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Big Big Train - Bard CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

3.10 | 162 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Big Big Train have always been a special band for me, especially their earlier albums, which I've come to enjoy a fair bit. I won't disagree that David Longdon's arrival heralded the band's best era, but I feel as though the five albums that came before him are often overlooked as a result. And of those albums, none are more left out than Bard.

This is the one album that Greg Spawton and company seem to have no plans to reissue, and on first listen, it's understandable: A lot of the music is laid-back and sleepy, Tony Müller's gruff vocals are present throughout most of the album, and the instrumental bits can meander, most notably the latter ten minutes of Broken English being entirely instrumental. In spite of all this, however, Bard has become the one album of Big Big Train's early five that I listen to the most often, and I've grown to appreciate it and its faults a lot.

In spite of the album's laid-back sound, the band crafts some nice soundscapes with it in mind, such as the slow, longing guitar lines in The Last English King, and the synthy calm of the interlude connecting For Winter and A Long Finish. While Müller's vocals may be rough, they are balanced out by the contributions from Jo Michaels and Martin Read, and Read's final appearance, on A Short Visit To Earth, is perhaps the album's finest moment, with Read's hushed, melancholic vocals perfectly matching the sense of longing the lyrics and music exude. And while the instrumental sections can go on for too long, they still add to the album, with the ten-minute coda to Broken English serving as one of the album's more hard-edged moments, and A Long Finish providing callbacks to previous songs on the album and ultimately bringing the album full circle by closing with the opening of The Last English King.

It's a shame that Bard has never been reissued, as while it does have its faults, there's moments of beauty to be discovered within, and it's likely to be appreciated by those inclined to more laid-back affairs. In any case, it's certainly an album that I'll enjoy for years to come.

Wise_Person | 4/5 |


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