Stuart Adamson - vocals, guitar, piano; Mark Brzezicki - drums; Tony Butler - bass; Bruce Watson - guitar
This energetic King Biscuit Flower Hour Show was recorded on New Year's Eve 1983 in Glasgow, Scotland, near Big Country's hometown. The show opens with the sounds of rain, thunder and lightning. After an earsplitting crash, the effects slowly fade, and the band breaks into "One Thousand Stars." Big Country's trademark guitars in their "bagpipe" mode cut through the song's intro, leading into Adamson's passionate vocals. The rest of the show is propelled by the band's powerful rhythm section and the interplay between the twin guitar action of Adamson and Watson.
"We recorded that show at a venue called Barrowlands in Scotland," said Mark Brzezicki. "When we tour, the gig we always look forward to is the gig on our home turf. The response at that gig is always exceptional." "I was aware that I had to play me arse off during that period," Brzezicki adds, "because we were coming off an important tour for us. Everything kept getting moved during that gig. There was a surge of people from the front of the stage. Complete mayhem, and the hottest gig I have done ever." "Angle Park," "Lost Patrol," "Fields Of Fire" and the signature "In A Big Country" are all here, making this recording a true testament to the quintessential Big Country live show of that era.
"The excitement going on in the room that night was really a Scottish thing," says Watson. "We tried to make it a huge party, as much as possible. We had just gotten back after three months in America. We loved America but we were missing home. And this show was a homecoming." The performance was held in a hired ballroom, or dance hall, similar to the legendary Roseland dance hall in New York City.
Steve Lillywhite (the platinum producer best known for his work with The Rolling Stones and U2) was the engineer on recording of the show. Lilywhite had produced the band's first two albums, and wanted to be part of this historic performance. "We knew that the show was going to be taped and shot on video and it was going to be broadcast live around the world, and in the States on the King Biscuit Flower Hour," says Stuart Adamson.
Big Country's roots reach back to the highlands of Scotland in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band was initially formed by Stuart Adamson, who had been a member of a group called the Skids, which had seen success in England thanks to a handful of hits. "Around late 1981 or early 1982, I knew I wanted to move on," says Adamson, who formed the first version of Big Country with Watson and another rhythm section, replaced quickly after the band's first experience with Brzezicki and Butler.
The group released their debut album in 1983 to significant critical acclaim and commercial success. The Crossing scored a Top 5 hit, "In A Big Country," and garnered the band rave reviews, earning them spots on huge tours opening for U2, David Bowie and the Eurthymics - and eventually leading to appearances at the Prince's Trust and Knebworth concerts. The group cut two more albums for PolyGram - Steeltown in 1984 and The Seer in 1986 - and then spent much of the late 1980s and 1990s moving from label to label in attempts to equal their earlier commercial success. The band signed to Warner Brothers/Reprise Records and released one album in 1988, Peace in Our Time.
Big Country returned to the scene in '91 with the European release No Place Like Home, but were determined to get back on track in the U.S. In 1993, they attempted to break back onto U.S. airwaves with an album called The Buffalo Skinners, released by the short lived, RCA distributed label Fox Records. Unfortunately, it too would fall through the cracks.
In 1995, Big Country moved to the indie label Pure Records, where they recorded the critically acclaimed studio LP, Why the Long Face?, followed by a European only released acoustic live LP. In 1996, the band went on hiatus, but regrouped in 1999 to put out Driving to Damascus, which contained the hit "Somebody Else," written by Adamson and the Kink's Ray Davies. At the start of the millennium, Adamson announced his intention to retire from touring around the time the limited edition Nashville Album was released. Several months later, a two-disc live album called Come Up Screaming was issued. Tragically, the still loyal reception to Big Country didn't prevent Adamson from succumbing to problems with alcohol, and in December of 2001, he was found dead in a hotel room in Hawaii. His distinctive personality is still alive in the music, though, and recordings such as these reveal just what an inspired performer he truly was. Catch him here - in his prime, on home turf, larger than life.