One Great Thing (Adamson/Butler) 4.02
07. Hold The Heart (Adamson) 6.07
08. Remembrance Day (Watson/Adamson/Butler) 4.30
09. The Red Fox (Adamson) 4.11
10. The Sailor (Brzezicki/Adamson) 4.53