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Big Big Train - Ingenious Devices CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.11 | 72 ratings

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Graeme W
3 stars The addition of a 17 piece string section certainly works for two of the three pieces treated - Brooklands is indeed given new life and a new dynamic in this version. Voyager also sounds fresh and renewed with plenty for the Big Big Train aficionado to listen out for, be it Dave Gregory's small guitar bursts, Rachel Hall's backing vocals or the enhanced bass sound from Gregory Spawton. The live version of Atlantic Cable from the 2022 Aylesbury gig is a subtle and interesting contrast between the "old" band (Manners, Gregory and Hall) from the three revisited tracks and the "new" members on stage at The Waterside Theatre - Oscar Holldorff, Dave Foster and Clare Lindley. It is also, more markedly, an opportunity to compare the vocal contributions from Alberto Bravin on Cable with the late David Longdon who passed away suddenly in 2021. Bravin is an admirable vocalist (and instrumentalist) with a similar range. He sounds comfortable with the old material and will no doubt be accepted warmly and readily during the upcoming European tour. There are two other tracks on this album, a short segueing piece for strings entitled The Book Of Ingenious Devices which slides comfortably between Brooklands and the opening track, the much admired, nay revered, East Coast Racer. Since 2015 it has been a cornerstone of Big Big Train's live shows and the closing section, especially composed by keyboard player Danny Manners has been faithfully re-recorded for this version. East Coast Racer is a difficult song to add to, the original being a masterpiece of writing, studio performing and Rob Aubrey's immaculate production; even adding the full string section was going to be a difficult enterprise. Does it work? Yes insomuch that the scale of an already epic song now easily takes over any sound system. The price to be paid for these added riches however is to push David Longdon's previously expansive vocals towards the back of the mix; at times they seem to dwindle to nothing. As the instrumental parts of ECR had been re-recorded by the original players prior to Longdon's passing in preparation for this project perhaps it would have been an opportunity for the new vocalist to record over the existing re-recordings and put his own voice to the song. An opportunity missed possibly.
Graeme W | 3/5 |


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