Archive for Big Country

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Big Country- Steeltown

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by 80smetalman

After much contemplation, actually thirty plus years of it, I have arrived at the conclusion that Scottish rockers, Big Country have been given a bad rap by many in the rock world. I think that because of their first big hit “In a Big Country” from their 1983 album, “The Crossing,” which sounded a little new wave pop to some and the fact that MTV played the video to death. What also didn’t help them was that on this, their 1984 album, “Steeltown,” they went on tour with Hall and Oates, which led me and many others to conclude they were simply a top forty band. In truth, they weren’t and had some interesting sounds that metalheads and those not into trends could like together.

What they do so well on this album and their others as well is to blend the hard rock, new wave with their Celtic roots. Blended together, it makes a very interesting but enjoyable sound. The title track is the prime example of what I mean. One minute you are gently rocking away to it and the next you find yourself lost in the Celtic melody of the song. An added bonus is the political/historical message in the lyrics. “Steeltown” is about the town of Corby where many local Scots went to work in the newly opened steel mill in 1935 only to find themselves unemployed when it shut down in the early 1980s following the decline of the steelworks. The song was very apt for that time.

The rest of the album follows along in the same vein. Hard rock with great local melodies entwine themselves in every song. One thing I find on a personal note is that “East of Eden” was their only top 20 single from the album but I think that there are better songs on it and with me, that’s usually the criteria for a good album in my twisted mind. As far as singles go, I prefer the non top 20 reaching one, “Where the Rose is Sown.” That only made it to 29  but it has all the things I like on the album. “Come Back to Me” is also an interesting one. It’s kind of a ballad but it’s not but it does have some nice drum work on it. “Rain Dance” also stands out for me and “The Great Divide” is the hardest rock track but I can’t say there’s a bad song on here.

Track Listing:

  1. Flame of the West
  2. East of Eden
  3. Steeltown
  4. Where the Rose is Sown
  5. Come Back to Me
  6. Tall Ships Go
  7. Girl With Grey Eyes
  8. Rain Dance
  9. The Great Divide
  10. Just a Shadow

Big Country

Stuart Adamson- lead vocals, guitar, piano

Mark Brzezicki- drums, percussion, vocals

Tony Butler- bass, vocals

Bruce Watson- guitar, mandolin, sitar, vocals

For the reasons I mentioned at the start of the post, this album largely passed me by in 1984. Don’t worry, I’ve already given myself 40 lashes for it. It would be the next album when I would stop and say, “Hey wait a minute, these guys are pretty good.” Still, better late than never and I can say that this album is the real deal.

Next post:  REO Speedwagon- Wheels Are Turnin’

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to:  https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1504208727&sr=8-8&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1983: Aldo Nova

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-aldonova

When my household finally caught up with the times in 1983 and got MTV, the video for the big single, “Fantasy,” from Canadian rocker Aldo Nova’s debut album received a fair amount of airplay. Okay, it may not have been played as much as Big Country’s “In a Big Country” or the full twenty minute video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” but I saw it a good few times. Naturally, I assumed that the song was current. It was only later that I discovered that the song and the album were actually released over a year earlier. Therefore, this was another great album that came out in 1982, which I missed on account of my commitments to the military back then. It is also the reason why I am still posting it for 1983. I guess I should be grateful to MTV or else I might have missed it all together.

Even before I first saw the video for “Fantasy,” Aldo Nova was making a name for himself in metal circles back then. He supported giants Rainbow and Blue Oyster Cult on two different tours and the reports I received from my friend and my sister was that he was pretty good. That, along with the single I heard, was enough grounds to explore the debut album and what a wise decision that turned out to be.

In typical 1982 fashion, the album opens with the big single but like so many other great rock and metal albums from that year, the rest of the album carries on very well. In the case of Aldo, the tracks “Hot Love” and “It’s Too Late” keep me headbanging away. Both are great rocking gems. Then comes the power ballad, “Ball and Chain” and it is this track that has forced me to put Aldo Nova into the category of deeply under appreciated guitarists. He really rips his solo here. “Ball and Chain” also has me pondering something else. This song, along with April Wine’s “Just Between You and Me” and the Killer Dwarfs’ “Fire In Your Eyes,” has me thinking that maybe Canadian bands are the best at power ballads. Something to debate anyway.

It would have been wrong of me to say that the album picks up after the power ballad because it never really slowed down. Still, “Heart to Heart” is a great song and in metal power, I put it between the power ballad and first three tracks. Following it is what sounds for me was a definitely intended AOR single, “Fooling Yourself.” However, the chorus is quite catchy so I don’t blame him for this one. Even more so because the next track, “Under the Gun” is the best rocking track on the album complete with another great guitar solo.

The album seems to slow down a great deal after that. I wouldn’t call “You’re My Love” and “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You” power ballads, just ballads although the latter has a cool guitar solo reminding me of why I added Aldo to my ever growing list of underrated guitarists. I would like to say that the album closes with a blinder but I really can’t say that about “See the Light.” The song reminds me of something you would hear from a nightclub band. It is done very well and sounds good despite being keyboard dominated but with all the harder tracks, I found myself straining in anticipation for a power chord that never comes. It’s only Aldo’s guitar solo that saves it for me and that gets me into the song at the end. While the last three songs may not measure up to the rest of the album in my view, those other seven songs are more than enough to make this album a great one.

Track Listing:

  1. Fantasy
  2. Hot Love
  3. It’s Too Late
  4. Ball and Chain
  5. Heart to Heart
  6. Fooling Yourself
  7. Under the Gun
  8. You’re My Love
  9. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
  10. See the Light
Aldo Nova

Aldo Nova

Aldo Nova- vocals, guitars, bass, synthesizers, keyboards

Dennis Chartrand- piano

Michel Pelo- bass

Robert Biagioni- bass

Michael La Chapelle- drums, percussion

Terry Martel- drums, percussion

Daniel Barbe- backing vocals

Dwight Druck- backing vocals

Thank God for MTV is all I can say. While their playing of the video for “Fantasy” may have misled me as to when Aldo Nova’s first album came out, it did give me the opportunity to actually discover Aldo and listen to the album. Something I will always be glad about.

Next post: Aldo Nova- Subject Aldo Nova

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Big Country- The Crossing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2016 by 80smetalman

Big_Country_-_The_Crossing

It was the beginning of December in 1983 when MTV finally came into my household. That was because we were offered a really good deal on it, so my mother agreed to it but that’s not important here. What I did discover almost straight away was that while many an act owed their success to MTV, that channel also had the potential to kill an act. In those first few weeks, just about every time we switched on the channel, the video for Big Country’s first big hit, “In a Big Country” would be playing. It got played to the point that whenever it came on, either me or my sister and even my then 12 year old brother would crack the sarcastic comment, “Hey, never seen this one before.” The irony is that when I first heard that song, I thought it was decent enough. I liked Big Country’s Scottish Celtic-folk sound mixed in with a bit of hard rock. It was definitely something I would call new wave. Unfortunately, the over saturation of the song on MTV put me off and as a result, I never got to appreciate how good their debut album, “The Crossing” was.

Another ironic point about this album was that by chance, I saw the video for their second single, “Fields of Fire.” I say by chance because unlike “In a Big Country” they hardly played it and that’s a shame because I preferred “Fields of Fire” to the other one. It is a bit harder. Throughout “The Crossing,” the folk-rock combination weaves its way in, out and around all the tracks. The first three or four tracks edge closer to the more progressive side. There are some very interesting musical arrangements here, especially with the song, “Chance.” Things tend to sound a bit more harder after that, although the track “1000 Stars” does slightly remind of U2. Furthermore, I do like the acoustic folk sound on “The Storm.” But “Harvest Home” is more hard rock for and that is followed by my favourite track, “Lost Patrol.” Another song, I will add to my list of songs that would sound good metalized.

At first, I didn’t know what to think about the closer, “Porrohman.” But once I sat down and really listened to it, I found it to be one of those that absorbs you in and you have no choice but to just enjoy it to its end. A great song to end the album with. One more point I have to make is about the vocals of Stuart Adamson. What makes his vocals good is that they fit right in with the music and that does well here.

Track Listing:

  1. In a Big Country
  2. Inwards
  3. Chance
  4. 1000 Stars
  5. The Storm
  6. Harvest Home
  7. Lost Patrol
  8. Close Action
  9. Fields of Fire
  10. Porrohman
Big Country

Big Country

Stuart Adamson- vocals, guitar, piano, ebow

Bruce Watson- guitar, vocals, ebow, mandolin, sitar

Tony Butler- bass, vocals

Mark Brzezicki- drums, percussion,vocals

Did you know that some people actually consider Big Country to be one hit wonders. I don’t. From what I heard from their later work, they seem to go a bit more harder. Still, they were never one hit wonders. That label kept people like me from hearing how good “The Crossing” actually was.

Next post: Robert Plant- The Principle of Moments

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London