Friday, August 22, 2008

THE BIG F (Berlin related)

"These guys are really good, even if nobody's ever heard of them. They sorta sound like Soundgarden with talent."

John Crawford (ex-Berlin) (John Shreve) - Bass, Vocals
Rob Brill (ex-Berlin) (Rob Donin) - Drums
Mark Christian - Guitar

"Doctor Vine"

"Patience Peregrine"

THE BIG F (1989)

Rob Brill (ex-Berlin) - Drums
Mark Christian - Guitar, Vocals (Background), Producer
John Crawford (ex-Berlin) - Bass, Vocals


01 Killing Time (6.43)
02 Kill The Cowboy (5.33)
03 Why (6.28)
04 Here's To The Good Life (5.44)
05 Doctor Vine (5.29)
06 Power Pig (4.41)
07 Monkey Boy (4.51)
08 Alpert Tango (4.28)
09 Biz About Brains (6.17)
10 Good God (6.12)

11 Kick Out The Jam (cover version of the MC5 song)

Link to download:

John Crawford:
"The first Big F album is also hurt-by-girlfriend inspired. My Berlin-era girlfriend, Julie (yes, I had a model girlfriend - yikes!!??), had just left me and, I was inspired to write "Killing Time", "Kill the Cowboy", "Here’s to the Good Life" and a few others about her and my pain."
The writing was very spontaneous. The first record always started with music and then we added lyrics later. Interestingly, a lot of the titles and phrases in the songs just popped out of my mouth as we were jamming. “Kill the Cowboy” just popped up and we all heard it on our "homework” rehearsal tapes. On the first record I would usually start the lyrics and Rob would add some stuff later. It was a really fun, spontaneous process.
Is was a little different. Some of the songs were created using the same jamming process. “Fe-Fo-Fi” comes to mind, as does “Patience Peregrine”. "Wicked Thing", “Gone Ancient” and “Mama Jame” were written by Rob in more the typical demo-tape style, meaning chords and melodies are the foundation for the song and the other musicians add parts to complete the song. This is the style I used for all of my Berlin songs."


"I keep listening to Kill The Cowboy. That is such a badass song! Rob's drum work is wonderful. If you're a Berlin fan only, its the cool type of work he did on Pictures of You (which still wows me). John's voice: badass. It has a lot of that Jim Morrison intensity (that Jim didn't do enough of), you know, how he ended the songs Light My Fire and Break On Through. I love the growl. And Mark's sound is great and technical."

"The music and energy from this CD is unpredictable and awesome. It's a shame this trio never caught on. You can occasionally hear some of this CD on This CD is out of print though."

IS (1993)

Paul Hamingson Engineer/Gary McGachan,Michael Douglas,Bill Cooper - Assistant Engineer Gustavo Santaolalla ( - Vocals (Background) /Ed Stasium ( - Vocals (Background), Producer, Mixing
Lee Thornburg ( - Trumpet
Henry Marquez - Art Direction
Simon Hanhart ( - Producer, Mixing, Engineer
Brett Allen - Guitar,Technician
The Big F - Producer, Main Performer, Art Direction
Rob Brill - Drums, Vocals (Background)
Greg Calbi - Mastering
Mark Christian - Guitar, Vocals (Background)
John Crawford - Bass, Vocals
Bob Harris,Michael Lavine - Photography


01 Patience Peregrine (5.57)
02 Way Low To Be Low (5.16)
03 Wicked Thing (4.24)
04 Mother Mary (4.07)
05 Idiot Kid Heads Out (4.46)
06 Gone Ancient (3.36)
07 Mama Jame (4.23)
08 Fefofi (6.41)
09 Lube (8.56)

10 Three Headed Boris (5.50)
11 Towed (6.27)

Link to download:

"Pretty much every song off of "Is" is incredible. I never knew Rob Brill had it in him - the drum work is some of the best I've ever heard. The base line in Patience Peregrine kicks a lot of ass. I love those driving rhythms. Oh, and the vocals: very cool and showing a huge range. This is some really talented and heartfelt work (as raging as it is - but I dig that a lot - reminds me of the ol' moshing days!). The guitar is great to hear. It isn't overbearing or trying to be heavy - it's just honest, and it's so cool to see how the songs progress and the unexpected directions Mark Christian takes. The Big F, to me, is still pertinent music. The energy this music conveys is stuff I haven't heard since "Alternative" was really alternative, when Flea was slapping and popping (see Uplift Mofo Party Plan), when Jane's was still "shocking" (they're still kinda cool), and Pearl Jam could actually make you get up and move. Ahh, the good ol days. Anyway. The Big F was an incredible band."

"I agree, the Big F was an incredible band. I'm Listening to "Is" right now and the time changes in "mother mary" are seamless. And Mark's guitar noodle thing is awesome. Love the whole 6/8 time thing in "Patience Peregrine". It makes it drive.."

"The Big F is essentially Berlin, without the chick singing. But the music is much, much harder. Though nowhere near as slamming as their self-titled debut "Is" does contain some great songs with "Patience Peregrine" the stand-out track. A hard-driving rhythm section pounds behind anguished vocals and non-linear guitar playing to create a sound so original no one wanted to hear it. With their albums long out of print, used bins at record stores are about the only place to track their masterpieces down."

John Crawford about The Big F:
" The Big F was the ultimate anti-synthesizer band. We tried to make our music as raw and pure as possible. So, no, we never had any interest in keyboards for The Big F. Interestingly, that sound you hear in "Fefofi" is a wonderful little guitar part by Mark. He was actually quite upset it wasn’t mixed in louder. Upon reflection, he was right. It is a great part and should have been louder. For those who have a copy, I believe the part we are referring to is in the second verse. A little walking, high part that rolls back and forth like a programmed synth part. Remarkably, it is more Mark Christian genius. (There are lots of keys in "Mama Jame".)"

"I don’t think The Big F ever reached a point where Berlin became an issue. If we had reached a level of success where people began to take an interest in us it probably would have come up more. Honestly though, we never connected with anyone. The heavy metal crowd never understood us, and the “college radio” crowd found us too heavy. We could not find an audience.
I really don’t mind. I learned so much from Mark and Rob. It was an incredible experience and so different from Berlin. Mark and I were talking at dinner the other night, and we both remembered how at every show there would be members of other bands watching us. Alice in Chains were fans, L.A. Guns, Guns and Roses, The Cult.... Of the twenty people watching us at any given show, ten were from other bands. Getting good reviews was always fun too. It always felt great being called the next Robert Plant or Jim Morrison."(John Crawford)


"Speaking of loving music, enter The Big F.
As you can tell from the name of the band, The Big F was all about "flipping off" the record industry and their ideals. We were determined to present a band that was about the music and nothing else. Glossy picture of the band on the cover? We had no pictures. You want a lyric sheet? Listen harder. You will get no lyric sheet from us. If we were told a guitar solo should be ten seconds long we made it thirty seconds long. If the normal pop song was three minutes long, ours were six. If most songs were produced to sound well-mixed and easy to listen to, we made ours harsh and challenging. We even fought with each other on purpose to create energy and passion. We toured in a van, stayed in crummy motels, or slept in the van. We played every dumpy club in America, mostly half full. It was an explosion of pent-up emotion from two guys who were tired of being told what to do.
I am very proud of The Big F, but there is one thing I am especially proud of. We were signed to a record deal without the record label knowing we used to be in Berlin. We wanted the person who signed us to love what we were doing and not be influenced by our previous success. I was John Shreve and Rob was Rob Donin and we purposely never mentioned Berlin until right before the contracts were actually signed. Our A&R guy was actually upset that we did not tell him for fear that the connection with a more commercial synthesizer band (this was right after “Take My Breath Away”) would damage the credibility of a more aggressive guitar-oriented alternative band.
The Big F will be a whole Big T (for Topic) in the future. I had a blast, but after two albums found myself desiring a more stable life. Little did I know how hard I would find the transition between being asked for my autograph and doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, to changing diapers and being committed to a wife and child. Another topic as well. (John Crawford)(

This Los Angeles, USA trio comprised Mark Christian (guitar), John Shreve (bass, vocals) and Rob Donin (drums). Their trademark was a "mind-blowing wall of noise", dominated by crashing drums and screeching feedback, while vocalist Shreve screamed incessantly above the maelstrom. Psychedelia, Jimi Hendrix, the Stooges, the Cult and avant garde influences appeared as reference points. Shreve was in fact the alter ego of Berlin's John Crawford. Regardless, the sub-Led Zeppelin riffs and affected stylings of Big F were unlikely to find any success on the scale of "Take My Breath Away".

The Big F (Elektra 1989)
Patience Peregrine (EP) (1993)
Is (Chrysalis 1993)

More info:

Owner at Ranch Party Records; Recording artist, sesion player, songwriter, music producer.
and a member of Merle Jagger ( "an instrumental trio ready to blaze a new trail of amped up Country with a mix of Bluegrass and Rock, driven by Mark Christian's blazing, lightning fast electric guitar, banjo and mandolin"


Blogger iOsOLOsOi said...

What's up man?
I came here 'cause i advice that you had Tuxedomoon stuff in here, but i couldn't get any, well i specially wanted to get
Desire/No Tears bvt when i click to download i just get an advertisement of rapidshare that says file not found!
I hope that you read this and maybe you could share that album with me...

10:26 AM  

wow, this is a fantastic resource on a band that has intrigued me since the release of their self-titled record. In fact, the reason i'm here now is that i just happened to throw the s/t LP on for a listen, and thought to google 'Patience Peregrine' since i have no clue what happened to my CD of that one. Blog entries such as yours make these great bands that i discovered by digging thru boxes of $1 bargain discs years ago
so valuable decades later.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous The Hawg! said...

Wow. You summed it up perfectly -- "They sorta sound like Soundgarden with talent."

I was a junior in college when the band's first album came out and absolutely loved it. I love the second one, too, and I'm still amazed this great band never really got the attention it deserved.

There are very few Big F resources out there. Yours is wonderfully complete, so congratulations on that!

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Julio Gómez from El Salvador said...

Great band, all of their 3 albums kick ass.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good day...start off by saying LONG LIVE the MUSIC and SOUL of the BIG F...Still use that jazzed up final track LUBE to audition High End Loudspeakers for potential sells 'em everytime...followed by the question from the customer..."Who the Hell is this?...Freeking Great Stuff!!!"...
Big F...God Bless Guys and Thank You Very much for taking the time, back in the day, to record and give us your music

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you. Great band. their demo tape landed in my hands in 1989. a cousin who lived in USA gave it to me. It did not show the bands name and for 20 years it twisted my brain. Now because of your blog i finally have this kick ass rock and roll. Great band, talented musicians.Notice that i am Guatemalan. They are heard in central america.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HUGE fan of The Big F. Nice work on the resource page you have here.

The two albums are mandatory... but I also love the 'Patience Peregrine' e.p.... mainly for it being the only place to find the amazing track 'Three Headed Boris'.

There's now talk from Mark of doing shows with two new guys in celebrating that band's great catalog of tunes.

However, a BIG F*** off to the idiot who suggests Soundgarden lacks talent. Hard to take any other comments seriously when you lead with that line. (In fact, I remember making a tape for a friend that had Garden's "Louder Than Love" on one side, and the Big F debut on the other.)

If the hinted at shows become a reality, I hope people come out to support Mark.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Thanks so much for posting up that first album, I've been trying to hunt down a digital version of this album for the better part of a decade... Hunting everywhere. I only ever had cassettes of these albums, and it's been years since I've heard them.

Any chance of getting that second link reposted? It's coming up dead right now.

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...just wondering if you could repost these, as they seem to have disappeared...saw these guys live 3 times, always blew me away. I really wish people would've "got them" as their talent was truly amazing.

9:46 PM  
Blogger DLR said...

yeah , please put the albums again !
this is one of the best hard rock bands ever... cheers

6:26 PM  
Blogger javier white espasandin said...

please man fix links of is i cant find this album anywhere

2:01 AM  
Blogger javier white espasandin said...

please man fix links of is i cant find this album anywhere

2:02 AM  

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