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      Big Country

      Big Country

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      An enduring cult band, Big Country was known for its anthemic songs and bagpipe-like guitar sound. Founder and frontman Stuart Adamson-who was ironically the group's only Scotsman-had previously been lead guitarist in The Skids, a new-wave band with arena/art-rock ambitions (one of The Skids' UK hits, "Here Come the Saints," was covered by U2 long afterward). After three albums with that band, Adamson left in 1980 over a fallout between him and lead singer Richard Jobson. Adamson and co-guitarist Bruce Watson started a formative lineup of Big Country soon afterward; the group then found its best-known lineup with the addition of bassist Tony Butler and drummer Mark Brzezicki. The 1982 debut single, "Harvest Home" introduced the trademark elements of bagpipe guitars (usually achieved by use of an E-bow), optimistic mood and Steve Lillywhite's widescreen production. This and two further UK hits, "Fields of Fire" and "In a Big Country" were on the debut album The Crossing which was also Big Country's biggest hit worldwide, going Top 20 in America. The sound and spirit were maintained for a followup single "Wonderland" and two further albums, Steeltown and The Seer (the latter including Kate Bush on backing vocals). This is considered to be Big Country's classic era. That came to an abrupt end with with the 1988 album and Warner Brothers debut Peace in Our Time, produced by German keyboardist Peter Wolf (who'd done Starship's "We Built This City"). Designed as a worldwide breakthrough, its commercialized sound backfired, as did a press junket where unprepared music journalists were taken to Russia. Though later albums found them back on track musically, they never recaptured America even after Adamson relocated to Nashville. By now the singer/guitarist was struggling with depression and alcoholism, and after playing a farewell tour with the band, Adamson disappeared and was found dead in a hotel room in Hololulu in December 2001. The surviving members went onto other gigs; both Butler and Brzezicki played with Pete Townshend for a time (they also respectively joined the Pretenders and Procol Harum). However Big Country did a reunion tour in 2007 with Butler singing; and then reformed fulltime in 2010 with Mike Peters-from a similarly anthemic band, the Alarm-as frontman; this lineup made the album The Journey. Peters was let go afterward and Butler departed; the band continued with new singer Simon Hough and Watson and Brzezicki the remaining originals.

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      No Score Yet 58% Saturday Night Live Music Performer 1983