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Big Big Train - Grimspound CD (album) cover

GRIMSPOUND

Big Big Train

 

Crossover Prog

4.05 | 314 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Crossover Prog Team
5 stars Over the last few years Big Big Train have been making a real name for themselves in the prog world, but I have missed out on the last few albums, so haven't really been fully aware of what has been going on. To me they will always be special, the first band ever to send me something to review, and I still have that 1991 demo tape, 'From The River To The Sea', and I am looking at it now. My brain has real issues in understanding that this small independently recorded and released cassette is the same band who are now playing this incredibly complex and professional music that is coming out of my speakers. True, there have been one or two line-up changes over the years, and they have gone from a five-piece to an octet, but Andy Poole and Greg Spawton were there at the very beginning, and they are still there now (while then-drummer Steve Hughes has separately gone on to be a recording artist in his own right).

It is interesting to note not only the people in the band, but the instruments being played, as it does give an insight into the complex and layered nature of the music. These days it is David Longdon (lead and backing vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, mandolin, percussion), Dave Gregory (guitars), Andy Poole (acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards, backing vocals), Rikard Sjöblom (keyboards, guitars, accordion, backing vocals), Danny Manners (keyboards, double bass), Rachel Hall (violin, viola, cello, lead and backing vocals, string arrangements), Greg Spawton (bass, bass pedals, acoustic guitar, backing vocals) and Nick D'Virgilio (drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals). If that wasn't enough, they have the one and only Judy Dyble guesting on vocals on one number as well.

I will never forget Greg making a beeline for me when he saw me in a pub in Winchester as he wanted to know what I thought about their new album, and I had to admit that I didn't like it as I felt they had moved too far away from their sound and it was nothing like I expected to hear from BBT (I later changed my mind after I had played it some more, honest). But, this is not a release that I would ever have expected to hear from the Dorset boys, as this is something of incredible depth and layers. I think one of the things that really makes this album work so much for me is that it is obvious that everyone involved is a master of their craft, but they are all incredibly restrained and working together to provide what is right for the music. I have been lucky to see Nick play live with Spock's Beard numerous times, and have many albums on which he has performed, but this must be the most laid-back I have ever heard him. In many ways, the lead instrument is that of Rachel, but it only works as it does due to the backdrop that is provided against it ? which can be a 'simple' acoustic guitar, or something far more powerful.

Dave Longdon has a wonderful voice, and it his vocals, combined with the melodies and instrumentation that makes this a very special album indeed. According to ProgArchives they released the best live album of 2016, and I would have thought that the chances of this being the top 2017 studio album are very high indeed. I was one of the very first reviewers of their music, and back in December 1991 I said, "If you like Genesis (prog not pop), Galahad or Marillion, then this is the band for you". More than twenty- five years on, I am pleased to amend that, and just say that here is a band for lovers of all great music, whatever the genre. Superb.

kev rowland | 5/5 |

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