Reason #298 Why The ’80’s Didn’t Suck: Steeltown

Big-Country-Steeltown-487078Right up front let me thank Rich Kamerman, curator of the great Kamer Tunes, for getting me to see there was more to Big Country than their debut album (The Crossing). When I was just a wee lad I played The Crossing to death. I knew every inch of that record, and when they released the EP Wonderland in early 1984 I bought it with great anticipation. I liked the lead song and the rest of the EP but it didn’t seem to grab me the same way The Crossing did, and being 16 and being blessed with the attention span of a Tsetse fly I dropped the band like a hot potato.

Shame on me, this album is every bit The Crossing’s equal, and probably the stronger musical statement of the 2 if I’m honest. The ‘hits’– East Of Eden, When The Rose Is Sown and Just A Shadow–are terrific, anthemic rockers, and the rest, honestly, are equally terrific. It seems to me that they have toned down on the E-bow a bit here, and the lyrics seem to take a more political stance than those on the debut. The title track, to me, is the best thing on the record. Here’s a sample of the lyric:

Here I stand with my own kin
At the end of everything
finally the dream has gone
I’ve nothing left to hang upon
I came here with all my friends
Leaving behind the wait of years
Leaving alone in a flood of tears
Out on a prospect that never ends
All the landscape was the mill
Grim as the reaper with a heart like hell
With a river of bodies
Flowing with the bell
We built it all with our own hands
But who could know we built on sand
But now it’s barren all to soon

Working class poetry, and the rest of the album is just as poignant. I’m just now getting reacquainted with the music of Big Country, and thus have decided to purchase the deluxe editions of their first 2 albums. The second disk on the Steeltown Deluxe Edition contains that WONDERLAND EP and it is nice to have it all together in one neat, tidy package. I am looking forward to exploring more albums from this band, with the help of Rich, of course, to guide my way.

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