Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mercury Records: In A Big Country

Well it’s the fourth week of the month and time for my monthly record label feature. Due to the recent passing of Lesley Gore last week, I’ve decided to highlight her label: Mercury Records. We’ll feature Lesley later this week in a special tribute.

Founded in Chicago in 1945, Mercury Records was able to crack most genres of record music. While its early successes came with jukebox play, it gave the big record companies a run for the money. Additionally, Mercury was the first company to produce pre-recorded cassette tapes.

Remaining an independent label until 1961, Mercury was purchased by Dutch parent company of Philips Records. By 1972, Philips and Deutsche Grammophon (owner of Polydor Records) merged and Mercury’s division was named as Phonogram after its British counterpart.

In 1988, Polygram was purchased by Seagram who also owned Universal Music Group. At this time, the label was discontinued and most Mercury acts were assigned to The Island Music Def Jam Group while Mercury Nashville Records became the imprint for its country artists. In 2007, the Mercury imprint was resurrected.

For today, I am traveling back to 1983 for a one-hit wonder for the Scottish band Big Country with their eponymous song “In a Big Country.” I particularly liked this record for the guitars that mimicked the sound of Highland pipes. This quartet from Dunfermline, Fife really shows their Celtic roots.

“In a Big Country” was the only one of band’s three charting singles to chart within the Top 40. If fact, “In a Big Country” peaked above 40 on three charts. On the Hot 100, it made it to #17. It was played in enough clubs to allow it to chart at #37 on the dance chart. However, its biggest success came with album radio where it went to #3 on the rock chart.

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