Part 3 Flowers in the desert


We lay the night in anguish

Snakes drawn out by the tide

The compass of decision

Falls always on one side


The grainy black and white photograph on the sleeve depicts 4 young men . They are dressed in  plaid shirts . From the outset the listener is treated to and  glimpses a  powerful evocative image. Like some  flower in the desert  at once we see  the land,  nature and  a time of hope and ambition. It holds in store what is  yet to come.

There is a  stark beauty  and longing  in the  photograph. In anticipation we are given an early clue to an album containing what is  beyond sheer  breathtaking  heartfelt music, the likes of which have never before been expressed  .The  compass  is  indeed true and points to a  landscape which defines this album and so proudly celebrates a nation. The thistle is our marker for the journey.  The very music is to save all our souls.

I can not in simple terms  with any  real eloquence  put forward  my  love , pride, belief and passion for this album.  In times of need when the oppression of  fortunes have weighed so much upon my mind  i have  listened again to the messages of hope set against such  beautiful evocative distinctive  music . It  has no equal in my view.  It speaks of a time of  my youth and carries so much wisdom. Without doubt it was a time of pain and truth. The music has lived with me and always will.

As noted in part 1 this is the other album released in 1983 which set against the context then  and even  now makes no sense whatsoever.  If U2’s war album was misunderstood by the lazy press and critics, the crossing  was far beyond any notion of  popular music which could be identified, categorised  and more importantly explained. The crossing  was more than a reaction to the music of the time. It was a clear nod to tradition at a time when values and hope meant very little. Like U2 Big country had a powerful message to share  through its songs. History  and tradition rather than religion is the underlying theme in this album used to  incredible powerful effect.

 That this album had such a profound effect on so many and yet received such  limited analysis is truly shocking. The explanation, perhaps a paradox  lies in the simple fact that this was not an album fashioned to appeal to the masses. It  never courted  the sound or feel of the time. It went far beyond that.  It has no obvious reference for the listener. Whilst Stuart honed his sounds and style with the skids the crossing has a very different feel to the  skids albums . A portrait of the landscape so rustic and pure.

That it lies at the heart of so many people’s  conscious and  love of music is really testament to the unique sound, imagery and lyrics which speak to the listener  like no other. If there ever were lyrics to contemplate and explain inner thoughts and reflect traditional notions of love, pride and honesty we need look no further. The lyrics are of sheer beauty and passion. unrivalled.

In  contrast to U2’s war album this is an album which at its core  reflects a  landscape. The notion of the land affecting people is beautifully portrayed and sung with such passion and pride. At once we might draw an analogy with  great writers such as Thomas Hardy.  All this from a  band from 1983? Not what the press could ever seek to  explain or indeed have any  real insight into. This really is an album from 1983 which is near impossible to define in simple terms.

As with U2′ war album the crossing was explained away by the lazy critics and indeed by positive reviews as  defined by its singles. Yet again that so misses the point of the album. Both albums share the same producer but at once we see a different production style here at play. There is  at times less urgency and angst in the crossing but no less a flame that burns to light our way through the country. The singles do not in any way define this album. Nor could they. It is too rich a landscape .

It is vital the listener casts off the empty  half hearted attempts by the press and critics to explain this album. This is not an album of anthems nor of  simple twin guitars as we have been told. Neither should the listener simply accept that the guitars have a  familiar sound. What should be understood and what becomes very clear is that the sound is so unique. It is impossible to categorise. One matter is certain. This album interprets in a modern way  Scottish reels .   At its heart  is a traditional album of Scottish songs.  Songs to be sung, loved and poured over for meaning and guidance.

With that introduction what then of the songs?  The album starts with a song which is familiar to many but  so misunderstood.  This is not  an anthem  as we are told. It is pure passion .The opening drum beats call the listener to attention. Here there is urgency, a shout,  a message. The guitar at first muted but then as if on a battle ground and a call to arms the guitar pierces through and what  sound. like never before , so rich so beautiful and above all without equal. It is to fill the listener’s  heart with hope and longing.   The rhythm is without doubt  Gàidhligt  and at once we realise the landscape we are drawn too.

Listen to this song and the sentiments with open mind and cast off what the critics have told you.  Above all hear the landscape and see the compass pointing to  the land. To hear this song  on any level without emotion is to  reject any notion of  passion to  decry music itself. The start of the album must inspire all  but those who have no need for music nor  understanding.

Inwards has an amazing  rich poignant message and one that could be lost in  melancholy but for the intriguing guitar rhythm. This is a hypnotic sound and again without equal for its time nor indeed now.  It mesmerised the listener. It has such power .  The haunting opening so evocative of the landscape. It speaks of loss of a relative.  The poetic lyrics are equally matched by syncopated stunning guitars and what imagery.

I wouldn’t want to go home

On a night like this

When I find out that some of the past

Has been missed

How the words bring forth the feeling of loss. Sheer beauty and imagery. The song builds and breaks down only to build again with textures and layers so rich. Again  a driving rhythm  with the base and drums combining to call the listener to attention. The song is fascinating . It has no reference and does not on any level conform to a song from what we are told is a band from the 80’s .

The pace is then slowed. Another single and yet more misunderstood sentiments and lazy  critics. This is a song of such beauty and wonder set to chiming guitars  and longing. The song explains the feelings of being young and shouldering such responsibility. Told with passion set against a simple haunting melody. Here there is imagery of  the landscape   a place of work and home. The harshness of fate is played out.  Listen to this song from another view.   The sentiments fill  a space within  where love and pride  once stood .

A 1000 stars pierces the brief silence. The guitars soar and provide again a stunning backdrop to imagery. Here there is an anti war message simple and effective. The drums again call the listener to attention  and a sense of starkness is evident. In contrast to U2”s war album there is no  obvious sense of  anger and contempt for  war. The guitars are used to devastating effect calling the masses to shelter from air attack.  The rhythm and harmonic sounds convey the sense of futility.

On the storm  we see how  utterly unique this album is. Again the context is vital. An album from 1983  with what  in effect is a Scottish folk song. The critics were  simply unable to begin to understand how and why this song is included.  The listener understand immediately the image and story being told. That of  brutal displacement of the people. Again imagery is key. survival and living off the land set against  stunning guitar which much to the sheer frustration of the press sounds of  a   fiddle rather than an instrument  filled with air. The lazy press made much of the guitars sounding like the traditional instrument.  look past the obvious at all times. This is such a unique song and needs to heard many times to be fully understood.

Back to a single again and what a force of  nature. That this was the bands first single is beyond reason. Released in 1982 it is a song of such  epic landscape and sound. Again the lazy critics were  quick to point to the guitars and seek to explain away the sound. This songs tells of  loss of the land and again displacement. Such beautiful poetic lyrics and soaring guitar

Who lead the Mayday feasting

Who saw the harvest home

Who left the future wasting

Who watched the families go

The song has such rich texture . The building of the rhythm is unique as is the personification of the landscape through the  guitars. This is a song to be savoured and understood beyond any simple gesture of a disinterested press. The listener should hear what is behind the driving rhythm the drums and guitars. At once a familar lanscape opens up and we are transported to a beloved nation . That pride is spoken so lovingly of the place where they stand is fully expected in this song. It is a masterpiece without equal.

conscious of the time and my desire to explore this album with true heartfelt love i will return to the remaining tracks in another blog.

I depart with one simple message. If your heart has ever longed for the  feeling of  freedom  hope and a sense of belonging . If you have ever wished to see a landscape and nation so so inspirational and  loved and celebrated through music listen to this album.  If you have no desire left to give any other any hope sit and listen to this album.

 Maps on the back of your hands point to the cross

Scratches on walls in a room draw out your loss

Your islands are conquered and

You are returned to the throne

Martyrs take penance and

Fill up the mattress with stones

 kind regards


About oldlawyer1

Cha bhi suaimhneas aig eucoir, no seasamh aig droch-bheairt. Wrong cannot rest, nor ill deed stand Qualified as a solicitor in 1999. Worked in house as group legal director for a secondary lender and for a number of firms including DLA Piper. Specialist practice areas include substantial defended mortgage possession work claims against professionals and claims arising from mortgage frauds. involved in substantial claims acting for lenders in recovering assets. Experience in asset finance recovery work acting for a number of major finance companies including title issues and substantial claims under guarantees and claims for alteration of the Register before the Land Registry arising from mortgage fraud Inspiration? The Only Band. Big Country. Come up Billing!
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7 Responses to Part 3 Flowers in the desert

  1. stuart265 says:

    Well what can I say but WOW again! This review of “The Crossing” is wriitern with such passion and powerful mind blowing words. The album was my first ever purchase on vinyl and like you it stired up a pit of heartfelt emotions in my heart and soul the band just blew me away. The album spoke of hope and wisdom and gave me guidance to shape my life. Such powerful lyrics from Mr Adamson which still to this day stir up powerful emotions. I also agree on your comments about ‘the unique sound, imagery and lyrics which speak to the listener’ big country have the knack of doing this in all their music but more so with “The Crossing”. Like you say everyone should listen to the album just once and they will be blown away. Thank you so much for sharing this blog it means so much to me to be able to live memories of my youth. This is a truly amazing piece of writting and I salute you for writting such passionate words. This is an article that I could read over, over and over again. Truly amazing lets make a pact and make everyone listen to the fabluous album “The Crossing”

    • oldlawyer1 says:

      Thank you so so much. The world needs to hear about Mr Adamson and Big country . The crossing is beyond doubt an amazing experience.
      The world must also know your name given the amazing efforts to commemorate Mr Adamson. More from you on that soon i hope.
      Thank you again.

  2. An excellent piece on what is truly a fantastic album,not a dud on it and even after 1000s of listens I hear different layers in the music that synchronise perfectly

  3. Mazz says:

    What a fantastic piece of writing! This was the album that made Big Country, ‘my’ band for life. So unique, so far seeing, and so mind blowing.
    You should post this on the Big Country website!

    • oldlawyer1 says:

      thank you so much so very kind.
      ditto. I heard the crossing and felt so inspired.

      i did post the link at the time and received very kind comments.

      thank you again.

      kind regards

  4. Tori Ann Steele says:

    great stuff i’m a big fan of stuart adamson and big country

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