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Big Big Train - English Electric (Part Two) CD (album) cover


Big Big Train

Crossover Prog

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5 stars yep their back! big big train returns this 2013 with english electric part two!! its one of the gems of this year of course including sir steven wilson and riverside. i want to rate this album 4.5 out of 5... great contribucion from big big train i consider it an essential piece for prog heads like me and you i highly recomend you listen to part 1 first (which i liked more) if it helps my favourite songs from this great contribucion are. "east coast racer", "worked out", "leopards" and "the permanent way". the other songs are great tunes also but those were the songs i most enjoyed!


Report this review (#921297)
Posted Saturday, March 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Received a copy on Saturday March 2 (pre-ordered). Amazing amazing album. This year is one of the great year of prog. SW and Riverside did excellent jobs with their new releases early 2013. However, IMHO this one will be a leading contender for the best release of the year. The English Electric Saga is now concluded beautifully.

I always have a soft spot for a majestic/grandeur opener. From the first track...and I am sold. Let me say this, the "East Coast Racer" is one of a very few track that when I first listened, I literally smile, alone, like a wackjob. Other tracks are equally impressive. I especially love the third "Work Out", the excellent sixth "The Permanent Way" and the great closer seventh "Curator of the Butterfly." Ahh... throughout Part 2, many musical theme from Part 1 has been employed seamlessly. Beautifully played, written, mixed and produced. Quality-wise, it is near perfect. I only wish they release this in a higher definition too so that I could have some more multiple eargasms :D

On a side story, my first try I let it ran for 3 spins, non-stop. My girlfriend, who usually enjoy mainstream musics, saw that I was lost for hours then came join me in the living room (where the stereo is). With me she listened to the whole album quietly and ask me to rip her a digital copy, as she specifically demanded, IN LOSSLESS FORMAT. Epic...period.

Report this review (#922924)
Posted Sunday, March 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow.

Downloaded today from Bandcamp for an unbelievable price. It cost me about $7 Australian, in the end. And I'll say this: It may well be the best $7 I'll spend this year. Just as an aside: I'll be in England in October/November...if anyone from the BBT management is reading this...I can think of no time finer for a tour...

But, seriously.

Big Big Train may very well be my current favourite band. Last year's album English Electric Part One, was an absolute phenomenon that got better with every listen. The songs were varied, unique and generally amazing. And Part Two follows that trend, and maintains a similar sound with a few differences.

Part One was very pastoral, very English as the title suggests, there was an abundance of woodwind, strings and choirs (or at least choral keyboard sounds). Part Two loses a bit of the woodwind and choirs although there is some flute present but tends to more heavily use the piano. There is also a wonderful brass section in one song, and of course, there is still LOTS of beautiful string arrangements. I love woodwind, and Part One had a very early-Genesis (maybe even Jethro Tull? Was never a big fan) feel to it. This perhaps come across as slightly more serious, which is perhaps fitting given, after the success of Part One, they are certainly a band that ought to be taken more seriously.

These changes do not effect the quality of the music, at all. There are still terrific moments of grandeur, particularly with the strings and guitar, and there are many very emotional moments with Longdon's beautiful singing and the heavy use of piano. I would have liked to heard a bit of Nick in vocals. Nick has a beautiful voice and would have complemented David's lead vocals very well.

One of my favourite moments was the reprise of Hedgerow (from Part One) in "The Permanent Way", the second last track on the album.

I hope this band, and fans of the band, realise just how lucky they are to have someone so talented as Nick D'Virgilio on drums. This man is insane in the best possible way. I was disappointed when he left Spock's, but now perhaps I can see where he was coming from. The entire lot of them are fantastic musicians, as one might hope from one of the best prog bands going around. The guest musicians employed on strings are, of course, magnificent too.

If you enjoyed Part One, you will enjoy Part Two. It does not disappoint.

Report this review (#923733)
Posted Monday, March 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Big Big Train have accomplished a lot since I first encountered them back in the 90's, with a first album that I found a bit unremarkable back then, and it's safe to say to they're now one of the most interesting band to come out of England in a while. Reading up on the band, I notice that they're often compared to Genesis, and while it's true that there are some similarities to their mid-70's period (mainly the "First Rebreather" theme, which appears on this album also), I'd say they share more of a "philosophical" connection, with BBT's main themes centered around a "lost England", which was also a preoccupation of Gabriel & co.

Compared to Part One, there is nothing here as jubilant as "The First Rebreather" or "Judas Unrepentant", and it's probably a darker album, but you sense that this is very much a companion piece, and not a collection of rejects that didn't deserve to be on the main album. Big Big Train's music is not very complex, but their sound palette is very rich, with violin, flute, brass, accordion and even sitar, to complement the classic instruments - the band even use one of the best song on the album, "Keeper of Abbeys", as a showcase for all of them. Highlights include East Coast Racer, a very moody 15-minute epic, and The Permanent Way, with it's great ending. With what now appears to be a stable lineup, the band is very tight and sounds like a well-oiled unit. I always liked Nick D'Virgilio's playing with Spock's Beard and it's a delight to find him here. A great drummer who keeps the whole band well grounded with his precise playing.

Report this review (#923748)
Posted Monday, March 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Big Big Train in its present form, with original members Greg Spawton and Andy Poole at the helm with comrades David Longdon, Dave Gregory, Nick D'Virgilio and Danny Manners in the regular crew and the likes of fine trombonist Dave Desmond, equally fine violinist Rachel Hall, the heroic Andy Tillison and many more making important guest contributions to the two latest albums, is a formidable band that if there was any justice in the world should be headlining the music pages and magazines worldwide!! English Electric Part 1 was my number one album of last year without a shadow of a doubt and is also in my opinion on par with Selling England, Going For The One and the other old-school classics from the seventies. The "Rev" Rob Aubrey of Aubitt Studios put his remarkable sign of quality on that album. With this in mind I have been struggling with a strong anticipation and also a little fright at the prospect of the release of English Electric Part 2. But, alas, did I really have to worry about anything after all? Heavens no! This album shows us a mature band at their peak musically, lyrically, aesthetically, emotionally and in many more respects as well. There is not one weak moment here and not on Part 1 either for that matter. Show me any band of any genre who have succeeded with that in the last, say, 35 years. And did I say that Rob Aubreys shining production is totally amazing in how it gives every instrument, electrified or acoustic, its proper place and amount of contribution to the warm soundscape? Pure excellence there!! David Longdon sings like a God as always, Nick D'Virgilios effective and joyous drumming is giving the word tastefulness a new meaning and there are enough other individual musical goodies (Dave Gregorys absolutely stellar guitar playing in songs like Keeper of Abbeys for example) spread across the album to make any musiclover do cartwheels of pure joy. But I will let ye all get to know about all this yourselves and stop my happy rampbling here. Spread the word about this band, outside our ranks of progressive rock lovers! And allow yourselves the utter pleasure of hearing the best prog you can find these days! So a 5 for this one (or 5+ actually) is no exaggerated grading me thinks!! Cheers chaps and chapesses! :D
Report this review (#924852)
Posted Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars In the wake of 2013 and yet we already have such a great albums so far. Mr wilson Magnum Opus and Riverside with SONGS finally reached maturity. And now this!, after less than 6 months of making one of the greatest prog albums in history this english fellows came up with this masterpiece. Orchestration, tight sound, excellent mix and a band that shines at all times wherever you try to listen. I confessed that im just starting my second listen as i write this review, but the feelings ellicited, forced me to write tis review, urging you all to spread the word about this magnificent group, true pioneers of what i hope will be a new era in symphonic prog. The only bad thing about it is wandering about how can they or anyone top this astonishing gem.

rating 5.5 /5

Best regards A new die hard fan of BBT

Report this review (#925316)
Posted Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just a few short months since Big Big Train released the generally very loved up "English Electric Part 1" we are here again for more with Part 2.

What can I say that hasn't been said already. Well, actually nothing. Nothing at all.

"It's the best thing I have ever heard"..."10 out of 10 isn't enough so I'm giving it...11", "Oh my god I want to be buried with this album, its THAT good." There are so many fan written superlatives for this album it's hard to see why this album isn't a must buy. If nothing else the album represents great value at around Ł8.00. You could barely get an egg cup full of petrol for that and I'm sure the album would last longer. Unless of course you use the petrol to set fire to something big that burned for a long time.. No don't do that. Buy the album instead.

Don't be tempted to download it. Not only would you miss out on the rather nicely packaged album but you would rob BBT of their morning BLT, and their license fee for the BBC. Which would be a shame as their music supplements the content of BBC4 very well.

So go on, I'll add my voice to many people who have already reviewed this album. "OMG,'s so good. I'm going to listen to this every day until it turns me into some kind of weird internet meant fan... not stalker..."

Report this review (#925658)
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
4 stars Disclaimer: This review was first written for and published on

Last year saw the release of an amazing album by a band that has been around the block: Big Big Train. The album, "English Electric, Part 1", inferred another album to follow, and this year Big Big Train have delivered. "English Electric, Part 2" is the second part of an opus that pines and reminisces about the good ol' English working man. These songs are not always happy, for these working men have and always will be taken advantage of by those in power. I do believe that Part 1 was a little more impactful and emotive in the presentation of the sorrow ("A Boy in Darkness" blew me away last year) and the nostalgia, however. Still, it's a nice atmosphere.

Part 1 saw Big Big Train at its finest: Last year's album floored me in terms of melody, composition, and overall quality. It was on my Top 10 list for 2012, and I can see myself listening to it for many years to come. Part 2, on the other hand, does not quite reach the same greatness. Honestly, however, I do not think anyone can fairly expect the same level of excellence, for Part 1 was an album for the ages: an instant classic.

What makes Part 2 inferior, you ask? I'm not sure I would use the word "inferior". It certainly does not jive with me as perfectly as Part 1, but the overall composition, melody, theme, and quality are all there. In fact, without Part 1, this album may have blown me away completely. This band has the chops that many metal bands do not even have, and they can play an eclectic range of instruments, from the flute to the mellotron and many others. They have the compositional skills that many in the prog world covet as they can craft perfect songs from epics (such as the track East Coast Racer) to ballads (Leopards). If anything, I feel that the songs are not quite as catchy or instantly classic as on Part 1, but only by a small margin. Their music is always interesting, and the gorgeous flute and violin accompaniments set them apart from many other bands. This album has all of this and more.

The band even made sure that Part 1 and Part 2 feel like parts of a whole as the overture from the track "Hedgerow" on Part 1 makes an appearance at the end of this album. I feel that it tied up the opus quite nicely. So, this album has everything that made Part 1 great, yet I feel that it is slightly lacking. The only reason I can think up is that Big Big Train outdid themselves---just in reverse. They built up hype for this album simply by releasing such an amazing album last year, but they couldn't top it this year. It is a little bit disappointing, but not so much when you realize the heights that they would have to scale in order to top Part 1. In terms of favorites, right now I would point to "Keeper of Abbeys" and "Curator of Butterflies" as the best tracks, although "East Coast Racer" is excellent as well.

All in all, Big Big Train beat themselves at their own game. They released an instant classic in 2012, but still managed to release another excellent album in 2013. All the elements are here for great prog rock, but this release is less impactful and emotive than Part 1. No matter what, however, this is a must-own album for fans of prog rock.

Report this review (#933354)
Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars It seems that progressive music with mood and melody is thriving nowadays, with the bar continually being raised. Bands like Cirrus Bay, Echolyn, Thieves Kitchen, and of course Big Big Train, who themselves seems to continually improve, raising that bar ever so slightly higher with each release. One thing about Big Big Train, their song writing has always been top notch. Earlier releases will find great tracks like 'The Shipping Forecast' (English Boy Wonders), and 'For Winter' (Bard), songs that can rival the current incarnation in terms of composition. What is markedly more impressive with later releases is the arrangements and production. The use of horns, strings, and a myriad of sundry instrumentation give the music a depth virtually unequalled in modern progressive music, lending a needed organic feel to these moody songs, that call for it, hearkening an earlier time in the annals of English history, and the passion and pain of those times is felt, a feat I imagine is difficult for a composer to accomplish, and yet it is accomplished very well. The album opens with a stunner, 'East Coast Racer', as good a track as they've ever done, and an early contender for song of the year. So far it has my vote. The other six tracks are all excellent as well, perhaps dipping just a little in 'Keeper of Abbeys' which has less in the way of chording, where they normally excel. But even this song has an excellent gypsy-like middle section, giving weight to the claim that Big Big Train gets more interesting with every release. I like the fact that they have slowed down just a bit on EE2, allowing the layers upon layers of heartfelt emotion to really shine through. I can't in good conscience give less than five stars for an extremely well written and arranged collection of music.
Report this review (#933366)
Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just as I had been wrong about BBT's ability to outdo itself after 'The Underfall Yard' with EE1, here I am once again proven wrong with the release of 'English Electric Part Two'. Though my love for EE1 is huge, I must admit after many listens that EE2 surpasses its predecessor.

It is a more expansive and daring album, venturing further into symphonic prog which was only hinted at on EE1. This album also features quite a bit more guitar (although not to the point of being annoying or cliched) than EE1.

BBT are peaking as a group right now and may be the best in the business at what they do - sublime, complex compositions accompanied by thoughtful & skilled musicianship.

In an album full of highlights, "East Coast Racer", "Swan Hunter", "Worked Out", and "The Permanent Way" are the best of the lot - the latter even recalling some musical & lyrical themes from EE1.

Along with Steven Wilson's newest release, this is already a strong candidate for prog album of the year, in my humble opinion.

Report this review (#933415)
Posted Thursday, March 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
5 stars Last year Greg kindly sent me a copy of the new Big Big Train album, 'English Electric (Part One)', continuing a relationship that goes back for more than 20 years when the band became the first ones ever to send me music to review that I hadn't paid for. Back then it started me thinking about how I could expand the magazine I ran, and Feedback went from strength to strength. Well, after he had sent me the last album in 2012 I reviewed it for and was then approached by one of the site administrators as they wished to know how I had hold of a copy of the album which at that point was yet to be released. I explained the situation, my history etc, and the next thing I knew was that I had been invited to become a prog reviewer to the site instead of just a contributor. So all these years down the track, BBT are still impacting what I am doing.

Now, I rated their last album as one of my top for 2012 and I can see that I'm not exactly in a minority as it is second on progarchives' top albums for 2012, while the new one is currently a smidgen away from the very top spot for 2013: it will be interesting to see if BBT or Steven Wilson are number one by the end of the year. The band describe this album as continuing 'its' journey across the English landscape with an album of seven new songs which tell further tales of the men and women who work on and under the land. Along the way, stories are told of the shipbuilders in Neptune's Yard, of a machine that burned its legend across the pages of the history books, of a keeper of abbeys and a curator of butterflies, and of a second chance at love.'

The word I used to describe the last album was 'maturity', and again that is very much in evidence here. How often do you hear NDV providing straight 4/4? Well there are sections where he is doing just that and others where he makes his presence felt by not playing at all. There is loads of space within this album, as if the guys just relaxed and became conduits for the music and didn't force anything at all. If it felt right then they did it, and if it felt right not to do anything well that was good as well. Musically this is prog, at least for the most part, but they move all over the shop and touch into classic rock, pop, Genesis and anything else that takes their fancy. It is such a grown up album, one that the Dorset lads couldn't have imagined producing all those years ago when they started. The other day I had all of my music out of the shed as I was checking to see how much shelf space it all needed (going up in two weeks time!!), and I came across that early BBT tape. I looked at the photo of the guys, and thought just how much everything had changed. And it is all for the better. A dreamy, wonderful prog album that belongs in everyone's collection, and it can be purchased directly from the band or as a download. Go to for more details.

Report this review (#934543)
Posted Sunday, March 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Being a huge fan of EE part 1, I had high expectations when I purchased this album. This album just blew me away though. No offense to Steven Wilson, but this here is the album of the year. When I was trying to figure out what made this album so much better than part 1, it dawned on me that part 1 was an amazing collection of songs, it was missing something. That thing is cohesiveness. The thing that can take an amazing collection of songs and turn them into one big album greater than the sum of its parts. Part 2 has the cohesiveness that part 1 lacks. It just flows better and nothing felt out of place. With that said, It's hard to imagine that a year ago, I didn't know this band existed and now they're one of my favorites. While they'll probably never top this, I hope that BBT continues to put out excellent music in the future.
Report this review (#938110)
Posted Monday, April 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars I think of Big Big Train in the same terms as I think of acts like Galahad or Final Conflict - groups who've been chugging along for years putting out albums which met with indifferent or mixed reviews, who decades into their career turn a corner and finally find their audience. 2012 seems to have been a big year for bands in that position; Galahad, whilst they'd arguably already entered their golden years with Empires Never Last (or, for some, Year Zero), put out two remarkably good albums which proved that this wasn't a fluke for them. Final Conflict put out Return of the Artisan, an absolutely fantastic release which stands head and shoulders over everything they'd previously done. And Big Big Train put out the first English Electric album, which built on the foundation of The Underfall Yard and caught on widely enough to project them right to the top rank of current prog.

It is only natural, then, to approach English Electric (Part Two) with a little trepidation. Was Part One a fluke, or could Big Big Train's creative engine keep up the momentum for the long haul?

As it stands, the band take an unexpected approach here. Those who want more of the same may find themselves disappointed, or curiously pleased; although the misty-eyed nostalgia focus and thematic interests are much the same here as they were on the preceding album, there's a subtle twist added to the musical approach this time around which really brings out the range of instrumentation utilised by the band and which offers a more quiet and contemplative listen than the more boisterous Part One.

Like latter-day Marillion and a few others, Big Big Train have sussed out the secret which eludes a lot of bands: sometimes you can find your aesthetic simply by not going out of your way to be "progressive". Needless complexity is avoided, as are pointless callbacks to the innovations of past prog bands - for example, though close harmony vocals are deployed, the temptation to throw in a Gentle Giant twist here or there for the sake of it is resisted. Yes, David Longdon's vocals still sound like Genesis-era Peter Gabriel, but as with the preceding album there's no suggestion that he's straining to make the mimicry as close as he possibly can.

In fact, the whole album sounds very relaxed and natural - Big Big Train ceasing to worry about their progressive credentials and just getting on with the business of being Big Big Train. As with its predecessor, I find their nostalgia for a never-never-land that people pretend England used to be a somewhat grating theme, but I won't deny that they're a technically competent lot.

Report this review (#941143)
Posted Monday, April 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now I boarded the big big train.

Last year the album English Electric (Part One) already attracted my attention. But while Part One is very much oriented to the Genesis sound, Part Two emancipates from it. Don't get me wrong, I like Genesis very much, but while the songs of Part One sound like weak copies of Genesis inspired songs, I find the compositions more enthralling in Part Two.

The new album contains more lush piano sounds, more brass instruments, which give the songs an orchestral feel, more flute sounds, more violin solos, more playful intertwinings of all instruments in general. Already the 16-minute opener 'East Coast Racer' starts very powerful and immediately grips my attention. The singer sounds a bit like a mixture of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, but sometimes the vocals rise at heights with an emotional depth I would have not expected, for example in the end of 'Swan Hunter' or also in 'Leopards', which is a beautiful ballad in 3/4. The vocal chorus of 'Keeper of Abbeys' sometimes reminds of choruses of Part One, but the song ends in furious violin and guitar solos. Another beautiful guitar solo closes the album.

An album that was worth to listen to. Already now I dare to say that it might be one of the highlights of 2013.

Report this review (#941415)
Posted Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Big Big Train is back at it again, this time with the second part of their English Electric series. Being a massive fan of the first, I had high expectations coming into this one. After a myriad of careful listens I've come to the conclusion that this is almost, if not AS good as its predecessor. Understandably it should be, as they were written at the same time. But it is this fact that truly amazes me; that they were able create so much great material in such a short time. It would also be true that this album doesn't deviate much from its predecessor in terms of style and sound, with strong vocals, a unique guitar tone, and great use of brass, and a number of other instruments for that matter, all of which play some energy-filled, yet beautiful melodies.

The opening track 'East Coast Racer' is probably the highlight of the album, and perhaps of their whole career. It flawlessly combines their more energetic side with pure beauty. The first half is an example of the fun, energetic band, which is filled with edgy guitar, fast-paced and dynamic drumming, and solid bass lines. But amidst all the chaos, they still meticulously craft some appealing melodies. The second half then, of course, showcases the more serene, atmospheric side of the band, with floating brass work for a dramatic conclusion, which ends with the wonderful reprise of the last part of 'Summoned By Bells,' a highlight of their previous album.

The following song, 'Swan Hunter' is also beautiful in its own right. The instrumentation along with Longdon's vocals gives it a rather nostalgic feeling, something that is well represented in most of Big Big Train's work. The ending few minutes is another gorgeous brass extravaganza that they so flawlessly seem to execute.

'Worked Out' is a fun song with some very catchy vocal lines and even stronger instrumental work. Diverse in its structure and instrument use, this is just a classic BBT track.

'Leopards' is a rather short song clocking in at just under four minutes. I love the fun nature of it, especially contrasted against the more dramatic strings work. Above all, the vocals are catchy as anything. Maybe it's not a full on prog tune, but it's a very enjoyable listen.

'Keeper of the Abby's' is yet another classic Big Big Train sounding tune. At this point, to avoid sounding like a broken record, I will just say everything I've already said also pertains to this one as well. The highlight for me is the upbeat and energetic middle section.

'The Permanent Way' showcases some great piano work that was slightly less represented in the previous album. The piano work, along with the reprises of 'Hedgerow,' and 'The First Rebreather' from EE1 give this a conclusive feel, though that is probably best fit for the final song.

'Curator of Butterflies' is the true closing song, and an appropriate one at that. Dramatic in its nature, this one has some very warm, beautiful, and appealing melodies, especially in the vocals and later guitar. The strings and piano also lay down a solid dramatic atmosphere, all of which culminate into an adventurous conclusion to a phenomenal album.

It should be evident from what I've said that this is truly a strong album from beginning to end. Beautiful, nostalgic, melancholic, energy-filled; Regardless of what superlative you want to tag the album with, it, along with its predecessor, should be in the conversation of the best albums of the modern prog era.


Report this review (#947050)
Posted Saturday, April 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars Big Big Train is an English ensemble formed around 1990 by Andy Poole and Greg Spawton. Nowadays the band has also David Longdon (vocals), Dave Gregory (guitars), Danny Manners (keyboards) and Nick D'Virgilio (drums ' ex Spock's Beard).

English Electric Part Two (2013) was released on March 4th and it's the second and final chapter of Big Big Train's English Electric history.

English Electric was a British industrial manufacturer and here the band tries to capture the history of the people's point of view. Last year they released the first part, and it's the best album of 2012 for me (you can read my review When they were about to release this new album I asked myself: 'is it possible for Big Big Train to top themselves?'

I can't say that English Electric Part Two (2013) is better than its predecessor, but what I can say for sure is that the second part is so close that I almost can't see the difference. In fact, since The Difference Machine (2007), passing through The Underfall Yard (2009), Far Skies Deep Time (2010) and the two parts of English Electric, Big Big Train just can't record a downhill record.

Big Big Train's music could be described by me with two words: evocative and emotional. Evocative because even for someone like me that has never been to England, you can be transported to someplace else, some place within these songs. And emotional because their music is like every good Prog should be, charged with deep feelings and full of heart.

English Electric Part Two (2013) starts with the long 'East Coast Racer' and it's almost 16 minutes. One thing I missed on the first part of the history was a long song, here it is. 'Swan Hunter' shows why David Longdon is the best vocalist on today's music, while 'Worked Out' transports us inside the song. The band's music is so alive and full of details. Harps, brass, violins, cellos, violas, flutes and many other countless instruments and sounds fill our musical world while listening the album.

'Leopards' is almost a solo effort by David Longdon that wrote and played almost everything here. The track has a different and interesting approach to their music. 'Keeper Of Abbeys' has a wonderful violin solo by Rachel Hall and 'The Permanent Way' keeps with the BBT's high standard quality. 'Curator Of Butterflies' closes the album on a high note, melancholic and beautiful.

Greg Spawton has to be mentioned cause he isn't just a fantastic bass player, but a great musician and an amazing writer. Andy Poole did a wonderful job when it comes to the producer role and David Longdon is one of the best voices around. To tie everything together the band uses more synthesizers, delivered by the new member Danny Manners and as usual Nick D'Virgilio drums are always on the spot and clever.

Do I sound like a fan? I have no problem to confess that. I am. And English Electric Part Two (2013) is one of the best albums of 2013 so far, believe me.

Oh and by the way, according to the booklet of the CD, Station Masters will be the next chapter. Can't wait!

(Originally posted on

Report this review (#962787)
Posted Monday, May 20, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Based on its precursor, my hopes were high for this album. It starts strong with "East Coat Racer" and then "Swan Hunter" but looses steam (pun intended) afterward. Although being fine, this album is not as strong as English Electric Part 1 except for the two first songs. It feels more like leftovers from its wonderful predecessor. The same ingredients are used but the recipe is not as tasty... or maybe it's just because it's too similar to its first part? To me, the next best moment of the album is the sixth song "The Permanent Way" and it is mainly a mix of different parts of the first album. It tells a lot. In conclusion, it's still an enjoyable album, but it's no masterpiece in my mind...

(A month later) I've waited another month before publishing this review, hoping that this was a late-bloomer and that something would click in the meantime but no. I first thought of giving it 4 stars but I even drop my rating to 3 stars, a good album, that's all it is. Force is to admit that I have enjoyed this album much less than others BBT albums.

Report this review (#963376)
Posted Tuesday, May 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars How I looked forward to finally listening to this band! The descriptions all matched my tastes, the analyses sounded profound. Last, but not least the emotional impacts on the reviewers seemed to be immense.

So goes the theory.

What this album does for me is, unfortunately, nothing. I cannot say I hate it, I just do not care. The two stars are for overall professionalism and a nice first track. After that, it all became more and more boring. Even after quite a few attempts I still had to force myself through the album.

So, sorry to say this, but... I can not recommend this at all.

Report this review (#976645)
Posted Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Road Is Clear and Words Remain Unsaid.

Is less than Part I? Some consider it slightly behind the great first part. But what if this would have seen the light before?

The reality, for me, is that both are essential and seamless. Obviously there are sections better than others, but nothing sounds boring or banal. And besides, there is a smart and accurate connection throughout the work. I think they are best seen as two complementary works, and you need not compare to compete with each other.

East Coast Racer begins this part of superb form, musically and lyrically. And also, Curator of Butterflies is a stunning and unbeatable conclusion of this part and the whole work. In the meantime, five worth songs at the height of the rest.

I welcome the choice of modern groups like Big Big Train, Moon Safari, Gazpacho, Moonrise, Phideaux, Airbag, Anubis, Autumn Chorus, Paatos, Tangent, Millenium among others, to run a witty progressive rock, elaborate, without the need for loud noises , and pointless. The music continues to be interesting and a good dose of energy here and there.

4,5 stars.

Report this review (#1026813)
Posted Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars I thought English Electric Part I was one of the best modern prog albums I had heard and I really looked forward to hear the second part. Well now I have done it carefully and I must say I am disappointed. This albums doesn't match the other more than on some places and there it feels like they have reused melodies and thoughts. I'm thinking about the song "Keeper of Abbeys" which is catchy and melodic, but it feels alrealdy done, the same with otherwise excellent "The Permanent Way". That fact doesn't lower my rating, it's just a remark.

The cover picture harmonizes with the first part of English Electric Duo. What have happened since first part. The very rich group of guest musicians on the first record, I can't se them on the list of participants. That one(last record) I found so fresh and interesting and the feeling I had was often folk rock, which I love. This isn't the same. I hear the same vocals and David Longdon sings well and the other guys do a god job but I can't help it feels week. The first track "East Coast Racer" is long but in no way an epic, I don't mind it. "Swan Hunter" has a great blow arrangement but the song has no sharpeness. "Worked out" is the only track I can really recommend. It is powerful and interesting, skillfully played and sweaping symphonies. "Curator of Butterflies" is also interesting. Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood for Big Big Train. Or which I assert is this absolutely not like their last effort. I have just heard Part One and now Part Two so I don't know so much about the band. Perhaps somebody knowing their history could say something about what has happened. For me this wasn't enough. I will continue my search for new great prog rock. This year the Italian bands have done best up to now.

All songs: Worked out(8/10), The Permanent Way(8/10), Curator of Butterflies (7/10), Keeper of Abbeys(7/10), East Coast Racer(6/10), Leopards(6/10) and Swan Hunter(6/10) Three Stars!

Report this review (#1029271)
Posted Thursday, September 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Initial reviews suggested that this album was as good as, or even better than, part one. It isn't, really it isn't - none of the tracks are as good as those found on part one, there is so much padding and noodling, tracks that start well then quickly run out of steam, 'Keeper of Abbeys' being a classic examples. The horn section on Summoned by bells from part one seemed so inspired then,here it is repeated over and over.

English Electric part one was SOOO good, that is the problem, by far BBTs best album. From the joy of The First Rebreather to the disturbing Boy in Darkness to the folky Uncle Jack/Hedgerow, it was superb.

I suppose it's too much to ask a band to repeat that achievement in such a short time, but lets not pretend that part 2 comes within a country mile of part 1.

Report this review (#1035039)
Posted Saturday, September 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars The followup to Big Big Train's "English Electric (Part One)" is an accomplished effort with the musicianship being as high quality as the previous album. "English Electric (Part Two)" is not the 5 star masterpiece of the previous album however it has to be said. It tends to rely heavily on a very reserved commercial melodic crossover sound; mainstream rather than progressive which surprised me as I was looking forward to more innovative songs that twist and turn with incredible instrumentals. Instead, this is a very pedestrian album with no genuine highlights to speak of and I was left feeling very disappointed.

Having set the bar so high with Part One, Big Big Train promised much with their subsequent release and it is difficult not to venture into this album with high expectations. I did not expect it to be so radio friendly and melancholy. There are moments that shine of course such as the opener 'East Coast Racer', certainly one of the best songs here, 'Swan Hunter' has a nice rollicking rhythm, and 'Worked Out' is perhaps the one to listen to over and over as it is outstanding. I particularly loved also when the Bluegrass violin jig cranked up; such a fun thing to include in the middle of a song. However the album is nowhere near as consistent as the last album. Many of the songs sound the same and verge into AOR territory. Perhaps I could listen without comparing it to their masterpiece, but even then it really does not offer anything that would resemble the innovative prog of Part One or even have a memorable track that jams into the brain. There are some really dreamy orchestrated sections but it more or less serves to send you to sleep rather than amaze you; perhaps it's a good bedtime album, and that deserves some recognition at least. I wish it offered something experimental or heavy to balance out all the gentle sections; but in essence this is a very gentle reserved album, and there is nothing really adventurous, even though Big Big Train are more than capable of creating mesmerising music. Following 'Worked Out' just about every song is melancholy especially the abysmal 'Leopards' and soft rock of 'Keeper of Abbeys', with its string section and lulling melody. There are nice harmonies on this and it has a quick cadence but it is not prog.

Again, I state I adored Part One and could not fault it, but this Part Two album would be better off as a bonus CD to the original Part One as it feels like filler at times and as though these songs were the ones left off the first part. Nice dreamy music and nice dreamy singing but little else, as harsh as that may sound. It is receiving rave reviews and of course it is a matter of taste, but if you are after something as incredible as Part One you may be bitterly disappointed as I was. I listened and kept hoping the next song would just blow me away but it just didn't happen. A few things towards the end made me sit up and take notice but really this is the sort of music I could put on and fall asleep to. That music of course has its place but I just didn't expect Big Big Train to deliver something so average after their brilliant release previous. Sincerely, I hope they follow up this with something that reaches the heights of Part One, which is an undisputed masterpiece. 3 stars for this release as it is still great musicianship and Big Big Train have a wonderful sound.

Report this review (#1059150)
Posted Saturday, October 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars If, for whatever reason, you happen to have read my review of English Electric prepare to be bored. If you have not, prepare to be underwhelmed.The concept of a concept album, does not a masterpiece make. No, I didn't love these albums. They were boring.Not even excitingly bad, just bland. The singing was by a man I can only assume is a less talented clone of Phil Collins and the band plays like some over the hill rockers who think a little noodling qualifies as prog rock and that a pallet of beige and grey makes for a rainbow. I felt Big Big Train had already overreached themselves on part 1 and part 2, is the less exciting brother of the insurance salesman that was part 1.

Part 2 was too much gruel for this guy. Before you run out and buy either, note that you can sample them in full on Bandcamp and save yourself some money if certainly not some time. Part 2 earns 2 out of 5. Avoid this album unless you are a completionist.

Report this review (#1060949)
Posted Wednesday, October 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars The follow up to the extremely popular Part One, this has, latterly, been re-released as a double cd, with new tracks, and, perhaps, is probably best listened to as part of a whole, rather than separate to, its predecessor.

I am, though, probably, one of the few who rather prefers this to the first English Electric album. This, I suppose, is because I am a bit of a sucker for exceptionally well produced, and played, melodic progressive rock. Some may call it "commercial" (not a helpful word, because, at the end of the day, all acts want to be commercial, i.e. Sell a few copies). I simply call it gorgeous and pastoral, and it has, to me, far more of the feel and structure to it of the exceptionally beautiful The Underfall Yard.

It does not have on it a track of the sublime perfection that is Judas Unrepentant, but, then again, I would struggle to name but a handful of albums in recent years which did. What it does, though, is bring storytelling, in a lush musical environment, to the forefront, and BBT are to be congratulated on this.

Opener, East Coast Racer, and Swan Hunter, especially, carry on the band's fine tradition of addressing social, historical, and, yes, nostalgic issues from an England which simply no longer exists, no matter how much many in rural England, especially, might wish it to be so. The brass and string on East Coast....especially bring that evocative feel to the forefront, and David Longdon is perhaps the only vocalist in the world of bringing such a picture to life, and how well he does it.

Swan Hunter is rather interesting from a personal perspective, because my grandfather worked there before joining the British Army. I am, though, rather surprised that no other reviewer has picked up the fact that, far from being some sort of Genesis influenced clone, this track screams out Crosby, Stills, and Nash in its conception, thoughts, and execution. If this was not written as a tribute to that great trio, then I am so far off the mark as to probably never bother reviewing again. It is, by the way, as lush as it sounds, quite superb.

The whole feel of this album is that of a band that are deeply comfortable in making music that engages the mind and is far more complex in its playing than strikes one in the first few listens, one of the reasons why I have taken an age in reviewing it.

There is not one weak track on this work, and I, for one, really welcome the Hedgerow Revisited wonder that is The Permanent Way. It is the perfect accompaniment to that marvellous track, and both should bookend the whole work. Dorset itself is brought to marvellous life.

I regard this cd as being superior to the first part, which I still find to be too inconsistent to merit a masterpiece rating. This is consistently excellent, the harmonies, lyrics, lead vocals, and musicianship, including the wonderful guest spots, combine to create what is perhaps the finest folk influenced album in many a year. I do not kid any readers of this review when I say that Ian Anderson himself would have struggled to create such a landscape as this in the heady days of Songs From The Wood or Heavy Horses. This is the sound of an English band at the top of its game. Simply listen to the pastoral beauty that is Keeper of Abbeys, and never fail to be moved by the lead guitar solo that bursts onto your consciousness to remind you of folk rock at its best.

After many listens, I believe this trumps the first part, and can only struggle to find any faults. If we had such a rating, I would award 4.5 stars, but awarded the perfect five, if only to highlight just what a sheer joy of life and a beautiful country this album brings.

Report this review (#1117014)
Posted Monday, January 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars It´s very, very hard to write a review of an album I love so much. Try as I might to be objective - and find mistakes or something to rate it less - I still can´t find any other word to describe it. If The Underfall Yard was very good, and English Electric Part One was excellent, then English Electric Part Two is nothing short of a masterpiece. Really, I could never believe Big Big Train could outdo E E Part One, but they did. Here you´ll find the band at its peak in terms of creativity, songwriting maturity and musical performances.

Some people here in PA will say it lacks something: weirdness, pointless jams, explicit displays of virtuosity, too few dissonant chords, you name it! And, boy , will I agree with that! But if you, like me, likes a first rate symphonic prog rock in the same vein of the 70´s great acts like Genesis, Yes and co, then you´ll love this one. Like those groups this CD is the fruit of team work: no misplaced notes anywhere. Everything seems to fall in place seemlessly, one voice or instrument blending into the other fading ou appearing at the right moments as the music asks for. Bold, and yet tasteful arrangements, beautiful melodies, skillful playing and an energy and conviction rarely seen lately are their strong points. O should mention that David Longdon is becoming one of the best singers in the field, with a astonishing perfomance, both as vocalist and as multi intrumentist throughout the CD.

What strikes me the most is how their songwriting skills grew so much in such short time span. The CD opens with East Coast Racer, a 15 minute+ suite that shows all their potential right from the start, with its several swings and turns, changing moods and time signatures, a real prog heaven. Next comes the relatively simple Swan Hunter. It´s one of the most beautiful and poignant songs I´ve heard in years, reminding me of masterpieces like Genesis Time Table or the Beatles For No One. Those two tracks alone were enough to garantee at least a 4 star rating for this CD, but, fortunatly, the remaining tracks are all of high quality, quite varied in terms of style, but all keeping the high profile till the very end. I could rave about each tune endlessly, but I think you´ve got the point. Tunes like Keeper Of The Alley and The Permanent Way, for instance, are the kind of songs most prog acts would kill to have written them.

In a time where the ego trips seem to rule in prog, this is one of a hell of team work, when technique is used enhance the music not to show off. With a top notch production and a strong sense of direction, this is surely (along with Flamborough Head´s Lost In Time) the best release of 2013. It´s so subtle some people won´t notice how powerful it is until they listen carefully and without prejudice. Just like all the masterpieces are.

Rating: 5 stars with honors. Essential!

Report this review (#1126686)
Posted Monday, February 3, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10

The year was 2012 and the prog world was taken by storm by veterans of Big Big Train, who regarded a stage of rise after The Underfall Yard and culminated in English Electric pt. 1, one of the biggest progressive records of recent years. Consolidating in fact the band's career, the album was hailed by various means of communication and figure on a high note here on the site (but lower than it really deserves, in my opinion). And of course, "pt. 1" indicated that there would be a sequel, confirmed to go on sale next year. Here was the question: could the part 2 be as good or fascinating as the first?

Some reviewers may disagree, but for me the answer is a resounding "yes." Not only are we facing one of the greatest masterpieces of 2013, as I found a perfect successor to the first part and one of the greatest albums I've heard in recent times. Where all my love and admiration for Big Big Train have been confirmed.

There are no words to describe what I feel with this band. Their music is as natural, organic , touching... it provides wonderful feelings , thanks to an impressive musicianship. If I believed in reincarnation, I'd say they are the reincarnated Genesis. After all, who needs to go to England when you can close your eyes and imagine what is sung in the lyrics of the BBT? I already mentioned in my previous reviews of the band as I saw the voice of David Longdon as a compromise between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, and oh God, this man continues to impress me! It really is now one of my favorite vocalists. Its timbre is beautiful , not to mention the fact of being an extremely talented multi- instrumentalist (as seen in simple Leopards , a track that follows the line of bluegrass Uncle Jack 's previous album ). Andy Poole and Greg Spawton , the creative minds of the band, also move between different instruments ( keyboards and the exceptional guitar tones are the highlights ) and Nick D' Virgilio see an increasingly integrated into the band , offering a range of styles that adapt well to the spirit of each song. And last but not least, the backing musicians that dazzle the listener with brass and woodwind instruments that make the music of the BBT even more organic.

At first listen, I did not think any of the songs (except for East Coast Racer) was a classic worthy of any of the music in Part 1. But well, I was listening to the album more and more, and then ... I was hooked. And then I realized that if this album is not better than predecessor, is on the same level of quality.

He begins with what could be the greatest song the band ever wrote. East Coast Racer is an epic 15 minutes, concentrating over that time everything the band was, is and will be. Opening with a simple piano theme Summoned By Bells of the previous album, she bursts into a song of awesome power, one of the most powerful vocal performances I've heard in my life. Seriously, listen to the climactic section between 9 and 12 minutes. If I could define "paradise", define that part. It is so grand, beautiful and exciting that makes me shiver and fill your eyes. When the music produces this effect on me is because I know it's a masterpiece.

Swan Hunter is a sweet ballad with a delightful work of brass and a beautiful guitar solo . Worked Out is one of my favorites here , I really love your entry (not so Genesis - esque ? Can almost feel that I am listening Sellling England By the Pound that part ) , and always singing the chorus " We are working men , we follow the seam ... " . Warning for the fantastic synth solo at the end of the song. The aforementioned Leopards is more a solo effort Longdon , with some gorgeous vocal harmonies and a great acoustic work.

Keeper of Abbeys begins misleading : its cheesy introduction , "happy -happy -to " and some " la- la- las " in the chorus may sound so annoying to some , but I really like that sort of thing , but there for 2 minutes music offers a wonderful change , and vocal harmonies dictating a new theme . And the instrumental section? By God, I was perplexed . The violin solos and electric sitar listed as one of the album's highlights , making this another favorite of mine . The same is said of the climate The Permanent Way , which revisits the themes of The First Rebreather and Hedgerow previous album fabulous way . Just love it when the vocal harmonies echo the theme music of the stanza . The album closes with the beautiful Curator of Butterflies . At first I was afraid because it is a very different termination epic Hedgerow ( which continues to be the first of my top 3 favorite of BBT , followed by Summoned By Bells and East Coast Racer ) , but then started to approach it much more positive way . After all , I love these post-climatics closings.

In the end, this was a somewhat different experience hearing the first part. Some have accused this album sound different from its predecessor, others to be "more of the same." I just think people are always looking for something to complain about. While for me this was an album in its own right, it was great to see some of the themes explored in the previous album revisited here. And it is certain that this was one of the best albums of 2013, as shocking as its predecessor. A perfect rating of 5 stars in my opinion. Big Big Train is arguably one of the greatest names in modern prog.

Report this review (#1146064)
Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars A good follow-up to EE1.

Although not quite as good as the first volume of EE, this contains some great music and is up there among their best albums. This volume is slower than the original EE1, which is probably why they sought to shift around the tunes between the two when putting together the full-power version (with the extra/new tracks from Make Some Noise added in). "East Coast Racer" is the clear standout track here, but "Keeper of Abbeys" and "Curator of Butterflies" are also great tunes. Of course, just get the full-power version and you will have all of EE plus the Make Some Noise EP. But for posterity, I rate this 8.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to mid 4 PA stars.

Report this review (#1743140)
Posted Thursday, July 13, 2017 | Review Permalink

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