Craig Allen says: ‘Meet Big Country’
"Big Country" is a Scottish rock band, formed in Dunfermline, Fife, in 1981.
The band's music stands out for its Scottish folk sound, along with playing and engineering their guitar driven songs to remind the listener of bagpipes and fiddles.
Big Country, as we know it today, was formed by vocalist, guitarist and keyboard player Stuart Adamson...along with Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin, sitar, vocals), Tony Butler (bass guitar, vocals), and Mark Brzezicki (drums, vocals).
Big Country's first single, "Harvest Home," was recorded and released in 1982. It did not chart.
"Fields Of Fire" was the next single. It went top 10 in Britain in 1983...the album "The Crossing" would follow.
"The Crossing" album did well, as it was powered by the U.S. single "In A Big Country."
"In A Big Country" (#17/1983) would be the band's only Top-40 hit in New Jersey.
As you can see in the dj's scribbles on the lp sleeve (above), "In A Big Country" got an average score of 7 (out of 10) when it was featured on the "rate a record" feature on September 1, 1983. 22 listeners called to rate the song.
"In A Big Country" features heavily engineered guitars, designed to remind the listener of bagpipes. This was achieved by use of the MXR Pitch Transposer 129 Guitar Effect. The "e-bow" devise, which allows a guitar to sound more like strings or a synthesizer, also added to the band's unique sound.
"The Crossing" album sold over a million copies in the band's native England. And earned gold record status (500,000 copies) here in the U.S.
Big Country appeared on "Saturday Night Live"...
...and at the Grammy Awards (above).
The extended play single (not released on an album), "Wonderland," went to #8 on the British singles chart (1984)...but only hit #86 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the band's last single to appear on the charts in America.
Big Country's second album, "Steeltown," was released later in 1984. It went to #1 on the British album charts...but did not appear on U.S. album charts (like all the band's subsequent albums).
All four members of the band took part in "Band Aid's" "Do They Know Its Christmas" on Christmas Day in 1984...they contributed a "spoken message" to the B-side of the single!
Through the rest of the 1980's, and into the 90's, Big Country would continue to release albums (which were snubbed in the U.S.), and tour throughout Europe.
In 1991, the band was dropped by their label (Phonogram), but they would continue to have (low) chart records in Europe. Throughout the decade, Big Country would hit the road, supporting the tours of bands including The Rolling Stones and The Who.
By about 1995, there was concern over Stuart Adamson's mental and physical health, as he had reportedly long-suffered from alcoholism and depression. He had also moved to Nashville.
Big Country's eighth and final studio album with Adamson on lead, "Driving To Damascus," was released in 1999. Sales were a disappointment.
Big Country's "Final Fling" farewell tour took place in 2000.
Stuart Adamson was found dead in a Honolulu hotel room on December 16, 2001.
In celebration of their 25th anniversary, Big Country's surviving founding members reunited in 2007, for a tour of Scotland, England and Germany. The album "Twenty Five Live" was the result.Then, after the anniversary fun, the band went back on hiatus.
Big Country would reunite, and add various additional support players, undertaking yearly European tours between 2010 and 2013. They even appeared in concert at limited venues across North America in the summer of 2013!
In March of last year (2014), Big Country confirmed that Simon Hough (lead singer, guitarist, harmonica) was the band's newest permanent member...and that new material was in the works.
Although Big Country is known in America for only one song...over the years they have released 9 studio albums, 18 live albums, and 25 compilation albums! With more to come...
Who knew? Now, YOU do.