Monday, December 3, 2012

Album Review: Steeltown by Big Country

Back in 1983 Big Country released their first album The Crossing and made a splash in the US with their single "In a Big Country." In 1984 they released their follow up Steeltown and it was a complete wash in the US. It was a British centric political album with a heavy sound and the US record companies just didn't think there was a market for it. I stumbled upon a copy of Steeltown in 1985 or 86 in the $1 record bin at Krogers.

For years I have been hoping the album would get a re-release in digital format, and finally that time has come. Now if they'll just release the rest of their music I can finally get a chance to hear some of their later stuff, which I completely missed.

When people point to early Big Country they always tag The Crossing as the album to go to.  It's kind of like people pointing to Murmur as the early R.E.M. album.  I get it, it's the first album with their sound, but that doesn't necessarily means it's the best representative of what the band was about or what they were trying to do, I believe Steeltown is that album.

I have always thought of Steeltown as a type of concept album.  It's the songs of a young man in a Scottish steel town.  The people are angry, love is bitter, and the jobs have gone away.  The ten songs on the album capture all of these things wonderfully.  The lyrics at times can be a bit heavy handed, but for what the album is trying to do it works quite wonderfully.  The heavy guitar work, Stuart Adamson's vocals, it all clicks together in a noisy, melodic way that makes this album hard to forget.

Today we live in a wonderful time where albums like this will not get hidden away somewhere.  With a market, even small, it is worth it for US companies to distribute these type of albums digitally because there is essentially no cost associated with it.  I just hope that we get a chance to experience Big Country's full catalog at some point.

Following the Rhapsody rating method I give it 4 out of 5 stars for Really Good.


  1. This is great news. Congrats to Big Country fans.

  2. I loved this whole review, as well as the song. Some of the best moments in my life have been gleefully dancing, and rarely have I ever danced more gleefully to a song than I did to "In a Big Country," quite often 1987-93. I understand that song was on the previous record, but this post seemed like a good place to thank Big Country again for all of that happiness.

    By the way, I believe--but I could very well be wrong about this--that Matthew and I both bought our vinyl copies of Steeltown from the Park Avenue Kroger in Paducah. I know that I did, and I know Matthew was there. But it could be that Matthew had already bought his copy and then suggested that I buy one, too.