Friday, September 5, 2014

BIG COUNTRY: "Steeltown" 2CD Deluxe

Rating: Re-issue
Label: Universal/Mercury 2014 (1984)
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Steeltown, the death of industrial U.K. plus all the mood swings of the politics in the early/mid 80s. The evil one a.k.a. Thatcher, the miner's strike, recession, civil unrest, the trade unions, Falklands, the death of the coal industry, the anti-nuclear movement, racist coppers, football hooligans, fish and chips, and the sheer agony of the cold war. British Steel, no longer relevant to the modern world as the workers found themselves unemployed in the eighties depression.

Plenty of groups (U2, The Alarm, New Model Army, Simple Minds, The Clash, etc.) were strongly influenced by the politics as they became the soundtrack of the era. The Scots of Big Country had a slightly different approach to their sound as they continued to explore their Celtic-tingled melodies on their second album from the year of 1984. Big arena rock, huge drums, heavily processed guitars and effect, mandolin, and the close to overkill use of the e-bow (a device which allows your guitar to sound more like strings or synthesizer). To be completely honest. Their debut album, "The Crossing", featured even more of the e-bow.

Indeed. It's all right here on the 2CD Deluxe edition and it's all good! Big Country and their first two albums are very much essential stuff in any serious record collection in my humble opinion. Recorded at ABBA's studio (Polar Studios) in Stockholm, Sweden, "Steeltown" entered the U.K. albums chart at #1 and featured three top 30 hit singles. Yet, it's the forgotten gem? It's basically 10 tracks of fun Alt./Arena Rock/Celtic/New Wave/ U.K. music of its time and era. Disc two: 17 tracks of A-Sides/B-Sides/demos and rough mixes. Three different versions of Wonderland. B-sides such as "Giant", "Prairie Rose", "Belief Is The Small Man", "Bass Dance", "Winter Sky", etc.

Singer/guitarist Stuart Adamson (formerly of Skids) fought alcoholism, mental and emotional health for years. In November 2001, Adamson disappeared and was eventually found dead in a hotel room in Honolulu, Hawaii on 16 December 2001 (RIP). Highly Recommended.

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