Big Country – Steeltown

ARTIST: Big Country 220px-Big_Country_-_Steeltown
TITLE: Steeltown
YEAR RELEASED: 1984
CHART ACTION: #70 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: East of Eden (#17 UK), Where the Rose Is Sown (#29 UK), Just a Shadow (#26 UK). Wonderland (#86 US, #48 US Modern Rock, #8 UK) is a bonus track as a UK single and an EP release in the US that’s not available except as bonus tracks on their first two albums.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: In the UK, probably Flame of the West and Steeltown.
LINEUP: Stuart Adamson, Mark Brzezicki, Tony Butler, Bruce Watson
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Their unique guitar sound and Scotland-centered songwriting still finds favor in the UK, but loses support in the US as they now become more of a cult band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Did you like the deep cuts on The Crossing? If so, you’ll like Steeltown. If not, then you probably didn’t bother with this one. Radio picked up “Wonderland” a bit, but that wasn’t on this record, and they avoided the UK singles. MTV played “Where the Rose Is Sown” some, but not a lot.

There may be a reason for this. To casual fans, this was basically ‘second verse, same as the first’. There was no novelty or kick for them to stand out on the radio, and in reality, the sound is very similar to their first album. In fact, it’s more monolithic in terms of the sound.

Lyrically, it’s more focused – it’s really focused on Scotland and the issues therein. For those who like the twin guitar sound, there’s plenty of that. What’s missing are hooks and standout songs. Good, not great, throughout.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title track is the story of Corby, a town in Scotland that was the site of a steel mill that was built in 1935 and provided work during the Depression to many Scots, but then withered and died in the 1980’s. Over here, it could be a song about Youngstown.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a couple floating around with half of the Wonderland EP, B-sides and radio mixes.

GRADE: B: Again, did you like the deep cuts from the first album? If so, by all means. If not, you may want to test spin it.

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