Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Stuart Adamson – In A Big Country

I have just finished reading Allan Glen’s good biography of Stuart Adamson.  With no new interviews with band members granted to the author, official biographies of The Skids and Big Country are due though no one knows when, he has relied on a series of interviews with people close to Stuart and extracts from past band interviews.

In such circumstances it is a credit that the book provides enough to allow the reader to gain some insight into the man himself who thrived on his music, his family and his love for Dunfermline Athletic FC.

From his initial success with The Skids through Big Country to his relocation to Nashville and subsequent projects it is obvious that he always retained a passion for his music, however, he was less comfortable of  being “famous” yet craved recognition as a good songwriter and performer.

Whilst it is never easy to determine what may drive any individual towards total alcohol dependency and thereafter a tragic suicide it is certain that the above conflict and an increasing remoteness from his family played a part.

Adamson was married twice. He also had two children, born to his first wife Sandra in 1982 and 1985. In 1996, Adamson split with Sandra and moved to Nashville.

There he remarried, and founded his final band, the alternative country band The Raphaels, a duo of Adamson and Nashville songwriter Marcus Hummon.

On 16 December 2001 he was found dead, after committing suicide by hanging in a room at the Best Western Plaza Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the time of death he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.279%.

Musically for me he peaked early via two great debut albums via The Skids “Scared To Dance” and Big Country’s “The Crossing”.

Their second album was a disappointment for me, however, as a band they hit a commercial high with their third album “The Seer” which sold well all around the world making them a headline attraction in the US where I saw them live in San Diego in 1986.

There were two big hits from this album “One Great Thing” which was used in a television advertising campaign for Tennents Lager and the world wide hit “Look Away”

My favourite Big Country music is their soundtrack for the film “Restless Natives” which was the ideal medium for their sound.

As the 80’s merged into the 90’s record sales for Big Country diminished, however, they remained a sought after live attraction both as headliners and support acts for many including on two ocassions The Rolling Stones.

If you only want to own one Big Country album then make it the 2005 expanded 2 disc version of “Without The Aid Of A Safety Net” which is a part acoustic part electric live recording from their 1993 Barrowland concerts.

The last chapter of Big Country’s recording career was spent across a series of record labels with limited success, however, these two songs alone were good enough proof that inspiration was never far away.

“The One I Love” – Big Country  (!993)

“Fragile Thing” – Big Country  (1999 featuring Eddi Reader)

To buy the music of The Skids click HERE

To buy the music of Big Country click HERE

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Books, Old Music, Video | , , , , | 5 Comments

Boo Hewerdine

boo hererdine

Boo Heweredine is one of the many great undervalued songwriters.

At the end of the month he has a new album out which hopefully will address the problem and return him to the public spotlight

Here is a track from the album “God Bless The Pretty Things”, despite the familiar title the song is an original composition.

“Muddy Water” – Boo Hewerdine

Don’t know what I’m gonna do
Everything is broken in two
I miss my wife, son and daughter
I can see them now in the muddy water
Never underestimate
Those of us who dream and wait
I don’t wanna go, but I think I outta
You can get lost in the muddy water.

Who said anything about love
We’re animals after all
And everything we feel can be explained
Who said anything about time
It’s not yours and it’s not mine
Just different ways of getting through the day.

Did not do what I should
I nearly lost it good
But the CCTV camera never caught us
All that time in the muddy water

Who said anything about love…

Don’t know what am gonna do
Everything is broken in two
I miss my wife, son and daughter.
I can see them now in the muddy water.
Gonna leave you here in the muddy water
Gonna leave you here in the muddy water.

The song was originally recorded by Eddi Reader for her 2007 album “Peacetime”

god bless the pretty things

Boo Hewerdine (b. 1961, London) as Mark Hewerdine is an English singer-songwriter. His work includes lead singer and creative force behind The Bible, formed in the 1980s, and reformed in 1994, as well as solo recordings and work for film. He lives in Ely.

Hewerdine (born Mark Hewerdine) moved to Cambridge as a child, but returned to London in his late teens, and worked in a record shop. Suffering from agoraphobia, it was not a happy time of his life, and he was fired from his job after being wrongly accused of theft. Returning to Cambridge, he teamed up with a friend with similar experiences and started to write songs. They formed the short-lived Placebo Thing. He left Placebo Thing to join The Great Divide. They were heard by Mike Scott of The Waterboys, who recommended them to Ensign Records, where they cut three commercially unsuccessful singles. In 1985 Hewerdine, working once again in a record shop in Cambridge, formed The Bible, recruiting jazz drummer Tony Shepherd. They released an album of songs through the independent Norwich label Backs Records called Walking The Ghost Back Home.

The Bible became a fairly successful independent band, with a cult following spread mostly through word of mouth and live performances. Two tracks from the first album, Graceland and Mahalia were released as singles, but did not achieve very significant sales. The album however was very well received by music pundits, and this brought the band to the attention of Chrysalis Records. Signing to Chrysalis, Graceland and another track, Honey Be Good were (re)released as singles, and reached the lower end of the UK singles chart. A new album, Eureka followed, but failed commercially. In 1988, Hewerdine decided to leave the group and pursue solo projects. Calum MacColl and Neill MacColl from the group went on to form Liberty Horses.

At around this time Hewerdine met US “new country” singer Darden Smith, and this set him off in a new direction. Working together, he and Smith released a collaborative album, Evidence. Hewerdine also worked simultaneously on new solo songs, largely based on his earlier traumatic experiences in London. Eventually these were distilled down to produce the Ignorance album, released in 1992. Invited by Tori Amos to play support promoting these songs, Hewerdine managed to find a new audience and Ignorance and a single from the album, History, did relatively well commercially.

As Hewerdine’s star rose, he started to write for other artists, among them Eddi Reader, Clive Gregson and Christine Collister. The Bible reformed for a tour in 1994. Further solo album releases followed, such as 1996’s Baptist Hospital and 1999’s Thanksgiving. Meanwhile Hewerdine was asked by long-time friend Nick Hornby to contribute music to the soundtrack for the movie version of his book High Fidelity, whose subject (working in a record shop) was also very close to Hewerdine’s experiences.


To buy the music of Boo Hewerdine click HERE

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Folk, New Music, Video | , | 3 Comments


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