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Big Big Train - Goodbye to the Age of Steam CD (album) cover

GOODBYE TO THE AGE OF STEAM

Big Big Train

 

Crossover Prog

3.48 | 194 ratings

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Dapper~Blueberries
3 stars So a review for a band that I've been checking out quite a bit. So, Big Big Train, one of modern prog's more staple bands with their unique blending of a more English and old British sound with a more neo-Prog or symphonic Prog sound. I've been loving their music for quite a bit so far, and I've heard albums like English Electric and Gathering Speed, which were really great Prog albums in of themselves, but I was curious to see what their first was. The album that basically birthed this band into the light of the Prog scene was one that I was fairly interested in, so I decided to check out what this album had to offer, mostly to see how they evolved from this root in their career.

So this album genuinely surprised me after my first listen due to how it sounds. Many songs here sound completely different from their other albums and a lot more like songs you'd hear from Neo Prog groups, specifically IQ, but more on the edge of Nomzamo or Are You Sitting Comfortably type of IQ with that more pop and new wave style of prog, now I won't say this is a bad thing, but it definitely leads into some minor complaints, which I'll get into later.

So the album starts with Wind Distorted Pioneers. I find this a very neat opener for this album since it starts off very proggy, but shifts to a slower and more rock-like tune. I honestly like this song as an opener, it gets the gears turning to what might come further with this album, and one of the most interesting thing that hits you nearly immediately is the singing, the late David Longdon doesn't sing on this album at all with Martin Read taking up the opportunity instead, and it was a bit jarring since David Longdon was someone I'd see was the conductor of this train with him appearing on a lot live album covers, promotional material, and photos of the band, so it was both interesting but also jarring to not hear David's more older and more British sounding vocals on this album and instead experiencing someone else's vocal performance.

Next song is Head Hit The Pillow, and this is where we can fully see the whole new wave sound that was at the time, still kinda big. Again I hear a lot of influence from early IQ and I really dig this song, but I also do not in a weird way. The sound isn't bad, but it doesn't feel like that staple Big Big Train sound, and I know that this is their first album and they wanted to try and find their sound, but with this I feel like I am not getting at least a hint of what that sound might be. They were clearly trying to make a Neo Prog sound, but my guess was they also wanted to be more pop-like to get more sales so they springboard into a more progressive sound with ease, which is not bad, it's just kinda odd for me. I believe that's my issue with this album, it doesn't feel like Big Big Train, it feels like a completely different band and there is no hint of what the band would become anywhere which certainly is a miss in my eyes when checking out first releases of a band's work.

Next we'll skip a bit of songs and get into Dragon Bone Hill. So this track is rather unique. A lot of the songs here are very loud and proud, full of pop and new wave Prog songs, and then there is this, an instrumental acoustic song. I feel like, unlike many of the songs on this album, this does show a bit of the hint of the slower and more contemporary side of Big Big Train and honestly I am quite for it. This also reminds me of the late Nick Drake and his Five Leaves Left album, which I feel this song sounds kinda like a tribute to that artist with how the guitar is being played, being more softer and more lavish and beautiful than jamming and powerful, which I think is good and necessary for a more upbeat driven LP like this.

Skipping ahead we have Blue Silver Red, which I consider to be the band's first major epic. Again keeping with a Neo Prog sound, but they try a bit more different things here since they have room to really stretch their legs and try somethings new here. Still doesn't sound like what Big Big Train would become, but here you can definitely feel those strong eclectic gears turn with this song as opposed to the others, and with that fact I feel like this is the best song on the album by a long shot, but my main issue is that at the end, it doesn't feel like should've ended in that way, it feels like it should've done a bit more in my opinion and it was a bit of a downer when that played, and I was just sitting there like "Oh, that's it? The song is over?" which is and shouldn't be a good thing to hear from anyone reviewing your album or just listening to it.

And with that, my review for Big Big Train's Goodbye To The Age of Steam is done. So I thought this album was good, and very interesting to hear what the early form of the band sounded like. Obviously it wasn't the best due to the lack of what makes the band in later incarnations really pop out in a lot of Prog spaces, but they definitely showcase a knack for making good progressive music, even if it's in a different form unlike most of their stuff beyond. So I can safely say that I really did enjoy this album, but not as much as their other works obviously.

Dapper~Blueberries | 3/5 |

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