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Music / Big Country

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The classic lineup from left to right: Tony Butler (bass guitar), Bruce Watson (rhythm guitar), Mark Brzezicki (drums), Stuart Adamson (lead vocals, lead guitar).

Founded by Bruce Watson and Stuart Adamson (formally of Skids) in 1981, Big Country are a Scottish Rock band most famous for their unique sound guitars often compared to Scottish bagpipes.

The band originally consisted of Adamson, Watson, Clive Parker (drums), and brothers Alan and Pete Wishart (respectively bass and keyboards). Before the band recorded its debut single, "Harvest Home", in 1982, Parker and the Wisharts had been replaced by Mark Brzezicki and Tony Butler, establishing the band's classic lineup.

The aforementioned "Harvest Home" reached the UK Top Ten in 1983 and was closely followed by the album The Crossing, which also included "In a Big Country" (their only US Top 40 hit), "Fields of Fire" and "Chance".

The band enjoyed moderate success until the 90s when poor album sales and an alcohol problem caused Adamson to commit suicide in 2001, the band would go on a 7-year hiatus and not record any new material until releasing The Journey in 2013 with The Alarm vocalist Mike Peters, their first studio recording since 1999.

Studio Discography:

  • 1983 - The Crossing
  • 1984 - Steeltown
  • 1986 - The Seer
  • 1988 - Peace in Our Time
  • 1991 - No Place Like Home
  • 1993 - The Buffalo Skinners
  • 1995 - Why the Long Face
  • 1999 - Driving to Damascus (Released as John Wayne's Dream in the US)
  • 2013 - The Journey

In a big country you can find the following tropes:

  • '80s Hair: Stuart and Bruce.
    • From 86 onward Mark started wearing a mullet.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Mark Brzezicki
  • Alone in a Crowd: The hiker Stuart picks up in "The Teacher's" music video is first seen standing motionless in a cheering crowd.
  • Artistic License – History: "Look Away" is about an outlaw from the American West, however the music video portrays the story as if it was set in Victorian England.
  • Band of Relatives: The original lineup featured brothers Alan and Pete Wishart. In 2010 Bruce Watson's son Jamie joined the band.
  • The Band Minus the Face / Step Up to the Microphone: After Stuart's suicide Tony Butler would sing in his place until 2010 when Mike Peters took over.
  • Break Up Song: "Fragile Thing" is about a man going through a break-up. Likely Stuart himself.
    • Part of "Chance's" meaning is a woman leaving her husband.
  • Charity Motivation Song: "Heart of the World"
    • The 4 classic members participated in the Band-Aid single "Do they Know It's Christmas?" in 1984.
  • Dangerous Workplace: The factory the band work at in "East of Eden".
    • Before joining Big Country, Bruce Watson cleaned nuclear submarines for a living.
  • Disappears into Light: The Hiker from "The Teacher" music video.
  • Double Meaning: Chance. On the one hand it could be interpreted as a breakup song, however the song is meant to be about Scottish miners coming to Northampton for work just before Thatcher closed the mines, leaving them stranded.
  • Driven to Suicide: "Look Away" is about Harry Tracey an outlaw who committed suicide to escape the authorities.
    • Stuart Adamson himself.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Stuart fell into a serious bout of alcoholism due to low album sales in the 90s. He'd also been through a divorce.
  • Grief Song: "East of Eden", but since it's sung from a first-person perspective it could double as a Death Song.
  • Living Toys: Played with in "Fields of Fire". The band ride a train which is stopped when a man playing bagpipes stands on the track. The band then wander into a WWII trench. The entire scene, the bagpiper and the soldiers turns out to be a child playing with a train set and toy soldiers.
  • Long Runner Lineup: Type 5 with the classic lineup, which lasted 14 nonconsecutive years (1982–1989, 1993–2000).
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Despite being about an outlaw who committed suicide and having very somber lyrics, "Look Away" is quite upbeat.
  • Lyrical Tic: Stuart did a lot of Scatting, often he would randomly shout HUP! HA! and SHA! in this middle of songs.
  • MacGuffin: The key the hiker leaves in Stuart's car in "The Teacher". YMMV with this one since we never see what the key is for.
  • Mysterious Watcher: "Look Away", as the events play out Stuart is often seen watching from cover.
  • Panel Game: Stuart appeared on an episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks where he scored extra points for slagging off R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe.
  • Performance Video: "Chance", "Beautiful People" and arguably "Wonderland".
  • "Setting Off" Song: "Fields of Fire" and "In a Big Country".
  • Take That!: "Republican Party Reptile" contains a lot of stabs at corrupt politicians particularly the British Conservative Party and Republicans.