Monday, 4 June 2018

Big Country - The Seer (1987)

One great thing....


Released July 1986

Running time 46.46

This, Big Country's third album, harked back to their debut with its traditional Scottish ambience, cloaked in mythology and folklore. In some ways it is their most obviously Caledonian album with is references to Scottish history, landscape and landmarks.


1. Look Away
2. The Seer
3. The Teacher
4. I Walk The Hill
5. Eiledon
6. One Great Thing
7. Hold The Heart
8. Remembrance Day
9. Red Fox
10. Sailor                                  

In its sound, the album was just as powerful and rocky as its predecessor, “Steeltown”, and also introduced some folky elements into the mix, particularly on the title track, which features Kate Bush on backing vocals. Other highlights are the rousing opener, “Look Away”, the singalong “One Great Thing”, the evocative, anthemic “Remembrance Day” and the two closers “Red Fox” and “Sailor”, both of which start slowly and have extended rocking guitar conclusions, which never fail to inspire.

“Eiledon”, “Red Fox” and “I Walk The Hill” provide the afore-mentioned Caledonian feel and “Hold The Heart” has a tuneful, sad refrain.

I always find this album is very much a winter one. I always tend to play it in November (because of “Remembrance Day”, no doubt ). Apart from that, it just seems to have a winter feel about many of the songs and images. It must be noted, though, that the track was actually written about the late 18th century "Highland Clearances", when many Scots were deported against their will to New Zealand and Canada. 

There was a much better, clearer sound quality after the murk of the previous album and evidence here of the band beginning to diversify a little, instrumentally. There were more acoustic guitars and a bit less “bagpipe” sound. Again, this is another album that shows just what an underrated band Big Country were.

The lyrics to this verse from "The Seer" give a taste of the historical, Celtic feel of much of the material on the album  -

"...Long ago I heard a tale I never will forget
The time was in the telling on the bank the scene was set
The sky was rolling blindly on, the daylight had not gone
She washed her hair among the stones and saw what was to come
All this will pass
There will be blood among the corn and heroes in the hills
But there is more to come my boy before you've had your fill
Men will come and rape the soil as though it were their own
And they will bathe their feet in oil as I have bathed my own...."


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