Big Country is a Scottish alternative rock band that was first formed in 1981 by Stuart Adamson who had previously played in The Skids and was the vocalist and guitarist. Also in the line up was bassist Tony Butler, drummer Mark Brzezicki and guitarist Bruce Watson.
Over the course of the 1980’s, they had much commercial success with several successful singles and albums which all reached high chart positions in the UK. However, this success was never quite replicated as much in the US.
As the eighties drew to a close and Big Country entered the nineties, their success started to dwindle somewhat. After being dropped by their record company Mercury in 1991, they would continue throughout the rest of the decade as a less successful act with a cult following. Adamson was also struggling a lot with personal issues during this time with his alcoholism ending his first marriage.
At the turn of the millennium, Big Country finally decided to call it a day and embarked on a farewell tour. The following year, Adamson, who’s personal struggles had continued to get worse, was found dead in a hotel room in Hawaii, having taken his own life.
In 2007, the surviving band members got together to celebrate twenty-five years since the band’s formation where they embarked on a tour of England and Scotland and also released a new live album. However, after this they returned to their hiatus before regrouping together again in 2010 with a new line-up which included Bruce Watson’s son Jamie.
In 2012, Butler announced his retirement from the band and he was replaced by Derek Forbes formerly of Simple Minds. They released their first new album since 1999 in 2013 titled The Journey. Having had a few more line-up changes, Big Country are still active and continue to tour.
# 10 – The Journey
Kicking off our top ten Big Country songs list is the title track of their most recent comeback album released in 2013. In place of Stuart Adamson on vocals is Mike Peters formerly of The Alarm. Before his death, Adamson had gave his blessing to Peters to replace him, having no interest in ever returning to the band. Upon its release, the album received a mixed critical reception.
# 9 – Fragile Thing
Next up is the lead single from Big Country’s eighth album Driving to Damascus released in 1999 which was the last album of their original run. It was the last record to feature Stuart Adamson before his death. When this single was released it reached number sixty-nine in the UK. Adamson said that the song is about loss and redemption, something that was no doubt influenced by his mental state at the time.
# 8 – I’m Not Ashamed
This song was the second single released from Big Country’s seventh album Why the Long Face released in 1995. Stuart Adamson wrote the song and all of the band produced it along with Chris Sheldon. Like the previous entry on this list, it reached number sixty-nine in the UK upon its release. A music video was filmed to promote it. Its release was delayed several times but when it was finally put out it was acclaimed for its anthemic sound.
# 7 – Alone
Up next we have the lead single from Big Country’s sixth album Buffalo Skinners released in 1993. It was again written by Adamson and produced by all of the band. It reached number twenty-four in the UK where it remained for three weeks. The decision to release this as a single was one made by the band themselves.
# 6 – Republican Party Reptile
Up next is a song that was released as an ep taken from Big Country’s fifth album No Place Like Home released in 1991. Adamson wrote the song with Bruce Watson and it was produced by Pat Moran. The ep reached number thirty-seven in the UK where it remained for two weeks. It also had its own music video. As the title would suggest, the song’s lyrics are of a political nature.
# 5 – King of Emotion
This is the lead single from Big Country’s fourth album Peace In Our Time released in 1988. Like all of the band’s singles it was written by Adamson and produced by Peter Wolf. It reached number sixteen in the UK and was also successful in the US where it got to number eleven on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and twenty on the same chart’s Album Rock Charts. A music video was filmed which received heavy rotation on MTV. The song is a very rocky number which is said to be heavily influenced by the Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Blues. ”In 2002 Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel performed the song at a tribute concert to Adamson.
# 4 – Look Away
Next on the list we have the lead single taken from the band’s third album The Seer released in 1986. It was their fourth top ten hit in the UK as well as their biggest in Britain overall, peaking at number seven. It was even more successful in Ireland where topped the Singles charts, being their only Irish number one.
# 3 – East of Eden
At number three is the lead single from Big Country’s second album Steeltown released in 1984. It was produced by Steve Lillywhite. It got to number seventeen in the UK and number twelve in Ireland. Adamson said that the song is about questioning things around you. A B-side to the single was a cover of “Prairie Rose” by Roxy Music.
# 2 – Fields of Fire
Just off the top spot is one of Big Country’s biggest hits that was the second single to be taken from their 1983 debut The Crossing released in 1983. A video to the song was filmed which saw a young boy playing with a toy trains set in which the band members were passengers. The song reached the top ten in the UK and was their introduction the US. Tony Butler has stated that is one his favourite Big Country songs.
# 1– In A Big Country
At the top spot is the song that is the band’s partial title track which was the opening track and third single to be taken from The Crossing. It reached number seventeen in the UK and was also a hit in the US where it got to number three on the Top Rock Charts as well as seventeen on the Billboard Hot 100. A music video for it was filmed which was a big hit on MTV. In 2014, it was covered by the band American Authors as a record day release.
Top 10 Big Country Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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