Liner notes


Choose from the following release's liner notes:

All the notes below are as printed in the notes complete with all the spelling mistakes, bad grammar and punctuation errors that you would sadly expect.
At least you are spared the often garish and unreadable fonts chosen by Ra on many of the newer releases.



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The Seer - Live in New York, VVD 178
© 1986 Virgin Vision Ltd.

Review by Steve Sutherland


The Pier, New York was a pretty ironic location for the climax of Big Country's 1986 "Seer" tour of America, overshadowed by a massive aircraft carrier stacked with winged artillery. Somehow, though, in this sinister setting, as darkness enveloped the clutter of NYC, Big Country's frustrated songs of freedom and joy gained a symbolic poignancy. Stuart laughed a lot, larking about with the stetsoned Bruce, determined to prove that rock needn't be dour to communicate care. Bruce [does he mean Mark?], in the spirit, rolled the rhythms into military dubs while Tony encouraged the up crowd to dance. It was a night when the band's work became a shared pleasure, then the anthemic hits from "The Crossing", the depressed optimism of "Steeltown" and the mystic yearnings of "The Seer" combined in one strong, simple mesage: Stay Alive.

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No Place Like Home, 510 230-2
© 1991 Phonogram Ltd.

Review by David Sinclair, July 1991


What do you do when you are a group that has created one of the truly distinctive sounds in rock and been at the top of your profession for eight years? For Big Country the answer is to take the romantic character and unshakeable integrity that lies at the core of your work, and move on.

For too long the emotionally charged essence of Big Country's music has been obscured by lazy and cliched talk of bagpipe guitars and checked-shirt rock. the application of an American mainstream production gloss to their last album, "Peace In Our Time", was a move which singer and guitarist Stuart Adamson now accepts as being "at a tangent to the plot". The accompanying pilgrimage to Moscow, in the peace-making spirit of glasnost and the unforgiving glare of the Western Media, was both exhilarating and exhausting.

In the wake of that momentous adventure a new Big Country has emerged. In July 1989 drummer Mark Brzezicki departed for the shadowy pastures of the session world. The remaining three members of Big Country - Stuart Adamson, Tony Butler (bass, backing vocals) and Bruce Watson (guitar) - closed ranks and, inevitably revised working practices.

With Brezezicki now in the role of session drummer on "No Place Like Home" the intricate mosaic of syncopations and galloping tom tom tattoos that was such a recognisable feature of the old Big Country sound has gone. In its place a more conventional set of rhythmic patters is sketched with new vigour from a palette of bold primary colours.

The howling slide guitar which graces the opening bars of "Republican Party Reptile" - more dustbowl blues than highland fling - sets the tone for a collection that quarries deep into the rock face and taps into the traditions of country, folk and southern blues with an authority that transcends the dictates of either formula or fashion.

"I grew up playing R' n 'B music", Adamson says, recalling the days before the Skids when he was a 15 year old apprentice in Dunfermline based covers group Tattoo. "So it's still completely natural for me to play it now".

Big Country has used mandolins and acoustic guitars before, but the banjo and honky tonk piano which contributes to the mellow celtic-country swing of "Beautiful People" is undoubtably a first.

With its crisp, open-ended production, "No Place Like Home" is an album of bountiful extremes, encompassing the simple voice-and-piano ballad of "Ships", the belting instrumental coda of "Into The Fire" and the mounting paranoia of the Middle Eastern scnario of "The Hostage Speaks", with its grainy, dessert-baked rift and neurotic wah wah embellishments.

"We're trying to do traditional things in a contemporary style", is how Adamson sums the album up. "It's a new chapter, but for me it's always been about writing songs that make a difference in people's lives, songs that connect with people. There's no master plan. this is what we do now".


The Collection 1982-1988
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The Collection 1982-1988, VSOP CD 178
© 1993 Connoisseur Collection (under licence)

Review by Michael Heatley

"In America, mainstream music may be the thing, but I'm really not very comfortable with it. I like to play folk music with loud guitars: that's what I do. I like loud guitar music, and I'm not going to apologise for it anymore."

Big Country leader Stuart Adamson's typically forthright quote in an early-Nineties interview sums up his straightforward attitude to life and music. Manchester-born but a Scot in every other sense, guitarist-vocalist Adamson had left Celtic art-punks the Skids in June 1981 with the intention of getting back to a more direct form of rock. Though his contributin to the Skids' success was somewhat overlooked, a scan of the writing credits indicated that beside canny, controversial frontman Richard Jobson stood more than just an able lieutenant.

The same six-string sound that had powered the Skids was taken to its logical extreme with Big Country. And in guitar partner Bruce Watson, who had never escaped the local scene and whose day job was cleaning nuclear submarines, Adamson had chosen wisely. The two detonated almost immediately, but a suitable rhythm section proved rather more difficult to find. The original choices, like Watson local musicians, were augmented by a synthesiser player, but after being thrown off a tour supporting Alice Cooper (amazingly for being 'too wierd') Adamson and Watson were back to a duo.

Their record company Phonogram put them in the studio to cut demos with two seasoned sessioners, bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki, whose earlier group On The Air had once briefly supported the Skids. The combination worked so well that a permanent alliance was forged.

It proved quite a combination. "Harvest Home" announced their arrival in no mean fashion - and, though it failed to chart, encompassed all the vitality and power that would become their trademarks. The equally rousing "In A Big Country", the third single, remains their theme tune. "It was the song that people really latched onto throughout the world," admits Adamson. "The lyrical idea was about having hope, a sense of self and dignity in times of trouble." That, plus the memorable melody...

Both these, plus further singles "Fields Of Fire" and "Chance", were included on the debut album "The Crossing" which notched a staggering 80 weeks in the charts - no mean feat for a first attempt. Two more tracks from it "Close Action" and "The Storm", are featured here. The album also reached a creditable Number 18 in the States, the single "In A Big Country" doing one place better in its respective chart. It would prove the peak of their stateside success.

The band opened 1984 with the potent blast of "Wonderland", like the first album produced by Steve Lillywhite who also did the honours for U2 and Simple Minds. Their second album "Steeltown", that followed caught the band at its creative and commercial peak. Entering the charts at the very top in October 1984, it stuck around for 21 weeks and spawned three singles. The theme was the industrial decline of Dunfermline and so many other communities, capturing decline and desperation but also hope and pride.

Three album cuts, including the title track, are featured here - along with "Belief In The Small Man" (the b-side of "Where The Rose Is Sown") and "Winter Sky" (the b-side of "Just A Shadow", whose Top 30 a-side is also present here). Big Country's rapport with their fans extended to giving them non-album material on single releases, the quality of these suggesting a band with inspiration to spare.

A sold-out Wembley Arena reverberated to the joyous Big Country sound for a two-night 'residency' just before Christmas 1984, setting the seal on an eventful couple of years. It was surprising that Big Country were not to release a live album (and to date have yet to do so), but would include several bonus concert cuts on singles.

Despite detractors harping on about the band's "bagpipe guitar sound", Big Country stood out as one of the more distinctive acts in a post-punk musical landscape. "If the music comes out naturally it's bound to have a stamp of identity," insisted Adamson. "I refuse to acknowledge that my roots in folk and rock music are any less valid than someone who grew up in a ghetto playing dance music." Hardly an attitude guaranteed to make Big Country critics' favourites, but it was the bond with their audience that made this band special.

Kate Bush gave Big Country her personal seal of approval by duetting with Stuart on "The Seer", title track of the band's third album released in July 1986. The employment of producer Robin Millar, whose track record includes the Fine Young Cannibals, gave the album a more commercial sound, though "The Seer" was kept from emulating "Steeltown"s chart-topping performance by just one place...not through lack of fan enthusiasm but the immovable object that was Madonna's "True Blue". Three further cuts - "Remembrance Day", "The Sailor" and the single "One Great Thing" - are also featured here.

As before, when Big Country had girdled the world touring, there would be a two-year wait for a new album. This time, though, it was film music that occupied them - and the sessions for the Restless Natives soundtrack, coming on top of their relentless schedule to date, threatened to split the band as family man Stuart Adamson felt the strain. But by the end of the year internal problems had abated, and Big Country were special guests of The Who's Roger Daltrey at New York's Madison Square Garden. Butler and Brzezicki did double duty backing the star of the show, having earlier performed the same task on album for Pete Townsend.

The eventual release of "Peace In Our Time" in September 1988 was celebrated by a trip to Moscow - yet paradoxically the band's fourth album featured a more American sound than before, having been recorded on the other side of the Atlantic with producer Peter Wolf. Postcards were included with the title track's release as a singel for fans to send to the White House and Kremlin urging their occupants to secure world peace - but though the Iron Curtain would fall mere months later, the album only reached Number 9. The lack of tour probably didn't help its chances.

The single "King Of Emotion" found Top 20 success nevertheless, its b-side, "The Travellers", also being worthy of inclusion here. "King Of Emotion" was unashamedly inspired by the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women", a song Big Country had once featured in their set. "There was a groove that suited us," admitted Stuart, "so I thought why not go the whole hog and write our own song?"

Another of the albums' outstanding tracks was "Thousand Yard Stare", a title later borrowed by a leading indie band but originating from the Vietnam war to dexcribe the glaze-eyed look of shell-shocked young US soldiers. "I like to put characters in my songs," explained Adamson, who admitted it was fascinating "to see America finally try to come to terms with its guilt over Vietnam." Elsewhere, keyboards played a greater than usual part in proceedings. At the time Stuart described this as "a natural evolution"...but, as this sleevenote's opening quote suggests, decided to go back to basics next time round.

Released in May 1990, "Through A Big Country - Greatest Hits" brought breathing space and an impressive Number 2 chart placing. But when a new album, "No Place Like Home", finally emerged in September 1991 on Phonogram's Vertigo label (its predecessors had been on Mercury) it reached only Number 28 - a consequence, perhaps, of 18 months out of the spotlight. But the big news was the outfits first ever personnel change, London drummer Pat Ahern coming in for Mark Brzezicki. Band and label parted company the following year, suggesting a new chapter in their eventful ten-year history was on the horizon.

In their chart heyday, Big Country were bracketed with U2 and Simple Minds in the widescreen guitar-rock stakes. Runrig and others have since worn their Celtic roots proudly, but Big Country remain leaders in a field of one for combining Celtic folk and rock roots in a seamless, soulful and (in chart terms) spectacular fashion.


The Best Of Big Country (US Import), 314 518 716-2
© 1994 Phonogram Ltd.

Biography/Review by Scott Schinder, New York, December 1993

In The Summer of 1983, when Big Country released its debut album "The Crossing", the British Quartet's blend of dynamic guitar textures, sweeping melodic hooks and unironically heart-felt lyrics couldn't have been farther from the high-concept style-pop then dominating the U.K. music scene and America's MTV airwaves. Yet, despite its decidedly unfashionable emphasis on earthy rock roots and straightforward songcraft, this seemingly unlikely foursome quickly emerged as a potent musical force, helping ot open the floodgates for a resurgent wave of thoughtful guitar bands on both sides of the Atlantic.

Leader Stuart Adamson's songs drew on a wealth of mucial tradition while maintaining a completely contemporary focus, projecting an unshakeable sense of faith in the face of a dark and troubling world. Adamson's impassioned vocals resonated with urgency, as did his and Bruce Watson's aggressive yet densely layered guitars, while the seasoned duo of bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki comprised a rhythm section as airtight as any in rock. The resulting music was a timeless breath of fresh air in a scene dominated by faddish fetishism.

"The Crossing"s bracing, Celtic-inflected sound may have been unexpected, but it wasn't entirely unprecedented. Adamson had established a partial blueprint for Big Country's style in his previous incarnation as principal sonic architect of the Scottish post-punk combo the Skids, with whom he recorded three albums, "Scared To Dance" (1979), "Days In Europa" (1979) and "The Absolute Game" (1980). Adamson left the Skids in the summer of 1981 and hooked up with Watson, a fellow Dunfermline native whose former band, Delinx, had often shared local stages with the Skids. After recording some demos with The Jam's Rick Butler on drums, the pair began playing Adamson's new songs locally with a short-lived five-man lineup. When it came time to recruit a permanent rhythm section a few months later, Adamson and Watson looked to Londoners Butler nad Brzezicki, who'd previously recorded with Pete Townshend as well as backing Pete's Younger Brother Simon in a trio known as On The Air.

Its lineup complete, Big Country signed to Phonogram in April 1982, playing its first London show the same month; by the end of the summer the quartet had made its debit at New York's Peppermint Lounge. The September release of the band's Chris Thomas-produced single, "Harvest Home", was followed by a six-night stand opening for The Jam at London's Wembley Arena and the release of its first Top Ten U.K. hit, the rousing "Fields Of Fire". The latter tune marked the beginning of a fruitful relationship with producer Steve Lillywhite, whose wall-of-sound aesthetic was ideally suited to the band's trademark balance of atmosphere and instrumental pyrotechnics. A third single, the anthemic "In A Big Country", hit the U.K. Top 20 in May, setting the stage for the July release of "The Crossing".

Along with the band's first three a-sides, "The Crossing" featured a fourth U.K. single, the poignant ballad "Chance" (which like "In A Big Country", appears on this collection in its popular, yet previously unavailable on CD, 7" mix). The album was quickly acclaimed as one of the year's standout debuts, both in the U.K. (Where it went platinum and remained in the Top 40 for over a year) and in the U.S. (where the band was named Best New Group in Rolling Stone's year-end poll, as well as earning a pair of Grammy nominations). Somewhere amidst a dizzying swirl of roadwork and promotion, Tony Butler found the time to lend his talents to The Pretenders' hit "Back On The Chain Gang".

A non-album U.K. single, "Wonderland" (released in the U.S. as part of a four-song EP, and making its North American CD debut on this compilation) served as an exciting prelude to Big Country's sophomore album "Steeltown", recorded with Lillywhite at Abba's Polar Studios in Stockholm. The album, released in the fall of 1984, found Adamson's lyrics conjuring compelling visions of life in his economically devastated homeland, delving deeper into the connection between the personal and the political. On tracks like "East Of Eden", "Where The Rose Is Sown" and "Just A Shadow", the singer steadfastly refuses to succumb to cynicism even when faced with harshest of personal trials, and the band echoes the lyrics' indomitable spirit with consistently intense ensemble work.

Following two years of near-constant activity, 1985 was a relatively quiet one for Big Country, with its score for the Scottish film comedy "Restless Natives" (subsequently released on the b-sides of a pair of U.K. 12" singles) and an appearance in the finale of the historic Live Aid concert in London marking the band's only major public appearance during the year. While Adamson worked on songs for a new album, Brzezicki moonlighted on Roger Daltrey's "Under A Raging Moon" LP (which also featured Butler and Watson on one track). Brzezicki and Butler later accompanied The Who frontman for a short tour, whose New York date at Madison Square Garden found them playing sets with both Daltrey and Big Country.

For its third longplayer, 1986's "The Seer", Big Country hooked up with a new producer, Robin Millar, to explore a slighlty more spacious sound. Despite the sonic readjustments, songs like "Look Away" (which proved to be the band's biggest success to date), "The Teacher" and "One Great Thing" boasted lyrics as insightful and hooks as sharp as anything the band had done. The quartet spent much of 1986 on the road, headlining various festivals in Europe, as well as a pair of sellout dates at Wembley Arena and a special-guest slot with Queen at England's Knebworth festival.

Big Country was out of the spotlight for much of 1987, emerging briefly during the summer to appear as special guests on the British leg of David Bowie's Glass Spider tour and in December for a low-key tour of U.K. clubs and colleges. The foursome's artistic restlessness took shape in the reshuffled sonics of the 1988 album "Peace In Our Time", on which another new producer, Austrian synthesizer specialist Peter Wolf employed state-of-the-art studio gadgetry that might have seemed at odds with the band's established style, yet which nonetheless enhanced the bittersweet lyricism and melodic drive of numbers like "King Of Emotion", "Broken Heart (13 Valleys)" and the album's title track. That September Big Country celebrated "Peace In Our Time"s release with a tour of the U.S.S.R., which they launched with a performance at the Soviet Embassy in London, broadcast live on BBC Radio One.

After touring with Big Country though much of the first half of 1989, Mark Brzezicki left the group in July (he subsequently concentrated on a variety of session work, as well as an extended recording and touring stint with a reformed Procol Harum); in his absence, the nad worked with a variety of drummers, including Pat Ahern, Chris Bell and noted session ace Simon Phillips. While a dearth of U.S. roadwork significantly diminished the group's stateside profile, the Tim Palmer-produced singles "Save Me" and "Heart Of The World", and the slyly humourous, Pat Moran-helmed "Republican Party Reptile" (from the 1991 U.K. album "No Place Like Home") - all of which make their U.S. debuts on this collection - demonstrate that the band's sense of adventure and commitment continued undimmed.

By 1993, Big Country had returned to the U.S. market with a new label and a new album, "The Buffalo Skinners". That disc's domestic release preceded the band's first U.S. shows in seven years, with Brzezicki back in the fold. Whatever the future holds, however, Big Country's place in rock history is already secure, thanks to its legacy of richly emotional, vitally human music - a generous sampling of which you now hold in your hands.
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In A Big Country, 550 879-2
© 1995 Karussell International (under licence)

A biography by Mark Brennan

Having scored incredible commercial success in the late 70s with Scottish pop-punk outfit The Skids, guitarist Stuart Adamson set out in 1981 to do something new - and in the process found even more success and acclaim as leader of the hugely talented Big Country.

Together with guitarist Bruce Watson, bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki, Adamson lauched Big Country in April 1982 and their unique twin guitar based bagpipe sound soon brought them to the attention of Phonogram Records who issued the band's debut 45 "Harvest Home" in September of the same year. Though not a hit it did bring the band's name to a much wider audience and following gigs with the likes of The Jam and U2 they finally made the chart breakthrough in April 1983 when the stunning "Fields Of Fire (400 Miles)" made its way to No. 10 in the UK Top 40. The follow up "in A Big Country" reached No. 17 three months later and coincided with their debut UK headlining tour. Their debut album "The Crossing", which included their first two singles as well as the superb "A Thousand Stars", spent over 80 weeks in the UK charts as well as hitting the top 20's in both Canada and America.

"Chance", the only ballad on the LP, gave the group a UK No. 9 hit late 1983 and was followed in early 1984 by a Top 10 placing for "Wonderland" and a Top 20 slot for "East Of Eden" whilst their second LP "Steeltown" actually entered the UK chart in the No.1 position, proof of Big Country's incredible rise in popularity amongst the nation's record buyers. Sellout gigs at venues like The Wembley Arena and Birmingham's NEC showed that they could pull in the crowds and gave the band a chance to try out cover versions such as Smokey Robinson's "Tracks Of My Tears" and The Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women".

Most of 1995 was spent writing the soundtrack to the "Restless Natives" film and recording their third LP "The Steer" though early 1986 saw Big Country score their biggest UK chart success when "Look Away" hit No. 7 in the Top 40. "The Seer" LP, which included the single, shot to No.2 and also spawned the band's tenth consectutive Top 30 smash "One Great Thing" though "Hold The Heart" 45 incredibly only managed to reach No. 55 at the tail end of the same year. A UK tour with David Bowie and massive outdoor concerts in Eastern Europe (including the first ever gig to a standing crowd in Russia) showed just how far the band's popularity had spread and culminated in a UK Top 10 position for the "Peace In Our Time" LP which the band officially unveiled in the unusual setting of London's Russian Embassy!

However, the almost relentless world-wide touring schedule led to Brzezicki quitting in the summer of 1989 (he's now one of the world's most in demand session drummers) and he was replaced by pat Ahern who debuted on the early 1990 Top 50 hit "Save Me". The success of a "Greatest Hits" package later in the same year helped re-establish the band's sound and they fully capitalised on it by scoring a Top 30 position with the "No Place Like Home" LP as well as chalking up their 17th and 18th UK hit singles courtesy of "Republican Party Reptile" and "Beautiful People" as their hit making years moved into a second decade.

Today Big Country are still a major attraction on the live circuit and still producing consistently high quality albums, and as this 16 track collection of hits, classic album cuts and ultra rare B sides show, their Scottish rock sound still remains timeless and totally unique.
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BBC Radio 1 Sessions
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Radio One Sessions, CDNT 007
© 1994 Night Track Records

Liner review by Alan Edwards, "Life In A Big Country"


I remember seeing the Skids play at the Hammersmith Palais and noticing shy Stuart Adamson's contribution. I remember co-managing the Skids, and undertaking a tour of the school playgrounds the length and breadth of the country. I remember Virgin Records holding on to Richard Jobson and letting Stuart Adamson go when the Skids fell apart. My partner Ian Grant pinpointed Chris Briggs and Phonogram as the right record company for Big Country and just kept on and on at them until the deal was done.

Live, Big Country played at the Dingwalls club circuit and supported Alice Cooper at Brighton Conference Centre, the latter backfired when the obnoxious Vietnam vet tour manager took a dislike to the band and kicked them off the tour. This did the group a favour, and hot rhythm section bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki who were working with Pete Townsend were enlisted. Big Country never looked back. Moody magnificent guitarist Stuart Adamson, rhythm guitarist and comedian Bruce Watson, friendly rock solid bassist Tony Butler and quirky Mark Brzezicki with the massive drum sound.

Soon sweaty venues like Nottingham Rock City were heavy with the pure excitement of a real live rock band cutting a swathe throughout the new romantic and posey pop scene. America beckoned, and a combination of guitar rock and tartan imagery struck a chord. "In A Big Country" stormed up the singles chat with the album in hot pursuit Stateside, it seemed a far cry from their U.S. debut supporting The Members at The Peppermint Lounge in New York. It all happened very quickly in America, guitar rock was a well established tradition.

Pressure dropped on Big Country big time, endless touring - Stuart not really wanting to be part of the rock and roll trip - a hastily mixed second album, a cancelled tour with Hall and Oates the band need a break.

Manchester United fan Stuart was football mad, backstage players pooped up like they were in the penalty box - Steve Archibald, Charlie Nicholas, Tony Woodcock, Paul Mariner, Kenny Dalglish to name but a few. When Stuart wasn't gigging he was watching Dunfermline's athletics good times.

The audience too felt like they were too off the terraces, and the empathy that was felt between the band and crowd rivalled that of the Liverpool players and the packed Kop. The music was anthemic and so was the sing along response and support from the masses down the front.

Back in the USA again, standout show at Sinatra's old N/Y stomping ground the Roseland Ballroom, sellouts at the palladium in L.A., crazy party at the Sunset Marquis, broken down bus on the road to San Diego, snowbound spectrum in Montreal and good fun at Saturday Night Live with then world champ larry Homes. back in Scotland for Hogmany or was it Christmas Eve at Edingburgh Playhouse, followed by a cranky propeller driven small plane ride back to London.

June 1994 still got it live at Clapham Grand, always worth the price of admission Big Country continue the great rock tradition.


BBC Live In Concert
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BBC Live In Concert, WINCD 075
© 1995 Windsong International Ltd.

A biography by Pat Gilbert, Record Collector Magazine, August 1995

In the heady days of 1978, few people ever dreamt that the guitarist of a noisy Dunfermline punk band called The Skids would ever end up leading one of the biggest stadium rock success of the 80s. But then, no one would have thought that their square-jawed singer, Richard Jobson, would go on to be a TV presenter, actor and media clothes horse...

Ironically, out of the two chief Skids, guitarist Stuart Adamson looked less well-equiped to reinvent himself as a front-man in the aftermath of punk. His role in the group has always been overshadowed by Jobson's natural bent for showmanship, which included everything from dancing wildly on stage, to dying his hair and reading poetry. Yet it was Adamson who provided the Skids with their trademark guitar sound, and who disciplined the group on stage - and it was always Adamson who had crafted many of the group's catchiest tunes, like "Into The Valley" and "Masquerade".

After the Skids art-rock took a worrying Nietzschean turn, with Jobson fencing with Spandau Ballet over who could (ab)use pre-war German imagery to keenest effect, Adamson departed in 1981 to start his own outfit. Returning to Dunfermline, he recruited his schoolboy chum Bruce Watson as second guitarist, re-emerging a few months later with Big Country - a group with a strong sense of their Scottish roots and a muscular rock sound built around a twin 6-string assault, which occasionally combined to produce bagpipe melodies.

In the spring of 1982, Phonogram fended off stiff competition from Ensign to sign the group, and Tony Butler (bass) and Mark Brzezicki (drums, ex-On The Air) replacing the temporary rhythm section, they set to work on a debut album with producer Steve Lillywhite.

Their originality and power won them a prestigious support spot on the Jam's farewell tour in December 1982, and in February 1983 they soared to their first top 10 with the anthemic "Fields Of Fire", followed by their classic signature "In A Big Country" and "Chance". The singles formed the centrepiece of "The Crossing", whose measured rock and lyrical themes of overcoming physical and spiritual hardships aligned the group to the 19th century Gaelic balladers, and this traditional aspect helped win them a loyal Scottish and American fanbase.

The sophisticated rocker "Wonderland" heralded the arrival in 1984 of the No 1 album "Steeltown" - home to "East Of Eden" adn "Where The Rose Is Sown" - though it was 1986's "The Seer" that marked the group's commercial and artistic apex. Spawning the hit "Look Away" and the stand-out track "I Walk The Hill", it realised Adamson's dream of successfully marrying an expansive stadium rock sound with an overt pop sensibility. Sympathising with the lot of the ordinary man - workman's check shirts and jeans were the sartorial order of the day - Big Country had become Europe's answer to Bruce Springsteen, and were even out-Bossing the Boss in his own country.

A need to capitalise on their Stateside success resulted in a more mellow sound for their next LP, "Peace In Our Time", released around the time this live set was recorded. The stand-out track from the album, "King Of Emotion", gifted them with yet another worldwide smash. But behind the scenes the band were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their record company's role and after the disapointing "No Place Like Home" (1991), they quit Phonogram to sign with Chrysalis, who issued the far tougher "Buffalo Skinners" album in 1993. This LP included several reworkings of earlier material, together with feisty guitar barrages like "Long Way Home", thus underscoring their relevance to 1990s rock. All a long way from their days playing punk rock in the sweaty Marquee club...
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The Crossing (digitally remastered), 532 323-2
© 1996 Mercury Records Ltd.

New liner notes by Stuart Adamson


It all begins with a sound in your head, a disarray of word and music, an awareness of something coming to the surface. Small pieces occasionally break through but the whole is a mystery. Take the mood, the emotion, the passion for it and make it live. Focus it all, crystallise the essence of it, let it become a living thing, share it.

The music I felt wasn't like the music I had grown up hearing, or rather, not like any one of them. It was all of them jumbled up and drawn into something I could understand as mine.

I found I could play this music and connect the guitar directly to my heart. I found others who could make the same connection, who could see the music as well as play it.

The sound made pictures. It spread out wide landscapes. Great dramas were played out under its turbulent skies. There was romance reality, truth and dare. People being people, no heroes just you and me, like it always is.

The music told stories, little stories. Lands were not conquered, treasure was left in the tombs, the magic was in the everyday. We learned how we are together and how we come apart. Life happens.



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Steeltown (digitally remastered), 532 324-2
© 1996 Mercury Records Ltd.

New liner notes by Stuart Adamson


Things that shape us are rarely acknowledged until the mould is distant and we are cooled. I understood the power of music and had seen its effect long before I knew its language. I knew that a man with a song could be as persuasive as one with a gun, and was much less likely to harm innocent bystanders. As a child I watched people whose traditions denied them any show of emotion, pour out their hearts in song to those they shared a life with. The songs were their love, their longing and caring made public.

The music on this record grew out of these people. The alienated, the dispossessed, the exploited, the abused, the people we pass by, the people we are. The songs are very dark and dense, they come from hard times, fearful places. This is the sound of frustration, the words of the powerless, it is hard and brittle, cornered.

Hope is replaced by fear and dreams by survival, most of us get by. Here is my home movie, my video diary, where I am from, where I am.

The recording was done at Polar Studios in Stockholm, owned and used by Abba. Out of the lightness, dark. The circle closes.



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The Seer (digitally remastered), 532 325-2
© 1996 Mercury Records Ltd.

New liner notes by Stuart Adamson


I came to one day in 1985 and found I had been around the world several times in a chaos of bagpipe guitars and cold small beer. I had been translated and subtitled from the sack to the mill and came home to a place that didn't look like the press kit.

I was aware that I was carrying more than just cheap luggage around with me, especially when I spoke in an accent deemed everything from cute to impenetrable, depending on who was doing the listening. It seemed that all I did was defined by my being Scots and all of it someone else's definition.

So I opened my eyes, I looked, I listened, I read, and made tangible for myself what had been instinctive. Somewhere between Alex Harvey and Hugh McDiarmid, Glencoe and Hampden Park was a culture and it was mine. It too had been packaged and marketed but it was there, tucked away in a corner below the whisky and shortbread crates.

So I took it out and dusted it off and there it was. It wanted to be outward looking and forward thinking, freed of the misty sentimentality of nationalism, but aware of its continuity. Where have we been, where are we going, what can we give, what can we learn.

Me? I just brought it to the party.



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Peace In Our Time (digitally remastered), 532 326-2
© 1996 Mercury Records Ltd.

New liner notes by Stuart Adamson


Much more than miles between Moscow and Los Angeles, Snapshot L.A. Space. Space to play, space for big ideas. Room for big cars, big homes, big people. California dreaming. I recognise this from movies. Anything you want on a stick coming right up sir. Thank you. I'll have a motorbike, a surfboard, lots of sun and the weekend free. The lure of the West is very strong. Slow pan and fade to.......

Moscow 1988. Gorbachev. Peristroika. A new freedom. The same security force. Endless concrete apartment blocks. Suspicion. Shortages. Money changers. Hard currency hypocrisy. All the cliches come alive. Nothing has prepared me for this. No connections. A brand new thrill. The air thick with the fear of change and the need for it. Living black and white.

You know the words but not what I'm saying. My gestures are alien, unrecognisable. I hope they're videoing this. What a glorious futility. The last war of attrition. Levis and Coca Cola Vs. Smokin' Joe Stalin, winner to be decided by a copout.

Brought to you by those friendly folks in lumpy suits.

Well, at least it made the papers for a week.



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No Place Like Home (digitally remastered), 532 327-2
© 1996 Mercury Records Ltd.

New liner notes by Stuart Adamson


It was all too much for Dorothy. Too much for anyone really. She was in a world of hurt. Toto was rabid, the Tin Man was all out of trees and the lion was making big bucks at Disney. Meanwhile the Witch of the West had gone off with the Scarecrow to law school and Aunt Em was waiting tables at Buffy's Burlesque ("Best Breasts West of the River.") Kansas just wasn't Kansas any longer.

A lot of people tried to help her. Some of them were smart and some of them were strong and some were really only trying to help themselves. She was just about all helped out. She had gone through three pairs of ruby slippers, clicking those heels like a barroom door in the dustbowl. What she really needed was that tornado to come along and just blow the heck out of everything. Smack that old house somewhere brand new and take it from there.

Deep down inside though, in the small of the night, she knew it wasn't Kansas or all that other stuff, it was just Dorothy and that no matter where she went or what she did, that's how it would always be and, most times, that would be just about fine.



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King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents, 70710-88022-2
© 1997 King Biscuit Flower Hour Records Inc.

Liner notes by Bruce Pilato


If they are known for one thing, Big Country should always be remembered for its BIG sound. Huge sound. Massive sound. In fact, everything about the band has always been BIG: big vocals, big drum and bass mixes, and big guitar blends.

Featuring guitarist/vocalist Stuart Adamson, guitarist Bruce Watson, bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki, Big Country have remained one of the few bands to emerge from the era that launched the birth of MTV that has survived through the 90s.

This energetic King Biscuit Flower Hour Show was recorded on New Year's Eve 1983/84 in Glasgow, Scotland, near their hometown. "That was a memorable show," says Adamson. "It was New Year's Eve, and everyone was out of their heads. I remember in the middle of the show - at midnight - an entire bagpipe band came on stage and did a few numbers. It sounded so cool, we decided to keep it in the recording."

"New Year's in Scotland is a huge event," says Tony Butler. "In many ways it's a bigger holiday than Christmas. It's called Hogmany. They always have parties and the like and people leave their houses open and everyone just goes partying from home to home.

"For that show, we decided to put this traditional bagpipe band on at 12 midnight," adds Butler. "It was quite an emotional sound. It was the biggest night of the year. At midnight, everyone was hugging and kissing each other."

The show opens with the sounds of rain, thunder and lightning. After a thunderous crash, the effects slowly fade and the band breaks into "1,000 Stars." Big Country's guitars (in their trademark "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. The 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.

"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. "I had a bootleg of this show for many years," says Watson. "I thought the quality was amazing when I first heard it and I think it sounds even better now."

Steve Lillywhite (the platinum producer best known for his work with The Rolling Stones and U2) was the engineer for the recording of the show. Lillywhite had produced the band's first two albums, and wanted to be there as 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.

"We knew it was going to be an important show," adds Adamson. "and it was. We had just come off a successful U.S. tour, we had a single that was huge in America, and we were on a real high. I think our enthusiasm is evident in the performance."

The roots of Big Country go back to the highlands of Scotland in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band was formed initially by Stuart Adamson, who had come from a band called The Skids &emdash; a group that had seen success in England with a handful of hits.

"Around late 1981 or early 1982, I knew I wanted to move on," says Adamson, who formed the first version with Watson and another rhythm section, replaced quickly after the band's onset with Brzezicki and Butler.

"I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew what I wanted it to sound like and the image," says Adamson. "Mainly, I wanted to work with the other three guys. These were people that were all friends of mine and were great musicians, too. We jelled very, very quickly. It only took about two weeks to come together. That song, 'In A Big Country' came together very quickly.

Of particular note was the band's infectious blend of barroom rock and traditional Celtic music. "I remember when we were trying to get a record deal, "says Watson. "Every company showed us the door. It was like that scene in The Rutles. The labels were saying 'Guitar music is dead.' We were determined to prove them wrong...and we did."

"We did demos," adds Adamson. "At the time the music industry was leaning toward synth bands. We were this loud, ethnic rock band. People from the label said they liked it but they couldn't do anything with it."

"I didn't notice a trend difference when we came along," adds Brzezicki "What I noticed was the distinct Celtic vibe and that was what made them different."

"Tony and I were working with Simon Townshend in a band called On The Air," says Brzezicki. "We toured with the Skids. That's how we met up. Then we went on to work with Pete Townshend and Big Country's manager, Ian Grant saw us. He felt the original line up of the band needed a stronger rhythm section, and we were recommended."

"It's a chemistry that just works," says Brzezicki of his work with Tony Butler. "I have worked with Tony since I was 16. My bass playing was developing at the same time Tony's bass playing was developing."

"We've always been very good at what we do," says Butler, talking about how the rhythm section of the band meshes with the guitars of Adamson and Watson. "The sound is because of the spectrums we use in the music. We are conscious to be very melodic and very powerful. We all know where our downbeats land and we all have the same groove."

"Eventually, a guy from PolyGram came down and heard us," says Adamson. "He gave us the money to do four demos. He loved the songs and three of them ended up on the album."

"The name of the band was there first, before we had written the song," remembers Adamson. "I wanted a name that gave you a wide, open expansive feeling, because I thought the music fit the name. There was also a movie of the same name, but the band really wasn't named because of that."

"Our success didn't come as easily in America, but things were starting to happen there at the time we made this recording," adds Adamson. "We had already four hits in England, and we had only been together a year and a half."

The band released its debut album The Crossing to critical acclaim and commercial success in 1983. The Crossing scored a Top 5 hit, "In A Big Country", garnered the band rave reviews, placed them on huge tours opening for U2, David Bowie, and Elton John, and eventually lead to appearances at the Prince's Trust and Knebworth concerts, and a European tour with the Rolling Stones.

The group did two more albums for PolyGram, including Steeltown (1984) and The Seer, (1986) and then spent much of the late 1980s and 1990s moving from label to label without equaling its earlier commercial success.

The band signed to Warner Brothers/Reprise Records and released one album in 1988, Peace In Our Time. "We went over to that label and they put us with a producer named Peter Wolf," says Adamson. "The songs were good, but the production was unsympathetic."

Brzezicki, however, counters: "I think the production was good and the songs were not as commercially viable as they could have been."

Big Country returned in '91 with the European only release, No Place Like Home, but were determined to get back on track in the U.S. In 1993, they returned to the US with an album called The Buffalo Skinners, on the short lived, RCA-distributed label Fox Records. Unfortunately, it too, would fall through the cracks.

"We did an absolutely fantastic record for them, but they were an off-shoot of the TV network and really didn't have it together as a label," says Adamson. "They fell out with RCA and things got changed around, and our project simply just got stopped. It's a shame, because I think it was the best record we ever made."

"The first couple of albums really hit the big time, worldwide," says Butler. "And that was unfortunate for us. People kept setting a standard for us. You're not thinking about that commercial standard when you're hanging out, writing songs."

In 1995, Big Country moved to the indie label Pure Records, where they recorded the critically acclaimed studio LP, Why The Long Face? followed by a European-only released acoustic live LP. In 1996, the band went on hiatus.

"Every label that has had us for the last five years has had a quandary about what to do with us," says Watson, "because they are trying to buck very big trends like grunge or techno."

"We're on hold for the moment, but we will be together again," says Adamson. "At least, I hope so. It's always been a fantastic band to work with. We have a great love respect for each other, and I think we will keep it going."

Adamson is using the time off to launch a solo career, based primarily in Nashville, where he now regularly collaborates with other songwriters. Watson has worked with U.K. vocalist Fish and is recording a project of his own. Butler and Brzezicki remain studio and live support musicians in high demand, working outside of Big Country with such musicians as The Who's Pete Townshend, Sting, Peter Gabriel, the Cult, and Ultravox's Midge Ure. Brzezicki is currently a member of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

"We were in these endless business hassles with record companies," says Adamson. "It was always a fun thing playing-wise but not always business-wise."

"The one thing that the band always had," says Butler, "was a belief in its self-perpetuation. We always believed in our music and we know we can always produce good music, whether or not it is commercially successful, we feel it will endure."

"At the end of the day," says Butler, philosophically. "it's the music that always keeps it together."

Bruce Pilato January 1997



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The Great Unknown (Tony Butler), GWR0001
© 1997 Great West Records
 
Liner notes by Tony Butler

I've had the pleasure of working for and with some of the finest musicians and songwriters this country has ever produced. Therefore, it has always been my ambition to invite those artistes, if available, to take part in one of my projects. Unfortunately the circumstances in which I found myself recording this album did not make this possible. As much as I would have enjoyed their contributions, I found myself in a position to express myself fully. So, as an acknowledgement of their influence, I took the liberty of incorporating some of their musical and lyrical trademarks in this work. "Nuff respec". This is not really a solo album - it's me being every band I've ever been into, all rolled into one CD. It's only rock'n toll and I love it, even at 40!
 
"have you ever been experienced? I have" - Jimi Hendrix



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Kings of Emotion, SMD CD 101
© 1998 Snapper Music

[Historically rambling and erratic, and sometimes inaccurate] Liner notes by Hayley Bartlett

BIG COUNTRY

"People say music can't change the world. I think it can.

Not on a huge scale, of causing revolutions. But it can bring people together, let people understand each other and see things." (Stuart Adamson)

Big Country were responsible for changing the face of guitar rock in the early 80s. This Scottish foursome crept onto the music scene in 1982 with a uniquely persuasive rock-anthem guitar sound, combing undercurrents of new wave with an Indo-jazz fusion input by ex-Skids Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson. As a teenager, Stuart Adamson was a keen follower of new wave punk bands The Damned, Clash, Buzzcocks, The Slits, Subway Sect and The Jam. These were the influences which persuaded the young Adamson to start a band, not that he needed much persuasion. His ad in the local paper read: NEW WAVE BAND LOOKING FOR DRUMMER. NO HIPPIES. Out of this unobtrusive advertisment in the province of Dunfermline The Skids were born and Adamson's unique guitar-style became the musical focus. Support gigs for The Stranglers and Buzzcocks ensured imminent success. Sandy Muir, a record shop owner put up money for a demo single which John Peel couldn't get enough of. Jean-Jacques Burnell sorted out more gigs, while Peel did his bit by recommending his new-found sound to Virgin who immediately signed them up.

In the days pre Skids, as a fifteen-year-old apprentice, Adamson was strumming R&B music in a Dunfermline-based covers group, Tattoo. He remembers the Skids days fondly, as a mixture of chaotic gigs and a right good laugh. He says later, of Big Country, "I was trying to recapture the feeling I had for the music in the early days with the Skids". These were the wonder years - filled with a passionate exhuberance and an innocent sense of what was yet to come.

The Skids are remembered as being four guys who banged and beat the hell out of all 'the usual' instruments, making the biggest, loudest, most aggressive sounds since the Clash stomped their way to success in '77. Adamson left the Skids after Virgin agreed to let him try a few solo demos; demos which they weren't overtly impressed with. This proved to be a bad move on their part as the Skids floundered and fell apart while Adamson went on to form another band
- Big Country.
Hopes for a duo studio ensemble with fellow Skid, Bruce Watson were quickly discarded and two former members of On The Air (a support of early Skids performances) stepped in - Mark Brzezicki and Tony Butler - who brought with them the prestigious credits of The Pretenders and Pete Townshend. Ian Grant, a young manager, first saw Adamson when The Skids were supporting The Stranglers in '79. When Grant quit managing The Stranglers, he knew what he wanted next. Grant had seen Butler play with Pete Townshend at Brockwell park and liked what he saw. The band were put together, did four demos and got a record deal ten days later.

Stuart Adamson (born 11th April 1958, manchester: vocals/guitar). Bruce Watson (born 11th March 1961, Timmis (sic), Ontario, Canada: guitar), Mark Brzezicki (born 21st June 1957, Slough: drums) and Tony Butler (born 2nd Feb. 1957: bass) each brought their own style and musical history to the new project which would mould the Big Country sound. Brzezicki harboured a passion for jazz and drumming (an unusual combination indeed), Butler had spent his youth playing guitar in front of the mirror (didn't we all) to the sounds of early Genisis and Hendrix, while Watson wanted to be either a footballer or a guitarist when he grew up. When he was 15, he gave up football. As a melodic punk group, Big Country had a fair amount of success but not a commercial scale. Then came the Alice Cooper tour, on which the lads lasted about two dates before the erratic Cooper changed his mind about his favoured support and threw them out. The band drew upon their multi-musical past and evolved into a remarkable fusion of country, folk and celtic blues, denying any preconceived formula for guitar rock of the 80s. They have since become one of the UK's greatest guitar bands in an age when digital synthesisers and secondhand pop was on the increase. Their first gig was in the Glen (Dunfermline). The lads have always maintained a healthy attitude to the music business.

With Phonogram backing them and successful gigs and tours on the go it would have been easy to let it go to their heads. Butler says their aim was "to be a good group in a world where groups weren't particularly good". They hated the star system which housed arrogant pop stars and sought to make the system play the game their way - giving them all the rewards which success has to offer but without the trappings of fame, loss of privacy, freedom and time. Who could blame them?

The Chris Thomas-produced debut single, 'Harvest Home' failed to chart but their debut album, The Crossing (1983, Mercury) produced by Steve Lillywhite (U2, Simple Minds), was heralded as one of the most unique and exciting debut tock releases of the early 80s. Grand themes captured the band's powerful vision completely. It contained Big Country's first hit 'In A Big Country' which went to No. 17 - establishing their rousing rebel yell - as well as 'Fields of Fire', 'Chance' and 'Harvest Home'. The follow-up to The Crossing was an EP containing the romantic anthem 'Wonderland' (No.8). the lads soon amassed succession of hits and enough popularity to sell out two nights at London's Wembley Stadium in December 1984. Steeltown (1984) was swiftly released and was a huge commercial success. An album of dark, dense songs about difficult times and fearful places. "This is the sound of frustration, the words of the powerless, it is hard and brittle, cornered," Adamson said later. Steeltown which feature the sophisticated rockers 'Come Back To Me' and 'Where The Rose Is Sown' entered the charts at No.1

At the peak of their success however, Big Country seemed to vanish from the scene altogether. Rumours circulated that Stuart had had enough and quit. Even a U.S. tour, supporting Hall & Oates, wan't enough to deter the overworked Admason from wanting a break. A three year period of non-stop touring and a two-month soundtrack recording for 'Restless Natives' had taken their toll. this was to be their only new material in 1985. it wasn't until 1986 when Bob Geldof asked them to appear in the finale of Live Aid when the lads got back together. A UK tour was planned for the same year and so, after a much-deserved 18-month break, Big Country released The Seer (1986, Mercury), containing additional vocals by kate Bush, 'Look Away' was a major hit in 1986 reaching No.7.

Peace In Our Time (1988) was released on a new label, Reprise, and saw a move in a totally new direction for the foursome. Utilising American production values, the old Big Country sound was given the stateside sheen. Leaving the bitter taste of mellow rock in the mouth. A move which Adamson later acknowledged as being "at a tangent to the plot".

No Place Like Home was released in 1991 and finally saw the lads getting back to basics but adding their own Scottish sheen on an album of intense, uplifting tunes. Or as Adamson put it, "We're trying to do traditional things in a contemporary style". With Brzezicki as session drummer, the old recogniseable form of Big Country's leaping rock was gone. An alternative set of rhythmic patterns were used, creating a new sound. they had crafted one of the most distinctive sounds of British Rock. The album contained classic Country: 'Ships' and 'Into The Fire', but the boys were dissapointed with their new sound and signed with Chrysalis for '93's Buffalo Skinners - a return to form.

In 1994 and 8-track Radio Sessions album was released and the following year, the BBC Live In Concert special featured 'Peace In Our Time', 'River Of Hope' and 'Kings Of Emotion' (sic). 1996's Eclectic recording at Dingwalls in London's Camden town featured guest vocalists Kym mazelle, Carol Laula and Steve Harley, belting out hits 'I'm on Fire', 'Ruby Tuesday' and 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'. only last year the Big Country sound once again proved its worth with Brighton Rock - recorded live at the Brighton Dome in 1995 - the album is a pleasant seaside romp through favourites 'Thunder And Lightning', 'God's Great Mistake', 'You Dreamer', 'Sail Into Nothing', 'I'm Not Ashamed' and 'Post Nuclear Talking Blues'.

Contrary to what we'd expect when we think of Big Country, it's not all guitar, guitar, guitar. A mixture of 12-string guitars, mandolins, sitars, banjos and honky tonk pianos all go into producing the celtic-country swing which lends itself to both uncomplicated vocal/piano duos and belting instrumentals. Big Country share the same traits that helped make U2 so universally popular. Both groups are 'outsiders' in that they don't come from London, New York or Paris and have never pretended to. They harness that which made them unique in the first place and don't ever lose sight of it. Ever since they formed, fifteen years ago people have attributed Big Country with their very own musical culture - a neatly packaged marketing niche - in the category of 'Scottish Rock'. Yes, some of them may be from Scotland but Big Country are more than four lads from the provinces making good music. Without letting sentimentality get in their way, they produce fine, rousing anthems and ballads, shouting, whispering individual stories with different settings and a new set of emotions each time. They tell tales of hidden treasures and magic and paint pictures of weather-beaten hills and stormy skies. Of The Crossing, Adamson once said, "The sound made pictures. It spread out wide landscapes. great drums were played out under turbulent skies. there was romance and reality, truth and dare." Adamson's heart has always belonged to the serene pastures of his adopted hometown of Dunfermline. With several depatures from the usic scene throughout the years, Adamson found it difficult to cope with the day to day pressures of success.

Big Country are classic anti-rock stars of their time. Despite playing on the Grammies show in the U.S., flying on Concorde, having top ten albums, hit singles and gold discs, Adamson, Watson, Butler and Brzezicki have remained four wholesome boys. Adamson sees himself as a working person, though working class isn't something he believes in. "Putting divisions between people which shouldn't be there."

Richard Jobson (ex-Skids) said of Big Country's success, "They captured emotions most people overlook or take for granted and created a vehicle for release for many people." These boys are here to stay. No matter what new sounds are on offer - drum n' bass, jungle, techno - there's always a place in our hearts for Big Country.

- Big Country.

Hayley Bartlett


Restless Natives and Rarities cover
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Restless Natives and Rarities, 558 411-2
© 1998 Mercury Records Ltd.

Liner notes by Stuart Adamson

ALL FALL TOGETHER: Was recorded for the movie "Streets of Fire" and was done at castle studios just outside Edinburgh. I asked Mark to go in and do a drum track based on a thing he had been jamming. The song was then built around that. Lyrically the subject matter is a kind of doomsday scenario, sort of in the spirit of the movie.

OVER THE BORDER: Was one of the tracks we came up with during the period of inactivity between leaving Mercury in the U.S.A. and going to Warners. It started out as a twelve string piece that Bruce had and I built it into the chorus. This is one of those tracks (like a lot on this album) that really still needs work to become a song. This is actually a demo recorded at R.E.L. in Edinburgh. The song is about how you can never run from yourself.

MADE IN HEAVEN: Was written for the movie of the same name. Bruce and I originally recorded it with a drum machine at R.E.L. and Mark and Tony played on it later. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the girl who sung on it. I don't think it was used in the movie, this is a demo and I think it needs tightening up.

NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING: Title lifted straight from a Stevie Smith poem because I liked the images of someone appearing in control but in reality floundering. This came from the same demos as Over The Border and I think it's another of those "close but no cigar" songs. I think during this period a lot of people didn't want us to be the Big Country we were and maybe we were trying to be something that wasn't us.

ON THE SHORE: Another b-side recorded at R.E.L. This time during the period Josh Phillips Gorse was playing with us. Tony had a cool bass piece and I just jammed along on top of it. It's a nice evocative little piece.

BALCONY: This comes from the first Big Country when Pete Wishart (now with Run Rig), Alan Wishart (bass) and Clive Parker (drums) were playing in our "wall of sound" band. This is the band that got thrown off the Alice Cooper tour for being too weird. This is the version done with Tony and Mark and I think it was used in the movie "Against All Odds".

DEAD ON ARRIVAL: I can't remember this at all. I can't think whether this is Bruce's demo or if I played on it. Help!!! Extra format track (Chipping Norton). Unfinished song, I thought it sounded like a heavy metal track (says Bruce).

PASS ME BY: Now I think this and the previous track came from a session at chapel studios out in Lincoln. At the time we were putting songs together for the No Place Like Home album and I'm pretty sure it's Pat Ahern playing on these tracks. I'm completely blank about the lyrics on this.

PROMISED LAND: Another track from the R.E.L demos done for 'Peace In Our Time'. I can't remember too much of what it's about but I think parts of it ended up in other songs. The fog of time.

RETURN OF THE TWO HEADED KING: Was written during the "NPLH" demo period with Pat drumming. I think the best song out of this bunch was "You, Me and The Truth" which went on the record. This, another 'almost' song, which Mercury actually cut slow on the record (Nice job guys). It's about two-faced leaders.

WHEN A DRUM BEATS: I like the guitar intro to this and I'm going to nick it for something else. We were demoing a lot of tracks at R.E.L. at this time and maybe we should have developed some of them a bit further. The lyric is about refusing to get caught up in jingoism and misplayed patriotism.

WORLD ON FIRE: Tony's song done at Chipping Norton and basically I just turned the guitar up and played along. Done during another burst of "let's fill up those formats" recording.

WINTER SKY: Bruce and I recorded this ourselves at Palladium in Edinburgh as a b-side but this time I actually think we got a great song. The bass, bass drum and snare were played on a synth at separate times, in fact I think Bruce did the bass drum and I did the snare. Thrown away on a b-side I think.

I'M ONLY WAITING: The Chapel demos once again. Another nearly song I think. This was a pretty confusing time for us, with conflicting signals being sent from the record company and us trying to find ourselves after all the Peace in Our Time stuff. I think this song reflects a lot of that indecision musically and lyrically.

FLAG OF NATIONS: Once again I don't know how Tony and Mark got credited in fact I don't even think that Chris Thomas is the producer. I'm pretty sure this was done by Bruce and myself, messing around with John Leckie's sequencer when we were doing some tracks with him. The bass part ended up as the bass part for 1000 stars. A lot of the early Big Country songs I wrote on the bass and a really naff drum machine.

KISS THE GIRL GOODBYE: This was written during the first demos we did at "House In The Woods" when Pat was playing with us, the same demos as "Kansas" and "Ships" I think. This is the version done with Mark drumming at "Rockfield" for "No Place Like Home". I think this comes close to being a classic but the verse and lyrics need work. I wrote the song about desperate situations inspiring drastic actions, maybe I should have taken the lyrics advice and tried to do something more with it.

SONG OF THE SOUTH: Was done at the power plant with Robin Millar producing. Robin is one of the nicest people I have ever worked with and has remained a source of good advice and inspiration. The song is about apartheid and I kind of liked the idea of using a Disney title for it to show how the media exploit real suffering for ratings.

BLUE ON A GREEN PLANET: I think this is the demo version of this song done at House in the Woods. We did two versions of this, one a slow grind replete with vocal "brass" section, the other an up-tempo "punk rock" version.

NORMAL: Originally from a bunch of demos at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire. Bruce was fooling around while I was writing lyrics and came up with a really cool lick. I think I then added vocals at House in the Woods and this is that version. The lyrics came from New York Times piece about small town America, although it could be anywhere, the lifestyles are so similar.

GODS GREAT MISTAKE: This was done at Chapel Studios on the same session as Normal. I love to take melodies from folk music I grew up listening to and put them to a really heavy and dark guitar sounds. It's always very evocative to me and usually pushes me into 'apocalyptic' lyric mode as evidenced here.

RESTLESS NATIVES: I loved being involved with this. Writing music to add colour and mood to visual Images is often the way I like to work on songs. Hoping to create a sort of movie in the listeners head. I actually think a lot of the original material I wrote for this ended up not getting recorded because the producers had put old Big Country songs to certain sections, and became fixated on those styles. "Home Come The Angels" was basically "Come Back To Me" revisited because of this. I was really pleased with this project. I think it spawned a great song, "Restless Natives", and I think the original material really added to what was already a great movie.

THE LONGEST DAY: This track was recorded at Windmill Lane, Dublin during a European tour circa 1985. Originally for a film by the same name, but I seem to remember we were not comfortable with the films subject matter. The chorus, melody and chorus were later to be incorporated into Thirteen Valleys.

Stuart Adamson
March 1998


Faster Than The Speed Of Sound
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Faster Than The Speed Of Sound, www.1
© 1998 Track Records Ltd.

Liner notes by Bruce

It was in March of '96 that I decided to get together with some of my pals to record some songs, just for fun. I was moving house at the time, so I had a big empty room, which I utilised by turning it into a makeshift studio. My good friends at Sounds Control (music retailers) loaned me a Roland VS880 digital recording machine, which Duck (the shop's resident joker and keyboard maestro) operated for me. As Duck worked on a Saturday he always had Monday's off. I would pick him up at the Burgh Arms in Inverkeithint, 2 G&Ts and 2 pints of lager and he was ready to rock. Duck is a great sound engineer and also a screaming faggot! No that's not true I just made that up! He is in fact a terrible sound engineer.
 
At this point in my life, Big Country were taking a break due to whatever reasons. I had become friendly with my boyhood hero's Nazareth and they had me rehearsing with them 5 days a week. I can honestly say it was one of the funniest, wonderful times I had in my life. It was a privilege to play with them. Daryl Sweet (the best drummer in the band) had me in stitches recalling tour stories from the 70's "Ah remember thir wis us, Deep Purple and a hermaphrodite dwarf'.....
 
Anyway enough of that, it was through bass player Pete Agnew that I met his son Stevie (one third of the famous Agnew sisters). The other two being Lee and Chris. Three of the most talented musicians this side of Kelty. I thought... hold on this guy is in his early 20's good looking and sounds like a cross between Frankie Millar and Dan McCafferty. As an experiment I recorded Republican Party Reptile and Holiday (a song written by Zal Cleminson and Nazareth) and asked Stevie to sing on them. Well the rest is history we toured the world, did loads of coke and shagged every groupie in hte Rainbow Rooms. No wait! That's a lie as well! Stevie sung on four of the songs on this CD and I'm sure we will be hearing a lot from the Agnew Bros in the near future.
 
As I wanted to get a raw sleazy feel to this aural enema! I decided to hang out at Sinky's pub. Every Thursday night was Jam night and most of the musicians were recruited from there. I always remember one of the Sinclair brothers going into the toilets wearing rubber gloves to remove a turd from one of the urinals. His exact words were "Dirty Bastards! Oh hiya Bruce, d'ya fancy a toastie later on?" "Nah no thanks Ian!"
 
Eck Paton was the second recruit. Eck is a well-known character in Dunfermline. Every year we all hold a benefit concert for Eck's liver. Eck has an infectious laugh which sounds like an AK47 machine gun! He is also the only person to have fallen out of my car. We were driving past Oddbins, en route to record, when Eck woke up and said "Stop! I can smell the drink from here!" where upon he proceeded to fall out into the road! Anyway Eck did backing vocals on "Republican" and the great Ronnie Lessells played slide guitar. Ronnie used to play guitar with Alan Darby who played with Cado Belle and later on Bonnie Tyler. Alan is also the cousin of Pano (Mike Douglas) who used to manage Stuart Adamson and also built the first chopper in Dunfermline. He also sold the chopper to Shultz (Brian Charlton) who is Manny Charlton's brother formerly of Nazareth. Who coincidentally stayed next door to me in Jennie Rennie's Road in Dunfermline. How's that for a link?
 
Anyway back to rock and roll, I sang on "Highland Girl" only because I couldn't find a singer that week! Neil Millar sand on "The Days" and Aaron Fyvie sand on "Kingdom Come" if you read the credits everyone involved are mentioned.
 
Management: Ian Grant Management; Mastered by Roger Wake; Artwork by James Grant
 

This album is dedicated to Fluff

 
Thanks to-:
Jeroen Sprenker, Phillip Alcorn, Martin Hetherington, Johnny Cordes, Stuart Arnott, Ian Stickland, Peter Hornberg, Randall Addison, Peter Trenning, Les Schriber, Andrew Bairley, Rorie McIntosh, Mattias Engvall, John Spencer, Steve Jara, Anne C. Ciurro, Rod Cohen, Damon Burkhart, Richard Visco, Dave & Sally Schwatrz, Allan Matthews, Ian Smith, Mark Griffin, Robert Oliver, Sabine Koehler, Filip Klippelaar, Wolfgang Niemeyer, Sergio Alvarado Solano, Donna Higgs, John De Keijzer, Emiel Van Dijk, Cees Jan Ploeger, Andy Thompson, John R Gouveia, Iain Galbraith, Nick Barnett, Chris Raaths, Sean Daly, Stephen Ashe, Richard Fitzgerald, John Davis, Paul Ashe, Ali & Paula, Michael Vinson, Ben Woodhouse, James Carnegie, Alex Duveen & Michale Wheeler (road tech).


In TheScud
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In The Scud, www.2
© 1999 Track Records Ltd.

Liner notes by Stuart

These songs in this format are not what a group would normally have you hear. They are our aural sketchpad, the first outlines of what eventually will become a fully fledged album. They are naked and gawky, like a nesting chick, not yet ready to fly.
 
This stage is where we decide if a song will make the album or not and these are some of the fringe competitors. Maybe with the right approach some of them will develop and thrive, but when you have a lot of material the axe has to fall somewhere.
 
With the interest shown on the website for demo material we decided to let this stuff be heard. I hope you find it interesting. For me, it's a little like wandering on stage in you underwear, now there's a thought.
 

Stuart' Dec '98


Bon Apetit cover
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Bon Apetit!, www.3
© 1999 Track Records Ltd.

Liner notes by Bruce & Stuart

It was the summer of '85 that the name Rafe McKenna first reared its ugly head. Ian Grant our manager and sometime procurer of cheap scud, had Tony 'the bison' Butler, Mark 'spats' Brzezicki and myself lined up for some sesion work, with Roger Daltry, trout farmer and sometime lead singer with The Who. As our singer Stuart 'hall of fame' Adamson had accidentally booked himself into a pre-fab clinic in a botched attempt to get his legs together, I decided that the Daltry session would be more productive than hanging around supermarkets plus I could pick up some angling tips for my chum Camp Smedley. I arrived at RAK Studios 10:00am prompt and set up my gear with our roadie. Les 'sadistic bastard' King. After getting a sound together he ushered the aforementioned Mr McKenna and myself upstairs to the control room where I met Alan Shacklock (producer). My job for the day was to overdub an E-bow solo on a song called 'After The Fire' a song written by Rogers an old sparring partner of Pete Townshend when he was in the fire brigade. Rafe was very young and enthusiastic at the time and I always remember our first encounter.
 
"Did you bring your bagpipes with you man?"
 
"Make us a cup of tea son," I replied, "And after that nip down the shops and get me 20 Embassy Regal."
 
"I don't think they sell them down here in London."
 
"Just get me anything then" I answered. He later came back with a store pie.
 
After tea Alan went to check out his head for hairspots and ears for dead spots. It was then that Rafe had a premonition.
 
"Bruce, in around 13 years time I will co-produce a new album with Big Country, it will be huge and sexy and there will be no more E-bow solos and someone called Lee who is only 3 will make the tea and the record shall be called 'McKenna's Gold'."
 
"No Rafe I'm sorry but we can't let it be called that as it sounds like a movie that Gregory Peck once starred in and also any band that names their albums or God forbid the name of their group after a Gregory Peck movie must be nuts. No we must think bigger than that."
 
"Alright why don't we call it 'Bon Accord'?"
 
"Sounds good Rafe, that should go down well in Dundee, but what about the rest of the world?"
 
"I've got it, we should call it 'Bon Scott' after Scott of Australia. No longer with us but fondly remembered. The Aussies are bound to love it."
 
"I was thinking of something more European, more Continental, something with a bit of je ne sais quoi."
 
"'Bon Tempi'" he squealed ecstatically.
 
"No."
 
"'Bon Jovi'"
 
"Nope."
 
"'Bon Voyage'."
 
"Ah fuck it, let's call it 'Fun time in the Pocano's'!"
 
"I'll tell you what Bruce, why don't you and your mates bugger off to Nashville, put on some cowboy hats, eat loads of chilli and record a four track CD to flog it on that website of yours. I am sure all the Scudders are dying to hear from shit kicking licks and let's face it the latest EP went down a storm in Scudland. Give them some more cake and let them stuff their Puss's. Bon Apetit."
 

Mr. Adamson's 'literature' courtesy of 'Scud, Razzle and Whang' publications.
 
Mr. Brzezicki's shoes by 'Suede Canoe' by appointment to his Majesty the Queen, manufacturers of fine flamboyant footwear.
 
Mr. Butler's low end tailored and customised by Binson & Mungus, Saville Row, London.
 
Mr. Watson's middle parting styled and teased to perfection by Camp Smedley and his young apprentice, Mitzi.

(Bruce Watson)


This combination of songs represent our first stab at working together again after a two year lay off. We got together in Nashville to hang out and write together. Just looking for that little spark, that magical chemistry that let us know we were a band, some 18 years ago. We jammed with acoustic guitars (all the electrics are overdubs) and a small drum kit in a little country music rehearsal studio. Playing old songs, new songs, just shooting the shit being musicians and re-united friends. We hung out together. I had everyone in for dinner. Somehow, Tony managed to get arrested. I drove everyone around too fast in my dumb-ass muscle car. Hey hey we're Big Country. It was rejuvenating, so we recorded it, around the corner from my house.
 
It's a little tentative, a bit shy. But look there, in the songs, in the feel of a band, isn't that chemistry...........
 
Bon Apetit!.
 
(Stuart Adamson)


Live in Berlin 1988 cover Big Country - Live in Berlin 1988, BCRWWW5
© 2001 Big Country Records.

Liner notes by Alan Edwards and Tony Butler

There was still a certain excitement in visiting East Europe then. The iron curtain, although decidedly rusty was still in place and for boys brought up on Harry Palmer and John Le Carre there was still a bit of a thrill to be had in crossing to the "other side".
 
The gig itself was like any other large open air event in Europe that summer, but the crowd were different in subtle ways. The clothes wer thinner and less fashionable, and the mullet was still the haircut of the day. A sea of enthusiastic denim greeted the bands. Fans took it all a bit more seriously in East Germany, treating rock and roll as a privilege and at the same time a subversive form of communication, whilst in the West it had already become another piece of pre packaged consumer entertainment.
 
And talking about taking things for granted, Big Country turned in another seemingly effortless yet rousing live performance. Classics like In A Big Country and The Storm provided a platform for some of the more eclectic music featured on their forthcoming album Peace In Our Time. The audience hadn't of course been exposed to the same songs, so response was uniformly good but not always predictable. Also on the bill was the worthy and earnest man of the blue collar people Bryan Adams. He took the stage in blue jeans and jacket and was immediately at home with the rock starved fans.
 
Backstage a lot of the talk was of the forthcoming visit to Moscow, this was in many ways just a taster of what was to come. Complicated bureaucracy, chill winds and dreadful catering. Another great Big Country day out, probably most memorable for the slightly mysterious setting!
 
Alan Edwards - June 2001
Alan was one half of Grant Edwards Management in the 80s.

To play behind what used to be the Iron Curtain, in a place where people were shot if they tried to cross a dividing line was to say the least, as buzz, in the changing political climate of the late Eighties, to be invited to play in front of a festival crowd who were enjoying a newly acquired freedom that we take so much for granted was always going to be special. I also seem to remember that Michael Jackson was playing in the West of Berlin at the same time but felt our gig was the bigger occasion. This recording by a German TV company illustrates the sense of the occasion.
 
German live music television has always had a good reputation for it's sound quality, and this recording is no different. As usual with BC live recordings, there are no over dubs or any post production, it is what it was on the day, from start to finish. Enjoy.
 
Tony Butler - June 2001


Rarities II cover
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Rarities II, BCRTRK002
© 2001 BCR.

Liner notes by Tony Butler

Working with different drummers after being a solid unit for so many years was also going to be testing.
 
The various tracks that feature Chris Smith, a mate of Stuart and Bruce's from Scotland and Pat Ahern, an old colleague of mine from times past, show what a considerable hole Mark left us to fill, but they brought their own identities to the tracks, as did Mark.
 
But as this mixed set of rare recordings show, the ambition to forge ahead was still very much in evidence.
 
Experimentation and lunacy were very much on the menu as well as the more serious writings during these era's.

Tony Butler - February 2001


One In A Million cover
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One In A Million, BCRTRK003
© 2001 BCR.

Liner notes by Tony Butler

One night, many years ago in Detroit Michigan, we (BC) began a routine soundcheck when Blam! the power went off. The venue staff eventually restored power but we were presented with a new problem.
 
In an adjacent building was a local radio station, pumping out its tunes, unfortunately through our backline. This time the venue staff were unable to work their magic. So, we decided to play the gig acoustically. Completely unrehearsed. It was an adventurous gig but a hugely successful one, but demonstrated the importance of being able to play songs that worked on an emotional level, whether electrically or acoustically. The power of a good song does not necessarily come from a wall socket.
 
Unfortunately, that particular gig was not recorded, but the selection on this CD are from a variety of sources, some live, some radio and studio. The unplugged concept was something that BC engaged in long before it became hip. It was the perfect promotional tool. To go to radio stations and perpetually talk about yourself was a chore but became a little more bearable when 95% of an interview was an acoustic session.
 
The title of this album is dedicated to that night in Detroit Michigan. It was definitely ONE IN A MILLION.
 
Tony Butler


Greatest 12'' Hits cover
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Greatest 12" Hits, BCRTRK004
© 2001 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by Steve Liilywhite, Tony Butler & Chris Briggs

When I recently heard these songs again I was totally blown away, it was like listening to them for the first time. I remember the songs but not the form of the mixes, and I now sure I was completely mad in those days. There were really no rules as to what these should have sounded like, and as I am not a DJ, you can't really dance to them. What you can do is marvel at the spectacular drumming, and the way in which the drums were recorded. Some of my favourite times in the studio was challenging Mark to record his drums separately, thus giving me complete control over the way I could mix them. Many years have now passed since these days, and technology has enabled people to make amazing extended mixes, but what you are listening to was truly ground breaking.
Steve Lillywhite - June 2001
 
Sitting in my studio, listening, pumping up the volume, tweaking compressors, limiting this, fading that, listening again and again, one image never left my mind. The smiling face of that young lad from Surrey, grinning from ear to ear as he managed to get the drums doing bigger and louder things. 12" mixes were not supposed to be the domain of bands like Big Country, but with the constant demand for extra tracks for different formats, a new form of expression was taking root. The instrument, the mixing console, the performer, the producer.
 
To say that Steve Lillywhite enjoyed making 12" mixes was an understatement. It was supposed to be fun, and sound like it as well. "So what if the desk is making a weird noise, put it on the mix", I seem to remember him saying while putting together Wonderland.
 
What impresses me about this collection, is that they relied more on the component parts of the recordings rather than the more current commonplace remix vibe, where tracks are completely dismantled and re-recorded, by someone else. I wouldn't say these BC mixes were ahead of their time, just in a time of their own.
 
Oh! did I forget to mention what a laugh we had............
 
Tony Butler
 
Mixing these tracks for 12" was a way of letting off steam. Steve often did them late when things were a bit "light hearted and hysterical". Stoned enough to laugh at your own bad jokes. Two dyslexics walk into a bra. He played the old API board in Rak 1 like an instrument. Using its limitations. Making it strain and creak. making it up as he went along. Creating an energetic racket. Trying stuff out without the pressure of mixing a "hit". Covering everything in fags and empty beer cans. Laughing his socks off. We've done the album. Now let's fuck it up.
Chris Briggs - July 2001


www.bigcountry.co.uk cover
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www.bigcountry.co.uk, BCRTRK005
© 2001 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by Stuart & Bruce

The liner notes for this release are recycled from "In The Scud" and "Bon Apetit!".


Demos of Themes And Other Dreams (Tony Butler)
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Demos of Themes And Other Dreams (Tony Butler), GWR0015
© 2001 Great West Records.

Liner notes by Tony Butler

The songs contained on this CD are magic moments of my life. Times when I have locked myself away in one of the many faces of Wobbly Studios and other expensive ones as well, and just let myself be. These are demos but at the time of their making, they were for real.


Rarities III cover
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Rarities III, BCRTRK006 (incorrectly labelled as BCRTRK005 and over-stickered)
© 2003 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by Tony Butler & Bruce Watson

The first thing that struck me while working on this album was what a good album it makes. It has been a while since I listened to these versions but I was struck by what I was hearing. Although the sessions are a bit of a blur in my memory, i remember the feelings I initially had about the songs. The ones that never made it onto commercial albums are still grand and I am pleased that they will at last get to be heard. The songs that are more familiar still work for me in their un-produced state and demonstrate how good they were in their infancy. This album has also evoked some bizarre memories. TB

I still find it amazing that every time I go into my attic studio I always come across more and more dusty old Ampex boxes filled with open reel tapes. Tony is right when he says it evokes some bizarre memories. All those studios in the middle of nowhere where we would set up camp and get into song writing mode. All the visits to the local country pubs where we would plan out future strategies, discuss newly written songs and relive war stories from previous tours. God I can even remember which TV shows we were watching and what comedy tapes we were listening to back then. These songs are the third installment in what had turned out to be a fascinating history lesson and the more tape boxes I come across will, I'm sure evoke even more memories. Bruce

November 2002


No Place Like Home / Peace In Our Time cover
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No Place Like Home / Peace In Our Time, TRK1026CD
© 2003 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by Stuart Adamson, Tony Butler, Bruce Watson & David Sinclair

Peace In Our Time
 
[Taken from the remaster release of PIOT] Much more than miles between Moscow and Los Angeles, Snpashot L.A. Space. Space to play, space for big ideas. Room for big cars, big homes, big people. California dreaming. I recognise this from movies. Anything you want on a stick coming right up sir. Thank you, I'll have a motorbike, a surfboard, lots of sun and the weekend free. The lure of the west is very strong. Slow pan and fade to...
Moscow. 1988. Gorbachev. Perestroika. A new freedom. The security force. Endless concrete apartment blocks. Suspicion. Shortages. Money changers. Hard currency hypocrisy. All the clichés come alive. Nothing has prepared me for this. No connections. A brand new thrill. The air thick with the fear of change and the need for it. Living black and white.
You know the words but not what I'm saying. My gestures are alien, unrecognisable. I hope they're videoing this. What a glorious futility. The last war of attrition. levis and Coca Cola vs. Smokin' Joe Stalin, winner to be decided by a copout.
Brought to you by those friendly folks in lumpy suits. Well, at least it made the papers for a week.
Stuart Adamson

This album bears many similarities to the piece of paper that Neville Chamberlain waved around for all to see, declaring his successful appeasement of Herr Hitler, spawning this well known phrase. This album was 'waved' around like it was going to be the big world breaking success, echoing the same sentiments. Mr Chamberlain was later to be found wanting, and so were we.
I'm pleased this album's core was anti-war. I loved the songs but found the mixes to be as limp as Chamberlain's wrist.
The title track is as anthemic as we ever were, but the sentiment is still a distant concept. Enjoy.
TB

Nineteen eighty-eight was a year of ups and downs. Ian got us a new record deal with Reprise Records as relations with Polygram had broken down. We moved to Los Angeles to record our fourth album 'Peace In Our Time'. I got married to Sandra on a rooftop on Larrabee Street. She almost got married to Mark as the Minister (a Vincent Price look-a-like moonlighting as a man of the cloth) was partially blind and both Sandra and Mark were both partially drunk. Ian hired a Mexican Mariachi band not knowing that the record company had hired a piper to perform at the ceremony. They were both supposed to perform the Eric Clapton song 'You Look Wonderful Tonight' but the racket was unbelievable and in the end we just let them 'jam' it out. A two-tier cake was then uncovered before us and I could not believe what I was looking at. The Top Tier had a very large erect penis pointing south while the bottom half had what could only be decribed as a very dubious looking twat that had melted in the heat. Both Sandra and myself wore white while our son Bruce wore a fetching little sailor suit.
The recording of the album was a new experience for us. It was the first time we had worked with a producer who had never seen us life before (with the exception of Robin Millar, only because he was blind). Peter Wolf came to the rehearsal room with his keyboards and started ripping into the songs. We had never used keyboards in the band before, as none of us could play them. He introduced us to the synclavier, which was the latest in computer technology at the time. Also Peter would only work Monday to Friday which we found a bit of a cheek. We can usually have an album wrapped up in six weeks. This took four months and what with the renting of the synclavier, outboard gear, studio time, backing musicians, apartments and cars it proved to be one of our costlier adventures. Looking back I guess we were just being good boys and doing anything that was asked of us because of the new deal. We had signed with Mo Ostin Lenny Waronker.
At that time in Los Angeles, Heavy Metal was making a comeback and we used to hang out on the strip with our pals from 'Balaam and the Angel', 'The Cult' and 'The Stranglers'. We were all recording at different studios in town and used to meet up later on at the 'Roxy' or the 'Rainbow' or if we wanted a serious laugh, 'Gazzari's'. Most weekends were spent at the Comedy store next door to the Hyatt. We would watch Sam Kinnison go through his routine to a full house as well as catch up on young comics trying out some new material; some of them were brilliant. One guy whose name escapes me went on and on about the dangers of eating muesli. He would describe in full detail how he felt like he was passing a wicker work chair or a straw hat out of his back passage.
I seem to remember the amount of hair we were all growing, with the exception of Stuart (who woul go on to dabble in the hairdressing business in later life). Tony, Mark and myself grew our hair to extraordinary lengths. I attempted to get mine cut first. I ventured into a barbershop on Santa Monica Boulevard and came across a young 'stylist' called Troy (dead give away) who was going to charge me $200 more than the usual £5 that I normally pay so he was given the 'bums rush' immediately. When I want some one to cut my hair I want their eyes transfixed to my head, not my arse.
Bruce Watson

No Place Like Home
 
[From the original release of NPLH] What do you do when you are a group that has created one of the truly distinctive sounds in rock and been at the top of your profession for eight years? For Big Country the answer is to take the romantic character and unshakeable integrity that lies at the core of your work, and move on.
For too long the emotionally charged essence of Big Country's music has been obscured by lazy and cliched talk of bagpipe guitars and checked-shirt rock. the application of an American mainstream production gloss to their last album, "Peace In Our Time", was a move which singer and guitarist Stuart Adamson now accepts as being "at a tangent to the plot". The accompanying pilgrimage to Moscow, in the peace-making spirit of glasnost and the unforgiving glare of the Western Media, was both exhilarating and exhausting.
In the wake of that momentous adventure a new Big Country has emerged. In July 1989 drummer Mark Brzezicki departed for the shadowy pastures of the session world. The remaining three members of Big Country - Stuart Adamson, Tony Butler (bass, backing vocals) and Bruce Watson (guitar) - closed ranks and, inevitably revised working practices.
With Brezezicki now in the role of session drummer on "No Place Like Home" the intricate mosaic of syncopations and galloping tom tom tattoos that was such a recognisable feature of the old Big Country sound has gone. In its place a more conventional set of rhythmic patters is sketched with new vigour from a palette of bold primary colours.
The howling slide guitar which graces the opening bars of "Republican Party Reptile" - more dustbowl blues than highland fling - sets the tone for a collection that quarries deep into the rock face and taps into the traditions of country, folk and southern blues with an authority that transcends the dictates of either formula or fashion.
"I grew up playing R' n 'B music", Adamson says, recalling the days before the Skids when he was a 15 year old apprentice in Dunfermline based covers group Tattoo. "So it's still completely natural for me to play it now".
Big Country has used mandolins and acoustic guitars before, but the banjo and honky tonk piano which contributes to the mellow celtic-country swing of "Beautiful People" is undoubtably a first.
With its crisp, open-ended production, "No Place Like Home" is an album of bountiful extremes, encompassing the simple voice-and-piano ballad of "Ships", the belting instrumental coda of "Into The Fire" and the mounting paranoia of the Middle Eastern scnario of "The Hostage Speaks", with its grainy, dessert-baked rift and neurotic wah wah embellishments.
"We're trying to do traditional things in a contemporary style", is how Adamson sums the album up. "It's a new chapter, but for me it's always been about writing songs that make a difference in people's lives, songs that connect with people. There's no master plan. this is what we do now".
David Sinclair July 1991

[From the remaster version of NPLH] It was all too much for Dorothy. Too much for anyone really. She was in a world of hurt. Toto was rabid, the Tin Man was all out of trees and the lion was making big bucks at Disney. Meanwhile the Witch of the West had gone off with the Scarecrow to law school and Aunt Em was waiting tables at Buffy's Burlesque ("Best Breasts West of the River.") Kansas just wasn't Kansas any longer.
A lot of people tried to help her. Some of them were smart and some of them were strong and some were really only trying to help themselves. She was just about all helped out. She had gone through three pairs of ruby slippers, clicking those heels like a barroom door in the dustbowl. What she really needed was that tornado to come along and just blow the heck out of everything. Smack that old house somewhere brand new and take it from there.
Deep down inside though, in the small of the night, she knew it wasn't Kansas or all that other stuff, it was just Dorothy and that no matter where she went or what she did, that's how it would always be and, most times, that would be just about fine.
Stuart Admason

"Boom goes the world of the dynamite lady......." (Stuart Adamson).
We have all felt like this over the past 18 months or so.
I remember liking that song from the day we began recording it. It filled me with gloom then, even more now. The whole recording experience of that album was frought with difficulties and uncertainties, courtesy of a few people from the record company, who thought they knew better. We even lost keyboard player Richie Close, RIP.
I do like this album, I just didn't enjoy the time.
TB


The Collection cover
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The Collection, TRA1043
© 2003 Spectrum Music.

Compilation and notes by Tim Jones, Record Collector; includes interview with Tony Butler.

TWENTY YEARS AFTER FOUNDING ONE OF BRITAIN'S TRULY GREAT ROCK ACTS, BIG COUNTRY, ITS LEADING LIGHT DEPARTED THE STAGE IN TRAGIC FASHION AT THE END OF 2001.
 
Stuart Adamson's achievements were celebrated and his incandescent spirit remembered at a tribute concert held in 2002 at Glasgow's legendary Barrowlands - a venue that saw many powerhouse performances from the band over the years. And he lives on in the heads and hearts of anyone fortunate enough to have seen Stuart and his colleagues in the glorious heyday.
 
It was in front of a packed house, pouring with perspiration from a furious, intense performance, that Stuart connected like few other rock stars with his fans. They saw him as one of their own and, along with Bruce Watson (guitar), Mark Brezezicki (drums) and Tony Butler (bass), they became latterday folk heroes. Pounding, complex percussion, pulsing bass lines, slashing guitars and heartfelt vocals even led Kerrang! to label the band (at a time when Iron Maiden and AC/DC were in their pomp, in 1983) "the shit hot live act of the moment", (They were - I sweated 10 pounds off at one gig/human sauna in Liverpool that year!).
 
Big Country's no-hold-barred style and deft musicianship was compared to the likes of Free (see the riffing style of Alright Now), and any unprejudiced ear listening to the cream of Big C's legacy couldn't but concur. Indeed, despite the tired media flak of the 90s about latterday bagpipe guitars and checked shirts, Big Country consistently produced some of the most memorable and life-enhancing, kick-ass rock of the era. Their first decade at the Mercury stable was their golden age, defined not only by several insatiably catchy Top 20 hits, but an album catalogue rich in quality, the like of which puts most of their contemporaries in the shade. For while Big Country rocked it with the best of them, their tender ballads and Celtic-tinged laments also radiate a poignancy and subtlety often overlooked by the uninitiated or plain blinkered.
 
This collection displays the scope and depth of the songwriting craft, technical proficiency and intuitive nous of a group of musicians grounded in the likes of Skids and Pete Townshend's band. Songs such as the soaring, atmospheric highland trill of "The Storm" demonstrate Stuart Adamson's folk-roots bent (which came to the fore in his Raphaels side-project with Mark Brzezicki) while "Red Fox" (culled from 1986's The Seer) could be early Thin Lizzy. Then there are the air-punching belters ("Remembrance Day" and "I Walk The Hill"). Among the other fan faves that had the masses jigging like whirling dervishes are the talismanic "In A Big Country" (here in live form from a limited edition B-side), the supercharged "One Great Thing", "Look Away" and "King Of Emotion" 45s, plus an alternate mix of the legendary yellathon, "Fields Of Fire". Cha!
 
Another integral part of the Big Country live experience was the stock in trade unprompted communal singing that broke out on numbers like "Wonderland" (another live limited-run B-side here). Add to these heady moments in the majesty of both "Ships" and "The Seer" (with a broodingly beautiful cameo from Kate Bush) and thoughtful war paeans such as "Where The Rose Is Sown", and you have the essence of Big Country: dynamic, insightful and always inspiring rock music that uplifts the heart and moves the soul in equal measure.
 
Tim Jones


TONY BUTLER REFLECTS...
 
How did you see the future after Stuart?
It was very difficult to know what to do, because although I left the band two years before his death, we were still mates. Yet the last thing we wanted to do was continue with the band as he's someone you can't replace. So what do you do?
 
Did you get together before the Barrowlands Tribute?
I didn't think a tribute was something I'd entertain doing, but I was talked round and we did it in a way that Stuart would've enjoyed. He wouldn't have found the idea to his liking, though, as he never liked to be in the limelight for anything other than his talent as a writer and guitarist. But we celebrated his music and those who he valued in music.
 
Things weren't always rosy though?
In 2000, we played our last ever gig, in Malaysia, and it was horrendous. We'd become a karaoke band. The alcohol had risen its ugly head in a big way and Stuart wasn't with us at all, he was so out of his head, I said, "I'm not doing this again, I quit. If you want me back you'll have to shape up and enjoy this and want it again, rather than just being here in body while your soul is AWOL". So it was depressing and I left because I thought it might make him think about what he wanted to do with his life. While the band was required to do stuff, he couldn't sit down and address his problems.
 
Did Stuart ever play any Skids material during your Big Country days?
No. He learnt his craft in Skids and that was the cake, but Big Country was the icing of his songwriting and band achievements. He very much felt that was behind him was behind him and he wouldn't even do it for nostalgia purposes. Big Country was his baby and he always looked to evolve. Even only four years ago, it was a pain to play early Big Country songs. He always went forward.
 
Do you recall any funny stories fans may not know?
If they haven't heard them, it's 'cos they're not supposed to! The one thing that's been seriously hard to cope with is the mass of images, especially when you're prompted by fans through the internet to remember things. But the one thing with Stuart was that he enjoyed a laugh when it was time to laugh, then he reverted to his normal, serious state. He saw himself as normal, not a star or media type. Stuart at his most happy was on a terrace at Dunfermline Athletic FC. And if people wonder where his loud voice came from, it was standing there, shouting for 30 years!
 
Is there any unreleased material still in the archive?
Our manager Ian Grant and I have been trawling and pulled together quite a bit, but we're at the thin end. There are no hidden gems, though I found a box when I moved to Cornwall that was marked "Tony/Stuart demos". I thought, "what the hell are these?" It turned out to be stuff we jammed in Chapel Studios, Lincoln. It's jut rhythm box, bass and guitar. There's nothing that ever ended up in any Big Country songs, but it's so raw and basic, embryo ideas, you couldn't put it out. Though it may end up on a web album - you can stick any old shit on there!
 
WITH THANKS TO DARYL, ALEX AND SILVIA.


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Rarities V, TRA1043
© 2003 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by Mark, Tony & Bruce.

No Place Like Home
Early Recordings
 
The songs on this album were recorded at 'House In The Woods - Surrey' and 'Cava - Glasgow'. They were recorded in a transition period where the band went pear shaped after a gruelling 'Peace In Our Time' tour of Europe. Stuart decided to quit the band after the last show in Jersey.
Bruce Watson - November 2003

1. If there was one song from these titles that should have been a single, in your opinion, which would it be?
Mark - 'Kiss The Girl'.
Tony - I suppose it would be 'You, Me And The Truth.
Bruce - If there was one song that should have been a single it would have to be 'Kansas'. Unfortunately it was far too long and editing it down would have damaged the flow of the song. I used to hate it when the record label edited songs like 'Fields' etc. so that it would get played on the radio.

2. Which versions of the songs released twice ('Kansas' and 'Ships') do you prefer and why?
Mark - I prefer the original versions.
Tony - The versions that ended up on 'The Buffalo Skinners' were superior recordings with more attitude.
Bruce - I prefer both songs on the 'The Buffalo Skinners' (subsequent release) mostly because they had been played in a live situation for a long time and they just seemed to fit with the rest of the material on 'The Buffalo Skinners' album.

3. Any funny memories from this era whilst recording the album at Rockfield?
Mark - None that I can recall. However, I found the experience enjoyable and rewarding.
Tony - No.
Bruce - I didn't really enjoy the atmosphere on this album. Like I said it was one of those periods when Stuart had left the band, then decided to come back. Mark upped sticks and went to play with Fish (and I don't mean tickling trout). Tony and I formed 'Hot Macramé' which was doomed from the start due to the 'Great Cuban Wool Crisis' of '89 - anyway I digress.
 
Mark agreed to come back and play on the album as session drummer, but the result is that there is no continuity on the album (through no fault of Mark's). It sounds like there are four different bands playing the songs. Is it the same band playing 'Reptile' that is playing 'Dynamite Lady' then 'Ships'? It is but it doesn't sound so. The only funny memory I have is of Robin (gutar tech) farting on Sooty's head. (Sooty was the Studio poodle). The worst memory is of Robin (with the aid of a Welsh Dentist) pulling my front tooth out with pliers because I had an abscess that was killing me. When the album came out, a review in the music press simply said 'No place like the bin'.

4. Which of these songs did you most like playing live?
Mark - 'Kansas'.
Tony - 'Kansas' was a stormer, maybe it would have been more popular if it had been given more airplay..
Bruce - I always loved playing 'Ships' live; it became the new 'Chance' for a while. 'Kansas' became a live favourite for a long time and I always loved playing 'Reptile' that was pure sleaze. I think we did 'Hostage Speaks' for a short while but it just didn't seem to work for me - same with 'Leap Of Faith'. What can I say? It was a weird time and it wasn't the original line up although Chris Bell and Colin Berwick were great players and great guys to be with.

5. Did Pat Moran add anything to these songs as a producer?
Mark - He brought a keyboard sound into the band which gave a different dimension to some songs.
Tony - Pat is a good producer but I know he had his artistic wings clipped by the record company. He didn't produce the album that he wanted to.
Bruce - Yes and no. He is a very technical producer along the lines of Chris Thomas and Peter Wolf. He would analyze every piece of music we put to taple for innacuracies, timing, tuning etc. and sort it out which is what a great producer will do, but we were used to working with Steve Lillywhite and Robin Miller (sic) who are also like that but very creative as well. Robin and Steve could tap into being commercial as well as being left-field at the same time. Like I said earlier the album sounds like four different bands playing on that record.

6. Take any of the songs and suggest who you would like to cover it and why?
Mark - I would like to hear Dido cover 'Ships', as I think it owuld suit her vocal style.
Tony - Guns 'N' Roses could have done 'Kansas', Cliff Richard should do 'Dynamite Lady', Des O'Conner (sic) could croon his way through 'You, Me And The Truth' and Elton should so 'Ships'.
Bruce - 'Beautiful People' - Bob Dylan (basically because we nicked it from him), 'We're Not In Kansas' - The Who (for obvious reasons), 'Dynamite Lady' - Vanessa Feltz or Shelly Winters. (BOOM - imagine the video!)

7. What was the best live show you did in this period?
Mark - They were all great!
Tony - I don't remember much good during this period.
Bruce - I think the Rockplast show in Bonn and the Dublin gigs were probably the best from the time but it wasn't my favourite era (That was yet to come with the 'Buffalo Skinners' USA tour).

8. It was the end of the road with Mercury. What do you remember of the last days if anything?
Mark - I remember Chris Briggs playing guitar on the outro to one of our songs.
Tony - I never ever thought I'd be in a band that had such an obnoxious bunch of shites in control of its destiny.
Bruce - It was the end of the road with Mercury and I don't actually remember much. Stuart was super fit and looking great, not unlike an early Elvis. I quit smoking and ballooned up like the dynamite lady with missing teeth. Tone was all dread locked up and was seen on a few occasions with a Rickenbacker bass (Too toppy Tone, you're a precision guy). We had an 'A & R' guy called Russ Conway, who didn't know his arse from his elbow.

9. Chris Briggs immediately resigned you. Backwards or forwards move?
Mark - Forwards.
Tony - It was a forward move that just didn't move forward.
Bruce - It was a fantastic move as far as I was concerned. We went in to the studio with Simon Phillips on drums. He learned that whole album in his car. He had the songs on cassette and had scoped them in London traffic jams. He completed the album in 3 days, every take was first take except for when we ran out of tape halfway through a song.

10. You made 5 promo clips from these songs. Which was your favourite? Which one did you enjoy making?
Mark - Ships (both cases).
Tony - 'Republican' was fun. Nothing stands out about the others.
Bruce - We actually made six promo videos for this period. 'Save Me' and 'Heart Of The World' were directed by Howard Greenhalgh. They were really good promos as they had the band appearing in front of all these really weird effects. In reality we were just performing in front of a blue screen. Roger Pomphrey who was involved with Dave Stewart, directed 'Republican Party Reptile' and 'Beautiful People'. THe line up was still Chris and Colin on drums and keys and I still think these are good promos for the time. 'Alone' - again directed by Roger but this time we had Martin Chambers from the Pretenders on drums. Martin had a tendancy to fall asleep quite a lot. 'Ships' - can't remember who directed it but Mark was back in the band and we had a chick in a body suit lying in a bath. All in all, not a great time but 'The Buffalo Skinners' were around the corner.

This album represents my thoughts about how the album should have been heard originally. These (reasonably well made) demos illustrate a band ready and willing to go into a studio and try to improve on what it new (sic) to be more than good enough, to produce a high quality album. Even contracting the services of Pat Moran compounded our wish to move on and advance carelessly into new vistas. We even got to go back to rocks' ancestral home; 'Rockfield Studios'.
I'll not pull my punches. No Place Like Home turned out to be the sad product of an inexperienced A&R person and his tyrannical boss. Between the two the final product was not going to be anything but sub-standard, no matter what we tried. It was a shame that the record company didn't dump us before we made the record. Ever since, I considered this to be the group's lowest point. Then I heard these demos again and realised it wasn't - until the record company took over. When you hear these demos you may just understand what I mean.
Tony Butler - November 2003


Rarities VI cover
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Rarities VI, TRA1043
© 2003 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by the fans.

Since 1983, Big Country have been an important part of my life. So many songs and gigs have given me numerous (and very special) memories. The songs have also helped me in times of sorrow and pain. The uniqueness that is/was Big Country will continue to be the soundtrack to my life. I could write 1000's of words on what BC means to me, but in the end, I feel no words can truly sum up my feelings. BC have, and continue to, influence and support me, and I thank SBTM (and IG) for all they gave us from BC. Willie Tocher

I don't think words can express what I feel about Big Country or maybe it's I don't know the right words, none are grand enough, none show the true emotion they bring and none can capture how grand and inspiring their music is. I first Angle Park in early 83 on a TV show highlighting new bands. AS my dad worked in Birkenhead market I asked him to ask the record stores if they had anything by BC. A few weeks later Fields Of Fire was on my record player and a fanatic born. From that day to this BC are pivotal to all my most memorable moments in life, they have always been there through great times to low times BC made times better and BC helped me through sad times. Three words sum BC up - THE GREATEST EVER. Paul Bratley

My fondest memory of Big Country is seeing them live, feeling a part of something, that raw emotion that never seemed false or pretentious. Listening to The Crossing in 83 I was on a magical journey, no bullshit or over the top hype, just honest decent and passionate music. Over the years I was lucky enough to see them numerous times in Dublin. The RDS, The National Stadium, The Mean Fiddler, but the best gigs were always the Olympia. I met Stuart the first night in 91 I think, so approachable and genuine, we walked down Dame St chatting about the upcoming Euro championships, but that's what Big Country were like to me, an old friend, always there for you. Sadly missed but not forgotten and never will be. Oh and my favourite song - every one of them {except Eggplant lol!}Austin Zambra

I have vivid memories of my first BC gig; it was June 1986 in Hanley, second leg of the Seer tour. The atmosphere was fantastic as the band played new songs and the old favourites. I will never forget the first time I heard that bagpipe sound, they were like no other band I had heard or seen before, the energy, the sound, the lyrics which everyone could relate to, I also remember being at the front of the stage soaking with sweat and my ticket in my back pocket soaked to a pulp. Big Country are more than a band to their fans, they are a way of life. Listen to this CD and you will see why their music will always "stay alive". Jon Martin

The first time I saw Big Country was at New York's Roselands Christmas show in 1984. The band put on a how with an intimate feel. One of my favourite things about Big Country is that depending on how I'm feeling, I have a different favourite song. The songs are so diverse, yet each song has the definitive Big Country touch. I don't recall being as moved by a love song than at the Zaandam Fan Fest in 2002, when Tony, alone with an acoustic guitar, played his tribute to Stuart, Dream Boy. It captured a moment where I realised how much Stuart meant, not only to his band mates, but to all his fans and how much he is sorely missed.John Gouveia

I first saw Big Country in Dumfries at Loreburn Hall. It was on the back of the PIOT tour, and I did not know what to expect. Not only my first Big Country gig, but also my first EVER gig. I was absolutely blown away! I had told all my mates about how good it would be, but I had not got a clue. The first song was Restless Natives and ever since then I was hooked on seeing them live and spreading the word on rocks best kept secret. I went on to see them live 14 times from Carlisle to Dunfermline (convention 91) and I can honestly say that no band comes close to beating the raw energy and charisma that the band had, not even The Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Simple Minds. They never failed to surprise the crowd, but somehow managed to make you feel you were an old friend all at once. Sadly missed, but the legacy lives on. James Templeton

Big Country is not just a band. They are part of my life. No other band has affected me the way these guys have done. Their music touched my soul. With their rousing vocals, loud guitars and crashing drums, they were what I had been waiting for. Wembley Arena, 1984 was the first chance I had to see them live. The thunder and lightning effects during 'The Storm' mesmerised me. I was lucky enough to see them a further 53 times, and every single time, they amazed and delighted me. Their name will never die, this time will be forever. Mazz Nocholas

The first song I've ever heard of Big Country was 'The Seer', it grabbed my attention and I knew this was a special band. Through their music and lyrics something happened I didn't think was possible - I felt alive, and love. I have overcome some of my darkest days with them and have had some of the best times listening to them. It's all a mystery what the future will bring but I know Big Country will be in my heart and stereo forever. Jo-Ann

This album is dedicated to all Big Country fans especially those who have followed the band from 1982 and in particular, those who are currently members of www.bigcountry.co.uk
Eldo Abrahamson * Richard Adams * Tim Adams * Mashuq Ahmad * Chris Anderson * Jerry Anderson * Anne Arc * John Archdeacon * Stephen Ashe * Johannes Baag0e-Nielsen * Rachael Bailey * Cheri Ball * Derek Barrow * Timothy Black * O Bloem * Ken Bond * Steve Boots * Rafael Bordas * Amanda Bradley * Paul Bratley * Dianne Brewer * Martin & Sam Brookes * Dwayne Bunney * Deborah Burke * Andrew Butler * David Cairney * Ross Campbell * Andrew Carr * Robb Carter * Flight Case * Serge Caucal * Darren Chesters * Ian Chilver * Stuart Christie * Ed Clark * David Coogan * Graham Cooper * John Cooper * Tom Cooper * Rod Copeland * Kevin Copeland * Stuart Copeland * Johnny Boy Cordes * David Craig * Marc Creighton * Nigel Crick * Andrew Crockett * Kaare Crowley * John Denley * J Dixon * Francis Doherty * Sue Doyle * Lance Eagen * Tracy Elliot * Jeroen en Tjitske * Mattias Engvall * Jan Eskildsen * James Fagan * James Fairbairn * Lee Farmer * Craig Fettes * Bob Fiddaman * Mark Fletcher * Christian Gallagher * Rachel Garbett * Patricia Garza * Lars Geiger * Sodiraki Georgiou * Amanda Giddens * Salvatore Giordano * Thierry Gognies * Yair Goodfellow * John Gouveia * Rick Graham * Barry Gray * E Greenhalgh * Brian Grills * Owen Gwilliam * Gary Hamilton * Jan Heijne * Hendo Henderson * Martin Hetherington * Roland Heusser * Claire Hewitt * Ingo Hey * Barry Higgins * Stephen Hignett * Jane Hodgkiss * Frank Hoffmann * Cameron Hogg * Paul Hopkins * Peter Hornberg * Erin House * Anddrew Hudson * Mikko Hänninen * Karin Ireland * Klemens Jager * Susan Jamieson * Joerg Jansen * Norman Jenkins * Ian Jessop * Mark Johns * Wayne Jones * Tracey Joseph * Antronig Kasparian * Olaf Keim * Phil Kennedy * John King * Gillian Kirby * Gary Kirk * Helga Klebermaß * Todd Klimoski * Alan Konopate * Dublin Lad * Peter Lange * Pauline Lewandowski * Keith Lewington * Barbara Lewis * Torsten Lieber * Jason Little * Andy Long * Art Love * Lasse Lundberg * Brendan Lynch * Laura Lynch * Patrick Marchant * Jon Martin * Derek Mason * Irene Masterson * Leo Mathisens * Ron Maundrell * Alex May * Paul McAllister * Michael Mcauley * Calum McDonald * John McEwan * Christopher McGarry * Joseph McGinley * Gary McLaughlin * Thierry Mercier * Howard Mitchell * Joshua Mohr * Charlie Moscatello * Graham Murphy * David Needham * Mazz Nicholas * Esa Nurhonen * David Nutley * Kev O'Neill * Kazutaka Oishi * Eric Orseck * Paul Osbourne * Andrew Partridge * Terrence Pearce * Super Peet * Tim Perry * Janet Perry * Camille Peterson * Andrew Pilling * Cees Jan Ploeger * Stephane Porchel * Caroline Potter * Terry Pritchard * Trevor Rabet * Sami Rantamaa * Frank Rawding * Jochen Reitz * Steve Richards * Steve Richardson * Brian Ritchie * Dan Rivera * Caroline Rutter * Graham Russell * Dave Ryan * The Sailor * Paul Sampson * Russ Sanders * Andreas Schade * Katharina Schwarz * Iain Scott * Robert Sensale * Andrew Skinner * Sal Slater * Richard Smith * Mark Smith * Gordon Smith * Tracey Spivey * Will Spracklen * Jeroen Sprenkeler * Barbara Sproates * Pape Steffen * Erik Storer * Steven Sturman * Daniel Sullivan * Michael Summers * Andreas Taenzer * Billy Tarr * Antonello Tavaris * James Templeton * Sonja Maria Teubi * Torsten Thiemann * Paul Thornton * Paul Tomlinson * Paul Tommo * Simon Tough * Adrian Truman * Arnold Tye * Ted Tøraasen * Jo-ann Van Den Berg * Annick Van Loo * Carolina Vasquez * Danny Verheezen * Karen Vinson * Andreas Voellenklee * Anke Voltmer * Tai Chong Wan * The Welder * Steve Westley * Neil White * Richard Williams * Ray Wood * Steve Wood * Tim Wood * Olaf Wustrow * Pamela Wyatt * Yee Yin Cheong * Jon Yeomans * Ulf Zenk


Rarities VII cover
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Rarities VII, TRA1053
© 2004 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by Ian Grant.

In 1997, Ray Davies secretary called my office. "Are Big Country's rhythm section available to do Glastonbury with Ray"? "He wants to do a Kinks set and isn't working with his brother at present". I said they weren't but Big Country was. This puzzled her. I always jumped at opportunities that benefited the band and thought I would turn this one round so it suited them and not merely Tony and Mark. Ray was delighted. They rehearsed in Cornwall (minus Bruce who was already otherwise engaged) and then did a great set at Glastonbury. Ray took a liking to the band. He couldn't believe how good they were and why they were without a recording deal. He made it known to me that he would like to continue working with them in some capacity. So, there were writing sessions in Sussex, Scotland, London (at Ray's Konk studios) New York & Nashville. Ray came to one in Sussex and I found him outside the building, standing in drizzling rain. I suggested we go inside and he said "no, I get more from listening to them outside with them not knowing I am here, than it they were playing to me inside". Stuart also wrote three songs (two completed) at Ray's New York apartment. The two previous Big Country albums (The Buffalo Skinners and Why The Long Face) were very good albums particularly the former in my opinion but, the band didn't get back on their feet commercially and life was somewhat in the doldrums. But, the enthusiam from Ray galvanised them somewhat. I had recently chanced upon theatrical impressario Bill Kenwright who offered to back me with the reformation of the legendary Track Records. Whilst at Midem in Cannes with Big Country in January 1996 during a Hugh Cornwell showcase, I bumped into an old hero of mine in Arthur Brown. By the end of the evening he decided I knew more about him than he did. He asked if I could help him procure royalties for his big hit "Fire" as he had never been paid any money. I did. The investigation led me to Chris Stamp who founded Track with Kit Lambert and he proposed I start a management led label and use Track name and logo. I was astonished when he suggested this. So, with Bill offering finance and the label needing a band to kick the new era off, because Big Country had a wealth of new songs and two cowritten with Ray Davies, I knew a large part of their European fan base was still out there and considered with a great new album they would do well for us. The scene was set to kick start their career. I had worked on Bill Kenwright's film "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and a new band had three songs in the film that formed part of an album Bill had financed. The were called Kolony and their producer was a chap called Rafe McKenna. I liked what he had done with the band. He had also produced the recent Ash album so, I put his name forward to the band. Tony met with him and thought my hunch may well be right. I worked out a deal with Kingsley Ward at Rockfield Studios and the band descended on Monmouth to sift through the abundance of songs, which you hear on these two cd's. The end result was "Driving To Damascus".

Ian Grant


Without The Aid Of A Safety Net (Live)
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Without The Aid Of A Safety Net (Live), 563390-2
© 2005 Chysalis Records Ltd.

Liner notes by Bruce Watson

"MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY"
Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, Honour and recognition in case of success.
 
A long winter journey of North America took us from the bright lights of New York City and Las Vegas, to the Black Hills of South Dakota and beyond to Deadwood Gulch, the Little Big Horn then home.
 
The "Buffalo Skinners" tour had been dubbed the graveyard shift as everyday we seemed to be somewhere that involved a death or a fatal wounding. From the 'grassy knoll' in Dallas to various Indian reservations. Civil war battlegrounds and Jimi Hendrix's last resting place in Greenwood Memorial Park, we saw them all.
 
In fact I seem to remember dying badly at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in Rhode Island.
 
The first single from the album ("The One I Love") had become a minor radio hit that icy winter in the States. We had just signed a new deal with Fox records and had a lot of promotional duties as well as concerts to perform. They ranged from being special guests on the Jay Leno Show, playing State fairs in Nevada and doing a radio interview to a deejay in Deadwood that had never heard of us. "Why the hell Deadwood?" I hear you ask. "Well it's between Minneapolis and Seattle" we were told.
 
After a power failure due to frosty weather in Detroit, we were reduced to playing the concert acoustically. The sound of three acoustic guitars and a drumkit reverberated round the St Andrew's Hall. It was very challenging playing a lot of the songs without electric guitars, amps, and effects. In fact some of the songs such as "Long Way Home", "Just a Shadow" and "Winter Sky" sounded the better for it, so much so that we started playing a few of the songs acoustically in the set.
 
We returned home, cold, hungry and heavily bearded. Our tour manager had remarked that he was just oging outside and maybe (sic) sometime, he wasn't wrong. He fucked off to LA.
 
The Buffalo Skinners jaunt was to be our last tour for a while so we decided to record it for posterity plus we were due the label another record.
 
December '93 was bitterly cold in Scotland, so cold I kept a journal to keep me warm.
 
29/12/93 Glasgow
We journeyed into ice-choked Glasgow and onto the shores of rugged Clyde. Whilst hauling up the boats, which took a good hour to do, 'Cookie' got our primus stove going and produced a fine beverage of hot milk in bluber extract. We also had a quarter of a pound of dog-pemmican and two biscuits each, although it was not considered necessary to supplement this, we made do with the drink, and after having erected the tents we moved on to next base.
 
Glasgow Barrowland
The infamous north face of this magnificent ballroom, towering majestically over the sprawling metropolis that is Nedsville. The mobile recording studio was parked outside and primed to go. Two hours and twelve minutes later and without the aid of our safety nets we had produced another album full of loud guitars.
 
30/12/93 Newcastle
After the long journey from Glasgow to Newcastle our mechanical sledges failed due to the freezing cold. We had to shoot the ponies because they could not survive the weather.
 
In the meantime, English explorer "Grant of Godstone" was making his way up to the Northern Lights.
 
With his dogs pulling the sledges, he made rapid progress. His party reached Aberdeen in time for aftershow drinks. They were in a bad way and suffering from scurvy, hypothermia and trouser illnesses.
 
31/12/93 Aberdeen
We shall stick it out till the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more.
 
And as for that bastard Shackleton well.............
 
Bruce Watson
December 2004


The Buffalo Skinners (US Master Edition)
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The Buffalo Skinners (US Master Edition), 5633932
© 2005 EMI Records Ltd.

Liner notes by Bruce Watson

The Buffalo Skinners period was a real adventurous time for the band. Chris Briggs who had originally signed us to Phonogram had re-signed us up to his new Compulsion label. The album was the first time was had actually produced ourselves and we finally got our drummer problems sorted out with Simon Phillips coming on board at the last minute.
I went back through my archives to do these sleeve notes and found this diary entry for that period. I think I was in a good mood that week.
At last the day has come for us to start recording our new album at RAK Studios (The home of the hits). RAK hasn't changed a bit since we recorded "The Crossing" back in 1983. The mixing desk still hasn't been converted from steam to gas and every time a module goes down on the board Hugh the Irish engineer's reply is always the same "Fuckin' bejeezus it's the dilithium crystals again".
The studio is owned by seventies pop entrepreneur, Mickie Most.
Mickie, a frail man of no fixed suntan has the uncanny knack of being in the right suit at the right time. He has produced some legendary musicians, jeff Beck and the guitarist from Mud to name but a few. Mickie turns up for work every day in a different car, one day the Porsche, next the Caddie, etc. Today he cycled.
"Morning Mr. Most and how are we today?"
"Rich" came the reply. Aitch our galmorous receptionist is busy working behind her desk.
"Shit I just can't get the hang of this Nintendo" she cursed.
Aitch is a joy to the eye, a six foot two Gothic Scouser with purple hair, tie dye leggings and eight hole Dr Martens.
"You should have seen me with blonde hair, Bruce I looked really weird."
"Weird, I'll show you weird" I thought.
The door to studio 1 swung open and the familiar sound of Robert Plant's golden larynx screamed through the reception area,
"Mickie how are you?" he shouted.
"Richer" Mickie replied.
After much backslapping the two of them retire to the rec' room to reminisce.
"What's that fuckin' smell?" Chris Sheldon's nose screwed up? "How the hell do you expect me to get a decent drum sound when you keep coming in here and dropping your lunch every five minutes?"
"Sorry" replied Stuart, "next time it happens I'll light a match."
Simon Phillips is in the studio tuning his drums and swapping Pete Townshend stories with Tony. 'Fluff' our roadie is restringing guitars and carrying off the illusion that he really knows how to solder.
"It's the same principle as welding except without goggles" he shouted as he wrenched the neck of a late 70s precision bass.
"I'll fix that after Neighbours" and off he went.
The first five days were spent getting the drum tracks down as Simon was flying off to the States to gon on tour with Toto (the rock group, not the small dog).
"He's better than the last guy" Briggs quipped.
"Yes and a nice guy too" added Mickie as he caught Simon's eye through the control room glass.
"Simon how are you?"
"Not as rich as you Mickie" came the reply.
Simon was right, he only had one Porsche and Mickie had four.
New Order are mixing in Studio three at the moment and a young band called Blur have been in and out over the past few days. Their guitarist Graham tells me he had a sticker of me on his guitar when he was fourteen. Naturally I was flattered but scolded him severely as the reaction between the adhesive on the cellulose paint would leave a rather ugly stain on his guitar for the rest of its working life. He thanked me and opened another bottle of Backs. Blur have been working with Andy Partridge (XTC) producing. Andy is one of the quietest guys in rock so I was pretty surprised to find him outside the studio banging his head against an old Lyrec tape deck.
"What's up Andy?" I asked.
"Bastards are shit" he cried.
"Ah the youth of today" I mused then slipped past him with that knowing look.
 
Bruce Watson
December 2004

Alone
The first single from the album, Mark still wasn't in the band and Simon Phillips was unavailable for the video shoot. Martin Chambers from the Pretenders fills in for the video shoot only.
 
Seven Waves
The song was originally called Broken Man. I demoed the original music with Manny Charlton from Nazareth engineering.
 
What Are You Working For
Great opening riff from Stuart. This album is our heaviest by far in terms of distorted guitar tones.
 
The One I Love
It was originally demoed in my home studio in Charlestown. Basically it was a case of me having the intro and the verse worked out and Stuart having the chorus and the middle 8 worked out. A lot of BC songs were bolted together and this song is a prime example.
 
Long Way Home
This featured in our live set a lot; we changed the time signature when we played it acoustically.
 
The Selling Of America
Orignally Tony's song. This song has the best groove on the album as far as I am concerned, unfortunately didn't make the live set.
 
We're Not In Kansas
Originally recorded on the "No Place Like Home" album. We heavied up this version at the request of Chris Briggs. The NPLH version was more acoustic sounding while this version has a definite "Who" element to it.
 
Ships
Again from the MPLH album. Originally recorded as a piano and string quartet piece, again we decided to give this the loud guitar treatment.
 
All Go Together
Almost didn't make the album as Briggs wasn't keen on it. We opened our set with it and it became a fans' favourite, although I must admit preferring the acoustic version that we did.
 
Winding Wind
This piece was actually written and routined in the studio so it wasn't rehearsed enough and I think it kind of suffered because of this.
 
Pink Marshmallow Moon
Great title, sounds like the title to a Prince song, great song to play live and again a fan favourite.
 
Chester's Farm
This song was only played a few times on the North American tour and I thought would have been a great opener. Unfortunately there were too many guitar and keyboard overdubs on the album that it was very difficult to replicate live.
 
Never Take Your Place
Another survivor from the REL sessions without the aid of a drummer. This was another great song that Stuart came up with out of the blue. We never played this song live with Big Country but I play it every night on tour along with 'Eastworld' with Mark in our new band 'The Casbah Club'. I sometimes feel along with a lot of fans that some of our B sides were little gems that sometimes got forgotten or weren't developed properly.
 
Eastworld
"Eastworld" was originally recorded at REL studios in Edinburgh. Stuart and I programmed the drums which really was a straight lift from The Glitter bands "Angel Face". Simon Phillips was going to replace the drum machine but for some reason the song was overlooked and left on the shelf for a while. I think it ended up being the B side for "Alone".
 
The Buffalo Skinners
"The Buffalo Skinners" was the track that never made the album. Big Country used to do this quite a lot, use the title for the album whilst not including it. The Crossing was a prime example of this. Again this version has drum machine on it. I was getting into different guitar tunings at the time and I was trying to get a Ry Cooder vibe on the song. I also had 2nd engineer Nigel Goodrich play guitar on this also.
 


Life Goes On (Tony Butler)
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Life Goes On (Tony Butler), GWR0014
© 2005 Great West Records.

Liner notes by Tony Butler

This CD was inspired by the recent loss of four very important people from the lives of me and my family.


Rarities VIII cover
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Rarities VIII, TRA1056
© 2006 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by the fans

You think you've got it all, then along comes the next rarities collection - some old... some new - always a great listen. Keep up the archive searching! Blair Millar

The Rarities series offers an insight into the songs that were often part of the road not taken in the song writing process and has given outlet to some spectacular songs that might otherwise never have been heard by fans. Michael S. Wallack

There's not many bands out there who let you hear raw versions of their work showing you the different directions they were going with their music. Mark Lestrange

Ever since the 1st rarities cd was released I have been an avid collector of the series. Ian Grant together with the other remaining members of Big Country take the time and trouble to put these interesting collections together. The songs give a great insight into how an album is put together and finally recorded. Also ther are some amazing unheard gems from the archives that remain unheard until now. With the death of Stuart Adamson being such a great loss in all our lives these collections help us remember what an amazing quartet they once were. Dave Chinery

There's no better cd than a Big Country cd and to hear unreleased tracks that to be quite honest are among my favourite just show what a unique and talented band we are so lucky to have had, "stay alive". Allan Smith

Listening to the rarities cds makes you realise that Big Country could have made 2 albums from one rarities cd and how different the demo tracks sounded in their original state, roll on number 9. Jon Martin

To me, the Rarities series is an incredible collection of BC music. It is difficult to describe exactly what the music does for me but I can say with each new release, there is always a "new" favourite that emerges and leaves me awed. Cheers! John Velez

The Rarities series is a must for any decent fan. Unbelievable, that some of those songs didn't make it on an album at the time of recording. Sound quality is excellent on nearly all songs. Bruce and Tony did a great job with the release of these gems. Andy from Germany

The rarities series by Big Country show how versatile they were as a working band, reworking their songs to make them all sound new and interesting again. Here's hoping there are more in the series. John Talbot

A complete journey from the beginning to end??? and I've loved every minute of it! Howard Mitchell

Rarities - the pleasure of hearing many hidden gems and a priceless opportunity to hear what various songs started out as before the final album versions. Eight studio albums, eight rarities albums - illustrates how good Big Country are as musicians. Gordon (must score) Smith

I recall that Stuart Adamson said once that songs start off as fledgling chicks before they take off and soar. If you've ever been interested in how songs can spread their wings, then RARITIES is for you. Ray Barker

The Rarities Series has been a unique and glorious set of trips down memory lance, collating excellent demos, b-sides and previously unreleased tracks, proving the BC were (without a shadow of a doubt) one of the finest and unique Rock and Roll Bands of the 80s and 90s. Welder

The Rarities series offers BC fans the unprecedented honour of getting inside the band'sheads as they chisel out some of the finest rock 'n' roll ever to grace this planet! David Wright

The Rarities Series has been very important as it has helped keep the spirit of Big Country alive. Garry Bower

Listening to the Rarities series is like opening a window on a cool spring morning. It's a breath of fresh air that takes you back to the simple pleasures in life, whilst promising more to come. Mazz

Having the 'Rarities' series is a breath of fresh air in the current climate of mediocre music and Louis Walsh influenced boy bands. Keith G. Byrne

We all know that sadly, there will never be any more new Big Country recordings. The Rarities series however, lets us hear songs in their raw state, before they became the classics we all know and love, as well as giving us never before heard gems. Any series that lets us hear more of the magic that was, and is, Big Country, is to be welcomed. Jonathan McKernie

The Rarities Series is a fantastic insight into the workings of one of Britain's finest rock bands. It's great to see the origins of their songs - some started years before they actually made it to albums - fascinating stuff. Adrian Grainger

Rarities are like a surprise present, always a treat and something to get excited about!! Caroline Rutter (Caz)

The rarities series appeals to me as they offer the chance to hear gems of music that other bands tend to hide away. It would be a shame to remain unheard. Stephen Scott


Twenty Five Live cover
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Twenty Five Live, BCRWWW7
© 2007 Mark Brzezicki, Tony Butler, Bruce Watson, Ian Grant.

Liner notes by Mark, Bruce, Tony and Ian

You could not make this stuff up. The journey over the last twenty-five years has been like the flight of a bumblebee, not just up and down, but that, in theory it should never have flown, but it did. Who would have thought that two guys from the south of England would meet up with two Scotsman from the north, an unlikely partnership? It was the common denominator in all that we did, from an entirely unique sound that only in hind sight would we be called ground breaking.
 
As a guitar band in the early eighties, we were always against the odds, as most bands then were heavily keyboard orientated. We all knew that we had something very special, a certain chemistry, producing a sound and a style of song writing that was so very different as to what was around at that time, and 25 years on, I am still able to say the same. Although we never reached the dizzy heights of the likes of U2 and other bands of that period, we can still hold our heads high and proud, as we never ever sold out to the industry that was so demanding of us. We could only survive by being our selves creatively and musically. We always meant 100 % in every thing we did, from the writing, and the recordings, down to every live show we would play. With us, each show felt like the first, with passion and honesty, giving every thing we've had at every level. In a way we were our worst enemies, if a song took too long to develop, we moved on, only allowing the gut feeling and instinct guide this band. We could only work at the speed the chemistry would allow to happen. For good or for bad, this was the unwritten guiding light that we followed. I never thought that 25 years on, we would still have the passionate and loyal following now spanning different generations that I see not only on the internet, but at the shows. For us, it is the reaction to the music and the connection with the audience that makes us one. Without that, there is no future. As with every unpredictable and fragile step in this band, we never thought there would be any more Big Country after the tragic loss of Stuart. For six of more years we all drifted into different areas of work that life dictated. I was fortunate enough to be able to keep my drumming active with Procol Harum and session work. It is only when some thing is taken away that you realise what is missing.
 
I had been asked to work on an album with Fish. Bruce had co written the songs with him and I was very pleased to be working with Bruce again. Bruce had developed into an amazing player. I had never really heard him in this capacity outside Big Country. His song writing was so strong and so very Bruce Watson.
 
I wondered, what if those songs had been directed into Big Country. Bruce had come of age through pure survival and if you like, singing for his supper. Stuart would be so proud of him. As I drove up to Scotland with drums, the beautiful Scottish landscape bought back so many memories for me. It was a turning point for me, as I new that, if only we could carry on the journey as Big Country with the same passion and spirit Stuart would have of expected of us. Although the idea was obvious, life had thrown us on different career paths.
 
Tony was now a music teacher and was on a very different journey. So I just put those thoughts of a get together down to dreaming. Although I tried a few projects with Bruce, nothing would come close to the thought of it becoming Big Country again. Tony had invited me to his party in Cornwall. He performed with his family and his music students and he totally blew me away. His family was not only extremely talented, but I was watching one of the finest bass players in the country. Tony invited me up play "In a Big Country", and for me, that is when both Tony and myself knew we needed to work with Bruce together as a three piece again. As chance would have it, there were some encouraging threads on the BC message board and a slow ground swell of hopes built on the twenty fifth anniversary, this was certainly helping fan the flmaes of a reunion or at least the first goal post in stepping stones of reforming Big Country.
 
We met up in Scotland for a bit of a play; just to get into the zone again. At that point, we all new that it felt instinctively right to work together again.
 
New song ideas were flowing, Bruce had worked hard on his guitar parts, brilliantly to cover the old BC songs, and Tony had come of age as the lead singer. For me, you could never replace Stuart, so it was best to let the band evolve and find its feet from within rather than look outside BC for any replacement. With a few live shows now under our belt and half of a new BC album written and the new live album.
 
We can all start dreaming again.
 
I'll count you in,
Mark Brzezicki. September 2007


I never once thought about playing with Tony and Mark under the Big Country banner until I started seeing threads on websites and emails from fans. It's Big Country's 25th Anniversary this year and the web is full of will they/won't they scenario's. At first I tended to ignore them. Then they got more frequent. Mark and I had collaborated on a couple of projects since BC folded and Tony was teaching and releasing his work via the web. The 3 of us have always been close and we did discuss the idea a couple of times. Earlier this year, I was actually in the middle of working on the Skids 30th Anniversary concerts and had added 3 extra musicians to the band to get the sounds I had in my head which was basically to capture the sound of their first 3 beautiful albums. With BC it was always "love to see the guys up there, but who will sing, who will play guitar, who will write new songs, if indeed they do write new songs". No one had any confidence in the 3 of us doing anything by ourselves. People made comparisons to Inxs and Queen. Tony called me and said he had circumstance changes in his life and would love to take on vocal duties. Mark was well up for it and was positive on all aspects of the project. Mark is a great motivator when he is on board and gives you confidence to shine. He would make a great captain of a ship, so, Mark, buy a boat. With the Skids I had the luxury of my son playing guitar with me. For weeks we analysed Stuart's guitar parts on those 3 albums. I basically learned Stuart's main parts and told Jamie to look at the overdub parts, which I came to call "the Mick Ronson bits". Eventually we had the parts sorted out so they sounded just like the record. With BC songs, both Mark and Tony said why don't you play both parts, that way the band is still the original line up. Well all I can say is, I've spent the past 4 months learning Stuart's guitar on both Skids and Big Country. I have also had to re-learn my own parts and incorporate both guitars. What a beautiful jigsaw puzzle it has been! Now the plot has thickened as we have started writing again at rehearsals, 5 tracks in the bag with more to follow, that's nearly an album. Don't know what the future holds for Big Country but in 2007 we are having a ball celebrating our 25th Anniversary as a band.
 
The highlight for me so far is playing on my hero's boat. The Thekla used to belong to Viv Stanshall from the Bonzo's and he lived on it for a period of time. I used to love listening to the tales of Sir Henry and Rawlinson End on the John Peel show in the 70's. They broke the mould when they made Viv.
 
Anyway, back to the future. Thanks to all BC fans who have travelled from the 4 corners of the globe to see us perfom.
 
Wait a minute, globes don't have corners, what a stupid saying.
 
Anyway, you know what I mean.
 
All the Best
 
Bruce Watson


It would have been the stuff of fairy tales if we, Big Country, could have celebrated 25 years of being together, as the line-up that first played together in the basement studios of Phonogram Records. After Stuarts passing, I firmly believed that the band would, and could, never play again. Turning my back on the music business, I consigned former glories, memories and collected paraphernalia to the darkest places I could find. To find Bruce, Mark and myself playing again, writing, recording and having fun doing it, was something I never thought would happen. I know we have all had to find the courage to do this and we are spurred on because we feel that this is a fitting tribute to our lost friend.
 
Although the last 6 of those 25 years were barren and silent, it was still a part of the story. Being in this group was (and is) a human experience and it has taken us all this time, to be able to do what is represented in this live recording.
 
I have cast light on those boxes filled with paraphernalia and memories, and girded myself to join Bruce and Mark to celebrate those former glories and, I hope, done Stuart proud.
 
Tony Butler. September 2007


I had been successful with The Stranglers and other artists prior to being with Big Country and since, but nothing compares to working with these guys. My thoughts and memories are same and different compared to Tony, Bruce and Mark. I thank them and Stuart for asking me to manage them, remaining loyal and for writing some great music I have always been proud of representing. I would have never scripted the beginnings, the journey of the intial end of the band in 2000 let alone Stuart's sad passing. All that has happened has been one big learning curve on a journey laden with life experiences most people never encounter. Its great to be working with the chaps again and I know for sure, Stuart would be only too pleased to see his mates getting it on one more time. A BIG personal thanks to all the bands fans who have enabled the journey to take place.
 
Ian Grant. October 2007


In Our Name cover
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In Our Name (BBW), BBWTRK007
© 2008 Fastune Ltd t/a Track Records.

Liner notes by Mark, Tony and Bruce

This is a band that I not only feel extremely proud to be a part of, but continue to do so and truly feel that this CD shows there is so much more to give musically between the three of us. We were very fortunate to have Pete Brown produce this album, and this is a snapshot of were we are right now, it was just like the old days with all of us being very creative with contributions, just like in the spirit of Big Country one would expect.
 
To me, this is more of a tast of things to come.
 
Time has changed things but the band has and will continue to evolve and this album signals a new potenial and a continuation of the bands journey. Big Country is one big journey. We often took the scenic route, which was more fulfilling, and rewarding than the arrival.
 
To be continued,
 
Mark Brzezicki - 2008


After Bruce, mark and I had rehearsed a few times, to prepare ourselves for the 25th anniversary gigs, I had taken a more keen interest in some songs I had been writing, songs that I really had no ambition for. Playing with the guys made me re-focus on them, and I began hearing them with new ears.
 
A Time So Wild became my tribute to the hey day of Big Country, a time when we all really enjoyed what we were doing and the fruits of our reason for being a group.
 
When the three of us started jamming new stuff, I (and I'm sure they felt it too) felt the old creative juices flowing again. I immediately set about writing lyrics and melodies to the new ideas (we recorded the jams on my laptop and I took them home to develop them), Bruce also took the material home to develop in the same way. Coming back together to put the finished ideas in a live band form, was the closest thing to exciting I believe we all had felt since making Driving To Damascus.
 
Working with Pete Brown was not a too dissimilar experience to working with Steve Lillywhite. he worked with us with a determined professionalism and sympathetic touch. He worked ua all very hard to come up with what you hear on this EP. This is an EP because it is a statement of a time. It's in our name because it is the 3 of us.
 
ps, working at Joe Browns' studio and meeting him was awesome.
 
Tony Butler - October 2008


25 years, what a scary thought. 19 years touring and recording and 6 out in the wilderness playing with other friends. Plans were afoot to celebrate Big Country's Anniversary. We decided to keep the line-up original with no session players or additional musicians. There were discussions about special guests but there is no way we would replace Stuart. Tony decided to do lead vocals and I would amalgamate Stuart's guitar parts with my own. Mark had more backing vocals to do as well as drum duties.
 
We rehearsed at the Substation in Rosyth and after kicking around the back catalogue we started jamming new material, which you are listening to now. As usual the music came naturally and we nailed them pretty quick. The 5 songs were recorded with Pete Brown just a few miles from the T in the Park festival in a remote place called Path Of Condie. Mark and Tony completed the vocals down south then left Pete to get on with the mix. By this time we started playing our weekend Anniversary shows which ended up in true Big Country fashion in Glasgow during the festive period. We kept our stage positions the same as we always did and kept centre stage empty on purpose. It was great meeting fans who had travelled from all over the world to attend the shows. These will never happen again but as a have learned from experience, there's always something round the corner.
 
Bruce Watson - 2008


Many thanks to these folk for their support over the years
 
Robert Laversuch
Robb Carter
Mazz Nicholas
Scott McK
Ian Golder
Kent Gustafsson
Wullie Whitton
Doug Mitchell
Andrew Skinner
Christina Olalla
Ian Bruce
Martin Hetherington
John Gouveia
Ian Bambridge
Steven Crutchley
Mark Stubbs
Salvatore Giordano
Mattias Envgall
Sean McCarney
Gerard Kerin
Massimo Birolo
Tom Irwin
Liam Eaton
David Booth
Simon Jewell
Allan Smith
Julie Inglis
Ove Christianssen
Mark Wilson
Roger Millington
Christer Ottling
  Fraser Robertson
Rob Scott
Gavin Boyle
Allister Girvin
Martin Zabel
Richard Marcil, Jr.
Stephen Willard
Alan McInnes
Henning Knoppe
Graeme Furness
Jon Martin
Dave Fisher
Ian Ward-myers
Michale Stocks
Barry Gray
Andrew Gillanders
Mark Challinor
Oliver Schlegel
Lisa Huddle
Jason Epperson
Patrick Marchant
David Cairney
Steven Wilson
Graham Rodger
Raymond Minty
Paul Diperna
John McKinstry
Gordon & Jody Hannah
Janet Helenius
Roger Cumberbatch
Alan Wiltshire
  Mark L'estrange
Lisa Gassin
Alec Cummings
Iain Mc Gowan
John Rumley
David Wright
Mark Kimberly
Alan Brown
Jon Sanderson
Stephen Strong
Rafael Muntan
Mark Entwistle
Eric Bertholin
Stuart Arnott
Jochen Reitz
Andreas Narr
Tim Brown
William Dalgliesh
Richard Bateman
Kyle Calvert
Chris Lancaster
Rab Campbell
Jj Mullen
Marcel Smid
Giancarlo Bolther
Neil Taylor
Jon Richard
Jonathan McKernie
Tuomas Tuomi Nikular
Paul Horsburgh
Jonas Danbrink
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  Gordon Smith
John Gordon
David Sansoni
Christopher Poolman
Simon Cheney
Yin Cheong Yee
Trevor Rabet
Paul Bratley
Adrian Nugara
Michelle Taylor
Jeroen Sprenkeler
Carl Allen
Peter Biggs
Barry Rands
Kev Birch
Vicki "on Maui" Dennis
Stephen Strong
Michael Colby
Julie Forster
Dave Cook
Wayne Sadlier
Caroline Rutter
Blair Millar
Graham Goodall
Nicole Winterfeldt
Malcolm Quick
Ruth Flynn
Adrian Bent
David Hardwick
Gordon Tosh
Tracy Wood
Yvonne Spencer
Dave Medley
  Mark Wright
Chris Barnes
Ruth Witcombe
Matt Wallace
Lars Geiger
Jane Labaree
Jon Percy
Richard Freeth
Andy Inkster
Michael Mcauley
John McDonald
Carsten Ihede
Colm McAuley
Jason Moreton
Mark Dunne-willows
Michale Wallack
Michael Strong
John & Sarah King
Paul Tomlin
Alan Hayes
Barbara Sproates
R.J. Fortuin
Jonathan Bibby
Dougie Hunter
Kenny Murphy
Keith G Byrne
Armin Knoller
Anthony Fahey
Antony Greatbanks
David McDougall
Paul Kelly
Sascha Noack
Frances McClatchie
  Ben Preston
Simo Neiglick
Calum McDonald
Craig Morgan
E Greenhalgh
Dwayne Bunney
Thomas Baeck
Kev Wright
Mark Pettit
Angelini Leonardo
Terena Savage
Neil White
Deborah Burke
Kenny Henderson
Eman Lee Ramos
Thomas Finlay
Karl Matschy
Paul Tidswell
David Jones
Trina Cook
Trevor Milburn
Ian Wallace
Christina Codd
Damian Doyle
Martyn Alford
Neil Ansell
Jonathan Woolas
Mick Rooker
Paul H. Mallinson
Vernocchi Emiliano
Katie Smith
Brian Bell
Richard Pearce
Andreas Meske
Allan Kerr
Kester Devine
Linda Rogers
Keith Jones
Andrew Jones
Art Love
Rachel Marrison
Alan Bayliss
John E Wilbur
Tom Elliot
Paul Thomson
Jim Mortimer
Stphen Morris
Gordon Morris
Donna Higgs
Justin Keaney
  Andy Lenihan
Rachel & Mikey Summers
Martin Third
John Wallace
Martin Brookes
Garry Bower
Marcello Scorsolini
Barry Clements
John E Wilbur
Duncan Goodfellow
Anke Voltmer
Greg Watkins
Stuart Christie
Dean & Eva Measor
Robert G Hunt
Andy Thompson
  Lorraine Park
Jeff Clark
Paul Williams
Susanne Radford
Paul Clarke
Peter Roche
Matt Toal
Steve Richardson
Peter Burchell
Steve Lund
Duncan Mackerness
Ralf-Erik Sjöström
Stephen Keenan
Chris Abela
David Edwards
Cal DeRemer


Management - Ian Grant Management
Recorded, co-produced and mastered - Pete Brown
Artwork - Ra
Photography - Kirsty Grant
Thanks to Willie Tocher, Derek Hagger, Alan Morrison, Jamie Watson, Debbie & James Grant and all those who worked with us in 2007
All songs written by Mark Brzezicki, Tony Butler, Bruce Watson.
Publishing - Copyright Control


In Our Name cover
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What Are You Doing In My Living Room - Live At Lathones, BWJW-02S
© 2009 Bruce Watson.

Liner notes by Bruce Watson and Lisa G

6th March was our first professional gig billed as 'Bruce and Jamie Watson'. We had previously played together but only at friends' parties and a local charity event for someone's liver. Actually we played at the opening of Kenny's Music Emporium in Dunfermline but I don't think ASDA will be phoning us just yet.
 
The Inn at Lathones is Dave Mundell's new venue and I had no hesitation about playing as part of his Fifestock Festival. Dave is well known in the business for his legendary shows at the Bein Inn.
 
Both Jamie and I were in the middle of recording new songs for an album so we didn't have enough material for the customary two sets. Lee Patterson offered his services for the first set and that was enough to satisfy Dave that we had a show. In typical Dave fashion, the gig only holds 50 people max and that's the way I like it. Ahuh! Ahuh! Nice and compact with great acoustics, a bar running all the way up the side and an open door for all you puffers out there. No need to leave the room, except for toilet duties.
 
I was amazed at how cosmopolitan the clientele were. Out of the 40 people who attended there were people from Chicago, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Blairgowrie. At this point I got so nervous that I discovered that the colour of adrenaline was brown. This was our first paying gig and there were people from half way round the world who flew in (by aeroplane I must add) just to see a couple of boys from Dunfermline making noises at them. Jamie wasn't bothered in the slightest (He had been paid up front). Not only was I bricking it about performing, it was also being recorded as well, and that's two bricks for the price of one.
 
Over the years I have received presents from many of my adoring fans but the strangest was presented to me that night by John from New Jersey. He knew I liked to dabble in a bit of skiffle and gave me a washboard. This was no ordinary washboard; this was a magic travelling washboard. The legend on the board says:

IDEAL FOR SILKS, HOSIERY AND LINGERIE OR HANDKERCHIEFS
JUST THE RIGHT SIZE TO FIT IN A BUCKET, PAIL OR LAVATORY
PACKS EASILY INTO SUIT CASE OR TRAVELLING BAG

Well thanks, John. Apart from the fact that I don't carry a bucket or pail with me on tour, there is no way I am gonna wash my used hankies or yesterday's lingerie in a lavatory. Maybe that's what you guys do in New Jersey but across the pond here in Scotland we have things called 'white goods', big sqaure things that reside in kitchens and utility rooms up and down the country. They are called washing machines and are produced by huge European companies with names like Hotpoint, Creda and Phillips, not the fucking 'Washboard Company of Columbus'.
 
Anyway Guys and Gals, here is the recording from that pleasant evening way back in March. It's rough, it's ready and in places it's ridiculous but Hey! What are you doing in my living room?
 
Bruce Watson
July '09


I'm sitting here, trying to tame the swarm of memories about Bruce and Jamie Watson's performance at The Inn at Lathones, and the phrase that keeps coming to mind is "River Of Hope." No, they didn't perform that song, but that's really what their concert was for me. So much of the news related to Big Country in the 18 months prior was not very encouraging, but every so often, Bruce and Jamie would drop these gems to us online. To see all that music come together in one powerful and talented performance (not to mention the energy of the packed crowd) was like standing where tributaries come in near the head of a river, seeing with my own eyes and hearing with my own ears both the artistry of what was present there and what raging musical possibilities lay ahead. Bruce's amazing lyrics, his strong voice, Jamie's haunting harmonies, and the long tradition of Watson guitar brilliance and humorous commentary made for a superb evening and left me and many others thirsting for more.
 
Lisa G
Illinois, USA


Rarities IX cover
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Rarities IX (Live), TRA1068
© 2011 Fastune Ltd t/a BCR.

Liner notes by Bruce Watson

Yet another daring raid into the attic, why oh why don't front of house engineers mark up tapes with dates and venues, although the boxes I found them in did say, North America 86, Moscow 88, London 91, Germany 91 and Kosovo 99. This is a live compilation throughout the years. I have chosen tracks that were rarely played live rather than another live greatest hits package. I have also included excerpts from my tour diary's.
 
Kosovo 1999
After a two-hour flight from Muich to Skopje our charismatic yet unlucky singer Stuart gets pulled by Macedonian customs officers and is given a full body search. This included the dreaded 'Digit up bum' procedure that scares the hell out of Rock bands the world over. Cries of 'Didn't they buy you a drink first"? And "You lucky bastard" echoed around the tour bus. On the road from the airport to the hotel we pass cornfields growing on either side. The farmhouses in the fields are basic shacks and there is a strong military presence here with two Apache helicopters hovering over the bus. A convoy of KFOR and aid vehicles drive by and in the distance we can see the high mountain ranges that lead to Kosovo. Our base for the weekend is the Hotel Continental in Skopje, which according to the brochure has 'State of the art service probided by highly competent staff'. This is of course a complete lie as two days after I accidentally broke the handle on my toilet it still hasn't been repaired. In fact the sanitation was so bad that when guests asked directions for the toilets they were simply told, 'Just down the corridor mate, follow your nose'.
 
Billy Sloan from The Sunday Mail is out to do a story about the band over the next few days, as is West End theatre impressario Bill Kenwright, who along with Vanessa Redgrave has organised the event.
 
In the hotel bar I was introduced to the 'Men of the Deeps' Canadian Miners Choir who coincidentally worked in the same pit that my dad worked in back in 1962, (small world). These guys take a ten-week break from mining every year and go out on tour singing about life down the mines. Their songs are quite heart rendering and their cheeriest song 'Dust in the air' is quite a foot tapper.
 
Also in the bar is Lulu and Angus McFadyen who appeared in Braveheart as Robert the Bruce. Lulu is over here to sing her big hit 'Shout' while Angus is going to do a poem about death. Angus may be a great actor but his pool playing and sportsmanship leaves a lot to be desired. He was severly thrashed by Shorty our guitar tech and didn't take it to well. Lulu looked great and had a fantastic bubbly personality. Angus on the other had a face like a flitting after Shorty again thrashed him on the green baize. In fact Angus was so dour he made Victor Meldrew seem positively happy. For some strange reason I imagined that if Mother Theresa were alive today, she would have shot him.
 
Day 2
We boarded the buses at 08:00 and prepared ourselves for the long drive to Pristina. The Italian Carabinieri are escorting us. They are the scariest looking guys I have ever met and if it came down to having The Terminator or the Carabinieri chasing me I would rather face The Terminator, these guys are not to be fucked with. On the way aid trucks are held up trying to get through the border as the queue is around five miles long. We pass a lot of burnt out farm buildings and abandoned cars. Our convoy arrive in Pristina around midday and we are ushered to the gig which is right next door to the police headquarters that was bombed during the war. As usual we got our priorities right and set of to find a football. Once procured we got a game going with Angus and some of the local children. Not only did they hammer us but they also stole the ball.
 
The Sunday Mail organised a meeting wih some of the guys from the Royal marine commandos. Their head quarters were opposite the derelict building and they welcomed us with open arms. They were mostly from Scotland and had had a visit from Vanessa the previous day and were expecting Prince Charles the next day. As you can imagine they were extremely pleased it was a bunch of fellow jocks that were visiting them today which meant that they didn't have to dress up, hide their scud books or mind their language in front of more 'luvvie darlings'.
 
Suddenly a heavy Glaswegian voice from the back of the room bellowed forth.
 
"Vanessa Redgrave ye say, I thought it was fuckin' Vanessa Feltz who wis comin".
 
Big Mick was as wide as he was tall and like all the lads in the squad was a master of gallows humour. On the wall of one office were Polaroids of children. It didn't dawn on me at first, but these were pictures of missing children. A few horror stories were intertwined with some of the funniest jokes I have ever heard and I must salute Mick and the rest of the guys out there as they extraordinary people and do an excellent job keeping the peace.
 
Through the office window we could plainly see the bombed out Police building, a young lad around the age of ten popped up from a hole in the ground and threw out a spent shell casing. Up on the top of the dangerously crumbling building were two teenagers collecting scrap metal.
 
After sound check we decided to go and explore. We must have walked about a quarter of a mile when suddenly in front of us stood the remains of the post office. It was quite a high building and I was amazed it was still standing. There was a huge gaping hole in the middle of it. The was the main telephone exchange so it was one of the prime targets. Just as we were about to take a closer look a young man came out of the building and started speaking to us in pretty good English. It turns out he used to work in the post office but was on vacation in Düsseldorf when the shelling started. He was now employed as a security guard and invited us in to the building to have a look round. It was still very unstable but he knew the safer areas. We carefully climbed the stairs to the top of the building, most of the time the banisters were missing so it as a sheer drop. At the top we could see most of the surrounding damage. The air conditioning unit that was once housed on the roof of the post office had been blown off and was now residing on the hotel roof across the road. Further to our left was a washing machine embedded in a wall. The middle of the building had a huge hole that ran from the top to the bottom where the missile had struck it. False ceiling tiles hung by their wires and burnt out circuit boards littered the floor.
 
Back at the gig Lulu is posing for photos witht eh squaddies while Angus is alone in a tent rehearsing his death poem. Vanessa takes the stage and starts reciting a speech that was so dull and monotonous that I was forced to give her a damn good listening to. Angus is up next with 'The Poem of Death' which incidentally goes down like a cruise liner hitting something large and frozen the middle of the Atlantic. He wasn't impressed, but then again neither was the audience. It is only when Lulu gets up and sings 'Shout' that the place goes nuts. Big Country are up next and when Bill Kenwright introduced us as 'The best rock 'n' roll band in the building' you just knew he wasn't wrong.
Bruce Watson

Fields Of Fire: The Ultimate Collection cover
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Fields Of Fire: The Ultimate Collection, SPECXX2066
© 2011 Mercury Records Ltd.

Liner notes by Jerry Ewing taken from interview with Bruce Watson.

Big Country
The last time this writer met Stuart Adamson was interviewing him in 1992 when a revitalised Big Country released the excellent 'The Buffalo Skinners' album. Although already disillusioned with both the record industry and the machinations of the British media to the extent that he'd considered calling time on the band after 1991's 'No Place Like Home' album, the thoughtful, pleasant musician was keen to throw everything he had back into abother push for Big Country. More comfortable in the louder, guitar based sound on the new album, it was, he felt, the best representation of his musical vision he'd managed to acheive with Big Country.
 
To an extent, Adamson's faith was repaid with the fact 'The Buffalo Skinners' was greeted with solidly pleasing reviews, it achieved the band's highest chart placing since 1988's Top 10 album 'Peace In Our Time', and also found the band back in the Top 30 singles charts with the anthemic 'Alone' and 'Ships (Where Were You?)' (re-recorded, along with 'We're Not In Kansas' with more gusto than the versions on 'No Place Like Home'). The band would maintain the momentum with the following year's 'Why The Long Face?' and 1999's 'Driving To Damascus' (re-issued as 'John Wayne's Dream' in 2002).
 
It was, according to guitarist Bruce Watson, "the happiest time of our career. We'd got over that pop fluff that surrounded us in the early days, the big suits and that, and it was just the four of us, jeans, t-shirts, playing good rock music and being appreciated for it."
 
The rock music that Big Country played was the new rock music of the 80s. Along with the likes of U2, The Alarm and Simple Minds, they pioneered a driving guitar sound that, whilst was inspired by which that had gone before, played little heed to the conventions that it was built on.
 
"We tried to avoid guitar solos," says Watson. "We didn't bend strings. We didn't play the blues. Even though we loved bands like Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash and Alex Harvey, we didn't want to sound like that. We'd come from the punk thing and we were interested in doing new things."
 
Indeed both Adamson and Watson had met when the latter's punk ban Teh Delinquents had played with the formers The Skids in the late 70s. However by 1980 Adamson had left the band he ahd formed back in 1977 and was thinking about another musical direction. Hooking up with Watson, the early Big Country was a five piece that also featured future Runrig keyboard player (and now Scottish MP) Peter Wishart who hadn't even nailed down what was to become their distinctive and trademark twin guitar sound.
 
"We had a mini-Moog, a Yamaha synth some Yamaha guitars," says Watson of the band's early rehearsals. "That synth thing was big at the time. We could have easily gone in that direction..."
 
Fortunately, it was the guitars of Adamson and Watson that would come to the fore, nailing Big Country's trademark sounds of twin guitars played with a Celtic verve. However things didn't fall into place until the band, having been turned down by a raft of major lables, lost their rhythm section and keyboard player and brought on board seasoned session players Tony Butler (bass) and Mark Brzezicki (drums), who had recently been performing with The Who's Pete Townshend.
 
"With them everything felt right," states Watson.
 
A deal with Phonogram Records was secured and the band entered the Manor Studios in Oxfordshire to begin work on their debut album, initially with producer Chris Thomas.
 
"Chris was a great guy," says Watson, "but he was also working with Elton John at the time and would be flying off to work with him. We needed someone who could devote more time to us so Steve Lillywhite came in. With the full support of the management, the label concentrating 100% on us and Lillywhite, everything fell into place."
 
From such a secure footing, it is not difficult to see why 'The Crossing', the fruits of the band's endeavours, was such a strong statement of intent. Chiming guitars, thoughtful lyrical content and superbly constructed songs, the album still reasonates to this day. The rousing singles 'Fields Of Fire' and 'In A Big Country' set the tone for this slice of new rock, but it as the emotive 'Chance' that secured a Top 10 place for the band in the UK singles chart.
 
"It was amazing," recalls Watson. "It all happened so quickly. We had a great team, the right chemistry. We did a John Peel session, which meant everything to me. If it had all ended there and then I'd have been happy with that."
 
Yet it didn't end. In fact it was only the beginning. The boisterous single only release 'Wonderland' was their biggest success to date at the beginning of 1984 and the band's second album, 'Steeltown' followed later in the year. Although the singles 'East OF Eden' and 'Where The Rose Is Sown' didn't fare quite so well, the album went straight in the charts at number one. A more mature offering, it offered a darker side reflected in the socially aware lyrics.
 
"Thatcher probably," snorts Watson when asked where this had come from. "It was the time of the miners strike, they were closing the dockyards. It was a strange time. We had all this success and money and yet all my mates back home were losign their jobs. The songs were based on the shit that was going down."
 
Continuing to capitalise on their success by proving their worth as an electrifying live headline act, Big Country's chart success continued unabated with the release in 1986 of 'The Seer' possibly their most consistent album to date (quite an achievement given the quality of the first two albums). The title track featured Kate Bush in a duet with Stuart Adamson, whilst the hard rock of 'Look Away' gave the band their biggest ever UK hit. However despite the more mature appraoch and some folkier themes, the band were still largely perceived as a pop band.
 
"In the UK it was a fashion thing," says Watson. "Everywhere else we were looked at as a serious rock band. In the UK we were in the pages of Smash Hits so some rock fans didn't want to know. I suppose the suits at that time didn't help. That's why the next album was a reaction."
 
Recorded in America, with J Geil Band singer Peter Wolf at the production helm, 1988's 'Peace In Our Time' was the hardest sounding Big Country album to date, typified by the guitar raunch of 'King Of Emotion;. I wasn't just the sound that was a reaction, although hardly a massive departure from what had gone before the love of bands like Free was more evident than ever before, but also in the band's look, not least a shaggy-haired Watson looing like he could have been an extra from a Motely Crue video.
 
"Don't," he laughs today. "It was shocking wasn't it? We'd been out in America, what more can I say. Thing is, my hair's growing again now, just before we go back out on tour, ha ha."
 
The reaction also showed the first real cracks in Big Country's progress. Their least successful album to date - still, a Top 10 album in the UK mind - the first serious wobble in the success story that had endured for a decade.
 
1991's 'No Place Like Home' was a disjointed affair - ranging from country-esque folk to near heavy metal in places - which only managed to reach No. 28 in the album charts. The band were dropped by Phonogram as the alternative wave of grunge took a hold of the modern conciousness, and were pretty much on the verge of splitting up.
 
"We split up after almost every tour," sighs Watson. "That just how it was, it could be very gruelling, and when it wasn't held together as it was in the early days it made things all the more difficult."
 
The band spent the first part of the new decade in some sort of limbo, with Brzezicki taking advantage by becoming the session drummer of choice, working with the likes of The Cult, Ultravox, Fish and Roger Daltrey to name but a few. And then the band got a call from their old record company A&R man Chris Briggs, offering to sign them to his new Compulsion label. The resultant album was 'The Buffalo Skinners', the album Watson states that, along with 'The Crossing' remains his favourite Big Country album.
 
Which is roughly where we came in, Big Country's final run through the 90s was one of critical plaudits, reaonable success and a band seemingly at peace with themselves. Which made the suicide of leader Stuart Adamson on 16 December 2001 all the more shocking, although he had battled depression and alcoholism for some time.
 
Watson, Butler and Brzezicki reunited as a trio, with Butler handling vocals, to celebrate the band's 25th Anniversary in 2007, and the three are once again reunited, along with Watson's son Jamie on extra guitar and with The Alarm's Mike Peter's handling vocals for a series of live dates in 2011.
 
"It's just really nice to go out and celebrate what are some great songs," says Watson, "Mike's such a great guy, and it's nice for me to play with Jamie. But we leave a place in the centre of the stage where no one stands, where Stuart would have been. Because no one could replace Stuart Adamson."
 
Jerry Ewing, Classic Rock Magazine, London, March 2011.


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