Big Country - The Crossing
Big Country was the Stuart Adamson project which arose from the ashes of the Skids. Adamson took a turn in the direction of a more thoughtful, more political theme to his music, as always coupled with his extraordinary and unique style of guitar playing. He made the move just at the right time. The UK was in the throes of a major social crisis after Thatcher's warmongering had got herself returned to power on the backs of dead Argentine and British soldiers. The country faced a long period of social upheaval which would ultimately rip the guts out of the place. The politicians of the left were in total disarray and it was left to musicians and other artists to chronicle and resist the tide.
The songs themselves are epics of their time and genre. This is among the best UK post-punk you will find. Right from the crashing drums of the opening track to the beautiful tail out of the final track, this album holds your attention throughout. Stuart Adamson had perfected a guitar style which began with drawing a spoon across the strings of his electric guitar. While others had before played electric guitars with a violin bow, Adamson overcame the inability of such a style to create individual notes by using a much smaller tool than a bow. And he brought this style to the attention of the world with this first album. And how! The Crossing burst onto the scene and transcended the barrier and crossed into the mainstream, albeit briefly. Such was the need for people to have some hope to look forward to, even the bleak messages of Big Country's world held an appeal to all.
"Porrohman" is undoubtedly the best track on the album, a swirling epic with some beautiful overlaid guitars. "Chance" runs it a close second, a doomed urban loveless song drawn from the same well-spring of emotion as some of Billy Bragg's greatest songs. Indeed, Big Country often sang of themes similar to Bragg - the sad, overlooked lives of the blighted urban underclasses suffering through the misery of Thatcher's Britain; wars and how the lives of ordinary people are affected by them; and the politics of greed. But there are no duds on here. Each song provides its own impetus and listening to the whole album at one sitting seems to take less time than has actually passed. Surely the mark of an enjoyable album.
Sadly, it all went downhill from here. When a band releases such a fantastic debut, it is always going to be a hard act to follow. Big Country never did because they never really changed their style, and they could never hope to recapture such a sublime moment in musical history as this. Although they had moments later which almost recaptured the essence of this first album, they were never again able to produce such an out-and-out masterpiece. Go and buy it if you know what's good for you.
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on 2011-02-22 CharlesMartel Said:
Now reformed and touring again. Look forward to seeing them when they next come to London.