"The most startling thing I discovered while reading the previous reviews is that band leader Stuart Adamson is dead, and by his own hand at that. What a tragic loss. I would never have thought he was troubled by typical rock icon sins.
I first discovered Big Country as a high school junior in 1986 and it was an instant attraction for me. The big guitar sound, with celtic rhythms reminiscent of U2 and Simple Minds just pleased my soul. The album was The Seer, which I think is the only album that surpasses this marvelous debut from 1983.
I found The Crossing going cheap on tape shortly after that and was blown away that Big Country could deliver so well on another album. Both are five star efforts. The copy I have on tape is rare in that it has bonus 12 inch mixes of In a Big Country and Fields of Fire, as well as Angle Park which I always assumed was on the original album anyway.
I lament the lack of those huge, blistering 12 inch versions on this latest remastered CD, but there is the much appreciated addition of the title track. I always wondered why it was left off the original album. I had discovered it previously on an EP with Big Country's instrumental version of Smokey Robinson's Tracks of My Tears. Listen to how the mournful Chance ends on the album - he's starting to go into Tracks of My Tears. Lovely.
The best song on this album is The Storm, a haunting epic with different guitar melodies introduced then layered on top of each other. Stuart Adamson truly had the most unique guitar sound in rock music. And Big Country had the best drummer in the business, Mark Brzezicki (what a name!). If you like this album, check out Brzezicki's drum opus, The Sailor, on The Seer album.
I wish more than ever I had taken the opportunity to see Big Country live while I was living in London. Farewell, Stuart Adamson. You made lovely music."
Stuart Adamson's Lost Patrol
monkeyface_007 | Lowell, MA USA | 03/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cynically, one must wonder how the long-awaited remastered version of this record has come out just a couple of months after the sad death of band leader Stuart Adamson. I was the arts editor at the University of Hawaii campus newspaper when this record first came out in 1983. Were it not for the expensive foil printing on the royal blue album jacket, I may not have noticed it at all amongst the dozens of review copies that arrived every other week. Since Big Country was produced, like U2, by Steve Lillywhite, and gushed forth with spiritual, anthemic (albeit Scottish, not Irish) rock songs, like U2, I tabbed them as Polygram's attempt to cash in on U2's soaring popularity.Then I realized the rhythm section was the same as had played on Pete Townsend's solo record, and that the other two members of the band were hot guitarists, apparently psychically linked, so blisteringly smooth were their arrangements. For pure craftsmanship, most of The Crossing I liked, and have liked, better than the U2 album of that year, The Unforgettable Fire.Now, U2 was on its way to Honolulu for a concert and I openly dreamed that Big Country would be opening for its labelmates. But the band never made it to Hawaii, and as far as I can tell, Stuart Adamson was making his first visit to Hawaii when he went there and committed suicide in December 2001. So much for my personal irony.The glory of this remastered CD is that it finally puts on CD all the power and passion of the album. The existing CD pressing was God awful, the sound was compressed, the cymbal crashes of drummer Mark Brezecki (sp) sounded like tin foil being ripped.
This new version is a revelation: lots of low end punch, each guitar part can be heard separate from the other. Vocals are about the same, but the dynamic range has been restored. Drum-heavy songs such as "In A Big Country," "Inwards" "1000 Stars" and "Porroh Man" will vibrate the speakers out of your car doors. Brezecki is like Carl Palmer and John Bonham in one body.The bonus tracks can qualify as lost classics, particularly the long-absent title track, "The Crossing," which is seven minutes of all there is to like about the band: Adamson dreaming about some peaceful, easy feeling he never found, he and Bruce Watson playing double guitar leads, the whole band cranking out this sound that never caught on with the American mainstream.Ultimately, Big Country is an acquired taste. Their use of E-bows make their guitars sound like tortured bagpipes and Adamson's Brogue accent makes his most impassioned words come out unintelligible at times. He pronounces "iron" as "I run," for example. Luckily, lyrics have been included.Hands down, this is the most unique 80s band ever."
Rousing And Unique Guitar-Rock Classic
cameron-vale | Seattle, WA | 08/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An absolute powerhouse of a debut album, THE CROSSING introduced the world to Big Country's uniquely heartfelt and soaring guitar-rock sound. Stuart Adamson became an instant guitar-god to millions of rock fans who had suffered through years of disco and ersatz new wave just waiting for such a new hero. While his rock star eminence was far too brief, Adamson fit the bill remarkably well, being both an electrifying guitarist and a gifted lyricist with a (seemingly) sincere populist bent. In addition to Adamson, the band featured co-founder Bruce Watson (guitar) and proficient session players Tony Butler (bass) and Mark Brzesicki (drums). This same lineup, barring a few brief shakeups, stayed steady all the way through to the group's tragic final days in late 2001.
All of the songs on THE CROSSING are superb, ranging in tone from stirring anthems like "In A Big Country", "Fields of Fire", "A Thousand Stars" and "Inwards", to more down-to-earth and surprisingly romantic ballads like "Chance" and "The Storm". Most of the music here has a deep emotional warmth that immediately set the band apart from many of the other stadium-rock bands of the time. Big Country didn't really fit in with any preconceived idea of what constituted an "80's band" and, consequently, twenty years later THE CROSSING still sounds as unique and vital as the day it was released.
Big Country was prolific during its first years of existence, producing lots of great music that didn't make it to any of their albums. The CD reissue of THE CROSSING contains five excellent additional tracks, four of them taken from the superb follow-up WONDERLAND EP, the title track of which is arguably Big Country's most stirring moment. These four terrific songs all seem to be of a piece with the rest of the album, making THE CROSSING even greater than ever. (The fifth "new" track is the re-recorded single version of "Chance".)"
In a Big Country....In a Big Way.
Mike Warden | Tarkio, Mo. USA | 02/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though I tend to lean towards the metal/blues/jazz section of most of my personal recordings, this one caught my eye (and ears). Released in 1983, Polygram records probably just wanted to get in on the then current new wave of alternative music that was sweeping not only the U.S., but the world as well with the release of THE CROSSING.
Enter Big Country. Four lads from Scotland with a passion for their music and a very unique sound. The line up consisted of Bruce Watson-guitar, E-Bow, and vocals, Stuart Adamson-also guitar, E-Bow, piano, Tony Butler- Bass and vocals, and mark Brezezicki-drums. It was the E-Bows that made things very interesting.
The CD opens with the familiar 80's anthem "In a Big Country", with a drum track that is both invigorating as much as it is innovative. The song is about dreaming and hope, it is fast paced but positive, and many who partied in the 80's remember it as a great dance and party song. A variety of emotions are displayed on this CD. "Chance" in particular, is a sad song of a single mother abandoned. "Harvest Home" appears to be about societal life in old Scotland, that is delivered with once again equal passion. "Fields of Fire" seems like a song that declares the resolute Scot's will always see themselves through any seperation or hardships. Every song on this CD has the eerie sounding (but also noteworthy and catchy) E-Bows, that somehow enabled the guitars in this band to sound like electric bagpipes. I know that may sound unusual, but Big Country experimented here greatly, and it paid off. This is a unique recording about social consciousness and never giving up. Very few bands have been able to put their heritage as a musical/rock stamp on their recordings. Big Country did so with a flourish. This recording stands out as a great example of what dedicated musicians who are truly committed to their project can accomplish. Though it has a (somewhat) hard edge to it, the innovation in recording techniques cannot be ignored.
Stuart Adamson is no longer with us. He apparently committed suicide in Honolulu, Hawaii, just a few months ago. While that is indeed sad to report, Big Country have left behind a spirited example of passionate musicianship that is rare with so many of todays bands."
Buy this instead of (okay, before) the Greatest Hits
Craig Payne | Ottumwa, Iowa United States | 01/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All the other reviewers have pretty much said what needs to be said about "The Crossing"; I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus. This is not just one of the best recordings of the '80s; it's one of the best rock recordings ever, living right next door to U2's "Joshua Tree." Yes, the bagpipe guitars and Adamson's heart-in-his-throat voice would be overwhelming in themselves--but they are matched by the fluid bass, the thunderous drums (I still remember the first time I heard "Porrohman" and "Wonderland" and thought the drums were going to explode out of the speakers), and the wailing harmonies. I wore out two vinyl LPs of this before getting the CD.
Just one more note: The other reviewers are also correct in noting that this recording hangs together incredibly well. Any of the songs could have made it onto a "Best Of" collection. I personally prefer this recording to the "Greatest Hits." THAT recording shows how Big Country evolved and changed from album to album (and is also worthwhile to own), but THIS recording shows them truly at their best."