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Stuart Adamson In A Big Country [Hardcover]

Alan Glen
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Feb. 1 2011
This is the book that fans of the Skids, Big Country and the Raphaels have been waiting for – a critical perspective not only of Adamson’s music and its wider cultural influence, but also the excesses of fame and how the music business really works. Stuart Adamson: In a Big Country tells the story of how a teenager who was raised in a small Fife village released his first single at 19, wrote three Top 40 albums in the next three years and was written off as a has-been at 23, but then went on to form a new band and sell more than 10 million records worldwide, touring with the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. Although Stuart Adamson was one of the most respected and popular figures in the music industry, his personal life was complex – depression, alcoholism and estrangement – and ultimately tragic, ending with his suicide in a Hawaiian hotel in December 2001.

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Review

'A fitting tribute to a man whose musical legacy will live on for years to come' (Dunfermline Press )

About the Author

Allan Glen was born in Dunfermline and worked as a miner before studying journalism. He worked as an investigative news reporter on the South China Sunday Morning Post in Hong Kong before returning to the UK to work for NME, Melody Maker and The Guardian. He writes for The Stage, Audience and Live UK. He lives on Teesside with his family.

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ok. Your money would be better spent on some classic Big Country CDs instead.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than some seem to think Jan. 1 2012
By Christian W. Gallagher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I don't see any point in contradicting the reviews of this book that have already been published here, because some of the observations are true. However, rather than focusing on what this book doesn't seem to offer (and for those of you clamoring to hear interviews with Stuart's widow(s), I am not among you), I was much more taken with what it does have. As an American who has been captivated by Stuart and his work since I was thirteen, I know that I loved the music - both Skids and Big Country - and was saddened that most fans on both sides of the Atlantic failed to hear or appreciate much beyond the products of early success. For just a few days more than a decade now, I have struggled with the man's passsing, but I have also been somewhat incredulous as to why the music didn't reach a bigger audience. I've made my peace with that, to some extent, with the solace that his music will always be here, and new fans are born every day.

This book does chronicle a great deal, and much of it was new to me, despite nearly three decades of devotion to Big Country and the Skids. After listening to each of those albums countless times, it was especially helpful and gratifying to get perspective and context from Dunfermline natives such as Glen and Rankin. And if it's a reach to suggest that such insights have helped me to appreciate memorized music on a different level - if only a little - than it's a reach I feel comfortable making. As it happens, I never fully appreciated what a producer does for a record until I heard rough cuts from the Crossing before Steve Lillywhite began working with the band in the studio. And I will always be somewhat stunned by the notion that Big Country's most artistically valid album, Steeltown, is what ultimately doomed them to commercial failure. You don't have to be a genius to realize that Peter Wolf had no business producing a Big Country album. (Dave Bates, you hack.) I realized as much when I was seventeen. But when you read about why "Fragile Thing" wasn't allowed to chart, or why Radio 1 wouldn't play Big Country songs, you begin to understand just how frustrating Stuart's last few years must have been. Those are insights I needed from this book. And they are well presented.

So thank you very much for that, Mr. Glen. I, for one am quite grateful, and a bit confused by all of these tough critics here at Amazon. They seem to have loved Stuart, and his music as well. But like many of us, wallowing in the absence of a true virtuoso, bard and artistic genius, they are perhaps hoping for a sense of closure that we may never get. Stay alive.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Big Country: A Case History of the 1980's Music Scene April 26 2011
By Clara - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although a very elaborately detailed account of the inner workings of the music industry as it pertained to Big Country's history as a group, I found Allan Glen's book far from cathartic. It seems that the author does not have access to the necessary details of Adamson's life that would help the reader better understand him and perhaps provide the listener with a deeper understanding of his music. I believe the only worthwhile biography will have to be written with the full participation and consent of the remaining band members and Adamson's family. That said, I am grateful to Glen for having attempted to honor Adamson by making a history that involves pieces of his life history more widely available to people across the globe.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Musical Chronology of Stuart Adamson Sept. 2 2011
By Richard M. Visco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is definitely a missing feel of the personal life of Stuart. This book provides a ton of detail showcasing the singer/songwriter/musician from the beginning to the end within the music industry but it misses on the personal elemental. Its due to the fact that its missing direct feedback from his widows, all his children and band members. I did enjoy reading through the struggles and exemplifying the frustration all us fans felt on why this band (Big Country) and artist never became a household name. It definitely provides some insight to the idiocy and decision making behind the scenes.

Even after this read I still dont get it. What that is, I dont know other than I like others DID get this. We understood his talent, his incredible contribution to music, the indelible songs, and even his charm. There just seemed to always be this looming need for this band to be as big as lets say U2 but never able to hit that mark. But whats frustrating is that it never mattered. What mattered is what the millions of us understood is, Stuart, the Skids and Big Country did hit that mark. It may not have been 100 million but thousands if not millions understood the brilliance and loved the music. To this day I am still sad that I cant hear just one more new song from Stuart in any manner or format.

This biography is good but a true introspective would complement this chronology. Good read but will leave the reader wanting more.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit light in the plaid. Nov. 14 2011
By THowerton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was extremely happy (and surprised) to find a book out there about Stuart Adamson (R.I.P.). As I was hoping that the book would chronicle a good many things about Adamson's life in-depth (formative events) and share a good deal of focus and reaction to his thoughts and beliefs I ended up being left wanting more. Glen does a decent job of reviewing Adamson's life around the time of the Skids and the initial formation of Big Country. It felt to me that the later years of Adamson's life got short shrift. It did not seem as if major information sources (Adamson's ex-wife; his bandmates; Marcus Hummon; so on) were specifically interviewed for this book. Ah, well. Glad to have it anyway. An easy read.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Look Away Aug. 15 2011
By Cubbiccino - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Oh, how I wanted to love this book! This is less a biography of Stuart Adamson than it is a story of Big Country's relationship with the music business. There are surprisingly few details about Adamson's personal life and very little discussion of his creative process. You'll have to look elsewhere for any of that. As a longtime Big Country fan, I'm not really sure what the target audience of this book is. Glen didn't have access to the surviving band members (or ex-wife Sandra, who receives very few references despite her importance to this story), as the illuminating insights from band members are quotes that appear elsewhere and most fans have seen before. There are a few good quotes from son Callum, but this book does little to shed any light on who Adamson was as a man or an artist. There's really nothing new here. It's disappointing.

Glen does provide a sense of the band's relationship with record labels/producers/managers and the immense pressure to produce something "sellable" and remain relevant on the charts. He also tracks the band's work chronologically (beginning with The Skids), offering a look at both the praise and criticisms of the band's catalog and the tensions it created within the band-- though he doesn't delve very deep on that front either. That said, you'll get a livelier and more informed discussion on this front over at Country Club on any given day. Better than nothing? Perhaps, but diehard fans should hold out for something more.
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