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Classic Scottish Albums: The Crossing

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Davie Scott Davie Scott | 10:20 UK time, Friday, 11 June 2010

Following on from his post about Donovan Davie Scott wrote and sent me a blog about Big Country's The Crossing which is featured in Classic Scottish Albums on Monday 14 June.

Classic Scottish Albums: The Crossing

I've never been very good with brainteasers, puzzles or questions of any kind. I once completed the Glasgow Herald Quick Crossword but by and large when it comes to brain games I just can't see the wood for the trees. It is this flaw that led me to miss what would have undoubtedly been the journalistic scoop of the year. Forget Gordon Brown and Gillian Duffy, this would have had 'em talking.

In preparation for the upcoming edition of Classic Scottish Albums we spoke with producer-to-the-stars Steve Lillywhite about his role in Big Country's The Crossing.

'So what are you working on at the moment?' I asked as microphones were being set up.

'Well, Davie', he replied 'if I told you I'd probably have to kill you, but I will give you a clue. It's a very famous band, one of whom has just left.' As you might imagine, this quite ruined the interview for me. Wonderful insights and gems of new information on Big Country flew over my head as I struggled in vain to engage my brain on the mystery band. The next morning I told my friend and UWS colleague Paul McGeechan of the exchange.

'That'll be Oasis' he fired back. Very dispiriting. As it turned out a few days later, that'll be Beady Eye. Great name for a band, right? He also told me a story about Big Country. When Paul's group Friends Again (one of the great under rated Scottish groups) were recording in RAK Studios London in 1983 Big Country were recording across the corridor. The Friends Again guys peered through the famous porthole studio windows of RAK one day to see what was happening. In the control room was a red haired Scotsman in his stocking soles dancing violently on a leather sofa while playing a guitar solo. The guitar player was Bruce Watson and he soon beckoned the boys in for some exiled-jocks-in-London banter.

'Would you like a drink, lads?' he asked, beckoning to two large crates of lager on the floor. Steve Lillywhite confirmed that the lager was Tennent's. Other brands are available.

I begin to think I'm the only musician of my generation who didn't know Stuart Adamson, so overwhelmed have we been with people talking about him over the past weeks. Carol Laula described being on tour with Big Country as akin to being given 'a big cuddle' and this was typical of people's recollection. The music of the band, and Stuart's own story in particular seem to inspire a warmth and raw emotion in people. I once sat with music industry veteran Ronnie Gurr talking about Stuart's songs, and Ronnie was suddenly in floods of unstoppable tears. And when you think about the music, the yearning melodies, lyrics about journeys and home (and journeys home) it's hard to think of many other folk who wore their soul on their sleeve quite like Stuart Adamson. Stuart's daughter Kirstin, who was kind enough to speak to us for the programme, has some of that same lonesome feel in the music she makes with her own wondrous Gillyflowers. But as folk have been quick to point out this is not just the story of a singer / songwriter; it's the story of a band who were, in their prime (like another CSA inductee The Proclaimers,) the UNSTOPPABLE FORCE.

So let's kneel down and dedicate Classic Scottish Albums: The Crossing to Tony Butler, Mark Brzezicki and Bruce Watson (who kindly walked our Victoria round the kingdom of Fife) and most of all to Stuart who I now, more than ever, wish I'd known.
Davie Scott.

The cover of Big Country's debut album 'The Crossing'

The cover of Big Country's debut album 'The Crossing'


Davie Scott presents Classic Scottish Albums on BBC Radio Scotland, Mondays, 1130-1200

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Brilliant album and I saw them twice on the supporting tour both times at what I think was then called Tiffanys in Sauchiehall Street (I'll be corrected no doubt)must have been around July 1983.

    Stuart Adamson was brilliant not just with the Skids and Big Country but with the Raphaels and no doubt other things as well.

    I'm pretty sure he knicked Mark Breziki and Tony Butler from sessions with pete Townsend and it is good that they chose the right path!

  • Comment number 2.

    #1

    So Stuart and Bruce were a pair of knickers?

    >8-D

  • Comment number 3.

    I remember with great fondness the Skids at Balloch Bear Park ( circa 1980 correct me if wrong), having the talent that Stuart hadut there I can also understand his battle with inner demons , Jobson out front and still oot there

  • Comment number 4.

  • Comment number 5.

    Norrie - I understand that Mark and Tony were the hottest little rhythm section in town at the time - I think they were known as rhythm for hire or something like that. They must have loved BCs music to give up the lucrative London session life. You could make a packet doing that back in the day. I once hired a guy called Luis Jardim to come play bongos on a Chewy Raccoon track. They guy came with his own assistant, wheeling flightcases of percussion with him. He'd basically go from one session to another, all day, every day. Tambourine? No problem. Now you want sleigh bells? Okay, but that'll be time and a half again. Bongos? Great, double time again. I digress but you get the picture.

 

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