This song helped turn me on to Alt-Rock. There was a homemade-looking video that MTV aired a few times. It was kinda grainy and unfocused, which suited this song well as it sounds like it's coming from far away. Still rocking, though. There are moments of shimmery clean guitar that compliment the grunge perfectly. The intro is also shimmery & cool. It takes it's time washing over you before the drums come in. A classic. This whole album is a classic. Only one misfire on it, Bandwagonesque was Spin Magazines record of the year for 1991, eclipsing Nevermind and a host of others in that magical year.
The alt/rock cover band I front in my dreams plays this song at the end of every gig. Why? It's the perfect last-gig song; It's slow, it's soulful, and it pretends to the sophistication every college-age hipster does. The whole album Saturation has that feel to it, this song is just the perfect denouement.
An even funkier hit single than "Sledgehammer" ? which had an epic groove but was too slow to actually dance to ? "Big Time" is a sardonic response to yuppie materialism with the funniest lyrics of Peter Gabriel's entire career. (The ending of the song, stopping just before the obvious punch line to all this discussion of how preternaturally huge everything in Gabriel's charmed life is, is a small moment of brilliance.) But the brilliance of the song is in the way it ties all that Gabriel had been learning about African percussion and Middle Eastern melodies ever since the days of his third solo album and ties them all into the service of a walloping great groove, making plain the connections between North Africa and Stax-Volt once and for all. The combination of talking drum and wah-wah guitar owes as much to Booker T and the MGs as it does to King Sunny Ade, which is both the key to "Big Time" and a clue as to why Gabriel's later, more explicitly world music focused albums just aren't as much fun.