(4.5 stars) After the darkness and social commentary of their second album, `Steeltown', the Bigs returned in 1986 with a set full of soaring majestic romance, Boys Own adventure, soldiers, witches, heroes and tales of the high seas - all polished up with the pop sensibilities that were evident on their 1983 debut, `The Crossing'.
Dumping their two album partnership with Steve Lillywhite for Robin Millar, who had produced the glossy dance pop beats of Sade, Everything but the Girl and Fine Young Cannibals, this third outing takes on a more immediate sound than its predecessors with a slick, pop rock sheen. As a result, `The Seer' is a much brasher, more commercially minded work than they were.
As an overall set, the songs are also far more immediately accessible than on the first two albums and more determinedly upbeat in approach. And Adamson's poetic lyrics are sumptuous. The opening single, `Look Away' is a rollicking rock track about a man on the run after committing a murder, desperately trying to retain the trust of his woman and convince her to ignore the stories she will hear about him. There is Wild West undertone to this that finds its perfect sonic partner in the third track, `The Teacher', about a young man's first love. In between, Kate Bush provides haunting backing vocals to the title track, an epic Celtic journey through the visions of rape and pillage foretold by a Seer who "washed her hair among the stones". On the slower side, `Eiledon' is an ode to a beautiful land ("I may walk in cities where the wolf once had his fill") and `Hold the Heart', a ballad of a man hoping his lover will come back to him ("I would lie and curse the day, And visit places where we lay alone, And find them turned to stone").Then things pick up again with the grand rocking adventure of `Remembrance Day', `The Red Fox' and the breathtaking album closer, `The Sailor'. The only real low points are provided by `I Walk the Hill' and `One Great Thing', the two trademark bagpipe guitar tracks that, third album out, sound distinctly stale and clichéd.
Musicianship by the band is stirling, as always, and Stuart Adamson's voice would never again sound quite as full-throatedly lush as it does on this recording. That said, the sheer effervescence of its grand storytelling tends to make it feel ever so slightly lacking in weight if compared to its predecessor.
7 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?