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


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.18 | 808 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars There are some albums that I like to consider as masterpieces in their own league, whether that be based on artistic intent, beauty, or its own charm that bands seem to not dabble as much in. This album is sort of the ladder in this retrospect. I really love Big Big Train a ton. I love their more English and sorta rustic approach to Progressive rock. They have this sorta feeling within them that makes them stand out among the crowd of bands trying to recapture what made Prog in the 70s so special (no offense by the way). Now if there is one album that I must say represents this band's unique sound and stylings, that would be The Underfall Yard. This is the album that really broke the mold for them and it made them stand on their own feet. So I decided to re-listen to it and review it with all my heart and soul.

The first song is Evening Star. This is a very good opener for the album. Mostly instrumental with the occasional choir vocals backing it up. What I adore on this song is how it, one, introduces the sorta sound and style found on this album, and two, how it builds into a very nice crescendo. The band allows this song to breathe on its own for a while until it bursts into this beautiful energy of sounds and art. For an opener track this strong, it would be a disservice not to at least give this album a full listen.

The next song is Master James of St. George, a song about James of St. George and how he built castles of stone and blood, but due to modern times rolling in, they were destroyed for railways, introducing a core idea the band has with trains and English legends. I gotta say, I adore this song a ton. The lyrics are mostly a repetition of the verse and chorus, being that of the title and the line "Of the fields and the sky, He used to build castles of stone, Steel and blood, But lines get broken down." However it never feels too annoying, mostly due to the late David Longdon's lush and beautiful vocals, and how the song goes into an instrumental segment in the middle to most likely allow some breathing room. I love how this song just goes from point a to b to c in a great and consistent pace. Nothing feels too slow or too fast, just great all around. Also, the drums on this song, and most of all on this album, is just great. Super punchy, but also delicate and beautiful. Nick D'Virgilio is very talented and shouldn't be underestimated.

The next song is the first real big one, being Victorian Brickwork. A 12 minute piece of amazing sounds and movements. Like the previous song, it has a wonderful pace that allows itself to breathe through the listener without it feeling too wild or inconsistent. Even when there is a clear chord or drumming change, it feels as though it never really loses its ideals or goals, and even near the end where it gets a bit different with the lack of drums and horns, it just feels super connected and grand. I really love those final 5 or 4 minutes of this song. Super pretty, super bright, and just super well done. I gotta commend the arrangements here, cause they are wonderful. I gotta commend David Longdon's vocals again, cause they are truly great. Super old and rustic, and clearly homegrown, but they feel perfect for Big Big Train's sound. The lyricism is also great, continuing the themes of times changing with the basis of trains and engines. From what I can tell, it's about a boy who works at a train yard, and gets swept up in time which is symbolized as ocean tides. It really gives you the idea that while the modern day is good technology wise, those old feelings of the past and its tech cannot be underestimated.

After that, we have, Last Train. Just another super well done song from the boys, still keeping up with that beautiful, ever changing yet consistently grand sound. I love how this song gives the guitars a time to really shine. They did have their moments in the last songs, but here, especially through the middle to the near end point, it just solos it out and allows itself to really puncture you in those good feelings. I gotta say, Greg Spawton really excels on here, and you can just feel his enjoyment in his solo. Just super crisp, punchy, but never feeling half-baked or in your face. It allows you to breathe and jam out with it. The lyrics this time seem to be telling about death and how people may experience entering the afterlife in different ways, either by getting on a train, going North, or just leaving to go back to your house. I love how it makes you have your own thoughts on what the entryway to the afterlife will be like for you. A little dark, but kinda hopeful in a way.

Next track is Winchester Diver. I gotta say, I love this track, super nice, super well breathable, and a bit more quiet in terms of the songs on this album (until the last few minutes). Still super well done, but I have to say, this may be the weakest point on the album. Again, it is not bad, it is really well done, but I have to admit, it's a bit forgettable. Whenever I listen to this album, after Last Train I always expect The Underfall Yard (which we'll get to next) will play, but then Winchester Diver plays, and I am slightly taken aback by this song. I guess that is the only really big criticism for this album, but in the sea of amazing songs, something a little small as a great but sorta weaker song doesn't hurt, it's just a bump on the road is all.

And now we are at the last song, The Underfall Yard. This is a big 22 minute epic that continues the sounds and performances from the previous songs, but buffs it up to something even greater. The start of the song is super joyous and gives a sorta symphonic neo-prog vibe, much like IQ or Anubis, but unlike them, they really take those fundamentals and just lay them out to really make one great piece, plus they allow Greg Spawton to shine once more with some fabulous guitar solos. Speaking of those solos, they allow the song to get a little weird, sometimes with more unconventional drumming or instrumentation, but it's not too forcefully done, just a little nudge in the unconventional direction, which I really like. Around the middle, it gets a bit quieter, and a bit delicate, which allows the vocal works to shine a lot. I just love the size and shape David's vocals have, I don't know if it's because of the reverb or how lush it gets, but it's just beautiful. I gotta commend also to how the song just feels throughout its run. Again, the band really has the gift of arranging and crafting songs to make them feel consistent in their pacing while also changing them enough to not feel boring or seriously annoying. Segment of this song feels half baked, everything feels super laid out in how they made it that it just blows me away every time I hear it. This is where the band just really shines in their full force, this is where they are at their peak of creativity, playing, and style, and when David just belts out the title of the song at full force, it just sends shivers down my spine. For one last commendation for this song, it just has to be the reprisal of the start of the song with those great and hooky chords that just evolve into a great guitar solo by the ever so lovely Greg Spawton, and how it leads to a beautiful ending that just ties a fat and amazing bow around this whole album. It goes full circle for this experience, it's so majestic that you really have to hear it for yourself to really get the full picture of it.

Fellas, this is just an amazing masterpiece. I really do mean it when I say that this is a must listen for anyone. Every bit of it feels so good and so grand that it really just punctures your soul in the best way yet. Go listen to this album, heck if I had the money I would even say buy this album, digitally or physically, cause this album is straight gold from start to end. Get it on vinyl, or cd, or download the album, whatever, just go support this band cause they really do deserve more recognition than ever for their stuff. All in all, a masterpiece that needs all the recognition it can get.

Dapper~Blueberries | 5/5 |


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