When it comes to suicide, no tragedy has an order of magnitude greater than any other: Stuart Adamson's body was found in a Hawaiian hotel room in late 2001 and a family lost a father, son and husband, whilst the world lost a man it treasured more than he seemed to believe.
Raised in Scotland, Adamson had found stardom in the late 1970s via the punky - but never really punk - outfit The Skids before going on to form the more inclusive Big Country in 1982. At first it seemed like an inspired choice. Fuelled by the rise of stadium rock in Britain and a wave of fascination with Celtic tinged ephemera, they sparred with U2 and Simple Minds for the nation's affection, and début album 'The Crossing' went on to sell more than two million copies worldwide.
All was not what it seemed, however. Adamson was never truly at ease with pop stardom and 'Steeltown' was bleaker and more politicised - at least obliquely - drawing its inspiration partially from the crass solipsism of Thatcherite culture. Leaving behind the e-bow effects which had become (much to the band's chagrin) their hallmark, Adamson and counter guitarist Bruce Watson instead added density and some notably harder edges, with go-to producer Steve Lillywhite playing it simple by largely eschewing the studio trickery of the day. The result was a record as honest as its predecessor, but far more complex, full of villains and victims but short on heroes.
Continue reading: Big Country - Steeltown: 30th Anniversary Edition Album Review