I was lucky enough to see Big Country a few times before and as they were making the breakthrough into chart and mainstream success. I was delighted for Stuart Adamson, in that he proved he could make it in the pop/rock world without relying on Richard Jobson, the effervescent and show-stealing frontman of The Skids.
Harvest Home was chosen by Mercury Records as the debut single. It felt like a strange one as so many other songs, as played live, seemed more suited in terms of hooks, choruses and anthemic nature. But then again, the sound attached to Harvest Home, akin to bagpipes being played on an electric guitar, had a sort of novelty factor which made for talking points in the music papers.
I still think Harvest Home is one of the weaker songs on the debut album, albeit it’s been a long time since I listened to it from start to finish.
I did buy the 12″ on its release,
mp3: Big Country – Harvest Home
What it didn’t do was make it into many people’s homes, with it failing to make any inroads in the charts on its release in September 1982. But any fears that the execs had got it wrong by taking a punt on Big Country were soon allayed as three of the next four singles, released between February 1983 and January 1984, went Top 10, while debut album The Crossing went Top 3, and spent well over a year in the Top 75.
I still reckon Harvest Home is one of the weaker tracks on the debut album. Here’s the two b-sides, neither of which made it on to the album:-
mp3: Big Country – Balcony
mp3: Big Country – Flag of Nations (Swimming)
I haven’t heard in these in decades until pulling this post together. I’m struck by the fact that both of them wouldn’t have been all that out of place in the later albums by The Skids, albeit Balcony has more of the guitar-sound associated with Big Country – I also, on hearing it again, recall it being played at many of the early gigs; Flag of Nations (Swimming) on the other hand has that keyboard-led sound Bill Nelson helped bring to The Skids on Days in Europa. If you’d played me the track, which is an instrumental, I’d never in maybe a hundred guesses have come up with the correct name of the band making the music.
File the b-side under unique, (for Big Country).
PS : I was away for a few days at the beginning of the week, and apologies for whatever it was that went wrong with the file for ‘Freakscene’. It should be ok to listen to now.
Also, not having the laptop with me meant that I couldn’t do anything to add to the pre-readied posts from Monday – Thursday, which meant last night was the first I personally could mention the sad and what feels like sudden passing of Cathal Coughlan, the news of which left me stunned and shocked.
My thanks to those of you who added tributes via the comments section the other day. I intend to do my best to say a few more words, via a post, in due course.