Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"In a Big Country" by Big Country

One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  1665
Date:  10/22/1983
Debut:  73
Peak:  17
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  By 1981, this Scottish rock band had settled on a line-up and signed on to Mercury Records. Their first single, "Harvest Home," didn't make much of an impression, but their second single, "Fields of Fire (400 Miles)," took off and hit #10 on the UK chart. Their debut album The Crossing followed soon after and it became a platinum seller there reaching #3. The album's third single, which would reach #17 in the UK, would end up being the first issued in the US. The song's unique sound captivated US audiences and soon it was a #3 Rock track and a Top 20 Pop hit. The album also fared well in the States getting to #18 and going gold. Unfortunately, this would end up being their lone hit in the US and despite two other lower-charting singles, the band got tagged a one-hit wonder. They came in at #40 on VH1's list of the 100 greatest one-hit wonders.

ReduxReview:  Oh, that sound! It didn't take me long to get to the record store soon after I heard this track to buy the album. I was totally obsessed with it for quite a while and this track was certainly the highlight. The massive production was amazing and the guitars cooler than shit. I was at college when this came out (it was a music college) and I remember many folks trying to mimic the lead guitar sound. For a while, most anytime you walked into one of the local instrument shops, someone was playing around and trying to do that guitar line. The band kind of faded quickly in the US, which is too bad because they had some solid material on follow-up albums. Regardless, this song and album remain top favorites of mine from the decade.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  The one thing from this single that caught everyone's ears was the instrument that sounded like bagpipes. You could tell it wasn't really bagpipes, but what was it? Turns out it was just a guitar. The band developed that sound using various effects and pedals. It's been mentioned (and even credited on the album) that an e-bow was used as well. The e-bow (short for electronic bow) was a handheld device used when playing the guitar that made the instrument sound more like strings or a synthesizer. However, it seems the e-bow was mainly used during the recording of the album for atmospherics and was not actually a part of creating the unique sound. In a live setting, the guitarist only uses the effects/pedals to achieve the bagpipe sound. It was key in making this single stand out and become a hit.


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