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4.8 out of 5 stars
61
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 8 March 2016
I found this album through an article interviewing James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers, and it asked what his '10 Favourite Albums Ever,' were, so I decided to check this out. I confess, I had heard precisely zilch about Big Country before this, despite them being a pretty big deal in the 80's and are still touring today (thanks Wikipedia!)! I have since checked out their other albums, but this one towers above the rest in my opinion.
From what I gather from JDB's review (and the lyric book) this album, lyrically, is concerned with one of the most tumultuous periods in 'British' history - the dystopian Margaret Thatcher era, the closure of the titular Steel towns (and other industries) and the devastating effect it had on their local communities and its people, their relationships, livelihood, dreams, employment and so on.
Musically, I was pleasantly surprised how memorable and pretty heavy some of the riffs were! They sound at times like a more punky Thin Lizzy, complete with their trademark vocal and guitar harmonies, but with a distinctive The Edge from U2 vibe about their sound in terms of their heavy use of delay (who influenced who? I have no idea who came first!?) and also a lot of melody that's Celtic in nature.
Opener 'Flame Of The West,' is one of the all time best album opening tracks with its upbeat tempo, clever lyrics, memorable hooks and excellent guitar work, the title track is probably the best use of distorted delay guitar tones I've ever heard - rhythm-wise at least - and some great vocal melodies and epic chorus.' 'East Of Eden,' sounds like the best 80's rock hit that never was, and the heartfelt balladry of 'Come Back To Me' really tugs at the heart strings.
The rhythm section of the drummer and bassist also deserve a lot of credit as they're very tight and deliver fantastic canvases for the vocals and guitar to impose themselves on.
This Deluxe Edition features 'Radio Edit' version of some of the songs on the album and other rarities that will no doubt keep die hard fans happy, but to me its just an added extra really.
If you're a fan of all things rock, punk and 80's - you need this album in your life!
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on 10 November 2014
This always was a favourite album of mine when it came out originally. However somewhere along the way I lent it out or misplaced it so when the new version became available I jumped at the chance to renew myself with it. Now it could just be time passing but I certainly do not remember the clarity of the production being as good as this all those years ago. Sometimes when you listen to a remix the difference is hardly audible. That is not the case here. Every part of the album jumps out at you but not overwhelmingly so. Stuarts vocals appear better balanced against the instrumentation allowing an even more pleasurable experienced. It has lost none of the hard hitting lyrical content which rather sadly still has a measure of resonance with today. A very fine body of work and perhaps still the best album they ever made.
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on 12 August 2017
Always loved 'In A Big Country' and 'Look Away' but recently decided to delve into the band's back catalogue out of sheer curiosity. I was bowled over and puzzled as to how I'd missed their sheer greatness all these years. The Crossing and this album alone put Big Country up there with the greatest bands of all time. 'Where The Rose Is Sown' and 'East Of Eden' are the highlights but the main reason I bought this album is to get the cover signed by the remaining members as they are my new favourite band and have the pleasure of going to see them soon in my home town. 10/10.
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on 26 May 2014
I love this album from day one what a band both on record and live Stuart is missed by all and what a voice he had he could power out the songs I wish they could find more unreleased stuff demos anything even from his solo band buy this album when they release the 30th anavereray treat your self to the best scotish band in the world.
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on 22 March 2016
One of Big Country's finer moments! Some great songs on this album, 'Where the Rose Is Sown' being one of many. This deluxe version has some good additional tracks and as far as the sound reproduction is concerned, this version is better than the standard previously released CD.
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on 24 August 2015
really good album
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on 8 June 2007
Big Country were often accused of only having one tuen, but I challenge anyone to listen to "Steeltown" and say honestly that all the songs are the same tune. From the opening bass riff on "Flame of the West" to the final chorus of "Just a Shadow", this album is a real tour-de-force, with intelligent musicianship throughout.

The late Adamson's lyrics are intelligent and thought provoking and he has an amazing voice, doing his own harmonies along the way. To think that the guy also does some of the main guitar lines as well just goes to show what talent he really had.

So put all the misconceptions to one side and give this album a listen - you won't regret it.
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on 29 June 2010
For their second album, Big Country took a heavier direction, both in terms of sound and in lyrical content. Where their exuberant, mega successful 1983 debut, `The Crossing', used their bagpipe guitar technique to tell somewhat mythical `Boys Own' stories of heroic soldiers, ships and soaring romance, `Steeltown' was a darker, more political work. It was full of social observation and examinations of the problems of the British working classes. The romance was still there, but it had become muted and tragic, the soldiers angry and disillusioned. In a way, `The Crossing' could be seen as a patriotic call to arms and `Steeltown' the awful post-war reality of husbands killed in war, dole queues and domestic violence.

Lead singer and guitarist, Stuart Adamson's lyrics are more developed and poetic on `Steeltown', telegraphing that he had very serious intentions for this band, which went far beyond the gimmick of their guitar sound. In grand imagery, the soaring hard rock attack of the opening track, `Flame of the West', tells the tale of a visit by a rich politician or industrialist (US movie star President, Ronald Reagan?), to the impoverished mining towns. Adamson sets the tone for the album here - it is working class outrage. The slower, dirgier second track, `East of Eden', is beautiful and angry, as he takes on the part of a worker in the modern industrial machine ("I looked west in search of freedom and I saw slavery, I looked east in search of answers and I saw misery"). Then the aggression of the towering, anthemic title track makes it abundantly clear that exploitation of the working classes is his main concern this time out ("We built all this with our own hands, But who could know we built on sand").

The songs that follow look at the hypocrisy used to motivate young men to go to battle (`Where the Rose is Sown'), the plight of a young mother whose husband is killed in war (`Come Back to Me') and the frustration of dead end work that ends in relationship breakdown (`Just a Shadow'). Other songs are less overt, but take on a resonance from those around them (`The Girl with Grey Eyes', `The Great Divide').

Adamson's vocals are an impassioned cry on much of this album, but beautifully tender and sadly contemplative on the slower tracks (`The Girl with Grey Eyes', `Just a Shadow). The musicianship is first rate throughout and Mark Brzezicki's drumming is fantastic. Steve Lillywhite (U2, Peter Gabriel, Souxie and the Banshees, XTC) once again produces, coating proceedings with a slick sheen while retaining just enough grit to keep it sounding authentic.

Though `Steeltown' indisputably retains the Big Country sound, it is not an immediately accessible album, but it is one that delivers great rewards with repeated listens.

The 2 Disc Deluxe Edition sports beautiful sound and stunning repackaging. It also includes b-sides as well as the Wonderland EP and the songs that featured on its various incarnations around the world (but sadly not the beautiful cover art!!). The other radio edits and rough mixes on disc 2 are interesting. This is a brilliant and worthy reason to repurchase and upgrade this outstanding album on CD.
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on 2 October 2009
This is the Scotland I loved and left. The economic conscripts of "Where The Rose Is Sown" escaping the druggie paralysis of 'Just A Shadow' in Thatcher's post-industrial wasteland, 'Steeltown'. Adamson is singing about the Lothians and the daft, bright boys who get to choose between the box factory for four pounds an hour or Richard and Judy and a quarter of soap bar. No wonder the army's everywhere banging its drum. Dunno if things have changed but I wouldn't bank on it. "Too much fear" is the last line of the album. Fear of change. A very Scottish album that has a wistful, knowing sadness.
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on 4 August 2009
This is easilly the best album Big Country ever made, and in my opinion one of the best albums made in the last 30 years. Woefully underated, this should be regarded as a rock classic.
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