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Big Big Train

Crossover Prog

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Big Big Train The Underfall Yard album cover
4.21 | 853 ratings | 58 reviews | 43% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Evening Star (4:53)
2. Master James of St. George (6:19)
3. Victorian Brickwork (12:33)
4. Last Train (6:28)
5. Winchester Diver (7:31)
6. The Underfall Yard (22:54)

Total Time 60:38

Bonus tracks (CD 2 / LP 3) on 2021 reissue:
1. Songs from the Shoreline (18:58):
- i. Victorian Brickwork (2020 re-recording)
- ii. Fat Billy Shouts Mine
2. Prelude to the Underfall Yard (2:23)
3. The Underfall Yard (2020 re-recording) (22:50)
4. Brew and Burgh (4:32)

Total Time 48:43

Line-up / Musicians

- David Longdon / vocals, flute (1,5-2.1,2.3), mandolin (1,2,5,2.1), dulcimer & organ & psaltery (1), tambourine (3), glockenspiel (1,6), keyboards (5), vocal arrangements
- Greg Spawton / guitar (2-6), 12-string acoustic guitar (2.1), keyboards (1-2.1), bass (1-2.1,2.3), vocals (2.4), arrangements
- Andy Poole / bass (4), keyboards (1-5,2.1), 12-string acoustic guitar (6 remix), arrangements & producer
- Nick D'Virgilio / drums, vocals (3,6,2.1,2.3,2.4)

- Dave Gregory / guitar (1,2,4,6,2.1,2.3), EBow (2), electric sitar (1,6), Mellotron (3)
- Francis Dunnery / guitar solo (6)
- Jem Godfrey / synthesizer solos (6)
- Jon Foyle / cello (3-6) & electric cello (1)
- Dave Desmond / trombone & brass arrangements (1,3,6-2.4)
- Rich Evans / cornet (1,3,6)
- Nick Stones / French horn (1,3,6-2.4)
- Jon Truscott / tuba (1,3,6-2.4)

Plus (2020 remix):
- Ben Godfrey / trumpet (5,2.1,2.3,2.4)
- Stuart Roberts / trumpet (2.2)
- John Storey / euphonium (2.1-2.4)
- Rikard Sj÷blom / guitar & vocals (2.1,2.3,2.4)
- Danny Manners / keyboards (2.1,2.3,2.4), double bass (2.4)
- Rachel Hall / violin & vocals (2.1,2.3,2.4)
- Martin Orford / keyboards (2.1)
- Jonathan Barry / guitar solo (2.1)
- Richard Williamson / vocals (2.4)

Releases information

Artwork: Jim Trainer

CD English Electric Recordings - EERCD005 (2009, UK)

2CD English Electric Recordings - EERCD0027 (2021, UK) Remastered and remixed, with 4 bonus tracks on CD 2
3LP Plane Groovy - PLG091 (2021, UK) Remastered and remixed, with 4 bonus tracks on LP 3

In 2021 the 2009 album has been completely remastered and remixed with 2 additional tracks on bonus CD (LP)
Tracks 2 & 4 on bonus CD (LP) are re-recorded versions of the originals

Thanks to embryo for the addition
and to Dark Ness & NotAProghead for the last updates
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BIG BIG TRAIN The Underfall Yard ratings distribution

(853 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(43%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

BIG BIG TRAIN The Underfall Yard reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As a big fan of BBT I was looking forward to this release as a step up even from "The Difference Machine" (which I rated a five star masterpiece). But, alas, despite amazing sound and engineering, David Langdon's astounding vocal arrangements and performances, the wonderful presence of XTC's Dave Gregory on guitar and sitar, Langdon's impressive and beautiful flute playing, the exciting and valuable contributions of cello, low brass (coronet, trombone, French horn, and tuba!) and mandolin, awesome solo appearances by Francis Dunnery and Jem Godfrey, and frequent GENESIS/ANTHONY PHILLIPS- and YES-like moments, there is just something missing. I'm going to say it's the story line(s) and the way the lyrics cryptically or vaguely convey them. The lyricist (BBT founder/core member Greg Spawton) is apparently trying to wax nostalgic about the glory days of some important but nearly forgotten or obscured heroes from Britain's Industrial Age: engineers, architects, laborers, and the like. The problem is that the lyrics do not tell the story very clearly. Were it not for the artwork (wonderful paintings by Jim Trainer!), I would drown in the murky lyrics. What makes this worse is that the lyrical ambiguity transfers into the listener's inability to comprehend and fully feel the choice of musical delivery: tempos, volumes, codas, bridges, and solos are all lost as to their significance in relation to the message trying to be delivered. Also, the music--as wonderfully performed, recorded, and constructed as it is (all deserving only superlatives)--is missing those emotional passages, key changes, and catchy melodies that hook the listener--as they did so well on "The Difference Machine." The closest they come is with David Langdon's wonderful harmony vocal arrangements, his remarkable flute contributions, the ANT PHILLIPS/GENESIS-like acoustic guitar work throughout, and an absolutely stunning final two-and-a-half minutes to "Last Train" followed by the beautiful two-and-a-half minute intro to "Winchester Diver."

All the songs are very good, worthy of repeated listenings and many hours of enjoyment, but I continue to find myself asking "Why? Why use these musical constructs, these vocal harmonies, these dynamic solos, for the expression of these stories?"

Not a prog masterpiece, IMO, but very highly recommended. 21st century prog has few albums as accomplished and consistent as this. Four stars.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
5 stars Surprise - surprise. I can't figure it out - every time I listen to this album at least a little sounds new to me in some way. Respect! This occurs not often I have to confess. Stylistically BIG BIG TRAIN don't have turned away from what they have offered before really - however, I'm nailed on here - even when listening for more than ten times now. Wow ... it's hard to find the right words for the compositional attempt.

Well - of course some things are new. First - Sean Filkins is substituted by David Longdon, so they've changed the singer once more. Not that I have any problem with that - on top of it a multi-instrumentalist (offering several flute contributions) he's comfortably embedded in this context and has a rather important role for the album's success. Summarized he's very present - expressive - often polyphonic, also speaking of the mix - concerning the voice nearly acting like an additional instrument as one may say.

On the opener Evening Star his vocals even appear choir arranged - designated to initiate the band's warm up for the complete course. What may surprise one or two is the lush brass instrumentation which appears on some songs. Well, they play so light-hearted as never before whilst picking up the best times of Genesis and Yes here. And so the album includes some nice references to wellknown prog paragons - the Hackett reminiscent guitar here and there as one example - or the mellotron layers all over - sometimes it's even the complete symphonic mood.

'He used to build castles of stone' - a catchy phrase dominates Master James Of St. George - wonderful melodic using a intriguing combination of vocals, keyboards and guitars. After some rounds this is my favourite - yes indeed! (may change anytime soon though) Victorian Brickwork more or less points to Steve Howe's Yes - seemingly taking a bow - often copied but this is more subtle, really well made and having something of an epic.

Last Train now follows and this Foxtrot/Selling England adapted vibe immediately wraps me up ... wait - I don't want to be misunderstood - they are offering hints here incorporated in a unique BIG BIG TRAIN entity - excellent! Winchester Diver continues slightly Marillion reminiscent as for the vocals predominantly and then - to be honest, how else could it be - the ultimate epic title song crowns the whole album. Well - It makes you really accessible after several rounds finally - gripping - a fascinating tour de force with 23 minutes summarizing all the band's qualities at once - the point of culmination.

If I will be faced with a decision to recommend a typical progressive rock album to someone in the near future I would take this one. Some days ago I was on the road with my wife and took a chance to enter into 'The Underfall Yard' (unfortunately interrupted by several traffic jam announcements) ... she's not a prog fan as such but was really impressed ... especially because we could immediately compare with stuff offered by commercial radio stations. What a salient contrast! Yes - this directly makes you aware of how substantial this music genre is.

Full-value instrumentation, not overproduced though - playful songs with hijacking guitar work and a rich vintage keyboard substance - you will often find supportive backing mellotron layers when it comes to a melancholic turn. So my conclusion is, and it probably may take some years until this is confirmed for good: after several attemps the band just now have reached for the masterpiece - everyone involved here, including drummer Nick D'Virgilio, does a great job - completely rounded this time - congrats.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Beware of this big (big) train robbery (more like proggery), because this album is quite a trickster, you know ? (actually you don't know yet, because you'll be mostly people who'll read this review without knowing the album, that this review should help you decide. Uh oh, responsibility, you

Let's state few things that annoys me. Very first seconds of first track, this "vocal intro". Then most parts of second track, these multiple vocals doesn't work for me here. And finally, artwork. It looks like some communist propaganda picture. And another thing, first two tracks, so roughly first 1/6 (but it weights) seems like worse (I would say side, but it's just one sixth). Then third track is better, but still, not so good. And then it gets only better.

There are also positives. Last three tracks, mostly very last one (which is truly masterpiece). Is it possible that it clouded mind of some into giving 5-star rating, just because they were so much influenced by this track ? I've been listening this last few days, but now, I had to play it again. But OK, the bigger part I'm talking about has a lot of things. Melody, multi-layered structure.

Any many more things that you'll find in other reviews. But I'm here today to talk about magic. The last part has it and I'm sure that a lot of these people sensed it too. On some maybe, it works more, but for sure it works. Magic and beauty, this music is far from being wild and aggressive (there isn't a spot being ugly, just melody and harmony).

5(+) and I feel tempted a lot to give more. EDIT Let's stop being silly. This is a good album. Even I would find myself in situation where I will hate it, still, it would be nonsense (against my beliefs) to give it 1-star. And I like it, so it should be better. It's strange situation. After words by Brian (Slartibartfast) I gave it a chance. And I was pleased. Very weird, because I do not usually change my opinions so quickly and so often. Something is wrong here. Perhaps my presumption that I don't like the vocals. So I told myself to try to enjoy them. And so I did and was happy. This is easy guide how to be happy guys and girls, just say it and do it. And be.

Solid very special album, as it basically has everything I need, want, desire, embrace, worship, or simply love/like. And it even works, I'm enjoying it. Let it give a chance to blossom and shine with all colors and maybe, who knows, maybe masterpiece rating.

EDIT 2 (March 2010) - the best mark, because this album always pleases, treat and raises me, my mood and my thoughts. It's true gem.

EDIT 3 (April 2010) - one of the best albums of recent months.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Big Big Train went from a little tram that could to a huge locomotive that would , the progressive sequence engendered by the na´ve yet wonderful "Gathering Speed" , an album I enjoyed so profoundly I sent Greg Spawton a letter (to which I got a heartfelt answer!) and furthered by their last release "The Difference Machine" where they chose to really chug hard down the astral tracks and positively stunning a few PA colleagues along the way! This time around, the choo-choo train has pulled into Prog Central Station with a mystifying production, flush with a variety of subtle personnel changes. Gone are excellent singer Sean Filkins and drummer Steve Hughes, replaced by the unknown vocalist David Longdon and the genial Nick D'Virgilio of Spock's Beard fame behind the kit. Both must be nevertheless considered upgrades, as they both sparkle in the rain, Longdon coming across like vintage Phil Collins but in a proggier landscape (er? like Fish????) . Nick is well documented as a superstar stickman. Add into the passenger list some members from groups like It Bites, Frost and even XTC and you got on hell of an "equipage". The shrill whistle blows, the kling marries the klang and a sudden jolt shoves this forward. The engine has obviously stoked Spawton's creative juices as he dares to stretch the outer envelope right from the get-go, promoting guest soloist for the most part , proposing vocalizations that usher in the expansive "Evening Star", Andy Poole's bass holding down the macabre atmosphere within walls of mellotron and somber waves of trembling flute and tons of brass (cornet, tuba, trombone, French horn), all played by members of military units. A fascinating instrumental opener. "Master James of St George" is the first evidence that the microphone is in good hands as Longdon shows considerable skill , a huskier version of Uncle Phil , ever bit as passionate (like it or not, I do!) and adventurous. A dab of acoustic guitar rubs a rustic historical veneer on this rather simple piece, waiting for the electricity to kick in, and when it does, Dave Gregory of XTC froths with wanton feel. A Bryan Ferry-like whistle escorts this one away. The epic "Victorian Brickwork" is a classic example of how to juxtapose various tried and true styles as Spawton proudly shows off his Steve Howe lessons, then humbly leaving the solo to Gregory again and blending it all deep within a Genesisian ocean, bass blooming, drums thudding and the theme gently lilting. A delicious orchestral mid section featuring the cornet once again, the trusty mellotrons blazing with devilish fire, slow, grand and majestic . I am huffing and puffing already! Good thing I don't need my passport once in Europe! "Last Train" humorously reminds one of Wind & Wuthering era Genesis with another extended Dave Gregory solo (he played with Peter Gabriel too once) that is inspiring and mournful at the same time. Longdon really cloning Phil makes me smile every time, chuckling at the thought of what others may think when they hear this. "Winchester Diver" is closer to classic Neo-prog , yet John Foyle's electric cello conducts the cabin , permitting a sweet flute manned by Longdon and a wisp of windswept mellotron to plunge us into the lower depths, a bronze-headed silence within the solitude of blue life, minimalist as can be so that the lyrics really rip scathingly. Absolutely brilliant composition. Marillion and IQ fans, its time to jump aboard, here and now before we get to the sprawling caboose, the nearly 23 minute title track finale which will only cement the deal. Undoubtedly BBT's apotheosis , a colossal epic slice of symphonic prog of the loftiest caliber , Frost's Jem Godfrey shoveling coal into his sizzling Moogs (what a solo, ouf!) while Gregory and Francis Dunnery do the Wishbone Ash marshalling guitar thing to great effect, drums slamming suggestively. By know you may have digested the fact that David's singing is primo stuff and that we are in the presence of a major prog force, three enjoyable albums in a row!!!! Not an easy tour de force, especially after the stellar previous album's impact. As for the Jim Trainer artwork, I see why our Czech colleague Marty McFly sees it as communist real socialism; it's the fuming polluted factories, spewing in the background. Other wise the inspiration seems closer to the French impressionists mixed in with some Breughel. Great track though that begs for attention, ( let me catch my locomotive breath) and should be received by fans grandly. 5 TGVs
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars BIG BIG TRAIN's drummer has left making them a trio. Nick D'Virgillo who guested on the last one takes care of all the drum duties this time (still a guest though). There's a new singer as well in David Longdon who was suggested by Martin Orford. David sang on Martin's solo record "The Old Road". Once again the words and music are by Greg Spawton (guitar, keys, & bass), while Andy Poole (bass & keys) produced and recorded this album. The lyrics focus on the unheralded people who had different roles in England's history. Greg is very interested in the history of his country and draws attention to these unsung heroes. Man there's been so much hype about this album. I think it's excellent but I still prefer the previous album "The Difference Machine". I just really like how different and spacious it is. This one's more pastoral but just so beautifully arranged and performed. Speaking of performances, Dave Gregory from XTC plays some real mellotron on "Victorian Brickwork" the rest of the mellotron as with their past albums is sampled. Dave also plays guitar throughout. Gem Godfrey from FROST and Francis Dunnery from IT BITES both guest on the title track. There are other guests as well.

"Evening Star" opens with multi-vocal melodies then it turns melancholic when they stop. It kicks in after 2 1/2 minutes with some flute from vocalist Dave Longdon (he also plays dulcimer, mandolin, organ, psaltry and glockenspiel !). Lots of mellotron here too. It settles with horns. "Master James Of St.George" opens with drums, bass, guitar then vocals. It becomes fuller a minute in. It settles right away though and contrasts continue. Nice guitar solo from Dave Gregory 4 1/2 minutes in. Whistling ends it as the waves roll in. "Victorian Brickwork" opens with reserved vocals and a pastoral soundscape. It kicks in around 2 minutes. Some nice bass follows. The tempo and mood continue to change. A calm 8 1/2 minutes in with cello and mellotron. French horn joins in. This is fairly uplifting. It ends with those reserved vocals. I must say that the last three songs are much better than the first three.

So we get cooking with "Last Train" which opens with vocals, guitar, drums and chunky bass. Mellotron joins in then organ. Guitar and a great sound 3 1/2 minutes in. I like the guitar / drum section after 4 minutes that goes on and on. I love the mellotron that rolls in around 6 minutes. "Winchester Diver" sounds heavenly to start out with those deep bass lines and dreamy soundscapes. Cello comes in followed by mellotron, flute and organ. A calm with reserved vocals after 2 1/2 minutes. He sounds like Hogarth after 3 minutes. A fuller sound follows. I am so into these last two tracks. The final song is the 23 minute title track. Lots of tempo and mood shifts along with more chunky bass, mellotron, flute and cello.The guitar and synths solos are great. We also get tuba, cornet, French horn and trombone. Lots of vocals too. A real trip back into history.

Easily 4 stars. I agree with Rivertree (Uwe) that this album does reveal new things with each listen. A real depth and class to this recording.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars What if Genesis had decided to go back to their progressive roots rather than a commercial direction in the 1980's? Of imagine if you will the notorious three reuniting to do likewise. The result might sound something like The Underfall Yard. You've got your mellotrons, twelve string guitars, a lead vocalist, David Longdon, who sounds just like Phil Collins (Phil called and he'd like his vocal style back), also the occasional flute.

After that Big Big Train starts to diverge from the old Genesis sound. David's flute playing is more reminiscent of Ian McDonald than Peter Gabriel. The bass work by Andy Poole is more complex than the basic bass of Mike Rutherford and reminds me more of Geddy Lee. The electric guitar work by Greg Spawton isn't too much like Hackett. Most of the keyboard work isn't particularly reminiscent of Tony Banks. Banks has been split into Poole and Spawton. Also of interest, at the drums we have Nick D'Virgilio, who actually did three tracks with Genesis on Calling All Stations, but more people would probably be familiar with his work with Spock's Beard.

To further diverge, the core band is fleshed out with several guest musicians, including XTC's Dave Gregory. Actually he's on enough songs that he may be a permanent member. The other guests include four brass players and a cellist.

If you're the type to turn up your nose at music that use elements from past progressive greats, you should move on along, there's probably nothing here for you. However, if you're open to an outfit that's keeping a style alive that Genesis abandoned many years ago now, you're going to want to get this.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Some months ago a friend gave me a bunch of CDs to listen while he was traveling. One of them was by a band which had the strange name of Big Big Train. I listened to it just briefly, didn┤t pay much atention and just put it away since it didn┤t appeal to me soon (besides, I had plenty of others to hear). Only recently my curiosity on this band was aroused when lots of on line prog fans talked about their latest releases. I decided then to get their last album and, this time, to hear it with my full atention. Later I found out this was a very necessary move.

Big Big Train seems to be a band plagued by constant line up changes, but somehow core members Greg Spawton (guitars, keyboards, bass) and Andy Poole (bass, keyboards) manage to produce fantastic music together. Of course the presence of such seasoned guests like XTC┤s Dave Gregory,. Frost┤s Jem Godfrey and drummer extraordinaire Nick D'Virgilio helped a lot! Also new singer David Longdon proves to be a great find too. He has a fine, warm and versatile voice and also plays some tasteful flutes here and there.

The music on The Underfall Yard reminds me a lot of Guy Manning┤s Anser┤s Tree. Like that album, BBT┤s last is a dense work, with several layers of complex music that sounds a little too bland at first, but reveals itself to be quite rich and very well craft after a while. They produce something quite rare: a music that is very original and interesting, while not too provocative and zany. In fact it is clear that those guys love classic prog, some references to Genesis and King Crimson are quite easy to spot. And still they did not copy any of them. There are no real highlights on this album, it is very well done and you can hear it from start to finish. However, unlike most prog works, I fancied the shorter tracks more, maybe because they were easier to get into it. Last Train and Winchester Dive are probably the most accessible tracks and they made me think of a cross between Marillion and Peter Gabriel era Genesis with a modern twist on it. Production is also very good.

Conclusion: after repeated spins, I found the music here to be as rewarding as it is demanding. This is no easy listening music, but it is also something most progheads will relate to. Great symphonic music that will be an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. Four strong stars.

Review by fuxi
5 stars Well, I just can't tell you how much I'm impressed with this one.

I was a complete newcomer to Big Big Train, I'd never heard of them until THE UNDERFALL YARD. I suppose it was Jim Trainer's extraordinary cover art which drew my attention. As I started seeing more and more positive and intelligent reviews of this album, I decided I couldn't go wrong and gave the album a try. What I discovered surpassed my greatest expectations.

THE UNDERFALL YARD is quite possibly the most triumphant progressive rock album to come out of England in more than thirty years. As other reviewers have pointed out, it grew out of the classic tradition established by Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd. Since David Longdon's lead vocals bear a striking resemblance to Phil Collins's (in fact Longdon is the more powerful singer) you might even go as far as to say that THE UNDERFALL YARD is the most convincing Genesis album since A TRICK OF THE TAIL. Big Big Train's epic compositions fulfill all requirements of symphonic prog, but the band also have some tricks up their sleeve of their own. Just as Anekdoten sprang out of a style developed by early 1970s King Crimson, Big Big Train have made some highly creative use of tradition.

To start with, THE UNDERFALL YARD doesn't feature songs about pantomime burglars or cute little rodents dissolving themselves in tears. For once, this is a prog album which sounds terribly urgent (NOT in the overblown way we have come to expect from the likes of The Flower Kings) and which deals with the real world. Its main theme is the dissolution of the old industrial England which reached the height of its power in the Victorian age. The album's lyrics are subtle and elegiac, and to my relief they are kept within reasonable bounds; you never get the feeling the band are setting to music some middle-aged bloke's endless rants, as happens with The Tangent.

Furthermore, virtually all the tracks are enlivened with inspired, truly exciting guitar solos, mainly performed (as far as I know) by XTC's own Dave Gregory. These solos never sound vulgar or banal but truly take the music to a higher level. Coupled with Dave Desmond's delicate brass arrangements, David Longdon's superb vocal arrangements, and generally inspired writing and playing by the entire band, they make for an album that will be enjoyed for decades to come.

Progarchives discussion threads often pose the question if it's possible to do original things in a genre that reached its apex in the 1970s. Bands like Spock's Beard, Transatlantic and Beardfish have tried to swallow and digest 1970s styles, but they have failed, in my view, to come up with anything really new. For many listeners (myself NOT included) the most striking developments in recent years have been in progressive metal.

Until I discovered Big Big Train, I was convinced that all of the greatest progressive acts of the past 25 years had a foot (or at the least a few toes) in jazz-rock territory (e.g. Kenso, Robert Wyatt, Discus, the Pat Metheny Group, Bill Bruford's Earthworks). Now I see this is not the whole story. Big Big Train have shown there's abundant life outside "fusion". Long may they thrive!

Review by TheGazzardian
3 stars Progressive Rock emerged in the '70s as rock artists decided to go beyond the boundaries of what rock was doing at the time. It earned the name, "progressive", for it was "progressing" rock. It was expanding the boundaries of what had been done before.

But for each discovery along the way, what if someone liked it? Should that discovery never be revisited, simply because to revisit an already-existing idea would be ... NOT progressive? If you had asked the bands of the '70s about this, they might have just shaken their head and wondered what you were talking about, because back then "progressive rock" wasn't yet a term. They were just making music. If they happened to stumble upon something good, something that connected with their audience, they wouldn't complain about that idea being expanded upon.

One of the biggest and most imitated bands of the '70s went by the name of Genesis. Their influence can be heard everywhere in modern day prog, especially in the Neo-Prog and Symphonic Prog genres. IQ and The Watch aren't the only place where you will hear strong Genesis influences.

Big Big Train have, on this album, taken bits and pieces of the sound that Genesis discovered and incorporated them into their own sound. I have seen people say that this album is what Genesis might sound like if Hacket had never left , and I can understand why. But what this album represents to me is further exploration of the musical landscape that was unearthed in the '70s and made famous by Gabriel and the boys.

For sure, the short a capella intro in Evening Star would likely never have occurred in a Genesis album. And there is something about the energy that the band exudes that is different than the energy of Genesis. My feelings in this terms are that Genesis are more pastoral - it evokes ideas of calm hills with sheep bleating and green grass. Big Big Train make me imagine these same hills 100 years later, after the industrial revolution hit. This is the best way I can think to describe the difference in the feeling I get from each band.

The album really picks up for me with the second track, Master James of St. George. I would even go so far as to say that this track is my favorite off of the album. The vocal interplay, the repeated but catchy main chorus, and the energy of the instruments all build together to make "Master James, James, James of St. George" seem like he had quite an epic life with some late tragedy.

Victorian Brickwork recalls early Genesis more than the previous tracks have to this point. It makes me think that this is what it might have sounded like it Phil Collins and Anthony Philips had been in the band at the same time. It starts more subdued, with acoustic guitars and softer singing. It does grow more up beat musically once the electric guitar enters, and the singing grows more powerful, but the song maintains the same lyrical content, a song that seems to be about the end of an era (in fact, that's the feeling I get from the whole album, and it has a feel of melancholy about it as a result). The track continues to trade between the lower intensity and higher intensity quite nicely.

Last Train and Winchester Diver are both similar to Victorian Brickwork, songs that evoke the feeling of an ending with alternations between the harder rocking and softer parts, and each is quite nice in it's own way. Winchester Diver in particular, builds up quite nicely at the end and becomes quite intense.

That brings us to the epic closing title track, "The Underfall Yard", which one would presume takes it's name from the real underfall yard in Bristol (since Big Big Train are British). Going back to our Genesis comparison, I would say that this epic does not quite match Genesis' Supper's Ready in quality and epic-ness. But where Supper's Ready was full of quirky Gabriel-isms, the concept of The Underfall Yard is a bit more concrete. Like the rest of the album, the song continues the theme of time passing and leaving era's behind. And yet, I find that I don't have much else to say about the song - it pretty much sounds like a more epic version of the three before it, which is in no way a bad thing. It has some excellent moments and really impassioned vocals as well. I think my favorite guitar parts from the album are on this track as well.

So to summarise - Big Big Train are definitely further exploring the musical field made famous by Genesis in the '70s, but this is a style of music that will probably always be popular with the prog audience.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The news that a new vocalist had joined the ranks of Big Big Train really stirred my interest. The weakness in the vocal department had made The Difference Machine hard to enjoy for me and I hoped BBT would fulfil their true potential this time.

And indeed, the vocals are much better. Or should I say more professional? Longdon's vocals aren't very different from the previous singer Filkins and share a similar Phil Collins timbre, but Longdon is more steady and dynamic. However, he still fails to inject BBT's music with the soul that was lacking from the previous album. The result is a pleasant but ultimately unexciting prog album that follows all rules of prog songwriting but forgot to add the excitement of rock 'n' roll. Really, where's the drive and emotion in this music? It's so clean and sterile. Maybe I'm biased from listening to too much RPI lately, but the emotive power I discovered in that scene really puts a perspective on an album like The Underfall Yard. The form is ok, but the substance is lacking.

It doesn't make this a bad album though. The two opening songs for example are very good. But the quality is uneven and much of the album goes to the motions without moving me for more then a few scattered sections. The drums and bass are great and the guitars add some edge to the music, but the songs disappoint for not offering the inspired drive that marked The Difference Machine, an album I prefer to this one. The 1975 Genesis vibe is simply too big for me here. Generally, as soon as the vocals start, I have to get out of the room to get me a coffee or some other distraction.

The Underfall Yard is a professional album that takes a strong start but that ultimately disappointed me. I simply don't have any nostalgia for mellowed out post-'74 sympho, but if you love A Trick of the Tail you shouldn't hesitate. So I arrive at 4 stars for the music, 2 for the vocals, 1 for passion. 2.5, rounded up for now.

Fans shouldn't worry though. This criticism will sure spur another onslaught of 5 star reviews.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars The instrumental opening number (except some short vocalizing) from this album is quite remarkable. It is full of optimism, delight, freshness and wonderful keyboards and fluting. A real great start to tell the truth where the influence of the mighty "Yes" is obvious and the whole sounds pretty much as the "Gates Of Delirium" / "Awaken" period to my ears.

What comes afterwards is still very skilled but so much clichÚ again. "Victorian Brickwork" is a good song but so much borrowed to "Yes" and "Genesis" that it falls a bit flat. The closing section, with sweet sax and an orgy of symphonic keys is truly poignant and beautiful though.

The whole album provides splendid mellotron passages, superb melodies, sweet keyboards, nice fluting here and there ("Winchester Driver") and a very warm feeling. This is the type of music that should please any symphonic prog fan, provided that you accept the pastiche side of the work?Some Gabriel feel as well during this fine song.

The same characteristics are available during "The Underfall Yard" (the title track) which is a kaleidoscope of the band's ability in playing enjoyable music. Fully neo-prog oriented, but with talent during this epic song (almost twenty-three minutes).

All in all, this is a very good moment of music. My rating is four stars; but be aware if you can't stand regressive music.

Review by progrules
4 stars When I bought this album and listened to it a couple of times I was slightly disappointed with the result. After all this was a highly acclaimed effort according to many and then you expect a lot. I could hardly believe it and decided to give it more spins before doing the review. And I'm glad I did because after more than 10 times my opinion has changed quite a lot.

And the reason is the fact this album is a real grower. The more you listen to it the more the songs get into your system and that's important with an album like this. First two listening experiences I was slightly disappointed with the small number of instrumental passages I detected. Some reviews I had read promised me that especially the long epic at the end had to be something special with tremendous music but I only heard a few minutes of that and felt a bit let down in that department. But after the more and more spins I learned the class of this album isn't just some great instrumental passages but there was also the coherence between the songs and the re-occurring themes there are to be experienced throughout the album. And that 's what I mean when I say this album has to grow on you before you can truly appreciate it.

In the end the final epic is indeed a wonderful conclusion of a great album, a sort of long recapitulation of everything that has happened in the previous tracks. The compositions are marvelous, the vocals are good, the instrumental handling is excellent (with stand out flute) and the coherence is even the strongest aspect of all. So after all a great release by Big Big Train and probably the magnum opus of their career. Indeed worthy of the 4,4 stars they have received by now. Just missing out on the masterpiece status in my opinion because it all isn't really mindblowing for my personal taste. But excellent for any prog rock collection for sure. Highly recommended.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The Underfall Yard (2009) was my first meeting with Big Big Train's music and it was a great beginning. Back on the day I saw that the band had their new 22 minutes song to free download on their website and just after the first hearing I went on their website and bought this album (together with The Difference Machine).

This is just epic and full of soul and feelings. Music that you listen with your body, not just your ears, if you know what I mean.

The band was almost peaking (which would really happen 3 years later with English Electric Part 1) and their sound on the album is just natural and great.

There's no weak track in here, not a single tiny beat. Just go for it with your eyes close.

Review by stefro
3 stars One of the most critically-acclaimed progressive rock releases of 2009, Big Big Train's sixth album 'The Underfall Yard' finds this British three-piece working with a heavyweight cast that includes the likes of Spock's Beard drummer-and-vocalist Nick D'Virgilio, It Bites' Francis Dunnery and Frost* creator Jem Godfrey. Obvious a lovingly-crafted album, 'The Underfall Yard' features a slow, careful, symphonic sound enriched by a collection of unusual instruments such as Trombones, Cellos, French Horns and Cornets that juxtapose warmly with Big Big Train's guitar-and-keyboard heavy approach. Obvious influences such as Genesis and King Crimson abound, though the prosaic, almost maudlin tone of many of the compositions on offer also hint towards a slightly more classical sound. Vocalist David Longdon has a deep, bassy, baritone voice that compliments the battery of instruments nicely, but despite the commendably complex instrumentation on show, 'The Underfall Yard' somehow never really takes off and truly excites. What the band have created is a kind of earnest balladry peppered with proggy ingredients that's all very interesting and but pretty hard tack for those in search of genuinely innovative and genuinely entertaining prog rock. There's no denying the group's expert craftmanship, but unfortunately, despite their richly-textured sound, Big Big Train have still yet to reach the heights reached by the genuine greats of modern prog such as Diagonal, Astra and Beardfish, three bands that have created contemporary prog that is both original and exciting. A worthy effort from Big Big Train, but, unfortunately, despite it's musical excellence, a fundamentally flawed one. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by lazland
5 stars I write this review under a great deal of strain, both professionally and personally. The former I won't bore people with, but the latter is pertinent to this review.

Last Friday, my best friend Kerri died suddenly, without any warning whatsoever. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.

I'm sure that most members of Prog Archives appreciate that, at times such as these, we turn to our music in order to release our emotions, try to find out some meaning to such events, or simply to wallow in the depths of our individual feelings and torment.

I was recommended The Underfall Yard by Progkidjoel on the forum when asking for birthday recommendations. When I finally acted on his, wise, advice I sent him a PM telling him just how fantastic this piece of modern progressive rock was as a body of work. If I had reviewed it at the time, it would have generated a certain four star review. "An excellent addition to any prog rock collection".

Since last weekend, the album has come to mean a whole lot more, deserving of five stars, and really because of one piece of music, and I will explain why.

Victorian Brickwork is the first epic track on the album. Until that point, we are treated to exemplary playing and lyrics on Evening Star and Master James of St George.

The lyrics themselves, when I played them on my MP3 player last week meant so much to me, recalling so many conversations with Kerri, my friend.

Lost in the low lights at the ocean tides The love you never meant to hide The low lights at the ocean tides The love you never meant to hide

Kerri and I had so many discussions about how different our beloved wives were from us, the idiosyncrasies, and the day to day ups and downs of married life. But one thing held us in a bond. The love we both shared for our life partners and the children that we have. Those lyrics are so profound and just so painfully reflective. And so true. We never seem to tell our love just how much they mean to us until it is too late.

Some seven minutes into the track, the piece transforms itself into a glorious explosion of sound, guitar telling a painful story. And then, that moment.

The joy of the best progressive rock bands is to change moods and signatures. I am not ashamed to say that at eight and a half minutes into the track, when the brass solo commences, then accompanied by keyboard and rhythm section, into such an achingly beautiful, joyously painful, section of music, I cried my eyes out, in sheer wonder of the breadth of expression and emotion portrayed.

I am not an overtly religious man. However, I tell you, God spoke to me that night, and as I write this review. God gave these musicians the wonderful talent to create such an incredible piece of music, to call out to me in a moment of emotional crisis and of need. These incredibly talented musicians provided me with an outlet in which to cry, reflect, and to come to terms with both Kerri, and the love I feel for my family.

Very rarely does a band, or music, touch one like this.

The album as a whole is a great work. However, for me, I am going to award five stars to this album on the rare basis of one track from it, a track which I will forever associate with my friend.

Salute. Gorffwys mewn tangnefedd (rest in peace)

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars Genesis clone? Nope. Yes copycat? No way.

Good music? No doubt.

Big Big Train's Underfall Yard has been a very pleasant surprise. Inspired by some classic prog, yet aspiring to make their own mark, the band has developed a very nice sound for this album. This album reminds me a bit of neo-prog, but without the--as some might believe unnecessary--bombast and pandering. Within that genre, it's much more Phideaux than Arena or IQ, for example.

Overall it feels fairly mellow, but underneath lies a certain intensity that really holds my interests. Big Big Train has a habit of keeping the tempo up in quieter sections, accentuated by some very nice basslines, delicate percussion, and numerous lively guitar melodies. The result is a collection of songs that keep you coming back for more, without always knowing precisely why. Throw in some occasional flute, sitar effects, and a fair helping of refreshing horn arrangements, and this makes for a very nice album in most prog collections.

The highlights for me are of course the two extended pieces (with the opener, Evening Star, deserving mention as well): Victorian Brickwork and the title track. Brickwork is a little sporadically pieced together, but certainly well-played, with the gorgeous brass sequence toward the end stealing the show. Definitely progressive in my book. They also saved plenty for the title track epic, as the intro by itself just teems with intense playing and musical creativity. Sometimes I feel it drags a bit long, but I don't know what I would cut, and the band does a nice just of kicking up the energy just when things might be starting to lose momentum.

All in all, a great effort by talented set of musicians, and a prog epic that is much more than standard prog-by-numbers to boot! It's difficult not to be pleased with Underfall Yard.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars BBT's "The Underfall Yard" is quite good example of good crossover prog for me. There are plenty of multi layered boys' vocal bands and synth-pop bands and all other types of mostly pop-bands,who decided because of current progressive fashion just to add some vintage keyboards sound to their music or make it a bit more complex. Then listeners without deep prog knowledge or with deep under-skin love to pop-harmonies name such release "prog- masterpiece". A believe that "prog fashion" will pass very soon and no-one will remember such fake "progsters" .

In such strange times it 's really pleasant to find some real crossover prog album: album with some softer and possibly more melodic sound, sometimes a bit more accessible music, but that music is prog!

I you as me not very big fun of fakes, but at the same time like melodic,a bit vintage,but quality prog, this album is for you. Yes, there are plenty of citation from early Genesis, but in all music is still enough original and pleasant. Musicianship is surprisingly of high level, and in fact it's difficult to criticize this album's music on any department.

Being released in mid 70-s, such album could be really the one in the centre of attention. For today it sounds a bit dated, not too much original, but there are many listeners for whom originality or innovation isn't too much important. If you're one of them, take this album and you will enjoy!

I am new ideas and sounds seeker, so I am not very happy when didn't find them there. But still really enjoyed this release: far from Supertramp's " Crime Of The Century" (which is absolute etalon of great crossover prog for me), but much better than many of genre competitors all around. Should attract many neo-prog lovers ass well.

My rating is 3+ ( fans early Genesis and other melodic not very complex and well arranged symphonic prog could add plus 1 point over my rating).

Review by m2thek
5 stars The Underfall Yard is a 2009 release by the English band Big Big Train. This is the band's 5th studio album, and first with their new lead singer. This is my first experience with Big Big Train, so I was going in not knowing what to expect, but was extremely pleased with my purchase. Listeners who have any interest in symphonic prog and modern prog at all should feel the same.

The music of The Underfall Yard is very pleasing, and consistently good throughout. Most of the songs are driven by acoustic guitar lines, and have a fair amount of singing. Other instruments include electric guitar, flute, and a few different keyboards. There are also a number of classical instruments, such as cello and an assortments of horns. However, these are played by studio musicians, and don't make as many appearances as the core instruments. The flute along with the acoustic guitar give the music an almost pastoral feeling, which really sets the mood. Although the standard feel of the album is softer, they do have their loud moments, characterized by electric guitar riffs, and are usually accompanied by well placed strings. These moments help in giving each song a nice up and down dynamic, and usually aid in leading to their climaxes. The lyrical themes of the album are pretty interesting, and deal with a band member's deceased father, English folk stories, and the decline of Western thought.

The album itself is very consistent, with every song being enjoyable and having something to offer. Each song is also pretty dynamic, and has a clear, satisfying climax. The lyrics carry the songs well, and are sung with lots of emotion that make them very enjoyable. There are a lot of nice guitar solos, and even the occasional flute and keyboard solo, which are used sparingly, but effectively. The solos in the last song are closer to the shredding you might find on a metal album, rather than the slower paced, melodic efforts in the previous 5 songs, but they offer a nice contrast, and are some of the most exciting moments on the album. Some passages involving the brass are just so emotional and beautiful that I just go into shock every time they pass. There are also some great, subtle, compositional touches, such as the vocal harmony in the first song that is brought back in the closer, or some whistling at the end of the second song that introduces the vocal melody of the next. Moments like these are great touches, and really make the album come together as a whole, rather than being just a collection of good songs. At just around an hour, the album is a great length, that really has no down moment.

The parts that I like about the album also brings me to my only complaint about it, namely, its consistency. Each song feels very safe within the context of the album. After listening to one song, you could pick a random one and guess very major characteristics about it, and you'd probably be right. That's not to say that every album has to have a weirdo song from the rest, it's just that the band seems to lack a sense of adventure here, and likes to stick to what it's good at. Again, this is a minor point, and really speaks to how good it is if the only negative point I can make is basically "none of these songs manage to be worse than any other song."

Lack of exploration aside, this album truly is excellent. There is just no bad moment to be found here, and the highs are very high and worth waiting for. This is surely one of 2009's top albums, and even at the end of 2010, it's still pulling at me and distracting me from this year's releases. The Underfall Yard is a must listen to, and a masterpiece of modern progressive rock.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the first album I heard from these guys; I wanted to check it out due to all the positive reviews this was getting. Before listening to this, I wasn't sure I was going to like it much. Turns out I enjoyed it a lot more than I ever thought I would. You can definitely hear a Genesis influence in the music, but it also sounds more modern as well. Lots of guest musicans on the album, some more famous than others. The lyrics are very England- oriented. This is apparently a concept album about Victorian England.

The album opens with great a capella harmony vocals in the otherwise instrumental "Evening Star". Great electric piano and tom-tom centred drumming at first. Nice flute solo. Great brass at the end. "Master James Of St. George" has great marching style drumming and catchy lyrics. Unlike the vocals on the first track, I don't really like the harmony vocals here. I do like the bass and the guitar solo in the middle, which continues until the vocals come back. Nice whistling and the sound of waves at the end.

I don't like the beginning of "Victorian Brickwork" very much. It's the second longest song but overall doesn't do much for me until over halfway with the eerie piano and crazy drumming. Then a hard rock riff. Good ending with the keyboards and brass before some vocals, acoustic guitar and flute finish it. "Winchester Diver" has good sounding synth at the start. Good flute and guitar work in this song. The flute melody is great and is sometimes double- tracked. I like the backwards effects before the singing begins and violin comes in. Gets very Genesis sounding near the end. Backwards effects with eerie music comes back at the end.

The almost 23 minute title track has some good guitar playing and drumming at the beginning before some great piano chords. Followed by more great playing and then the vocals start. I like the parts with the line "he can still see faaaaar..." Good guitar solo around the 5 minute mark. Cool Mellotron in this track (or is it a digital imitation like a Memotron?) Nice synth solo around 6 1/2 minutes. The harmony vocals halfway are good. Some subtle but good use of (electric?) sitar throughout the piece. Another good synth solo after 15 minutes, followed by some great cello. Later on some great organ playing. More great harmony vocals. You hear the sounds of people making noises at one point. Later a Wakeman-style synth solo; not as good as the others IMO. Ends with some sitar arpeggios. This epic generally flows well but some parts are better than others.

The sound and production is very well done. The compositions are good and the playing is genrally great. I can see why many like this album, but this is usually not my kind of music. I'm not sure if I would enjoy their earlier albums or not. I enjoyed this album for the most part, but I don't think it's something I would listen to very often. Recommended to Symph and Neo fans. I would rate this as 3.5 but I'll bump it up to 4 stars.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Big Big Train's The Underfall Yard is another landmark in their discography, because it's the first album where the fivesome of co-founders Greg Spawton and Andy Poole, drummer Nick D'Virgilio, the late great David Longdon, and guitarist Dave Gregory came together. D'Virgilio had guested on drums on some tracks on The Difference Machine, but this is where he became a full band member, but it's the fact that this is the first time we get that fivesome together which to me is the important thing: whilst more members would arrive and depart over time, those five would be at the heart of the lineup for every album from this one up to The Second Brightest Star, giving Big Big Train a level of stability they simply had never had as a project before.

Initially, I didn't get the appeal of this one. With a few Genesis-isms slipped in here and there (in particular, there's a pinch of Steve Hackett's classic "weeping guitar" sound present), the group I most immediately thought of on my first listens was Spock's Beard, particularly when it comes to the use of vocal harmonies. Maybe that's the problem - at that point Spock's Beard hadn't clicked with me, so I bounced off the album.

In addition, the lyrical themes evaded me somewhat, tending to focus on architecture and large-scale engineering feats, though in retrospect I've come to appreciate the angle here: the approach seems to be to tackle history not from a perspective of kings and nobles, but of artisans and workers, an alternate perspective I find more interesting.

Musically speaking, Gregory's guitar work is rather enchanting, D'Virgilio is a dab hand on the drums, Spawton and Poole keep up their multi-instrumentalist duties with aplomb, and David Langdon's vocals have grown on me a lot. You get the impression that he could do a full-on Peter Gabriel impression if he wanted, but he resists the temptation - showing admirable restraint given the number of prog vocalists who've steered in a Gabriel-esque direction. Instead, the voice is distinctly his own, but his capacity to be in tune with the emotional tone the song is going for and sell it - particularly well-showcased on Victorian Brickwork - is perhaps his best contribution.

By and large I'd say this is a pretty solid album, though the whole thing seems curiously muted - even sections which are supposed to be exciting and dynamic seem to be weighed down a little by somewhat leaden production at times, and the whole thing just seems to be a little bit off to me... it's clearly very competent, but it also feels very calculated, a direct stab at what the prog audience fancies rather than something more esoteric like The Difference Machine. I can't help but also think that in terms of much of the lyrical themes and aesthetic, Goodbye To the Age of Steam already did all this (and they rehash a lot of this in English Electric at that).

In short, this might verge on prog heresy - but I actually don't think I like Longdon-era Big Big Train. I can see why this got popular on the prog scene, but it also doesn't quite seem to be anything all that new in the grand scheme of things, and I think the band are actually more interesting for the stuff they did before the market decided it liked them after all.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars 3.5 stars, really

With this album issued in 2009 named The underfall yard BBT become one of the most appreciated prog acts in last years, and for good reason. Sounding almost same with predecesor but with a good doze of brass sections in some parts, BBT manage to come with a pleasent album all the way but again I can't call this a masterpieces, because the influences are more or less present taken from old Genesis (Gabriel era ). Now with D'Virgilio as permanent meber who btw done a great job here specially on title track, another gust appears here Dunnery from It Bites and Godfrey from Frost. The music is calm most of the time combined with some great guitar parts made by the head of the band Greg Spawton combined with refined instrumental sections almost pastoral in places. Nice voice coming from the new voice David Longdon, with a typical english tone not far from old masters from prog like Gabriel. All in all I like every BBT album, some of them more some of them less, this one is among their best quite diffrent from what is to be heread on English boy wonders, but still pleasent most of the time. All pieces are ok with a plus one Victorian Brickwork and the stunninmg title track, an epic that worth to be investigated for sure for every prog fan. So among the top albums in last yers in prog, to me a little more then a great album but not a masterpieces for sure. Jim Trainer done a fantastic job, the drawings from the booklet are top notch. 3.5 stars is best I can give, great but not fantstic.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 7/10

Autumnal Beauty.

(Quick Review)

Big Big Train's eight album, "The Underfall Yard", presents more surprises than the previous album of theirs, "The Difference Machine". The band has kept the same level of complexity in their music, with some major differences: the songwriting skills have increased ten-fold, the structuring of the songs has noticeably improved, and the production sounds much more sophisticated, and puts all of the instruments perfectly in balance. It's a modern Symphonic Prog album with great flow, and the songs manage to not disappoint in their task of maintaining the listener's attention throughout the entire time. "Master James Of Saint George", " Last Train", and especially the epic twenty two minutes of the closing title- track, are worthy of being remembered as some of the highest moments of modern-day Progressive Rock, for their perfect mix between catchiness and complexity. "Winchester Diver" however is another story, feeling completely useless and not being in the slightest bit worth listening to. Perhaps without that track, the album would have turned out to be a near-masterpiece.

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
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.

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4 stars Big Big Train reminds me early Genesis. And it's a compliment. The first time that I listen The Underfall Yard, I was blowed up. This album is really good. Surely the best of 2009 and one of the best of the 00's. If all the songs are good, the title track of 23 minutes is a masterpiece. Not bo ... (read more)

Report this review (#933590) | Posted by floflo79 | Thursday, March 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Admittedly I pondered this album after their most recent release, English Electric, so my listening ears are somewhat spoiled by the beauty of that album. I will say though that this is amazing in its own right. These guys definitely know what they're doing; the instrumentation is top notch and the ... (read more)

Report this review (#866993) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Monday, November 26, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Starts stronger than it finishes. I am not very familiar with the band, but I do also own "The Difference Machine" album. They are excellent muscians and their music does qualify them in the prog world. The Underfall Yard is a good album and I would get it again, but it tends to leave me a ... (read more)

Report this review (#817010) | Posted by AEProgman | Saturday, September 8, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After seeing all the glowing reviews of this album on the site it is with some trepidation that I post a review which basically disagrees with almost everyone. I have tried to embrace the music of Big Big Train over the years but I have never really come away with any feeling except boredom. I a ... (read more)

Report this review (#815718) | Posted by menawati | Wednesday, September 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Every once in a while you come across an album that just speaks to you. It seems to speak to you personally, directly and is guiding you somewhere. It opens a door to a new wing of that big old house you thought you had explored to the full. Having grown up listening to Genesis, Caravan, The St ... (read more)

Report this review (#563655) | Posted by Whatlarks | Monday, November 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Just before I submitted this review, a screen alert reminded me to be sparing in allocating 1 and 5 stars to reviews. In the case of 'The Underfall Yard' there is no album more deserving of five stars. This album is truly outstanding and incredibly beautiful to listen to. I must admit that whe ... (read more)

Report this review (#508721) | Posted by Richens | Thursday, August 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A memorable works of art . Big Big Train truly earned a place in my heart with this brilliant masterpiece entitled "The Underfall Yard." This could be the album of the decade. I think it is. Every listen of this album made ​​me love him more and more to the point of making it one of m ... (read more)

Report this review (#443239) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars PA turned me on to this beautiful album. I saw it listed in the Top 2009 albums and was intrigued by both the band's name and the album title. The 5-minute Evening Star begins a capella and then turns instrumental, with a spacey flute section at about the halfway point, and transitioning t ... (read more)

Report this review (#437833) | Posted by krishl | Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When you're listening to this album the first time you will thinking this is another great symphonic-prog album from the seventies. But no! This piece of music is from the year 2009! "Big Big Train" sounds like the great prog-bands from a past glory era, like genesis, yes or king crimson. But als ... (read more)

Report this review (#304414) | Posted by Elveeye | Saturday, October 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Underfall Yard is a contemporary progressive rock album. Hailing from Bournemouth and with 4 previous albums to their credit Big Big Train have delivered an album which is nothing short of astonishing. It's transparent that these pieces have been crafted and toiled over in a way which is n ... (read more)

Report this review (#298197) | Posted by tribeca | Thursday, September 9, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album has a lot of elements going it's way. Lush sounds, great production and balance, wonderful singers, great grooves, complex rhythms, and shows it off really well. Every track goes in a pretty new direction and gives us a great Spock's Beard-esque symphonic rock experience. The fac ... (read more)

Report this review (#295566) | Posted by Relayer Duos | Friday, August 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Underfall Yard is truly a pleasure to listen to. I heard about this album on The Dividing Line. I downloaded the free MP3 of the title track and knew that this was a must have. Listening to the interview which was available for free on the Big Big Train website along with the complete albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#295268) | Posted by batbold66 | Thursday, August 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Big Big Train is a band I had heard of only in passing prior to buying this album on the strength of hearing The Underfall Yard on Progzilla radio. After listening to this outstanding album, I can tell you I think it is essential. The Underfall Yard's mostly dark atmosphere is sometimes brok ... (read more)

Report this review (#294091) | Posted by Nathaniel607 | Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This would be my fourth BBT purchase, with the first being "Goodbye to the Age of Steam" way back in the mid-90s. I'll give them credit for maintaining creativity and musicality in the face of ever-changing vocalists (Martin Read from the old days remains my favorite). As with their previous release ... (read more)

Report this review (#291994) | Posted by Area70 | Monday, July 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Perhaps it's unfair to start this review with an immediate comparison with another and better known band, but as an observer of Prog music through the far too many years of my life, it's apparent that Genesis is almost a holy icon. I haven't myself enjoyed any of their albums since "Duke" which wa ... (read more)

Report this review (#289633) | Posted by grimtim | Thursday, July 8, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I was turned on to this album from all the great reviews here on ProgArchives and I have to say it's one of the best English prog albums I have heard in years. Nick's guest turn on drums adds to the already solid rhythm section of the band (Can drums be melodic? I say they can!) I agree with ... (read more)

Report this review (#285117) | Posted by catsclaw | Saturday, June 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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