Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Big Country - The Crossing Deluxe Edition Review

"The sound made pictures. It spread out wide landscapes. Great dramas were played out under it's turbulent skies. There was a romance and reality, truth and dare. People being people, no heroes just you and me, like it always is."

Many many words have been written about Big Country's timeless debut album "The Crossing" which was first released in 1983. I would even go as far as saying it is an album that, in one form or another, probably graces most of our collections already so is there really any more to say about it? Well other than to say that this remaster sounds warm and fuller than the previous one then the answer is probably no!

There are some strange omissions like the absence of non album single "Wonderland" (included of the previous version) and also not to include the 12" mixes as a bonus especially the brilliant extended mix of "Fields Of Fire". We do get some additions over the previous release including a live rendition of the Smokey Robinson classic "Tracks Of My Tears" but the main interest for fans will be disc 2 which is rammed with demos and rarities.

The frustrating thing is the lack of information on the sleeve about what you are actually listening to. The Amazon listing supplies some illumination stating there are demos recorded by John Brandt and mixes by Chris Thomas and we have included this information on our post regarding the release of this album. The first 3 tracks ("Angle Park", "Harvest Home" and "We Could Laugh") would appear to be Portastudio recordings made by Bruce and Stuart and despite the quality warning on the sleeve it is only really on "Harvest Home" that you notice it.

So do the demos really matter? Well they won't change your opinion of "The Crossing" but they do provide a tantalising glimpse into the development and progression of the band and the songs building up to the albums release. We have extended and shortened versions as well as tempo changes to the finalised songs, "The Storm" for instance clocks in at a mere 2 minutes rather than the eventual 6! "Angle Park" is missing the "Love Will Tear Us Apart" guitar melody and "In A Big Country" is without it's drum intro. We have a few different versions of "Lost Patrol","Inwards", "1000 Stars" and "Fields Of Fire" the latter is represented by a demo version and an early BBC live appearance. The demo is noticeably lacking the vitality of the finished classic and also the famous yell of "Fire"!!! The John Brandt demo of "Lost Patrol" is extended and opens with a brilliant celtic rock guitar part that would have done Eric Bell proud in the early Thin Lizzy!

So do you need this second disc? Well to be quite honest that depends on how you define need, as a bonus it is a great piece of history and will be of interest to all fans but it shouldn't be your sole reason for purchasing this edition. However as you will want the remastered version of "The Crossing" then it's a welcome addition to your collection.

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