Last week’s Criminally Underrated entry featured a little-known band from Scotland called Sideway Look who is often compared to another Scottish band known as Big Country. Personally, I don’t think there is that strong of a similarity, perhaps because I am just a bit biased.
Big Country began life in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland in 1981. The original line-up was comprised of Stuart Adamson (formerly with Richard Jobson and the punk band Skids, vocals, guitars, keyboards), Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin, sitar, vocals), Tony Butler (bass, vocals), Mark Brzezicki (drums, percussion, vocals), and for a short time Peter Wishart (keyboards).
Quite a few years ago, a coworker burned some tunes to a CD that she wanted me to listen to. Two songs grabbed me tightly and just refused to let go; they were “In A Big Country” and “Porrohman” from a group I had never heard before. Sure, I knew that some good music had come out of Scotland – who hadn’t heard of Simple Minds, for instance? But Big Country’s interweaving of guitars, rhythm, keyboards in building a crescendo that is reminiscent of a train leaving the station, gaining velocity and barreling through the countryside at a breakneck speed that leaves the listener breathless – can you ask for anything more stimulating and gratifying from your music? It just doesn’t get any better than this.
The chart positions reported at Wikipedia are very telling. Big Country was wildly popular in the UK, but after their first release, they dropped off the radar in the US. My pet peeve is the non-promotion of deserving 80’s-era bands here in the states in favor of immersing us in the musical cesspool of Madonna, Cher, metal bands and their ilk.
Big Country continued to record and tour up until 2000. Their extraordinary live show thrilled millions of fans worldwide. In December 2001, any future plans of touring and recording came to an abrupt end when Stuart Adamson was found dead in a hotel room in Honolulu, HI of apparent suicide.
I challenge anyone to listen to just one song – Porrohman – and not want to hear more from this amazing band. It’s like eating potato chips or peanuts; can you honestly feel sated after eating only one? Can your love of 80’s post-punk and New Wave be truly satisfied without embracing Big Country and welcoming their music into your collection? I think not.
“Porrohman” via YouTube user josesirjose:
“In A Big Country” via YouTube user universal music group:
“Fields Of Fire” via YouTube user neilfunn:
“Steeltown” via YouTube user kevseabass:
Purchase Big Country music here.
The Crossing (1983)
The Seer (1986)
Peace In Our Time (1988)