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Bob Drake Little Black Train album cover
3.21 | 5 ratings | 1 reviews | 50% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Charge (1:51)
2. No Title (3:07)
3. Conductor (0:52)
4. Leach Field Coyote (1:49)
5. Dust Bowl (4:58)
6. Haunted Land (2:10)
7. Unlit Galaxies (1:29)
8. Outside Influences (2:09)
9. The Graveyard Variations (3:31)
10. The Unattended Funeral (4:43)
11. Shed, Cans (1:59)
12. The Glory (3:00)
13. Ends of Time (3:51)
14. Same Old Story (5:12)
15. Little Nameless Sonata (1:08)

Total Time 41:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Bob Drake / performer, composer & arranger, production & mixing

Releases information

Artwork: Maggie Thomas

CD Crumbling Tomes Archive ‎- CTA 6 (1996, US)

Digital album

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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BOB DRAKE Little Black Train ratings distribution

(5 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(0%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (25%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BOB DRAKE Little Black Train reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by penguindf12
3 stars I'm gonna level with you, this is my least-favorite Bob Drake album. Don't get me wrong - it's GOOD - and it has a great country-folk-avant-guitar-rock feel - but it's just not as intriguing as some of his other albums. It's also mostly instrumental. Let's begin!

"Charge" starts us off with the main theme of this album: the electric guitar. Bob often opens his concerts with this tune, wherein he introduces the members of his band. "Hello Music," indeed.

An interesting observation, if I may digress: Bob's albums always seem to have a "featured instrument" - What Day is It? features Bob's vocals - "Little Black Train" features Bob's electric guitar - "Medallion Animal Carpet" brings Bob's production to the fore - "The Skull Mailbox" is dominated by Bob's acoustic guitar - and "The Shunned Country" is built around Bob's banjo. The only album that doesn't fit this pattern is "13 Songs & a Thing," which is more a mishmash of all-of-the-above than anything else, although even it has it's own characteristic sound.

Now back to the album at hand...

After introducing the album with "Charge," we are the treated to an instrumental romp with "No Title." It features a strong hook melody that Bob was to use later on in "It Was a Weasel," in the Furryx60 compilation. It's a great song, but if you don't know about Furry Fandom, don't ask.

"Conductor" kicks off what I see as the "concept" portion of the album - a ride through the American Midwest. It's very quick but excellent hard-rock. Here we board the night train for our ride.

As we ride through the desert in "Leach Field Coyote," let's note the wonderfully-arranged instrumental old-timey country-folk. Have a cold glass of beer, lean your head against the window and watch the sunset.

The train takes us into even more country-rock with "Dust Bowl," featuring Bob's fiddle talents. Watch the swirls of dirt, the strange mesas & buttes, rock formations & decaying thermal establishments. While not an especially innovative tune, it's quite nice. You can hear it at Bob's website:

And now we ride through Haunted Land. I think I had a dream about this song once. It features wordless vocal choruses in a texture of nostalgic folk/rock. Night has fallen completely now - you can only just make out some gravestones in the distance. Really beautiful. We're now in haunted land - the sort Emily Dickinson would write about.

Continuing on into darkness - let's gaze into outer space: "Unlit Galaxies." Pitch blackness, suspended in ether. A nice, if unremarkable, tune. Quite short.

"Outside Influences" breaks up the flow with some lyric-based vocals. Only trouble is, there so much tremolo, we can't understand a word! An incredibly catchy hard-rock tune nonetheless.

Returning to our impressionistic train-landscape metaphor - "Graveyard Variations" takes us further into unknown Haunted landscapes. After a short introduction, we hear a familiar tune in the fiddle flown over a funky backing, followed by some Variations. The train speed spikes, then slows to a near-crawl - why, oh why did this have to happen in the Graveyard of all places??

And so we come to a stop. There's no Conductor, there are no other Passengers. We're just standing in an abandoned field at night, in a graveyard. It's cold. You can barely see your hand in front of you - but there's some trees over the hillside. You stumble over a forgotten path - a grave stands wide open, nobody around - "The Unattended Funeral" - there's a coffin there, too; still open beside the tomb. Maybe it's yours? ------ If you can't tell, I really like this song. ------- "No one remembers...." - Gives me chills. Also the first example of clear vocals on the album.

"Shed, Cans." Frank imagery. An abandoned shed on a hot day. A chugging blues rhythm section. Sweat pours over your brow - that heap of aluminum never looked so poetic, and yet you gotta get to work. 'Nuff band practice in this heat, let's get outta this shed, too many bugs flying around...

"The Glory," despite it's title, has trouble holding my attention. Let's focus: It opens with acoustic arpeggios & skittery percussion ---> this leads to an odd-meter Drake-rock bit before cadencing ----> now we witness more folk-guitar picking in a new setting; there are cadences of organ ----> this is overtaken by fast bluegrass picking distorted by creative production, before revisiting the rock bit and cadencing ----> and now, a short, dark coda. Hm. I still don't really like it that much.

"Ends of Time" - our train journey takes us to the Apocalypse! I knew I shouldn't have payed so much for tickets. Plodding, dark, ominous, heavy -- but not really threatening. Suddenly slightly reflective and skittery - synthesizers. BIG sound. Too Big to really matter, actually. A bit too cheesy. Now it all clears out for a bit - some incredibly tinny noodlings on what sounds like a Regal - that nasal medieval reed organ that Gentle Giant used on "Dog's Life."

The trip is over - now we can reflect. "Same Old Story" is actually a cover - a tune originally by Bruce Odland. This arrangement is brilliant, and very accessible. It's a pop song, complete with clear lyrics about love. But Epic with a capital E.

"Little Nameless Sonata" is a send-off in true Drake form. A short tune recorded in a creative manner to set us to bed, let us know the album is over. I love the live versions of this tune, but the album version is a bit muddy.

You know, I really do like this album. But some parts really drag towards the end, and its almost-totally-instrumental style make it a little less appealing in some ways. But it's a nice ride - very impressionistic. Even though it's my least favorite Bob Drake album, it's still a personal favorite.

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