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The Big Idea


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1 new from $32.96 27 used from $3.50
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Audio CD, May 24, 1990
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 24, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rykodisc
  • ASIN: B000008L5K
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,483 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Levi Stubbs' Tears
2. My Scene
3. Grey Skies
4. Subterranean Homesick Blues
5. Heat Wave
6. The Crying Game
7. Deep Underground
8. Shadowland
9. Mr. Theremin
10. New Jerusalem

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By mop-n-glow on March 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This first real "album" release by Stewart/Gaskin reached a level of sophistication rarely heard on pop/rock albums. Every track sounds like a labor of love, with no fillers. Starting with a lush and emotional exploration of a Billy Bragg song with a touching Tamla Motown theme, "Levi Stubbs' Tears", and continuing with the exquisite ballad "Grey Skies" (about the English weather, and England), "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (a savagely deconstructed, choppy electronic version of the old Dylan song), "Mr. Theremin" (a tribute to the Russian inventor),"The Big Idea" goes from strength to strength, finally culminating in the monumental "New Jerusalem", a sonic epic on the dangers of nationalism complete with 25-voice Welsh choir, the pipe organ of St. Georges Hanover Square, and drums recorded in the Grand Canyon.
The stand-out is a cover of The Blue Nile's "Heatwave", a beefed-up, cinematic (8 minute) expedition through shifting styles, moods and textures that removes all pretense of innocence from the original.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By CH on October 12, 2005
Format: Audio CD
After the audacity of the string of singles preceding this studio album The Big Idea may sound initially a bit more laid back, but it is an album that grows on you and after all these years it is still a pleasure revisiting it. Apart from the compelling Levi Stubbs Tears there are many strengths - Heatwave is boppy with an underlying Barbara Gaskin pathos, New Jerusalem is almost apocalyptic in its breeziness. This sort of duality gives these songs a delicious ambivalence, and Dave Stewarts arrangements continue to delight. Other brilliant songs include Mr Theremin and Shadowland, while Deep Underground and My Scene crank up Stewart's pop quotient but there is always a twist to it. And no one is better suited to sing these songs than Gaskin with her distinctive timbre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By woburnmusicfan on April 12, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This 1990 second record by keyboardist Dave Stewart (National Health, Bruford, NOT the guy from Eurythmics) and singer Barbara Gaskin is a letdown after 1985's "Up from the Dark". There is one fantastic song here, though, and it's the first one, a cover of Billy Bragg's "Levi Stubbs' Tears", a harrowing song of a battered wife who takes refuge in a Four Tops cassette. The arrangement is fantastic, and provides the drama that Gaskin's voice lacks. The song ends with a verse of the Four Tops' "Reach Out, I'll Be There".

The rest of the album is synth-driven soft rock that doesn't stand out from the crowd. It's well recorded, but lacking in memorable songs. Gaskin has a very pleasant voice, but one that doesn't have much power or emotion. Everything she sings sounds the same: vaguely sad. She reminds me a lot of 4AD artist Heidi Berry, except that Berry's material fits this vocal approach better. Other than "Levi Stubbs' Tears", the most notable track is Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues", which is given a bizarro electronica treatment that's more interesting for its weirdness than for being actually good -- it crosses Genesis' "I Can't Dance" electronic percussion with the whitest rap since "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)". Stewart's a great keyboard player, and gets off solos that sound like an electric guitar (such as on "Deep Underground"), but the songwriting he does with Gaskin lacks the melody of his National Health work. Only three songs include real drums, the rest are drum machines. The songs are longer than on "Up from the Dark", with most over 5 minutes long and three over 7 minutes. This album may have some appeal for fans of bands like Glass Hammer or Bankstatement, but make sure to check out some sound clips before you buy (they're on the Stewart-Gaskin web site if they're not here) to make sure it's something YOU'LL like.

(1=poor 2=mediocre 3=pretty good 4=very good 5=phenomenal)
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By Michael Northrop on January 9, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This collaboration between Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin is very different. It has a unique prog sound and unusual subject matter. Jerusalem is the gem of the CD. There are a couple of oddities in the mix but overall, it is a fun CD to listen to - multiple times.
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