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Big Big Train - The Underfall Yard CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.21 | 852 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Sets the pattern, then rises to the BBT top

Before reviewing Grimspound, I thought it best to start with this, the archetype for the current BBT sound. The first album with David Longdon, who would not only come to significantly characterize the BBT sound ever since, but also become a major song-writer for the band (although not on this album, which is 100 percent composed by Greg Spawton), this album really sets the pattern for what would follow, all the way to the present. While I think that subsequent BBT albums follow a bit too closely to the pattern set here on Underfall Yard (with its themes of industrial decline and decay, the rusting out of the UK and old ways of life), I have to admit it works brilliantly here. The lyrics have enough diversity, ambivalence and metaphor to keep them interesting (while still sticking to the main theme), and Longdon's singing is excellent all the way through (including more harmonies than found on later albums), even if (in my opinion) this album conjures up Genesis too much. But the key thing is the music. I have listened to all the BBT albums since this one many many times now, and while I first found The Underfall Yard to be too refractive of Genesis, it has risen slowly to the top of their catalogue for me, based on the quality of the music. There is not a bad song on the album ("Last Train" is the weakest, but I never skip it), and the album contains some of the strongest BBT compositions in their repertoire. "Victorian Brickwork" and the title track in particular are standouts, and have become essential to their live shows. The album is more refined, consistent, and efficient than the (excellent) English Electric album(s), and consistently maintains interest better than (say) Folklore. This is the album against which I now judge all subsequent BBT albums. While I agree that later albums have helped them refine even more their own sound, without as much obvious Genesis influence, I think the quality of composition on this one makes it their top studio album. I give it 9.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just enough to garner it 5 PA stars.

Walkscore | 5/5 |


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