822 831-1 M-1 Steeltown
Produced by Steve Lillywhite
Released on October 1984
UK CHART POSITION #1 . . . US CHART POSITION #70
Find it at GEMM
822 831-1 M-1 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

B ig Country’s second album turned out to be stronger than the first; by mid-album (“Come Back To Me”) it’ll give you chills. This is relentless, romantic, self-righteous rock and roll, just the sort of stuff from which legends are made. Or not. The album topped the UK charts, but Steeltown failed to produce a US single of the first’s magnitude (“In A Big Country”) and they were labeled here a one-hit wonder. Their sound is idiosyncratic, with the e-bows and impassioned vocals suggesting an ethnic U2, but after a few listens the songs of Steeltown reveal themselves: “Girl With Grey Eyes,” “East of Eden,” “Where The Rose Is Sown.” Sometimes an album is so strong that it can forge a lifetime of fealty, and Steeltown is that album for me. As much as I liked “In A Big Country” and their first record, it’s here that Stuart Adamson’s genius shines. Steve Lillywhite’s production is more sophisticated, the sounds richer, the material as principled as poetry of a high order. I always hear a theme on this album, like an English Steinbeck novel about a working-class people duped by the movers and shakers into a war they didn’t want. That theme falls apart some on the second side, but the music still stands tall. It’s clearly a fussed-over album with flawless arrangements, dazzling guitar textures and seamless shifts from verse to chorus. If I were making a shortlist of the best albums from 1984, Steeltown would be near the top (so would Echo’s Ocean Rain). Sadly, our heroes arrived in time for the brave new world and we let them slip away. The world needed more strong, brave voices like Big Country then as now, so if you missed Steeltown the first time, it’s worth revisiting.

822 831-1 M-1 back cover 822 831-1 M-1 lyric sleeve
822 831-1 M-1 back cover 822 831-1 M-1 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. FLAME OF THE WEST    4:57
  2. EAST OF EDEN    4:20
  3. STEELTOWN    4:35
  4. WHERE THE ROSE IS SOWN    4:55
  5. COME BACK TO ME    4:43
  6. TALL SHIPS GO    4:35
  7. GIRL WITH GREY EYES    4:47
  8. RAIN DANCE    4:19
  9. THE GREAT DIVIDE    4:50
  10. JUST A SHADOW    5:35

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  11. BASS DANCE
  12. BELIEF IN THE SMALL MAN
  13. PRAIRIE ROSE
  14. WONDERLAND
  15. WINTER SKY

    All words by Stuart Adamson. All music by Stuart Adamson, Mark Brzezicki, Tony Butler and Bruce Watson.

CREDITS

STUART ADAMSON -- vocals, guitar & e-bow
MARK BRZEZICKI -- drums & percussion
TONY BUTLER -- vocals & bass
BRUCE WATSON -- guitar, e-bow & mandolin
Will Gosling -- engineer
Brian Aris -- photography
J.B. -- sleeve design

return to BIG COUNTRY discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK October 1984 Mercury LP MERH/MERHC 49 gatefold cover, lyric sleeve
US November 1984 Mercury LP/CS 822 831 lyric sleeve
CAN 1984 Vertigo LP VOG-1-3343  
JPN 1984 Mercury LP 25PP-141 lyric insert
NET 1984 Mercury LP 822 831 gatefold cover
UK 1986 Mercury CD 822 831  
UK 1994 Spectrum CD/CS 550 044  
GER April 15, 1996 Polygram CDX 532 234 digital remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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