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Big Big Train - Gathering Speed CD (album) cover

GATHERING SPEED

Big Big Train

 

Crossover Prog

3.67 | 215 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Crossover Prog Team
4 stars Big Big Train have only ever had one weakness in their musical arsenal, that of vocals. For their fourth album they have definitely got to grips with that by bringing in singer Sean Filkins. Sean used to be in Lorien, whose SI album 'Children's Games' I reviewed some eleven years ago in #22 (by the way ? I still have the press photo ? blackmail can be a powerful thing). Although the music for this concept album was basically written prior to his involvement, it sounds as if he has been there from the outset. It is strange to think that apart from Sean and additional vocalist Laura Murch, the other four guys were all there at the beginning, some thirteen years ago. Mind you, the only constants in the intervening time have been guitarist Greg Spawton and bassist Andy Poole, but the guys have come back together in order to produce their masterpiece.

This album tells the story of a spitfire pilot who is shot down during the Battle Of Britain, and is easily their most musically complex to date. It has an extremely polished sound (due in no small part to the involvement of Rob Aubrey), but the layered vocals fit in with the different sections so that it is hard to imagine the band sounding any other way. In parts it is almost Floydian as the music moves like waves, with plenty of space for the music to get into the psyche. Starting with the roaring of merlin engines flying overhead, the gentle almost Genesis-style guitars soon become much harsher, showing that here is a band with their own musical identity ? it goes back to the classic days of the early Seventies but is also very much for today. Even though the songs aren't exactly short, there is the feeling throughout that there is definite structure which gives the music definition and purpose.

There is just so many good things to say about this CD that by far the easiest is just that if you like modern progressive rock then this is an album to savour. This really is a million miles away from 'From The River To The Sea' (thinking about it, I probably have photos of the band from then as well ? I must get them out of my file?). They seriously thought about ending the band after 'Bard' ? that in itself was a great album, but this is even better. For more details visit the good site www.bigbigtrain.com.

originally appeared in Feedback #79, June 2004

kev rowland | 4/5 |

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