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Big Big Train

Crossover Prog

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Big Big Train From the River to the Sea album cover
2.37 | 58 ratings | 6 reviews | 9% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. To the Sea (6:02)
2. Returning to the Fold (3:33)
3. Jas (6:29)
4. Full Head of Steam (4:08)
5. Indian Souls (3:05)
6. River (1:54)
7. The Friend Inside (4:52)
8. Stolen Glances (5:54)
9. Less Is More (4:17)
10. Downhilling (7:17)
11. Along Came Sarah (4:10)
12. Least Peculiar Thing (6:17)

Total Time 57:58

Line-up / Musicians

- Martin Read / vocals
- Tony Müller / keyboards
- Greg Spawton / guitar
- Andy Poole / bass
- Pete Hibbit / drums

Releases information

Collection of early demos.

However, at the time of release, this was seen as their debut album and should be shown as such.

CD Least Peculiar Music ‎- BBTLPT2 (1992, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy BIG BIG TRAIN From the River to the Sea Music

BIG BIG TRAIN From the River to the Sea ratings distribution

(58 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(7%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (38%)
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)

BIG BIG TRAIN From the River to the Sea reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I only knew the band couple of weeks ago when a friend of mine introduced me his collection of Big Big Train albums and demonstrated me with some songs which I forgot the title. The subgenre of crossover prog covers so wide kinds of music style and for the first introduction of BBT I could find the elements of neo-prog - which does make sense as the critical definition of crossover is the existence of pop elements in the music. When I started with this demo, on thing for sure I could find there was one thing in common: pop element dominates the composition of any song. And then, why bother listening to this music under prog category? Well, you would then find some prog elements attached to any song in the album by inserting breaks that demonstrate flavor of prog or throughout the vocal line the band augments with some symphonic touch at the background. For some reason, the first time I got listened to this demo album, I remembered the first time I spun the debut album of IQ 'Tales From The Lush Attic' which had raw recording quality, similar with this demo album. I could also find the heavy influence from It Bites.

And then I learned from the band official site and found that From the River is a document from the very earliest days of BIG BIG TRAIN. The band was formed by Andy Poole, Ian Cooper and Gregory Spawton in 1990. Greg's first band in the early 1980's was called EQUUS, which also featured Phil Hogg, the drummer on 'Bard'. Andy was in a band called ARCSHINE, a synth based project, with Ian Cooper. After leaving university, Greg moved to Bournemouth where he met Andy. They were both big IQ fans and started to work on some music. At the same time, ARCSHINE continued in a separate parallel existence. And I explored the music further track by track and it reconfirmed that there were good elements of the music that could be used as the basis from the band to move forward with their career. I found that the music has a relatively good melody and good harmonies but was quite lacking on vocal department. Composition-wise, actually this demo album offers the sounds of old prog through its synthesizer's symphonic style and the modern music with dominant pop element, demonstrated by its musical flow.

Overall, it's not a bad debut album and it satisfies those who like later development of prog music. This demo is worth for collectors / fans who later find their succeeding albums afterwards. The music is quite good and promising. The audio quality is poor.Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The roots of Big Big Train can be found in 1987, when guitarist Greg Spawton decided to move from Birmingham to Bournemouth, where he met bassist Andy Poole.Poole was a big fan of Prog music and a former roadie for The Lens and IQ.The duo decided to record some songs together, leading slowly to the formation of Big Big Train in 1990 with the addition of Ian Cooper on keys, an ex-bandmate of Poole in a band called Arcshine.They recruited Canadian singer Martin Read and 15-year old drummer Steve Hughes and recorded the demo cassette ''From the river to the sea'' on an 8-track recorder from April to June 91'.Following some good gigs, the album was reissued in CD the next year with two more tracks, recorded in early 92'.

At these premature stages Big Big Train had adapted a typical Neo Prog sound akin to ARK, early PENDRAGON, ELEGANT SIMPLICITY and maybe IT BITES, leaning often towards more poppy directions with sensitive vocals, but the music is fairly grounded within the Prog Rock limits with fairly intricate compositions covered by heavy doses of melodic parts.Even if the songwriting skills of the group fail compared to their later days, their underground sound, the strong late-70's GENESIS influences and the decent orchestral synthesizers should have been a nice cure for any starving Prog fan back in early-90's.The album suffers from a mediocre drum programming at moments (responsible for which was Ian Cooper) and an overall thin production, but the compositions are pretty decent, featuring a nice combination of poppier rhythmic tunes, emotional singing, melodic textures with bits from symphonic showering.Of course the atmosphere is maybe too romantic and less captivating with the band reminding more of an early-80's act, but the talent is certainly there: The melodies are good, the arrangements are decent, the pieces are long enough and the flashy, instrumental parts are more than welcome.

Documental album from Big Big Train's baby steps.Typical Neo Prog with little originality, average sound quality but containing some really fine cuts.Recommended, especially if you are a fan of the style.

Review by The Crow
2 stars From The River to the Sea is the first full-length demo album by the now famous Big Big Train!

And here their music was fairly influenced by neo-prog band like IQ with strong cheesy pop roots, making the hearing of the album a bit annoying now because this music is very dated now and it just sounds boring and repetitive.

The production is bad, but I'm fine with that because it's a demo! The drums sound is especially poor, and some keyboards are also not very well integrated in the music. But Read's voice is fine, as always. He sang beautifully and with passion before he clearly lost his vocal abilities as we can hear later in Bard.

Best Tracks: To the Sea (I love the chorus!), Returning to the fold (another fine one), River (here the band shows a glimpse of the typical melancholic guitars that would make the band famous in the future) and Downhiling (an IQ influenced song with fine and strong guitars)

Conclusion: Big Big Train was very influenced by the neo-prog sound in the beginning. Therefore, I enjoy hearing this demo albums from time to time, along with their official debut Goodbye to the Age of Steam, which is an evolution of what we can hear in this From the River to the Sea and the posterior The Infant Hercules.

So, if you are a fan of Big Big Train check this one. Otherwise, don't bother with this demo because it's just neo-pop-prog with just a few glimpses of the true personality of this fine British group which was yet to be found.

My rating: **

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "From the River to the Sea" is the first demo album release by UK progressive rock act Big Big Train. The album was originally released in 1991 through Least Perculiar Music (on cassette tape only), but saw a more widespread release in May 1992 through Least Perculiar Music/Avalon Records (on CD). Some consider it Big Big Trains debut album, while others consider it a demo. The band themselves seem to be in between on the labelling and their website doesnīt offer a definitive answer.

No matter the labelling "From the River to the Sea" is a professionally produced album. The 1992 reissue does feature some re-recorded parts and two completely new tracks ("Returning to the Fold" and "Indian Souls"), which didnīt appear on the original demo version of the album.

While "From the River to the Sea" is arguably a professionally recorded release it doesnīt feature the most well sounding or well balanced sound production, and itīs also obvious that Big Big Train were still a bit immature as songwriters and performers. Lead vocalist Martin Read is a skilled enough singer, but he does not have the vocal style and charisma of later Big Big Train least not on this release.

Artists like IQ, Marillion, and especially late 70s Genesis are all valid references, but Big Big Train arenīt a clone act and donīt sound exactly like any of those artists. Itīs just to give the reader an idea of the musical territory of "From the River to the Sea". Upon conclusion "From the River to the Sea" is a promising first release by Big Big Train and itīs certainly worth a listen or two, but in retrospect Big Big Train would go on to release much higher quality music in the future and in that respect "From the River to the Sea" is a sligthly redundant release. A 3 star (60%) rating is still warranted though.

Latest members reviews

1 stars I can't even recommend this for completionists. I started paying attention to this band with Gathering Speed. I even appreciate most of the songs on English Boy Wonders and a few off Bard. As a person who owns this release, let me warn you off it. There's nothing for you here. I like Spawton ... (read more)

Report this review (#1766524) | Posted by axeman | Wednesday, July 26, 2017 | Review Permanlink

1 stars 1/10 I was curious about the career of Big Big Train after falling on them thanks to your wonderful masterpiece The Underfall Yard. However if you also want them to know the music I give you a hint: do not start for this demo! The only reaction I had after listening From the River to the S ... (read more)

Report this review (#534255) | Posted by voliveira | Monday, September 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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