Big Country: The Crossing (1983)

A new band of heroes emerged in the early ‘80s whose music seemed to bristle against English rule (of the airwaves anyway) while championing the working-class struggle: U2, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Alarm, Big Country. The Crossing is a powerful debut, a call to arms and a call for change, led by the intoxicating “In A Big Country.” Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson both played the e-bow, an instrument that evoked their Scottish roots with its plaintive sound. Their music was instantly identifiable and, unfortunately, just as quickly pigeonholed by American listeners. Like the work of Echo & The Bunnymen, it takes a little while for Big Country’s songs to develop their own identities, and lazy ears might dismiss their albums as so much British brouhaha. However, at the core of The Crossing is plenty of talent and tunefulness, almost a cross between The Cure and U2. Producer Steve Lillywhite understood that even alternative rock could benefit from mainstream melodies, and you’ll find that logic behind tracks like “Chance” and “Close Action.” Yet it was the anthems that won them an audience, such as “Fields of Fire,” “Harvest Home” and “1000 Stars.” The image of fire appears throughout, as working-class people are driven from their homes, crossing into an uncertain future. In a sense, the music of Big Country embodies the relentless pursuit of hardships that its characters endure. America, the land of aspiring hedonists, didn’t share the band’s dour outlook and had little long-term use for songs about life’s struggles, while in the UK this message had particular resonance. Thus the music of Big Country was a reluctant export to the US, its ethnic ardor quickly filed under “quirky foreigners” and revived only when their famous four-minute rallying cry (“In A Big Country”) proved efficacious in a parade of ‘80s anthems. The Crossing is so much more than that, of course. It’s the ardent, uncompromising voice of youth and revolution, the Scottish voice that would not be subdued, a standard under which the meek shall inherit the earth. Unchained spirits will hear this in The Crossing, and realize that no country was big enough to contain such a significant talent.

Original LP Version
A1. In A Big Country (4:42)
A2. Inwards (4:34)
A3. Chance (4:27)
A4. Fields of Fire (3:32)
A5. The Storm (6:20)
B1. Harvest Home (4:20)
B2. Lost Patrol (4:50)
B3. Close Action (4:18)
B4. 1000 Stars (3:53)
B5. Porrohman (7:45)

All songs written by Big Country.

1996 CD Reissue Bonus Tracks
11. Angle Park (4:06)
12. All of Us (4:09)
13. The Crossing (7:07)
14. Heart & Soul (4:32)

2002 CD Reissue Bonus Tracks
11. Wonderland
12. All Fall Together
13. Angle Park
14. The Crossing
15. Chance (re-recorded single version)

30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (2 CDs)
A1. In A Big Country
A2. Inwards
A3. Chance
A4. 1000 Stars
A5. The Storm
A6. Harvest Home
A7. Lost Patrol
A8. Close Action
A9. Fields of Fire
A10. Porrohman
A11. Balcony
A12. Flag of Nation (Swimming)
A13. Angle Park
A14. All of Us
A15. Heart And Soul
A16. The Crossing
A17. Tracks of My Tears (live)
B1. Angle Park (demo)
B2. Harvest Home (demo)
B3. We Could Laugh (demo)
B4. In A Big Country (demo)
B5. The Storm (demo)
B6. Big City (demo)
B7. Fields of Fire (live)
B8. Lost Patrol (demo)
B9. Inwards (demo)
B10. 1000 Stars (previously unreleased)
B11. Lost Patrol (previously unreleased)
B12. Inwards (previously unreleased)
B13. Close Action (previously unreleased)
B14. Fields of Fire (demo)
B15. 1000 Stars (demo)
B16. Ring Out Bells (demo)
B17. Chance (demo)

The Players
Stuart Adamson (vocals, guitars, e-bow, piano), Mark Brzezicki (drums, percussion, vocals), Tony Butler (bass guitars, vocals), Bruce Watson (guitars, e-bow, vocals) with Christine Beveridge (additional vocals). Produced by Steve Lillywhite; engineered by Will Gosling.

The Pictures
Photo by Paul Cox. Sleeve by J.B. & Q. Branch.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and cassette in June 1983 in the UK (Mercury, MERS/MERSC 27) in blue/red cover variations and in 1983 in gold-embossed green cover variation (Mercury, MERH/MERHC 27) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #3 on the UK charts. Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc in 1983 in the US, Germany and the Netherlands (Mercury, 812 870-1/4/2), Canada (Vertigo, VOG1-3325/VOG4-13325) and Japan (Mercury, 25PP-99) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #18 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record). Re-released on expanded 20-bit remastered compact disc on March 26, 1996 in the UK and Germany (Mercury, 532 323-2) with four bonus tracks. Re-released on expanded remastered compact disc on February 5, 2002 in the US (Mercury, 548 117) with five bonus tracks. Re-released on remastered 2CD 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition in the UK (Mercury) and on super-high material 2CD Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition in 2012 in Japan (Mercury, UICY-75613/4).

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