on 2 January 2002
From the first time I heard this album on vinyl back in 1983 I loved it. From the wall of sound drum intro of In a Big Country to the lengthy atmospheric build up of Porroh Man, The Crossing is not just a masterpiece of guitar rock, it is an album that perfectly captured the zietgiest of the early eighties. An album that musically and emotionally outstripped other highly lauded contemporary works such as War by U2 and Sparkle In The Rain by Simple Minds. An album that recieved two Grammy nominations. The drums are faultless, intelligently using polyrhythms, parradiddles and some very impressive high-hat work , the bass playing is up and down the fret board a la John Entwistle and the dual guitars are a tour de force. To say that this is the greatest ever debut album is not strictly true as the rhythm section had already worked with Pete Townshend on Empty Glass and Stuart Adamson had already produced three albums with The Skids (I highly recommened these albums also!!!) a group which heavily influenced a young U2 and metamorphasised from Punk(Scared to Dance), to producing some of the most intelligent use of synthesiser in Rock since The Who(Days In Europa) and finally to a musical style which Big Country continued(The Absolute Game); The Crossing just reaffirmed the fact that Adamson was among the most innovative and talented guitar players that rock has produced. Looking back now, two weeks after his tragic death it is hard to imagine that someone whose music was always so uplifting and life affirming chose to leave life and some of the most ardent fans behind, but if he is to be remembered as he certainly deserves to be, The Crossing is a truly great legacy.
on 12 August 2010
Probably the best debut album by a British Rock band of its era. How it never gets mentioned in those top 100 lists/books you see amazes me. It wasn't as if it was cult thing or an abberation that should be forgotten - it sold by the bucketload. Give those folk who bought it some respect, music journos out there!! Following on from the superb Skids, BC's & Stuart Adamson forged a career that continued to spawn hits in the 80s and early 90s before critical aclaim diminished, though their output; notably Steeltown (the more dense, dark, messy brooding and political follow up to this), The Seer, The Buffalo Skinners and Driving to Damsacus; had many high points on a par with much of this. Their sound did evolve but definately one of those bands who, while ending up with small but avid fanbases, probably should have crossed over more. Sadly, the memory of their initial impact and pidgeonholed appeal was hard for later record buyers to shake off. This process was fuelled as the critics weaved their ink thick and heavy in consigning such a talented outfit to the novelty act filing cabinet.
Whatever the naysayers write one thing cant be denied.
What a sound!!
On hearing of the sad death of Adamson I read a tremendous retrospective which, instead of focussing on the 'bagpipe sound' spotted echoes of Joy Division, The Clash, The Jam as well as folk in its complex sound. I think that was a very good insight. Its not just about the skirl its about the unbridled passion contained in the sound and the haunting melancholy undertones. Unique, a sound and spirit that scrapes the sky with almost every note.
My personal favourite is 'Inwards' (about the death of Stuart's Grandmother) probably because the other singles, while amazing, are a little more familiar. I wish I could hear 'In a big country' again for the first (or even fifth time) tears of joy from its sound and sentiment. Still works for me today but I envy those who unpeel its magnificence from buying this afresh. 'Chance' will envelop you in waves of sadness however heard a heart you have and 'The Storm' is a pulse racing folky epic that blows any modern stylised use of the genre out of the water.
No one I know who hears this now looks at me with anything other than joy in discovery (for first timers) or delight in remembering (for old timers around in the 80s).
To that end you cant lose. Buy this. Its appeal pretty much covers anybody that likes the sound of an electric guitar. Rock, folk, punk, pop. This is great music, this is not fan fodder, it's a gem from the 80s that has eternal appeal. It harks back to that age that many wistfully yearn for now where certain while there was a vast array of images and looks, you knew that the players were actually put their hearts into it. No calculation, no career musical moves, no genre mashing, little knowing faux irony, just pure naive passion in 'their scene.
You want to see what the fuss was about, why it sold millions worlkdwide? Play it, It will make you want to turn back the clock, while also enjoying the present listening to its greatness unfold.
on 20 December 2001
The Crossing is one of the seminal albums of the '80's. Highly influential on any number of artists, Stuart Adamson's lyrics and the unique Celtic instrumental sound rang out across the decade like a skirl of bagpipes on the lonely highlands. Adamson has been compared in his country to Robert Burns, one of the finest poets who ever lived. The compliment is apt, with lines like "Just take that look off here, it doesn't fit you, Because it's happened doesn't mean you've been discarded - Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming, run after everything you ever might have wanted" stunning in their passion and compassion for the human condition. The energy of punk fuels the propulsive sound of the album, tempered with melodious charm. This record is a must-have classic.
on 9 February 2012
I hadn't realised this deluxe edition was coming out until I saw Tony Butler and Bruce Watson interviewed on the BBC a couple of weeks ago.
I have been playing Big Country recently as I am currently reading "In a Big Country - The Stuart Adamson Story" by Ian Glen.
I never had the pleasure of seeing Big Country live, but consider myself a fan, having most of their albums, this is the fourth time I have bought this album, having bought the cassette, CD, remastered CD (1996) and now this deluxe edition.
This new version is 24 bit remastered and the sound quality is a massive improvement over the '96 remaster which to me sounded harsh and a bit tinny.
The poor reviews of this album make no sense to me. I ordered the album on Feb 8th and received it on Feb 9th. Also saying it doesn't sound good is rubbish.
I have been disappointed in the past with some deluxe editions, but this is a real treat. It is great to have these songs sounding so good, and the extra tracks and demo are a great addition.
I hope this album sells well and this encourages Phonogram to do a proper remastering job on their other albums too.
* Update 2015 - Mercury / Phonogram have now released deluxe editions of subsequent albums with remastered tracks, also sounding much better than the earlier remasters *
If you are unfamiliar with Big Country you will not be disappointed with this purchase, it is rousing music, superlative musicianship and a great testament to Stuart Adamson's passion and talent.
on 25 February 2012
I'm going to preface this review in the fact I'm a Yank...born and brought up in the Pacific Northwest of America, eastern Washington State as a matter of fact. Yeah, the evil "conservative" side of the state, not the open and "artistic" area known as Seattle. Regardless of where I hail from, I can honestly say The Crossing is one of the greatest albums from the early 80's, and in my opinion one of the greatest rock albums of all time. In my opinion Stuart was so much better in his vocals and his guitar virtuosity compared to Bono and the Edge in the early days, it's not funny. Unfortunately, his 'style' never caught on, and so Big Country never gained mainstream acceptance.
As to this CD re-release, I heartily give my endorsement... the first CD in the set is nothing new, but the second CD was a goldmine of demos previously unreleased that I hadn't heard before. Perhaps that's because I AM a yank, and those tracks weren't available to us before - regardless, it provided an insight to Stuart's direction in his early days, and early Big Country arrangements, at least to me. If you consider yourself a Big Country fan, pick up this CD set.
on 17 February 2012
I was very pleasantly surprised to stumble across this reissue of BC's the Crossing. We all know that this is a fabulous album, laden with great tracks and the superlative `Fields of Fire'. Although (sacrilegiously) I personally I never really embraced `In a Big Country' as it always sounded too much like stadium-rock-by-numbers to me.
So what's the score on this version? I listened to it on Spotify with a sceptical viewpoint. However it's brilliant - so I rushed out and bought it. I found it very difficult to piece together a composite picture of this release, so here's an overview of why you should buy it:
- Sympathetic remastering that brings out the whole band's contribution.
- Lot's of tracks many previously unreleased - this can mean `unreleased for a good reason'. However in this case they are a good selection of B-sides, demos, live tracks and alternative mixes.
The demos are lo-fo and of passing interest showing the bands initial development.
The alternative mixes are well worth listening to - particularly the Chris Thomas mixes. These were disrupted by his other production commitments and the death of James Honeyman-Scott of the Pretenders. As the booklet notes he appeared to try to make Big Country sound like other bands. The mixes are not better than the Steve Lillywhite versions, but they are good and essential listening.
The John Brandt mixes were demos from the initial foray into the studio - interesting flashes and some great guitar playing.
The live tracks are good and round out the package - including a fair cover of Tracks of My Tears.
- Great booklet with 9 pages of interesting text. Needs a few reads to extract out the key information. It also doesn't tell you the tracks on CD2 - but other sources tell us that.
- No room for the fabulous 12" version of Fields of Fire, the single version of Harvest Home and the non-album single 'Wonderland'.
- No room for the John Peel Session. I was surprised that this deluxe version did not include the FABULOUS John Peel session contained as the last 4 tracks on Radio 1 sessions CD: [...]. Just thinking about the Peel session gives a tingle down my spine and brings tears to my eyes - it's that good. It has a much more raw and direct sound that captured them at their best. As Peely said at the time (captured on my tape somewhere) `that's more like it! Some real music, much better than the languid piffle we hear too much of!'.
Maybe these will be reunited on a future `Definitive' version.
So the positives outweigh the negatives - just buy it so that the other albums get the same treatment!
P.S. Writing this review reminds me that over 10 years have passed since Stuart Adamson decided to `go on ahead of us'...
on 2 September 2008
...and after 100 seasons of listening to Big Country, i just want to say ,Thank's guys !,for making one of rock's Greatest Albums, in The Crossing. (and that was just the start of a stunning collection of discs). Stuart man,you are seriously missed .Much has been rightly made of the collective musicianship of the band...so,all i want to add is that, it is the beautiful original heartfelt and always inspirational lyrics that complete this masterpiece !. Missed more than ever, the scottish poet - Stuart Adamson . "And nobody smiled when we knew what was lost , We knew well enough only time proves the cost".
on 21 August 2009
I bought this album on cassette on it's release all those years ago. On losing my entire cassette collection in a house flood, I decided to replace the better ones with CD's. (There were some dodgy cassette choices that were better off under 2 foot of water). This was a bargain on Amazon and I picked it up. I couldn't believe how good it was. Big Country to me were very under-rated and I will be having a look around for the rest of their early catalogue. Stuart Adamson was a quality song writer and the group were very accomplished musicians producing excellent albums. For £2.98, it is a must buy.
on 8 February 2012
The Crossing was the soundtrack to my summer in 1983. Bought on cassette at the end of the summer term of my third year at secondary school on the basis of seeing the boys on TOTP doing "Fields of Fire" and "In A Big Country" earlier in the year, I must have played this at least once a day for the whole of the summer holidays... I loved everything about it from the songs down to the classic BC "logo". Plus the cassette totally trumped the vinyl in my opinion as it had Angle Park as well as the 12" versions of "Fields of Fire" and "In A Big Country". At that point I'd only had a cassette player, so this was my first exposure to the joys of 12" mixes...
The songs... what can I say about the songs that hasn't already been said better by others? All of the songs had a tangible passion and made me FEEL something, even if I wasn't sure what it was at that age. "The Storm" and "Porrohman" are two of the most atmospheric tracks I have heard.
The cassette was worn out many years ago, and was replaced by a CD, which was in turn replaced by the previous remastered version which restored Angle Park and introduced me to some more B-sides which were new to me. And now here I am with this 2012 "deluxe" edition celebrating 30 years since the original release. Now THAT makes me feel OLD.
I'm not going to kid myself that my ears or my audio equipment are good enough for me to tell if this sounds noticeably better than the previous remaster, but it sounds fine to me!
Disc 1 adds a couple more rare tracks and Disc 2 is a treasure trove of early and demo versions of the songs I came to know and love.
The packaging is a gatefold card "digipack" which faithfully replicates and expands on the art and style of the original (my cassette was blue, my first CD was red, the last remaster was blue and this is dark green). As far as I'm concerned the jury's still out on digipacks vs. jewel cases - digipacks need more careful handing that's for sure. The inlay notes are well written and substantial and pleasingly there are full lyrics, not just for the original album tracks.
My 'excuse' for buying this was that my copy of the previous remaster had got a scratch which made "Inwards" skip, but I'd recommend this to any BC fan regardless of how many other versions they have - this is a great package at a very reasonable price. If you're new to BC then I would definitely recommend this album to you.
Come up screaming!!
on 19 June 2008
Stuart Adamson achieved many things as both an amazing artist and person and this record will never be forgotten by those who still remember how great Big Country really were.
From his cutting edge guitar and synthesizer work in The Skids where as a kid at school i declared them to be my favourite band! And for good reason as every kid has their fave band but it was the roots of Big Country who exploded onto the scene like nothing before. Pounding inventive drumming, heart stirring frenetic bass and those swirling innovative ebow guitars coupled with the passionate unmistakable voice of SA made everyone sit up and take notice. I was one. My sister bought the Fields Of Fire Ep with that unforgettable riff and i was hooked. It was the first riff i learned to play on my guitar!!
I saw them at Reading in '83 and they were so fresh and dynamic i remember dancing round a fire to that song and got my first snog with a complete stranger! Oh the memories.
Their signature song In A Big Country is pure scenic bliss conjuring up tales of heartache and romance, travel and adventure. Its a song i often play when i'm in far away places and it just blends in to wherever you are! Chance is so beautiful too and sung with so much heartfelt passion as is Porrohman a real epic song about hidden history.
Harvest Home is only saw spot and a song i dont really care for as it just grates and frankly with 13 others to choose, its no great loss.
My fave is probably The Storm which evokes a wonderful Celtic spirit as does most of the songs here there isnt a dull moment you could drop the needle anywhere and those wonderful guitars will chime at you as Stuart tells another tale of life's triumphs and tragedies.
And it is such a tragedy he is not around anymore but if this record is anything to go by then he did us all proud. May your soul rest under a thousand stars Stuart you will never be forgotten.
As a post script i want to know why this record is cloaked??? Although you can upload it to itunes, it wont to your ipod. I think this is the most selfish thing record companies do as if they dont make enough money as it is.
I bought both the original vinyl copy in 1983 which i still play to this day and later i got the cd for transitory reasons. I had to burn it to a blank disc then upload it, so a big up yours to RC's!!