Big Country

Big Country

Formed 1981, Dunfermline, UK: Stuart Adamson (ex-Skids) – vocals, guitar; Bruce Watson – guitar; Alan Wishart – bass; Pete Wishart – keyboards; Clive Parker (ex-Athletico Spizz 80) – drums. After being fired as support act to Alice Cooper on his 1981 UK tour (reportedly for being “too weird”), the Wishart brothers and Parker were replaced by Tony Butler (bass) and Mark Brzezicki (drums) and the band settled down into a bombastic pop-rock style. Although none of its members was born in Scotland, the band became known for its use of processing effects to make their guitars sound like bagpipes. Second single Fields Of Fire (400 Miles) took the band into the top ten in early 1983, followed by In A Big Country and Chance from top three début album The Crossing. Non-album single Wonderland was another top ten hit and kept things ticking over until the band’s second album Steeltown topped the chart in October 1984. After this singles sales began to slide, although Look Away became their biggest hit single when it reached number 7 in April 1986. Album sales remained healthy; The Seer (1986) reached number 2 while 1988’s Peace In Our Time made number 9.

The release of a greatest hits album Through A Big Country in 1990 marked the end of Big Country’s time as a major act. The band started to disintegrate and was dropped by Mercury Records after disappointing sales of their 1991 album No Place Like Home. There was a brief resurgence in 1993 when their next album The Buffalo Skinners spawned two top thirty hits, but the album itself struggled and 1995’s Why The Long Face fared even worse. Battling depression and alcoholism, Adamson relocated to Nashville, forming The Raphaels with country music star Marcus Hummon, although he remained a member of Big Country who released a new album Driving To Damascus in 1999. The album’s failure did nothing to help Adamson overcome his problems and following Big Country’s farewell tour in 2000 his behaviour became increasingly erratic. In November 2001 he disappeared from his Nashville home and was found dead in a hotel room in Hawaii six weeks later, having taken his own life. In 2007 Watson, Butler and Brzezicki reunited under the Big Country name for a 25th anniversary tour; in 2011 they returned to the live circuit with Adamson’s shoes filled by Mike Peters of The Alarm. Over a decade after Adamson’s passing, Big Country released an album of new material The Journey in 2013.

ESSENTIAL ’80s BIG COUNTRY

SINGLES

Fields Of Fire sleeve

FIELDS OF FIRE (400 MILES)
February 1983, #10

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In A Big Country sleeve

IN A BIG COUNTRY
May 1983, #17

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Look Away sleeve

LOOK AWAY
March 1986, #7

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ALBUMS

The Crossing LP sleeve

THE CROSSING
July 1983, #3

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Steeltown LP sleeve

STEELTOWN
October 1984, #1

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Peace In Our Time LP sleeve

PEACE IN OUR TIME
September 1988, #9

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