Big Country / Essential 3CD set

Big Country / Essential 3CD set

3CD set • Hits and fan favourites • Tremendous value

Universal Music will issue another great value three-CD Essential set under their budget Spectrum imprint, this time featuring Scottish rock band Big Country.

This package includes all 13 of the band’s UK top 30 singles (including ‘Look Away’, ‘One Great Thing’, ‘Chance’ and ‘Wonderland’) as well as highlighting key album cuts (including the title track of 1986’s The Seer which features one Kate Bush) and offering a smattering of remixes. A live cover of the soul classic ‘The Tracks of My Tears’ features at the end of CD 2.

This set takes us up to 1991, although the band would continue releasing albums and touring until the end of the millennium. Frontman Stuart Adamson tragically took his own life in December 2001.

Like the previously announced The Human League Essential package (due out on 5 June) this triple-disc Big Country offering is not really one for the diehards, although anyone with half an interest should find plenty of rewards for their £7 investment.

Essential Big Country is released on 10 July 2020.

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CD 1
1. Fields Of Fire
2. Chance
3. In A Big Country
4. Harvest Home
5. King of Emotion
6. Peace in Our Time
7. Heart Of The World
8. Into The Fire
9. A Thousand Stars
10. Angle Park
11. Lost Patrol
12. All of Us
13. Heart and Soul
14. Close Action
15. The Storm
16. Inwards

CD 2
1. Wonderland
2. East Of Eden (2014 Mix)
3. Just A Shadow
4. Where The Rose is Sown
5. Broken Heart (Thirteen Valleys)
6. Beautiful People
7. Thousand Yard Stare
8. Restless Natives (Extended Version)
9. Tall Ships Go (2014 Mix)
10. The Seer (featuring Kate Bush)
11. Sailor
12. Wonderland (12″ Mix)
13. East of Eden (Extended Version)
14. Just A Shadow (Extended Remix)
15. The Track of My Tears (Live)

CD 3
1. Look Away
2. One Great Thing
3. The Teacher
4. Republican Party Reptile
5. Save Me
6. Hold The Heart
7. In A Big Country (Pure Mix)
8. Fields of Fire (400 Miles) (Alternative Mix)
9. Giant
10. All Fall Together (Giant Remix)
11. Belief In The Small Man
12. Come Back To Me (2014 Mix)
13. Flag of Nations
14. Balcony
15. One Great Thing (Big Baad Country Mix)

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Just got a copy of the new version of Essential Big Country which I’m happy to say is better package with the live track TRACKS OF MY TEARS not plonked in the middle somewhere but at the end of CD 2. I like the slimline packaging and it compliments the 5 CLASSIC ALBUMS set perfectly apart from having duplicate tracks which can’t be helped. I now have just about enough Big Country to sink a ship!

Phil Cohen

For this 3-disc set, Amazon.co.uk have momentarily halted their embargo against American customers, however, they’ve radically increased their shipping charges….to FIVE TIMES what they would normally be. Thanks, but no thanks amazon.co.uk
Jeff Bezos will only learn a lesson when customers walk away forever. There are now a few American online dealers where the set can be preordered. I’ll go to one of them.

Phil Cohen

Is this as a response to COVID-19 or is it permanent?

Phil S

This sort of collection got me back into the band and I’ve tried to get everything they’ve released since. Check out the great divide podcast and big country info website. The deeper you go the better it gets. Really need cherry red to do a driving to Damascus reissue like they did with why the long face.

Sean Daly

…. and as a lifelong fan of this band (with over 52 CD’s) – I hope that ‘Fields Of Fire’ is the single version, as I think every single compilation, apart from the 2011 ‘Ultimate Collection’ has the album version on (with the 1-2, 1-2-3-4 intro, and slightly different outro to the single)….
Why oh why do they always do this, and also ‘Harvest Home’ as well is ALWAYS the album version – their debut 7” single version of this has NEVER appeared on any compilation either (maybe the Boxset Singles Collection Vol.1 – but so long since i’ve played that though – I can’t remember!)
Is it copyright reasons, or compilers just can’t be bothered to find the correct versions ???

Jonathan WILLIAM Smith

Hi Sean. I feel your pain. Not another unconsidered BC comp. Check out Master Series for the 7in mix of Fields Of Fire. Your right in that the only place to find the original recording of Harvest Home is on the singles box set. They go to all the bother in manufacturing these sets. I am sure they could sell more if they involved the fans. Cheers.


Hi Jonathan, over the years there have been so many errors and careless mistakes with BC releases – a prime example are the 4 2003 Singles Collection Boxsets – loads of errors on there, some B Sides missing, and to miss off the 12” Extended version of Chance is criminal, and although this is only available on the 12″ Greatest Hits cd, this is very hard to come by for a lot of fans.
…. and as you say, they should get the fans involved, so that proper releases are produced!!

Phil Cohen

Could one of you tell me, which CD contained the 2014 remixes. Maybe I’ve got that disc.


I was wondering about that myself. The 2014 deluxe edition of Steeltown wasn’t remixed, as far as I know.

Phil Cohen

The 2014 remixes are from an earlier Spectrum label Big Country 3-CD set “Wonderland:Essential Big Country”


Thanks for the info. How do they compare?

Neil Hunt

The 2014 mixes are from the Steeltown Deluxe Edition. These are just labelled incorrectly and are actually 2014 remasters. If you look at the digital download of the Steeltown Deluxe it shows some of the tracks as 2014 remaster and some as 2014 remix. The same as on the Queen 2011 remasters, some download tracks show them as 2011 mix and others as 2011 remaster. It is just a digital labelling error, unless there was some subtle mixing done to fix a damaged master tape or glitch.

Jonathan Smith

Hi Phil. I suspect those 2014 mixes are really the work in progress versions on the two CD deluxe edition of Steeltown. But it would be lovely to find they are new unheard remixes. Wishful thinking!


Nice compilation for starters. I liked their concert in Deinze in 1983 during the Futurama Festival. The Rockpalast CD/DVD is generous and great!


Project SDE should be to try and get the Robin Millar mix of The Seer released. It’d be a perfect SDE shop exclusive. No doubt it’s nigh on impossible to achieve, but hey, the dream needs to be realised:


I hadn’t realised until yesterday that there is a Big Country Live At Rockpalast cd / dvd release from 1986 / 1991. I saw them live in 1986, and as others have said, they were a great live band.


I signed the petition, so here’s hoping.

Today I dug out Through A Big Country and The Seer and played “Look Away” back to back. The Turbitt mix has an unmistakable gloss but seems a bit muddier. I must admit I’m afraid the original album mix won’t be so different to justify the effort.


Hi Glen,

It’d be worth it just to hear Kate Bush’s vocals mixed better. It’s a real waste of her performance on what was a real coup for Big Country. Better still, get Steven Wilson to do a new mix of The Seer and Steeltown albums.

Next up in the list of impossible dreams….develop a successful vaccine for Covid 19.


I’d buy a copy, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s really going to be that different…


Paul,we set you a journalistic challenge to ascertain whether the original mix of The Seer will ever see the light of day? And interestingly why it hasnt come out to date, given the band is very collectable.

Jonathan Smith

I am glad you have your priorities correct sir.


I think i’ll stick to the box set of CLASSIC BIG COUNTRY albums on CD


Do you think that is the best way to go as far as value is concerned? I am unsure whether to buy the 3 CD essential or the 2 CD Fields of Fire Ultimate Collection (which has about 36 songs).
Or am I better off with the 5 CD Classic Album set? Prices are not that much different.

Steve Woodward

Neil Hunt comments on the 7″ mix of Look Away being rare on CD. Can anyone confirm a CD that does actually have the correct single mix?

Neil Hunt

Steve, their are some out of print CDs that contain the original 7″ mix. They are: In A Big Country (Spectrum, 1995); Master Series (1997); Through A Big Country: Greatest Hits (The original 1990 version – the 1996 remastered edition replaced it with the album mix) and the Singles Collection Vol. 2 box set.

Steve Woodward

Thanks Neil.

I must have the remastered Through A Big Country then…


I guess I’ll have to dig out my copies of Through A Big Country or the Singles box. Apart from the lack of a crossfade into “The Seer,” I don’t recall any difference.

Speaking of alternate mixes, anyone know about the 2014 mixes of the Steeltown tracks on this compilation? Again, I don’t recall any differences on the 2014 deluxe edition.

Neil Hunt

I actually got details of which versions are contained on which CDs from this very informative Big Country info / discography site: http://www.bigcountryinfo.com/discography.htm
If you click on a song title it will then list CDs that contain that track and a small colour coded symbol to say which version (7″, 12″ album, edit etc.)

Timm Davison

One of my fave bands of the 80’s. i wore out my cassette copies of both The Crossing and Steeltown.


I was hoping for a disc of 12 inch mixes. Was released standalone years ago, but never reissued, not on streaming and very expensive on CD from second hand sellers. Great set nevertheless.


If you’re talking about Greatest 12″ Hits (https://www.discogs.com/Big-Country-Greatest-12-Hits/release/1394258) that’s a great disc, made obsolete by the single boxes. The only flaw is an alternate mix of “The Teacher” (not the Mystery Mix) which is a strange, almost techno/dub mix. According to the notes on Discogs, this was intended for a second 12″ but never released.


These releases seem very similar to the Essential 3CD sets put out by UMC for about £5 around three years ago.
Wonderland – The Essential Big Country
Baby Love – The Essential Diana Ross & The Supremes
Whatever You Want – The Essential Status Quo
Lessons In Love – The Essential Level 42
There wasn’t a Thin Lizzy in that series, but there were quite a few others.

Dan Glaser

This is where I do not understand record companies. On the face of it, an interesting 46 track collection; only problem is, Universal released a Big Country 3CD set called Wonderland – The Essential, in 2017 featuring 47 tracks (admittedly with a different track listing from this set).

Couldn’t someone have come up with a slightly more original title so as to avoid confusion. And even if the record company failed to spot any similarity in the title, then what are the Big Country management team doing?

Certainly it’s being sold for a modest price, so no complaints from me, but let’s have a bit of clear thinking and structuring from those on high.


Unfortunately not available to U.S. customers.

Phil Cohen

Amazon’s UK, German, Italian, French & Japanese companies won’t sell anything to American customers. Perhaps what is needed is an online petition to embarrass Jeff Bezos into ending this embargo. I’ve been a customer of the UK site for 14 years, and I will say this: it is a bad business strategy to snub, anger and jettison customers.


I’m really sad this doesn’t contain the single “Fragile Thing,” which has vocals by my favorite singer of all time, the amazing Eddi Reader. I had been looking for a collection that would include that song along with the Kate Bush song. Oh well…

Neil Hunt

Steve, the out of print 2CD compilation “The Greatest Hits of Big County and the Skids” features both these tracks. It is the only compilation that covers their entire career.


Thank you Neil Hunt & other Neil (or possibly same Neil?) for the referrals. I really appreciate it! :)


Plenty of rewards indeed! Funny how times change…back in the early 80s it seemed like a three horse race with Big Country, U2 and The Alarm in the frame and BC were always a great gig, too many check shirts perhaps but always a great gig! Otherwise, the Thin Lizzy set with fifty tracks for a fiver is obscene value for money!


The original unreleased version of The Seer with Kate Bush remains hidden. Alas.


Or the whole of the original The Seer album!


A pity it only goes up to 1991 – missing out Ships (Where Were You), which in my opinion, is one of their best songs.

Still a great set though.

Cristian Elena

The guys at Universal don’t seem to be very big fans of “Steeltown”… :-/

Iain B

I agree that the omission of Steeltown is strange.

Phil Cohen

“Steeltown” sold very poorly, and I think that the mix (which buries the vocals) is the reason why.

Paul Wren

One of the best live bands of the last 40 years. It would be rude not to buy it at this price!

Phil Cohen

The amazing thing about this Scottish rock group is that none of them were born in Scotland. In fact, Bruce Watson(posessor of the group’s thickest brogue) was born in Ontario,Canada. And we still don’t know what a “Porrohman” is. I guess that it will be one of those rock n’roll mysteries like “The Pompatus of Love”(Steve Miller), “Cross Tie Walker”(John Fogerty), “Purple Rain”(America) & “Positraction”(The Beach Boys)
Still, I like the group’s music.


Always thought “Porrohman” was a slurred version of “Poor Old Man.”


Porrohman is an african witch doctor, the song in part is based on a short story which i think was called Pollock and the Porroh man, it was published in a book of short stories edited by herbert van thal in the pan horror series, but it will appear in other collections

A cross tie walker i think may be a reference to construction workers on high buildings like empire state and chrysler in new york. Workers would work without safety ropes, often walking along the 3 or 4 inch wide beams unaided. A horizontal beam connecting two verticals could be considered a cross tie

Positraction may be a kind of gear box or clutch in a car, not sure which beach boys song it was used on but thats my guess :)

Phil Cohen

The Beach Boys song which used the term “Positraction” was “409”


From an HG Wells story.


Whatever a “Porrohman” might be – the fact, that it is NOT on this collection, is a joke!
Along with “In a big country” my all-time-fave not only from the great debut, but also from the whole work of this band.

Rare Glam

I think this would be nice as a lucky dip and a physical version of a spotify playlist perhaps so I may get this. I love the first two albums. I always wondered why The Seer, Peace In Our Time and No Place Like Home were so tepid and devoid of guitar after two such big albums (haven’t played them in a long time to be fair so possibly doing them an injustice). Then they came back with the exellent Bufflo Skinners, Why The Long Face (thanks for the box set version of that one Cherry Red) and Driving To Damascus which were all like mature versions of the first two albums to some extent but more progressed.

So, I’d like remastered versions of Buffalo Skinners and Road To Damascus and a re-issue of the live at the BBC set (the big one not the 2 cd). Thanks Santa!

Eric M.

This is a match for my level of interest in Big Country. Very nice.

Neil Hunt

Looks to be a good collection for a casual fan. Nothing new for me although it does feature some 12″ mixes that were missed from the Deluxe Editions of The Crossing and Steeltown (I already have these on their Greatest 12″ Hits CD). It would only be interesting if their were a few single versions not widely available on CD such as the original Look Away 7″.

Also in the series is a Thin Lizzy collection (details on Amazon) and Level 42 and Status Quo (no details yet). The Level 42 one will only be of interest if it has any rare 7″ edits or 12″ versions not featured on their remastered CDs. Level 42 are a band in need of a serious overhaul of their back catalogue to include all their 12″ mixes, many of which are missing from their remastered albums.


Also a Diana Ross and Supremes collection in the series

Dave H

If there’s another Level 42 compilation on the way, I wonder if they’ll include the correct version of the ADSC remix of ‘To Be With You Again’ and not the dub version as all previous releases on CD.


Do we know of any other releases planned for this budget format from Universal?

Billy Ocean Colour Scene

I hope the cover doesn’t list “Angle Park” as “Angel Park”….