Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Crossing (1984) – Big Country

Although relegated to one-hit wonder status in the States (“In A Big Country”), Big Country transcended the confines of Billboard chart position and America’s short attention span. While the band’s bagpipe guitar hooks may have come across as gimmicky, they were actually part of a panoply of innovative expression Big Country effectuated through accomplished musicianship. “The Crossing” (which, incidentally, does not appear on their debut The Crossing) bears this out in seven minutes of mini-epic splendor.

The dew of springtime finds a guitar bursting forth, bounding briskly across the hinterland, soon joined by skipping drums and loping bass in kindred sprightliness. Although Stuart Adamson sings with buoyancy, his words betray a burden—a yearning to free a damsel of her crippling constrictions, the bastille of her withdrawal. He dares her to live audaciously, that they might one day reach a confluence, “a beach where we can cross our hearts.” Throughout, drummer Mark Brzezicki imparts vivid tinctures: the metallic pings of a ride cymbal; a hi-hat’s sharp sibilance; liberal doses of china cymbal clang; the agile bustle of a kick drum, somersaulting octobans and tumbling toms; a snare’s pattering ghost notes and percussive slaps. Tony Butler impels his bass on a winged gallop of skimming strides and nimble triplets. The guitars of Adamson and Bruce Watson peal and skirl, bob and flutter, prance and whirl in distorted overtones that reflect off palisades in a canyon of copious delay and reverb. In periodic interludes, the band honors the stylistic signature of Scottish folk dances through variations in meter, rhythm and tempo, before resuming the spree.

Adamson envisions a day when he will traverse the emotional distance to join the reclusive lass as she basks in grandeur, lingers with insouciance. Until that time, however, he likens the quest to converge to a worldly wayfare.

  • Listen to "The Crossing" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
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