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Big Country - Rarities VIII

From: Fiddy
Category: Music
Date: 18 January 2006


Rarities VIII

It's always with great anticipation when I receive something 'Big Country' through the post. Rarities VIII was no exception. Keeping with the theme of the Rarities collection, the cover is not too dissimilar to other Rarities collections, being of a lake... or loch if you prefer and the customary Big Country Logo. Nice group shot on the back though the buffalo to the side of Stuart looks mighty pissed and ready to charge... Superimposed?

Some great comments from the fans inside - all in all nicely packaged product from the vaults of Track.

It's always hard to review songs that have been mixed differently or that are the original demo's because you have that lasting impression of having heard them so many times and the originals are always locked away for comparison.

We kick off with 'All Go Together' - Not that much different to the 'original' apart from Bruce being more prominent and the shouts of, 'Hey, hey' coming in at different places.

Next up comes 'Alone' - has a kind of different feel to the 'original' with Stuart stretching out the word 'Alonnnnnnnnnne'. Preferred the 'Skinners' version myself but it is growing on me. Who knows when playing 'Alone' on 'Skinners' I may go into 'Alonnnnnnnnnne' mode.

Comes A Time - A lot more raw - almost live sounding - Actually prefer Stuart's vocals on this version

Eastworld - Wahooooo - the end section is classic Big Country... Do I spy a drum machine on this version? Great combo of guitars going on here plus Tony's meaty bass riff to keep it all going along nicely.

Small Town Big News - Nice little ditty - kept waiting for an accordion to kick in. Nice folky tune that one could imagine in an acoustic set from the band.

I Could Be Happy Here - Hands up if this tickles your boo boo! So much going on here, Mark's hyper-active drumming, Stuart with the 'Lizzy' style breaks, Tony getting that foot tapping, Bruce keeping it tight... sometimes I wish the mixing guy would give Bruce more volume. A great version of a song that I have never been particularly fond of..... I am now

Keep On Dreaming - I Can hear Rockin' In The Free World' in my head on this particular track. If you saw Big Country perform it live you'll know where I'm coming from.

Long Way Home - Much quieter version and slightly slower in tempo. The combination of Bruce & Stuart is still there. Hard to review this as I have the live version kicking around in my head.. and that version kicks much ass!

Sweet November Nothing's - I'm a fan of the acoustic guitar - I envy those who play it with ease. The work on here may seem simple to those of you who can play. I can hear Jimmy Barnes singing this in his own style.

The One I Love - Skinners version with polished harmonies is an absolute must for any Ipod. It's great to hear vocals that haven't been messed around with by some engineer. Stuart's voice on this version is a pleasure to the ears.

Pan American Irish Girl - REL Sessions? Has that feel to it

Pink Marshmallow Moon - A definite work in progress here. Skinners 'Mr Sheen' did well!

Simple's Always Best - YEEHAW! Ride em up cowboy! Has the Johnny Cash thing goin on in the background. I like this - it's simple... and simple's always best :)

The Selling Of America - Although slower and quieter it ain't that much different from the version we've all grown accustomed to.

Seven Waves - How refreshing. Can really hear the passion in Stuart's voice on here (another example of things being too polished (Skinners)) I always imagine Kirsty McColl singing this song - don't know why - just has that Celtic feel to it. Nice to hear Bruce's guitar turned up a notch though not so nice to have the lead break extracted from this classic BC number.

Soldier Of The Lord - Right, if you don't like this then you all need to go out and broaden your musical tastes. Would not go amiss on the soundtrack to 'O Brother Where Art Thou. Big Country go Bluegrass... I love it. Gonna go get myself some straw to suck on. My second fav on this album. Good work.

Winding Wind - Again, not too different from the Skinners version minus the volume and polishing process.

All in all, another gem from the Rarities series. I don't think Skinners can be beaten for production - for me it scores a perfect 10, almost a live performance in the studio. The songs on Rarities VIII captures Skinners in its infancy or pre-production. Thoroughly enjoyable with the highlights being 'I Could Be Happy Here', 'Soldier Of The Lord' and the end section of 'Eastworld'.

Memo to the band: More clearing out lofts


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