Big Dish

  • Big Dish
  • Swimmer (Virgin / Warner Bros.) 1986 
  • Creeping Up on Jesus (Virgin / Warner Bros.) 1988 
  • Satellites (East West) 1991 
  • Rich Man's Wardrobe: A Concise History of the Big Dish (UK Virgin Universal) 1994 
  • Steven Lindsay
  • Exit Music (UK Seminal) 2004 

The Big Dish, a tasteful and basically unstylized Scottish pop trio, was led by singer/songwriter Steven Lindsay. With subtle soul inflections in the roomy guitar- plus-horns arrangements, the handsome, intelligent songs on Swimmer consistently tumble into the dead zone between youthful freshness and mature restraint.

Using an impressive list of session players — including drummer Blair Cunningham and hornman Gary Barnacle — producer Bruce Lampcov fleshed out Big Dish’s sound on the second album, but to no avail. Despite twinkling layers of guitar, keyboards and vocals, Lindsay’s songs are steadfastly underwhelming, and the album is attractive but characterless noise.

The Big Dish finally got off the ground with Satellites, an effectively commercial adult-pop record that makes good use of stylistic borrowings (soul, rock, country) and guest players (bassist Pino Palladino, drummer Manu Katché) to flavor the bright (if not illuminating) material. Lindsay’s passing vocal resemblance to Sting and Warne Livesey’s sterile Steely Dan-style production keep the record a small-scale entertainment, but at least the tunes don’t all evaporate as soon as they reach the air.

More than a decade after that, Lindsay released his first solo album.

[Ira Robbins]