Friday, 15 June 2018

Big Country - Peace In Our Time (1988)


  

Released September 1988

“Peace In Our Time”, Big Country’s fourth album, from 1988, was very unfairly given a critical panning. I have absolutely no idea why, for me, it is their best album. It has some excellent rock numbers, but, more appealing to me are some genuinely moving and sensitive songs. As opposed to releasing another similar album to their first three - skirling guitars, rousing Caledonian anthems and a rock feel, they decided to diversify slightly and go down the more folky, melodic route.

TRACK LISTING

1. King Of Emotion
2. Broken Heart (Thirteen Valleys)
3. Thousand Yard Stare
4. From Here To Eternity
5. Everything I Need
6. Peace In Our Time
7. Time For Leaving
8. River Of Hope
9. In This Place
10. I Could Be Happy Here
11. The Travellers

Not that there weren’t a few tub thumpers on the album, though - the album kicks off with the “Honky Tonk Women” Stonesy riff of the pop rock of “King Of Emotion”, an excellent, rousing anthem. The two next songs are both quiet, understated, melodic and thoughtful songs - the  attractive, Celtic air of “Broken Heart (Thirteen Valleys)” and the gentle, but also rocking and Celtic in places “Thousand Yard Stare”. How anyone can put these songs down is beyond me. They are fine folky rock songs, lyrically astute, evocative and well-delivered. “Broken Heart” has a rocky, upbeat drum-dominated chorus part anyway. It also has an excellent “pan-pipe” fade -out instrumental bit. The band are diversifying, good for them. Nevertheless, the Celtic influence is still clearly there. Also, I have to say that the sound quality on this album is the best on any of the band’s albums so far, despite contemporary criticisms of it, some from within the band itself. Have they not listened to “Steeltown’s” muffled-muddy sound? The instrumentation n this album is excellent, the best I have heard from the band so far, it really is. They do use a fair few other guest musicians though, to be fair. This adds to the improved, more diverse sound.

 “From Here To Eternity” is also a solid piece of guitar rock, with a hook of a chorus and a killer swirling, lyrical intro, while “Everything I Need” is another subtle, quite folky ballad, with some crystal clear acoustic guitar. “Eternity” would certainly not be out of place on the much-vaunted previous album, “The Seer”.

The title track is an excellent, inspirational rocker, again with an addictive, singalong, fist-pumping chorus. Like “King Of Emotion”, a live concert favourite. “Time For Leaving” was not a popular song with some critics. I have no idea why, it is a vibrant historical tale of emigrants from Scotland in search of work, with some great guitar and another fine chorus.

“River Of Hope” has a catchy drum sound to the whole track and a general upbeat feel, it is a powerful, pounding rocker, while the final two tracks are two of my favourites. The moving and beautiful “In This Place” -

All the years I lived in this place
The people I knew here
I loved every face
I loved the parties, the funerals, and fights
The supermarket needs my land
I have no rights.
..”

Those are heartfelt, socially conscious lyrics. People may try to put them down. Not me. Not for one second. Stuart Adamson should have been given far more credit. Some of his songs are genuinely moving.

“I Could Be Happy Here” is from a similar mould, but ends an album tied up with historical leaving of Scotland on an optimistic note, although the general feel of the album is one if sadness. I truly feel this was Big Country’s best album. Not a bagpipe guitar riff in earshot though, but in many ways it was their most Scottish album. The Caledonian/Celtic airs, ambiences and references are all still there, just as strongly as on many of the other albums, if not more. Whatever anyone says, this is a good album, in my opinion.

Finally, the Celtic-flavoured instrumental “The Travellers” is included at the end on some releases not on others. Among the bonus material on the “deluxe edition” is a typical old-style Big Country rocker in “When A Drum Beats” and another solid one in “Age Of Man”. Both are worth checking out.

B-

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