Big Country/The Best Of Big Country

Best ofBig Country were a rock band from Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, popular in the early to mid-1980s but still releasing material for a cult following until 2005. The band was notable for music heavily accented with traditional Scottish folk and martial music styles, as well as for playing and engineering their guitar sound to resemble the bagpipes, fiddles and other traditional folk instruments.

Harvest Home—-Always known for huge anthemic songs, this first track of the compilation does not disappoint. It is unfortunate that the US gave up on this band and considered them a one hit wonder…the band produced so much magnificent music. You cannot deny the masterful vocal delivery of Adamson and the huge bagpipe/guitar effects. This song is huge, full of great guitars and provides you with a magical euphoric feeling. Not to mention the huge political lean of many of the songs. This remains….magnificent!!!

Fields Of Fire [400 Miles]—-Full of the remarkable chug-chug guitar sound of the band and the bagpipe effects, this song is another of those I consider anthemic and under appreciated. Stuart sounds literally magnificent…I have always and continue to love this guys voice. The chorus is huge and again has that remarkable ability to make you feel on top of the world. When the bagpipe solo enters, you are magically transported to a huge lush, green land. This is genius!

In A Big Country—-Perhaps the bands curse, there is nothing to dislike about this song. The video was incredible…the US first discovering the bagpipe effect and Stuart sounding better than ever. This is a bit played out, but still makes my ears stand up whenever I hear it…please note…this band was by no means a one hit wonder.

Chance—-This has always been my favorite track from this band. Adamson sounds literally on the brink of a breakdown vocally…his enunciation is so real that you feel every emotion. The band delivers a European, working class sound that resonated with me from the first time I heard this song. This is brilliance..without all of the effects…relying on real guitars and very real emotion…you can not lose with this track.

Wonderland—-The beginning of the track has a weird Duran Duran sound, it quickly gives way to the entrance of Stuart and his masterful voice…the slight accent and the emotion is irresistable. The chorus is literally huge…it is unfortunate that this title track from the second release was ignored by so many people. The band delivers a blistering instrumental…the sound is driving and emotional. This is magnificent!

East Of Eden—-Delivering another nice driving track that is full of the high lead tuned lead guitar and the masterful drums, this is all on Stuart’s shoulders as he delivers another unforgettable vocal. This song has a nice driving movement that still provokes in me a happy feeling…even though the lyrics are a bit of a downer. the sound of this band is huge…it swells and wraps me in a magical blanket.

Where The Rose Is Sown—-Coming back to life with a bit more of the bag-pipe inspired guitars, this is another song that is so ignored by people. I wish the world could hear some of this stuff. The interesting thing to me about this song is that the vocal mix seems to be slightly removed from the rest of the song. The music seems to be the star on this track…pushing Adamson to the back of the mix….almost hidden at times by the drums. Still, this is a huge song…anthemic and euphoric.

Just A Shadow—-Beginning a bit airy and light, it is not long before the familiar guitars kick in and you are back in a comfortable place. Stuart enters with a rather subdued vocal…the music actually slows and allows his entrance and picks up again at a moments notice. This is brilliant…the slight familiar sound if the band is intact, but the gentle rolling ballad style is there as well. This is emotional and a bit sad…just what thew Dr. ordered.

Look Away—-The band returns to full rocking style on this track….this is a bit like the old days…no political leanings and just straight forward rocking. This is magnificent…with a slight blues styling to the song, Adamson sounds wonderful…when the chorus kicks in you shake your head and wonder why the fickle US audiences never embraced this band with the warm arms it deserved.

The Teacher—-Again, from the onset this song is full of the anthemic guitars that you have come to expect by this time from the band. The rhythms are magnificest… takes time for the vocal to enter…but when it does you are warm and embracing. Again, the vocal seems pushed to the back of the mix…this is just misjudged production. It is great to hear the band, but they should never completely overshadow the vocal…still a stellar track.

One Great Thing—-This song begins with a sound so familiar it is like shaking your Brothers hand. When the vocal enters, you are again amazed by the callous treatment…the voice is so pushed to the back of the mix you barely catch the more subtle phrasing. None the less, this is another huge anthemic delivery that makes you want to pump your fist and jump up and down. This is wonderful.

King Of Emotion—-This is a bit different….still clinging to the basic sound of the band, the overall sound of the song reminds me more of Simple Minds than of Big Country. I love the vocal, but the band is relegated to a more somber sound…aiming for a more pop sound…this did not work and did not last for long…thankfully. Stuart should never sound like Rick Springfield!!!

Broken Heart [Thirteen Valleys]—-This is freakin’ brilliant….allowing the vocal to be the star of the show from the onset, the band is slow to enter and only adds to the emotional quality of the song. Stuart can reach right inside your chest and massage your heart with his voice….this is so wonderful you will have to listen two or three times. This is brilliant…..subtle and moving from emotion to emotion this is a true journey.

Peace In Our Time—-This still remains one of the greatest songs in the Big Country catalog…..this is real, heartfelt and true. The guitars and the drums are super energized…the emotional quality of Adamson’s voice is remarkable. The band delivers a sound that is not so much bagpipes at times as more indian inspired music. This is politically charged and designed to make you think…back it up and think some more. The chorus is guaranteed to give you body goose bumps….brilliant!!! 

Save Me—-Beginning with a remarkable guitar solo that makes you say…..WHUT!!! The slow build up is classic…..when the band does open up it is in a blues style that really alienated me a bit, but the song does grow on you.The voice is nice, but this seems to be recorded in a tunnel or something. this is…I must admit…not a favorite 😦

Heart Of The World—-Delivered with a much more aggressive style, the slight blues sound really does alienate me a bit. the rhythm section of the band is firmly intact though and allows you to know for sure who you are listening to. This is nice…containing some of the bands original elements while allowing for progression…I just prefer something different from the blues lean.

Republican Party People—-Again with all of the blues stuff…..oh well. the song does open up nicely and turns into a huge rant against those who deny the rights of those who need them the most. For that point, the band gets my kudos. This is really different, but the nessage…thankfully…remains the same…empowerment.

****3/4 out of 5


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