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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Crossing
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The most startling thing I discovered while reading the previous reviews is that band leader Stuart Adamson is dead, and by his own hand at that. What a tragic loss. I would never have thought he was troubled by typical rock icon sins.
I first discovered Big Country as a high school junior in 1986 and it was an instant attraction for me. The big guitar sound, with celtic rhythms reminiscent of U2 and Simple Minds just pleased my soul. The album was The Seer, which I think is the only album that surpasses this marvelous debut from 1983.
I found The Crossing going cheap on tape shortly after that and was blown away that Big Country could deliver so well on another album. Both are five star efforts. The copy I have on tape is rare in that it has bonus 12 inch mixes of In a Big Country and Fields of Fire, as well as Angle Park which I always assumed was on the original album anyway.
I lament the lack of those huge, blistering 12 inch versions on this latest remastered CD, but there is the much appreciated addition of the title track. I always wondered why it was left off the original album. I had discovered it previously on an EP with Big Country's instrumental version of Smokey Robinson's Tracks of My Tears. Listen to how the mournful Chance ends on the album - he's starting to go into Tracks of My Tears. Lovely.
The best song on this album is The Storm, a haunting epic with different guitar melodies introduced then layered on top of each other. Stuart Adamson truly had the most unique guitar sound in rock music. And Big Country had the best drummer in the business, Mark Brzezicki (what a name!). If you like this album, check out Brzezicki's drum opus, The Sailor, on The Seer album.
I wish more than ever I had taken the opportunity to see Big Country live while I was living in London. Farewell, Stuart Adamson. You made lovely music.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Cynically, one must wonder how the long-awaited remastered version of this record has come out just a couple of months after the sad death of band leader Stuart Adamson. I was the arts editor at the University of Hawaii campus newspaper when this record first came out in 1983. Were it not for the expensive foil printing on the royal blue album jacket, I may not have noticed it at all amongst the dozens of review copies that arrived every other week. Since Big Country was produced, like U2, by Steve Lillywhite, and gushed forth with spiritual, anthemic (albeit Scottish, not Irish) rock songs, like U2, I tabbed them as Polygram's attempt to cash in on U2's soaring popularity.
Then I realized the rhythm section was the same as had played on Pete Townsend's solo record, and that the other two members of the band were hot guitarists, apparently psychically linked, so blisteringly smooth were their arrangements. For pure craftsmanship, most of The Crossing I liked, and have liked, better than the U2 album of that year, The Unforgettable Fire.
Now, U2 was on its way to Honolulu for a concert and I openly dreamed that Big Country would be opening for its labelmates. But the band never made it to Hawaii, and as far as I can tell, Stuart Adamson was making his first visit to Hawaii when he went there and committed suicide in December 2001. So much for my personal irony.
The glory of this remastered CD is that it finally puts on CD all the power and passion of the album. The existing CD pressing was God awful, the sound was compressed, the cymbal crashes of drummer Mark Brezecki (sp) sounded like tin foil being ripped.
This new version is a revelation: lots of low end punch, each guitar part can be heard separate from the other. Vocals are about the same, but the dynamic range has been restored. Drum-heavy songs such as "In A Big Country," "Inwards" "1000 Stars" and "Porroh Man" will vibrate the speakers out of your car doors. Brezecki is like Carl Palmer and John Bonham in one body.
The bonus tracks can qualify as lost classics, particularly the long-absent title track, "The Crossing," which is seven minutes of all there is to like about the band: Adamson dreaming about some peaceful, easy feeling he never found, he and Bruce Watson playing double guitar leads, the whole band cranking out this sound that never caught on with the American mainstream.
Ultimately, Big Country is an acquired taste. Their use of E-bows make their guitars sound like tortured bagpipes and Adamson's Brogue accent makes his most impassioned words come out unintelligible at times. He pronounces "iron" as "I run," for example. Luckily, lyrics have been included.
Hands down, this is the most unique 80s band ever.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2003
Format: Audio CD
An absolute powerhouse of a debut album, THE CROSSING introduced the world to Big Country's uniquely heartfelt and soaring guitar-rock sound. Stuart Adamson became an instant guitar-god to millions of rock fans who had suffered through years of disco and ersatz new wave just waiting for such a new hero. While his rock star eminence was far too brief, Adamson fit the bill remarkably well, being both an electrifying guitarist and a gifted lyricist with a (seemingly) sincere populist bent. In addition to Adamson, the band featured co-founder Bruce Watson (guitar) and proficient session players Tony Butler (bass) and Mark Brzesicki (drums). This same lineup, barring a few brief shakeups, stayed steady all the way through to the group's tragic final days in late 2001.

All of the songs on THE CROSSING are superb, ranging in tone from stirring anthems like "In A Big Country", "Fields of Fire", "A Thousand Stars" and "Inwards", to more down-to-earth and surprisingly romantic ballads like "Chance" and "The Storm". Most of the music here has a deep emotional warmth that immediately set the band apart from many of the other stadium-rock bands of the time. Big Country didn't really fit in with any preconceived idea of what constituted an "80's band" and, consequently, twenty years later THE CROSSING still sounds as unique and vital as the day it was released.

Big Country was prolific during its first years of existence, producing lots of great music that didn't make it to any of their albums. The CD reissue of THE CROSSING contains five excellent additional tracks, four of them taken from the superb follow-up WONDERLAND EP, the title track of which is arguably Big Country's most stirring moment. These four terrific songs all seem to be of a piece with the rest of the album, making THE CROSSING even greater than ever. (The fifth "new" track is the re-recorded single version of "Chance".)
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Since Amazon combines reviews for all versions of a particular title, this review attempts to sort out the 4 different CD releases of Big Country's masterpiece debut. My impressions of the different remastering treatments are, of course, subjective. But the factual details here should help you discern which versions other reviewers might be referring to.

First Blue Version, 10 tracks, 1990 (812 870-2) - "The Crossing" was originally released on vinyl and cassette in 1983, but it was 7 years before its first CD treatment. The copyright date on the packaging and disc is 1983, with no indication that the pressing was, in fact, 1990. This version was manufactured in West Germany with a blue cover (like the vinyl sleeve) and a white back/spine. The disc itself is silver with black, red, and gray printing (with what some call the Mercury "atom" design). This disc contained the same 10 tracks as the vinyl release, although the order differed by switching "Fields of Fire" and "1000 Stars." While not as "loud" as later versions, this CD is of excellent quality, and is worth seeking out for that "vintage" (pre-over-remastering) sound.
1) In a Big Country
2) Inwards
3) Chance
4) 1000 Stars
5) The Storm
6) Harvest Home
7) Lost Patrol
8) Close Action
9) Fields of Fire
10) Porrohman

Red Version, 14 tracks, 1996 (532 323-2) - The 1996 remastered edition supplemented the 1990 track listing with 4 additional tracks (3 of which were B-sides from prior singles). This version switched to a red cover, and the disc itself is red, which might serve as a warning to AVOID this (as well as the other 1996 Big Country remasters). This is a perfect example of remastering gone horribly wrong: More apparent volume, but less dynamics and horribly muffled tone. There is no reason to buy this version, as the new 2012 anniversary edition contains all of these tracks with much better sound.
1-10) -same as 1990 release-
11) Angle Park
12) All Of Us
13) The Crossing
14) Heart And Soul

Second Blue Version, 15 tracks, 2002 (314 584 117-2) - The 2002 remastered edition supplemented the 1990 track listing with the 1984 EP, "Wonderland," including a new single version of "Chance." The cover is blue like the original release; but this time around, the back/spine and disc are also blue. This remastering is a vast improvement over the 1996 tonal debacle, although it still suffers from over compression (less dynamics in favor of apparent volume), making it inferior to the original 1990 release. Note that 3 of the bonus tracks on this version ("Wonderland," "All Fall Together," and the single version of "Chance") do not appear on the later 2012 anniversary edition, making this version of some interest to completist fans.
1-10) -same as 1990 release-
11) Wonderland
12) All Fall Together
13) Angle Park
14) The Crossing
15) Chance (single version)

Green Version, 2 discs with 17 tracks each, 2012 (278 908-7) - The 2012 release is the 2-disc 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition with a green cover and green discs, manufactured in the European Union using fold-out Digipak packaging. The first disc supplements the 1990 track listing with 7 B-sides from the original singles. This edition sounds fantastic, finally improving (arguably) on the original 1990 release by adding additional clarity and definition without excessive compression. Thankfully, this also renders the 1996 "red" version completely obsolete, as it contains all 4 bonus tracks from that release. However, as mentioned above, it does NOT include 3 of the bonus tracks from the 2002 version.
1-10) -same as 1990 release-
11) Balcony
12) Flag of Nation
13) Angle Park
14) All Of Us
15) Heart And Soul
16) The Crossing
17) Tracks of My Tears (live)

The second disc of the 30th Anniversary edition is 12 demos, 1 live track, and 4 studio tracks produced by the legendary Chris Thomas before Steve Lillywhite was enlisted. While the real listening pleasures are all on the first disc, this second disc makes an excellent historical supplement.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Though I tend to lean towards the metal/blues/jazz section of most of my personal recordings, this one caught my eye (and ears). Released in 1983, Polygram records probably just wanted to get in on the then current new wave of alternative music that was sweeping not only the U.S., but the world as well with the release of THE CROSSING.
Enter Big Country. Four lads from Scotland with a passion for their music and a very unique sound. The line up consisted of Bruce Watson-guitar, E-Bow, and vocals, Stuart Adamson-also guitar, E-Bow, piano, Tony Butler- Bass and vocals, and mark Brezezicki-drums. It was the E-Bows that made things very interesting.
The CD opens with the familiar 80's anthem "In a Big Country", with a drum track that is both invigorating as much as it is innovative. The song is about dreaming and hope, it is fast paced but positive, and many who partied in the 80's remember it as a great dance and party song. A variety of emotions are displayed on this CD. "Chance" in particular, is a sad song of a single mother abandoned. "Harvest Home" appears to be about societal life in old Scotland, that is delivered with once again equal passion. "Fields of Fire" seems like a song that declares the resolute Scot's will always see themselves through any seperation or hardships. Every song on this CD has the eerie sounding (but also noteworthy and catchy) E-Bows, that somehow enabled the guitars in this band to sound like electric bagpipes. I know that may sound unusual, but Big Country experimented here greatly, and it paid off. This is a unique recording about social consciousness and never giving up. Very few bands have been able to put their heritage as a musical/rock stamp on their recordings. Big Country did so with a flourish. This recording stands out as a great example of what dedicated musicians who are truly committed to their project can accomplish. Though it has a (somewhat) hard edge to it, the innovation in recording techniques cannot be ignored.
Stuart Adamson is no longer with us. He apparently committed suicide in Honolulu, Hawaii, just a few months ago. While that is indeed sad to report, Big Country have left behind a spirited example of passionate musicianship that is rare with so many of todays bands.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2002
Format: Audio CD
An excellent album by a band that should have been much more in the US than they ever were. This is an album that takes your emotions from the high of "In A Big Country" to the mournful sounds of "Angle Park". Considering all the so called "rock gods" that are hailed today as icons such as "Guns and Roses and Backstreet Boys" Big Country had far and away more depth and passion than most bands around.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2005
Format: Audio CD
i'm in the minority here, but this band is my all-time fave and my collection of music from all kinds of bands now spans 3 decades and about 1,000 albums, cds, singles, etc. i listen to everything from the who to xtc, to the clash, the jam, stiff little fingers, etc to newer stuff like the killers, the departure, nada surf, etc.

this album from 1983 leaves me almost speechless. put on the headphones and drift away listening to "the storm" - one of the band's favorite songs of the era. crank it up during "harvest home", "1000 stars", and of course the singles that everyone knows. the depth of the production also shines through (thank you steve lillywhite - you rule!). speaking of steve, i once read that he openly wept upon hearing the demos for these songs and keep in mind he had worked with U2, the stones, xtc and numerous others by the time this album was made.

the songs, stuart's unique voice, obtuse but interesting lyrics, and amazing guitar work all come together with bruce's backing guitars and tony and mark's perfect rhythm.

these guys were the epitome of under-rated, and were cast in the US as 'one hit wonders', which is sad really. their career spanned to 2000 and they made several fine albums with dozens of unforgettable songs.

cheers to everyone who appreciates this music.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2004
Format: Audio CD
All the other reviewers have pretty much said what needs to be said about "The Crossing"; I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus. This is not just one of the best recordings of the '80s; it's one of the best rock recordings ever, living right next door to U2's "Joshua Tree." Yes, the bagpipe guitars and Adamson's heart-in-his-throat voice would be overwhelming in themselves--but they are matched by the fluid bass, the thunderous drums (I still remember the first time I heard "Porrohman" and "Wonderland" and thought the drums were going to explode out of the speakers), and the wailing harmonies. I wore out two vinyl LPs of this before getting the CD.
Just one more note: The other reviewers are also correct in noting that this recording hangs together incredibly well. Any of the songs could have made it onto a "Best Of" collection. I personally prefer this recording to the "Greatest Hits." THAT recording shows how Big Country evolved and changed from album to album (and is also worthwhile to own), but THIS recording shows them truly at their best.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This truly amazing album has been given a sonic overhaul and sounds amazing compared to the old cd version I've been enjoying for the last 10 years. One of the most amazingly talented bands of the 80's, this cd positively sparkles with great hooks and one of the best rhythm sections in the business. Not a bad song on the album.
As if this weren't enough, the addition of several bonus tracks including the title track 'The Crossing' is a real treat. Some can be found on the 'Steeltown' cd, but some I'd never heard before, including "Angle Park", one of their best songs. A terrific driving album.
Do yourself a favor, and order this album immediately, then finish reading the rest of the reviews, secure in the knowledge you will soon be enjoying a rock classic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Big Country is a terrific band. They honestly don't sound like any other music maker I have encountered. This is a powerful debut album. Each song on "The Crossing" is a superior and heartfelt composition. However, despite this German-made import (red background with album title insignia) being labeled as "remastered," I must say that several songs have too much bass and not enough treble, especially on "In a Big Country." In this song, even with the bass and treble controls set at equal levels on my receiver, the guitars seems to be drowned in booming bass lines. BUT, overall, it is a satisfying purchase and it boasts four additional songs, which are pretty good too, and which I assume originally to have been B-sides.
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