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ENGLISH ELECTRIC (PART ONE)

Big Big Train

Crossover Prog


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Big Big Train English Electric (Part One) album cover
4.19 | 740 ratings | 46 reviews | 45% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The First Rebreather (8.32)
2. Uncle Jack (3.49)
3. Winchester From St Giles' Hill (7.16)
4. Judas Unrepentant (7.18)
5. Summoned By Bells (9.17)
6. Upton Heath (5.39)
7. A Boy In Darkness (8.03)
8. Hedgerow (8.52)

Total Time: 58:44

Lyrics

Search BIG BIG TRAIN English Electric (Part One) lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

Search BIG BIG TRAIN English Electric (Part One) tabs

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Poole / bass, keyboards
- Greg Spawton / guitars, keyboards, bass
- David Longdon / vocals, flute, glockenspiel, banjo, mandolin, add keyboards
- Dave Gregory / electric guitar
- Nick D'Virgilio / drums

Additional musicians:
- Rob Aubrey / mixing, mastering
- Ken Brake / string section, double bass
- Edo Spanninga / recorder
- Andy Tillison / organ / keybords / moog
- Martin Orford / backing vocals
- Abigail Trundle / cello
- Teresa Whipple / viola
- Geraldine Berreen / violin
- Eleanour Gilchrist / violin
- Danny Manners / double bass
- Rachel Hall / violin
- Violet Adams / backing vocals
- Lily Adams / backing vocals
- Jon Truscott / tuba
- Dave Desmond / trombone
- Ben Godfrey / cornet
- John Storey / euphonium
- Jan Jaap Langereis / recorders
- Verity Joy / backing vocals
- Sue Bowran / violin
- Daniel Steinhardt / electric guitar

Releases information

CD, English Electric Recordings, EERCD011, September 3, 2012
CD, Giant Electric Pea, GEPCD1043, 2012
2xLP, Plane Groovy, PLG010, 2012

Available though the band`s bandcamp at http://bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com/album/english-electric-part-one

Thanks to AgentSpork for the addition
and to Tarcisio Moura for the last updates
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English Electric Part OneEnglish Electric Part One
Import
Ais 2012
Audio CD$11.00
$9.00 (used)
English Electric: Full PowerEnglish Electric: Full Power
CD Baby 2013
Audio CD$16.65
$24.64 (used)
Underfall YardUnderfall Yard
Import
Ais 2009
Audio CD$9.50
$5.70 (used)
English Electric Part 2English Electric Part 2
Import
Ais 2013
Audio CD$8.83
$9.99 (used)
Far Skies Deep TimeFar Skies Deep Time
EP · Import
Ais 2010
Audio CD$7.75
$17.15 (used)
Difference MachineDifference Machine
Remastered · Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$13.37
$19.97 (used)
Goodbye to the Age of SteamGoodbye to the Age of Steam
Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$11.00
$21.21 (used)
Gathering SpeedGathering Speed
Remastered · Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$10.00
$36.50 (used)
English Boy WondersEnglish Boy Wonders
Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$11.88
$8.28 (used)
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BIG BIG TRAIN English Electric (Part One) ratings distribution


4.19
(740 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(45%)
45%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
31%
Good, but non-essential (17%)
17%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

BIG BIG TRAIN English Electric (Part One) reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars Approximately 20 years ago a postman made a delivery to my house. In itself there is nothing unusual in that concept, but the difference here was that inside the envelope was a demo tape from a Dorset band. They had been given my details by Stu Nicholson who I had recently been in contact with, so they decided to send me the tape to see what I thought of it. Needless to say that band were Big Big Train, and the tape was 'From The River To The Sea', and it was the first piece of music ever sent to me to review. Since then I have listened to countless thousands of CDs, but Big Big Train were the very first so I have always had something of a soft spot for them. Although it must be said that not only was I not a huge fan of one of their releases back in the day, but I also had the misfortune to run into Greg Spawton in a pub in Winchester not long after I had formed that opinion.

The reason for that was I felt that they no longer sounded like BBT and that they had allowed outside guests and influences to take over the album, but looking back now it is obvious that it was an important step in allowing the band to grow musically. And boy have they changed now. There have been one or two line-up changes over the years but Greg (now on bass/keys) and Andy Poole (keys/production) have been there from the beginning, and singer David Longdon (plus mandolin, keys, flute etc) who joined in 2009 has been a real find. It is these three that have written all of the songs, but since 2010 they have been joined by guitarist Dave Gregory and some drummer called Nick D'Virgilio. Yes, the ex-Spock's Beard and current Mystery sticksman is also a key member of this band.

So when my copy turned up from the band the other day you can guess how excited I was. One word screams out all of the time that this is playing, and that is "Maturity". The band have changed immensely since those early days and have produced an album that is huge and the reason for that is the control that pervades everything that is happening. I was playing this while out in one of the paddocks and I was trying to think who it reminded me of, and the closest I can come to is Marillion combined with Chris Rea but that has much more to do with the way they have approached the construction and composition as opposed to the musical direction.

Many people will say that this isn't a prog album, but so what? That really depends on your personal definition of prog, but given the use of additional guests and instruments where else doe sit really fit? On a personal level, when I heard the flute I immediately asked myself if Martin Orford (IQ/Jadis) had become involved in the music scene again as I know that he had contributed to past BBT albums. Well, I was wrong about the flute as that is by David but Widge does provide some backing vocals - it was a huge loss to not only UK prog but to music as a whole when he decided not to continue so hopefully there will be more to come.

This is a part one album, with the second to follow in March, and to be honest I can hardly wait. To my old jaded ears this is stunning ? and when I received that cassette all those years ago I could never have imagined that one day I would be listening to anything as powerful as this. This is essential for any lover of good music. www.bigbigtrain.com

(This review was sourced from a pre release copy provided by the band - ADMIN EDIT)

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#810452) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is the second album by this particular Big Big Train lineup after The Underfall Yard, but the improvement over that one is astonishing. Trimming back the stable of guest musicians substantially and offering a spruced-up sound which combines progressive rock song structures and compositional techniques to a somewhat broader aesthetic than most prog, the album manages to be simultaneously quite accessible and at the same time a real prog revelation.

Founder member Greg Spawton's guitar work on this is a real highlight, particularly in the way he brings in influences which most prog guitarists tend to overlook. For instance, his performance on Uncle Jack begins in a folky style with just a whiff of bluegrass to it, but as the song progresses and complexities pile up it ends up gradually mutating into something much more unusual. David Longdon's one of those prog vocalists who likes to mimic Peter Gabriel, but he's stunningly good at it and his performance sounds absolutely natural and not forced at all.

The traces of Spock's Beard I could hear on The Underfall Yard are well and truly gone - as, indeed, is any obvious imitation of past prog bands. This album is, in short, a true prog original, as well as one of my biggest surprises of the year - having been none too impressed by the band's back catalogue, I really hadn't planned on giving them another go, but the high praise given to this one made me feel compelled to relent on that and I'm profoundly glad I did. Big Big Train fans will be thrilled by their heroes' latest triumph; prog fans who have previously given them short shift might be advised to give this one a taste because it might just win them over.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#829948) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 28, 2012

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team
5 stars There's some bands that hardly fail, you can actually see their love and their effort on making the best music possible. And that's the case of BIG BIG TRAIN.

I'm not a BIG BIG TRAIN longer fan, I've discovered them when they were about to release the magnificent The Underfall Yard (2009) and they were giving away the epic track that carried the name of the album. I was so immediatelly amazed by that song and that sound and that band that I went straight to their website and bought a bundle with The Underfall Yard (2009) and their previous The Difference Machine (2007).

When I've heard they were working on a new album, and that would be a 2 part project called 'English Electric' I was already happy just by heard that.

I am now listening English Electric (Part One) (2012) for the first time. And they just can't fail. Their music is full of emotion, charged with a sentiment that you hardly can see in any other band, specially in Progressive Rock.

They work slowly on their records and make sure every little piece is right on place. The sounds of instruments specially, is SO good to hear an album that actually have real drums sounds, a bass sound that's not equal to the other 100 albums released in this month, pianos and not cheap keyboards, flutes, the list go on and on...

It's rich in every aspect it's grande not being too pompous, it's emotional, makes me shiver, and the most important thing, it makes you want to listen again and again.

The band knows the music they're doing is good, only bands that know they have a great material to offer makes their album available to listen on Bandcamp (bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com/album/english-electric-part-one).

And you know why they do that? Cause they know that if you listen, you'll buy, something inside you tells that you need to have it. And that's actually what happens, everytime.

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Send comments to ProgShine (BETA) | Report this review (#830915) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
5 stars Big Big Train excel on their best release to date "English Electric Part One". The fact that this is a first part obviously means there is soon to be released a sequel and if it is as fabulous as this release we are in for a real treat. From the very beginning I was taken on a journey of melodic and innovative musicianship with beautiful rivers of flute and uplifting guitar solos, along with swathes of keyboards and crystalline ambience. Each track is diverse from the one preceding and makes this a very entertaining hour of music. The songs are accessible enough for the average music listener but have inspired musicianship that lift the compositions out of the ordinary and into the more progressive side of music. The flute is absolutely stunning and the grinding organ punctuates the atmospheres with a retro 70s feel.

Songs like the wonderful 'Judas Unrepentant' have the 70s sound and yet remain modern enough to fit into the current music scene comfortably. There is an uplifting soundscape on such songs, and the band leave room for quiet passages of flute played with aplomb by the incomparable David Longdon, and the string section by Ken Brake is mesmirising tranquillity. This track is one of the greatest pieces of music I have heard in years, and even features strong organ soloing, and meanders into quiet textures allowing it to lift again into the main bright melody. The vocals of Longdon are always clean and easy on the ears, sounding somewhat like Peter Gabriel in places, a clear influence.

The opening track 'The First Rebreather' is also masterfully composed with lengthy solos and a soul stirring melody, reminiscent of Genesis, with creative shifting time sigs. Surprisingly after this prog sound the following track 'Uncle Jack' is a diversion into Cotton Eye Joe banjo and hoedown musical shapes. It seems to work though as it is so unique to the album and shows the band having fun with their creativity. Another diversion on this album is the ballad 'Upton Heath' that is acoustically driven and has a beautiful Celtic folk flavour of accordion sounds and a strong multi harmony of voices throughout. The violins and flute are a nice touch and enhance the folk textures on this very accessible track.

On the flip side of the band's style 'Summoned by Bells' is a 9 minute romp with cascading flute and guitar picking and violins that melt into the icy atmospheres. It has a dreamy feel, especially in the verses and at times a heavier guitar riff from Greg Spawton breaks through to keep things interesting. The electric piano is quite bluesy, and there is a section sounding like Genesis as it moves into a new time sig. Andy Poole on keyboards and bass keeps a consistent rhythm and the steady tempo from percussionist Nick D'Virgilio is always reliable. Spawton has a chance to launch into a lead guitar solo that is well accomplished striking against the tempo. The meter slows down with nice keys and a horn section that augments the atmosphere. This section is very relaxing and moves along at a measured pace as an extended coda and the lead solo is tasteful; an excellent progressive track.

'A Boy In Darkness' is an 8 minute track with some odd melodies and shifting signatures. It begins with elongated musical bars that sound ethereal along with the haunting harmonies. It has a darker feel purposefully due to the thematic content. It is delightfully unique on the album, with more chilling atmospheres, and an overall sense of foreboding. These atmospheres are augmented by sustained violins and reflective vocals echoed by multi harmonies. The keyboard effects have an esoteric quality, echoing with distant bells, wind effects and dissonant notes. The Hammond organ sound crunches gloriously into the song and is joined by violin serrations and heavy guitars. The flute joins in and lifts the atmosphere but it still feels appropriately off kilter and disjointed. A tremolo bar wavers on the guitar and then a low ominous drone is heard. This is followed by a peaceful passage of lonely violin and Longdon's vocals return with reflective lyrics. Overall this is another of the masterpieces of the album.

'Winchester From St Giles' Hill' is another case in point that focuses on varying musical styles. 'Hedgerow' closes the album with another lengthy piece at about 9 minutes, and sounds totally different to the other tracks, beginning with a folk tinged melody and ending with pastoral tones with multi layered majestic harmonies.

Overall this is another great album from Big Big Train who are slowly gaining a solid reputation and wider acceptance on a worldwide scale. They are capable of incredible music and the compositions are infectious and accessible for the FM radio market. "English Electric Part One" is packed with brilliance, and no doubt part two will be followed up soon, and hopefully as consistent in quality as this magnificent release.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#832216) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I have waited a long time, with many, many listens, before reviewing this, the latest release by Big Big Train, which, if the reviews and ratings on this site are to be believed, is one of the finest prog rock releases of all time. Indeed, only one reviewer has given it anything less than five star masterpiece rating.

I gave that to the exceptional The Underfall Yard, but quite a bit of that was for deeply personal reasons. I was really looking forward to this, and was delighted when it plopped through the door last month.

Let me say straight away that this album contains some of the finest progressive rock I have heard this, or, indeed, in many a year. At its best, which is on most of it, it has the feel of much of what drew me to the genre in the first place, that wonderful English pastoral sound. The Genesis comparisons are, perhaps, rather obvious, but, to these ears and mind, it is more in the fact that a track such as Uncle Jack is so marvellously quirky and, well, English in the Genesis or Python sense.

The utter highlight of the album, and a very strong contender for track of this decade thus far, is Judas Unrepentant. In fact, as I will explain later in this review, it was only at this stage of the album that I really sat up and took notice on first listen. The harmonies, staggeringly strong vocals by David Longdon (who is surely becoming one of our finest), the fusion of classic and modern progressive soundscapes, particularly on keyboards, make this ridiculously enjoyable and strong. Everything flows easily into each separate movement, and that flute solo.....well, Gabriel has his natural successor in Longdon. The use of strings and woodwind is also exceptional. A symphonic masterpiece, no more, no less.

Of course, much of this here is a paeon to a fast disappearing English countryside, much as Selling England was to a disappearing society. The gorgeous Upton Heath is a smooth, very beautiful, example, and, if you close your eyes and use your imagination, you can see yourself walking on the Dorset heathland. It is a brave band, indeed, who make so much use of traditional orchestra instruments, and, again, this lot do it with such aplomb in a gentle, folk prog, setting. I also admire deeply here, and elsewhere, the choral vocals.

Another trick this lot manage so well is the sudden change of mood. So, we go from a beautiful walk to something altogether more sinister and menacing on A Boy In Darkness. Doom laden in its low key sounds, you jump when the chorus simply explodes with a sinister symphonic energy. This all supports some of the most intelligent lyrics you can imagine, because the subject matter is a report into conditions in a 19th century colliery, and the exploitation and deaths of young boys "sent down the pit". This is social commentary translated into musical darkness at its best, and, again, it reaffirms the band's position to me as the natural successors to Genesis in this era. To call them some kind of neo-prog tribute is both lazy and, actually, plain wrong. They are much more than that.

And, from this, we are taken to the delightful, cheery, bouncy, almost pop psychedelic joy that is the album's closer, Hedgerow. Of course, the subject matter is easily deduced, but the effect on the aural senses is one of sheer joy, almost an orgasm for the ears and mind. The singing is quite incredible, and the pace of the band never falls below that of relentless foot tapping, especially the guitars, and the strings are used to great effect again. The reprise of the vocal harmonies at the denouement has you almost weeping with the sheer joy of life and all around us.

So, with such praise, why do I rate this album as an excellent one, out of step with those colleagues who rate it a masterpiece? It is simply because, as joyful as the tracks I have written about above are, I actually find this to be too inconsistent to merit the full five stars. Take the opener, The First Rebreather, as a good example. There are bursts of that Longdon voice (which I first fell in love with on Martin Orford's great The Old Road), there is some stunning guitar work, especially, but I find this strangely inconsistent as a track, or, I don't know, maybe trying to be a little bit too clever, because the shifts in time signatures I find to be confusing and, frankly, unnecessary. When it is good, it is very good (and the bass playing is especially good), but it is not only confusing, I also find, after some thirty odd listens now, it to be rather dull in parts, and find myself losing my attention in places. You never have that on a masterpiece.

I also feel the same way about Winchester From Giles Hill. It starts off beautifully with deep flute, some lilting vocal harmonies and a jazzy feel on rhythm, but, I don't know, I find it very difficult to keep going throughout the track. The main vocal section sounds strained, and parts of it are, well, dull again. The strained comment also applies to parts of the otherwise sublime Summoned by Bells, which does feature some lovely brass in fusion with haunting guitar at the close.

I hope I have put across here adequately the fact that this is an excellent work, with a great deal to commend itself to fans of progressive rock. 90% of it is simply to die for. This lineup will, I earnestly hope, continue to bring us joy for many years to come. I especially welcome the participation of Dave Gregory, probably the finest musician to come out of the New Wave era. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it to those who are thinking about buying it. It is excellent. It just ain't a masterpiece. Bet you the next one is, though!

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#853506) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 08, 2012

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars Coincidence that I get two distinct albums that both feature Nick D'Virgilio on drums in my recent purchase cart? Nah, the man is a massive talent, turning Mystery's latest offering "The World is a Game" into a propulsive affair the simply devastates. He has also serviced some of the finest prog musicians anywhere, look it up if need be.

Big Big Train has leaped over countless summits in arriving to "English Electric", starting with the promising "Gathering Speed" then the massive "The Difference Machine"(a personal favorite) and then, the critically acclaimed "The Underfall Yard". Truth is Greg Spawton is an accomplished composer, a stellar guitarist and multi-instrumentalist and has surrounded himself with trusty longtime collaborator Andy Poole, as well as bringing in on the preceding opus, the evocative David Longdon on vocals to replace Sean Filkins , no slouch on the mike, him! Here we have the legendary Andy Tillison of The Tangent fame on assorted keys(never has he played better !) as well as the aforementioned Nick D'Virgilio. It is to be noted that Dave Gregory officiates on guitar, he of XTC fame and one of the most solid performers of the 80s still active today.. . "The First Rebreather" kicks off this one in style, very English and very prog , the arrangement has all the hallmarks of classic symphonic prog and easily rekindling fond reminiscence of Collins-era Genesis, without the commercial pop veneer. Andy Poole lays down some mean bass motifs that pulsate with glorified diversity and all the adornments are perfect, from mellifluous flute, played by David Longdon who positively shines on the microphone, a sensational vocalist and an emotive spirit. Lots of strings on this one, so tighten your symphonic belt, replete with a buzzing guitar solo like you have never heard before! Torrential gusts of power and substance are elevated by some stellar production, showcasing the whole as well as the parts and maintaining that blissy buzz.

"Uncle Jack" is more playful; featuring some stunning choir work (severe nods to Gentle Giant, here) as well something Ant Phillips could come up with when not fondling his beloved 12 string acoustic. A strong medieval tone ruminates gently, a countrified air, silky percussion and breezy vocals and choirs adorn the rolling green lea , birds chirping elatedly. Some banjo skiffling along for the ride. Quite an original sounding premise and a treat for the weary.

Back to classic sympho-prog with "Winchester from St Giles' Hill" owner of a massive atmosphere, very smooth and laid back (think ELP's "Take a Pebble") but equally armed with a poignant chorus that reaches Marillionesque proportions. Splashes of flute and strings fortify the strong classical feel. Please notice the shuffling drums and the grandiose chorus, a genius vehicle led by a stunning vocal from Dave Longdon , who really impresses immensely. Scintillating prog, this! We then have Tillison showing up on piano like a true ivory master that he is. Ridiculously seductive, almost scary, its that good. A Spawton guitar duel with D'Virgilio on drums is an earful only surpassed by the huge chorus ending this monumental track, a real classic.

Some commentators have already anointed "Judas Repentant" as the firecracker composition on this winning release and one can quickly see the merit of such lofty praise. Big Big sound, a wider scope of harmonious delirium, some rapid fire playing, especially those damn drums, clobbering everything in its way, burly, hard and devastating. The anthemic qualities are hyper-evident, the majestic flute playing with the mellotron cascades. Unexpected strings sweep into the mix, heightening the passion as Longdon plaintively sings on, raging and dramatic, keys whirring wildly (check out that genius organ solo from Andy Tillison, whew! Deadly). A manic tour de force outro finishes the deal.

"Summoned by Bells" is the proverbial ballad, dexterous piano and voice driven with some clever off-beat gilding, very close to Collins-era Genesis (even mentioning "rooftops". Yeah, right! Coincidence! Nah!), with Banksian keyboard washes and typical voice work. "Come on now" indeed! A corkscrew guitar solo (Dave Gregory?) scorches like a molten flame- thrower and then, suddenly a serene passage that is dreamily psychedelic, daring to import some serious trombone infiltration! Yes you read it correctly = TROMBONE! Ballsy move!

"Upton Heath" is very British, with mandolins, banjo, double-bass and accordion leading the way, in folky style of ensemble playing, again rekindling hints of Penguin Café Orchestra and Anthony Phillips , as well as some clear Canterbury school influences. The main difference is the soul voice of Dave Longdon, adding desperate warmth to the pastoral surroundings, the magical flute being the main culprit.

"A Boy in Darkness"as the title implies, is a more somber affair, the pleading vocal seemingly well ahead the pack, astutely orchestrated with crafty symphonics and a gruesome chorus. The contrasts are deep and dark, the instrumental sections brutal and corrosive (Dave Gregory in particular), the voice parts decisive and arresting. Heavy stuff!

"Hedgerow" sounds more like XTC; clearly Gregory is a huge influence, as this is Brit-pop with obtuse prog flavorings, hints of the Byrds, Bread and the Beatles. Yet, the instrumental part goes totally in another direction, deeply symphonic, with huge swells of emotion, flute, violin and keys are its purveyor. The main theme is thunderous. And then back to the beginning but louder. A brainy dollop of exalted prog.

There is just way too much to like, an opus that has the incredible Longdon voice, mind blowing guitar work from Gregory, jaw dropping keys work from Tillison, a rhythm section as powerful as one could hope for, D'Virgilio especially. Killer arrangements, original songs and daring adventure.

4.5 Anglais electriques

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#864075) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Probably should win some award for the most over hyped album of the year. Now there is no doubt that this group know exactlly what they are doing and the tehcnical level of the playing backs thats up. They also avoid the usual late seventies Genesis clone approach that so many neo prog bands seem to be into and that perhaps gets them extra brownie points. However I've listened to this at least 5 times and I'm still struggling to be that gripped or excited by it. There are some nice bits and bits and moments of inspiration but in general it comes across just a bit too much 'prog by numbers'.

The opening track is probably my favourite on the album. They have a real hook going for the first few minutes and could have fallen into the trap of trying to repeat it too much but instead allow the music to find its natural flow. The end track is also excellent and reaches a good emotional peak. What I have a problem with is the most of the middle bit that doesn't seem to have either the musical content or direction to impress me. I just don't get what its supposed to be. Its all a bit bland and lacking to my ears.Its not cliched though and I guess the fact you can't relate it that easily to other bands has lead to a fair amount of gushing praise. But for me I'm just not feeling it

Neverthless it is an ambitious effort and they have used a good variety of musical instruments to add additional spice. Quite nice middle of the road neo syphonic prog album. Best check it out and make up your own mind.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#888016) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 05, 2013

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars BIB BIG TRAIN haven't made an album yet that I wasn't impressed with. This is the fourth recording i've purchased by this band and to my ears they are a modern day GENESIS. Not that I think of them everytime I hear their music because I don't, but it's that very English sound that is done so well. The lyrics are always meaningful and seem to be able to touch my heart. Like the last studio album they have lots of guests on board, in fact more this time including Andy Tillison and Martin Orford (I thought he was retired).

"The First Rebreather" might be the best track i've heard from this band, and for me the most GENESIS sounding as well. The guitar playing over top as the vocals come in is priceless ! Check out the flute and then the bass and drums join in. So good. Nice flute solo before 3 minutes and then a guitar solo 5 minutes in. The emotion is felt when the vocals return with passion. Gulp. That opening guitar is back. Man this is just so good. One of the best tracks of 2012 for me. I should mention as well that Andy Tillison guests on this song playing organ, piano, moog and keyboards. "Uncle Jack" is certainly different with the opening banjo. Vocals join in quickly in this catchy tune. Again this just feels good. Mandolin in this one as well as some female backing vocals. "Winchester From St. Giles' Hill" is a beautiful song and the keyboards after 2 minutes reminds me of Banks. Check out the flute a minute later when the vocals stop. I really like the guitar before 5 1/2 minutes as the organ and drums start to impress before the vocals return. Andy Tillison is back on "Judas Unrepentant" playing organ and keyboards. Nice intro before the vocals join in. We get that late as well after 5 1/2 minutes. Such meaningful lyrics here. Good song.

"Summoned By Bells" is the longest track at just under 9 1/2 minutes. Vocals and piano lead early before the violin joins in. Flute 2 minutes in and the backing vocals before 2 1/2 minutes are a nice touch. Mellotron a minute later. Great sound 6 minutes in with the organ, guitar and drums standing out. Nice to hear horns late as well. A very enjoyable tune. "Upton Heath" is a mellow tune with acoustic guitar, light drums, reserved vocals and more. Banjo and mandolin also make appearances on this one. My least favourite song on here. "A Boy In Darkness" is an emotional track considering the lyrics. And the title of the track certainly has a lot of meaning in light of those words. Andy is back guesting on keyboards and organ. Check out the flute and bass after 4 minutes. Amazing track ! "Hedgerow" is such an uplifting song ! I can just imagine someone who has worked underground for so long getting some time off and being blown away by nature and sunshine. I can just picture him dancing around and we can hear his dog as he calls him as they wander the fields. Love the instrumental section that follows with that mournful violin. The vocals return including Martin Orford's backing vocals. The horns remind me of THE BEATLES.

Yeah this deserves the hype and it's not surprising to see this album on so many top 10 lists for 2012.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#902773) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Hurray, Phil Collins rides again - more energically than ever!

Joking apart, this is yet another enjoyable BBT collection, very much in the vein of its great predecessor, the UNDERFALL YARD. The ingredients are the same. Most of the music is expertly performed and full of yearning. The band seem to mourn the passing of an Old England in which "heavy industry" still counted for something. They denounce some of the social cruelties of that same Old England; they express longing for the landscapes and cities of their youth, and now they've reached middle age, they feel great sadness, since what's left of those landscapes will soon leave these men behind...

That, at least, is the impression I get from ENGLISH ELECTRIC (PART ONE). The great question is, of course, if Part Two will be different in mood. Until we find out (at the time of writing, the wait can't be long any more) we may ask ourselves to what extent Big Big Train achieve their musical ambitions. In my opinion, the first six tracks of this album are gripping from start to finish (which makes for a first-rate 42-minute album, just as inspiring as all those classics you remember from the 1970s), but thereafter the quality of the music rapidly deteriorates: on "A Boy in Darkness" David Longdon's voice really started to grate (OK, I know it's not MEANT to be an upbeat track, but still...) and during "Hedgerow" (a pointless, over-long singalong) I couldn't wait to switch the album off.

I was glad we were offered some wonderfully exciting keyboard solos from the great Andy Tillison this time. I only wish Dave Gregory were given more chances to shine on electric guitar! Whenever Gregory does appear, my heart leaps half a mile. FINAL VERDICT: Strongly recommended, but not what I'd call a flawless masterpiece.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#913340) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

Straightforward, But Right On Track.

"English Electric Part One" is Big Big Train's eight album, released in 2012. The title implies, obviously, a Part Two, released in 2013. Even more so than the predecessor "The Underfall Yard", this newer release was immensely praised by Prog Rock aficionados, and has even been considered by some to be one of the greatest albums of the genre of the decade. Although this last statement is a bit exaggerated, "English Electric Part One" is most definitely the greatest Prog Rock album of 2012, proving that Big Big Train has officially matured as a group.

The music on the album is for many, very reminiscent of old Symphonic Prog groups, more in particular Genesis: that is especially because of the vast array of instrumentation that is used on this album, especially keyboards. But there's a lot of clean and acoustic guitar, flutes, strings, horns, and so on. It's definitely the most lush release so far from Big Big Train. The previous albums however also had an astonishing amount of varied instrumentation. The brand new improvements that really surprise are the outstanding songwriting skills this band proves to have, as they are able to consistently write beautiful, gorgeously crafted songs, that hit almost all of the right spots. Another massive improvement of theirs is the structuring of the songs: if in earlier albums, their tracks at times felt a little messy and over- blown in length and flow, now they sound in order, perfectly structured and well-balanced.

The album itself shows not only a great and diverse palette when it comes to instrumentation; Every song, basically, has a unique trait that makes it distinguishable over the rest of them, and that is a quality that is hard to pull of in one album and impressive when successful, considering the structuring problems the band had with "The Underfall Yard". A song like "Uncle Jack" has a predominant banjo, while "Judas Unrepented" has much more organ/keyboards, "Upton Heath" meanwhile has a very memorable and beautiful choir section in the chorus.

"English Electric Part One" is a sweet, gentle, melancholic piece of work, strengthened by fantastic musicianship, including the charismatic, lyrical vocals that weave in each track all of the different melodies beautifully. It's diverse, catchy, lush, and challenging: four qualities that are more than enough for a Prog Rock album to work.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#916449) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars Good but could have been great

After reading all the ravishing reviews about this band and album decided to pay a couple of bucks in a well- known site and download it, won't say that wasted my money, because the English Electric (Part One) has outstanding individual performances, a good sound and a few interesting passages, but overall I find it generic, lack of personality and extremely boring.

YES vocal references and some GENESIS influenced passages are not enough to save this album from oblivion, let's be honest, I can't find a single memorable song. So, in my opinion the problem is not in the sound (which is high quality), virtuosity of the musicians (can't be denied), but in the tedious Alternative/Indie/Crossover/Prog related compositions, that bored me after a few minutes.

The album is opened by The First Rebreather and the first thing I notice is the vocals, being that seem like a blend of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and Fish (Not bad at all) and then at the mark of 1:29, a passage that reminds me too much of Los Endos. But to be honest I like the track, it has brilliance, strength and versatility, even though that the word originality is not in their dictionary. The best song of the album, only weakened by that Gabrielish flute passage that sounds nothing like Peter Gabriel's flute.

After a promising opener, I was starting to sing that all the praises were justified, but reality hit me hard when I listened Uncle Jack, some sort of comedy relief in the style of ELP songs like The Sheriff & Jeremy Bender, but without the freshness and audacity of the famous power trio, and to make it worst, the fantastic vocal work of The First Rebreather isn't remotely repeated here?Well played but absolutely forgettable.

Winchester From St Giles' Hill is a pretty musical piece but absolutely anodyne, the intentions are good, the piano passages are delightful, but the composition is absolutely tame and predictable, sorry, but I fell asleep for a couple of seconds when listening this song the first time. Sometimes a beautiful tune is not enough.

Judas Unrepentant intro takes me back to the late 70's when Rick Wakeman was experimenting with new synths and the infamous Birotron, which was great in albums like Criminal Record, but absolutely dated today. At least in the vocal parts they give signs of life and seem to find an own sound?..Well, until they start with the gabrielish flute and the late Genesis Mellotron Choirs.

Summoned By Bells is a song of contrasts, the first five minutes are really repetitive and boring in the style of Phil Collins, but suddenly they allow themselves create one of the most brilliant moments in the album, with jazzy leanings and powerful guitar, drums and keys interplay, but when they are sounding great, fall again into some tedious Kenny G like ending section that really turns me down. Just when they dared to be ambitious and vibrant, ruined it all with a depressive closing section, and to make it worst is followed by another forgettable track as Upton Heath that works as a Valium (Please guys stop using sections so reminiscent of Los Endos & Squonk, especially when so watered).

A Boy In Darkness is another uneven song, the first couple of minutes are absolutely soporiferous , but when I was ready to press the skip button, the song changed dramatically, at last they dared to unleash themselves, here we can listen everything, from heavy guitar solos to Ian Anderson / Thijs Van Leer influenced flutes, dramatic violin and some first class Psyche/Folk Prog that really impressed me, simply frantic and vibrant, this is what this guys need to do.

The album is closed by Hedgerow, another exiting song that combines the naďve sound of 60's British Invasion, Psychedelic touches and excellent vocal work, seems as they reserved the best for the end.

Well, now comes the rating part that I hate so much. Until the fifth minute of Summoned By Bells I was decided to give English Electric (Part One) two weak stars, butv then everything changed, they left the safe play and took risks, ending the album in a very high level. It's a pity I have to go with only 3 stars, because this release has some impressive music, but it's so uneven that can't go higher.}

I'm 100% sure that if this guys dare to take risks, they are able to give us a couple of essential masterpieces, but we'll have to wait and have faith..The skills are there, what they need is the decision.

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Send comments to Ivan_Melgar_M (BETA) | Report this review (#1065756) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review by m2thek
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Ever since the release of The Underfall Yard, a question I asked myself fairly often was 'Is the modern incarnation of Big Big Train one of my favorite bands, or is this just one of my favorite albums?' Far Skies Deep Time certainly pushed me in one direction, and fortunately with the release of English Electric Part 1 I can definitively pick a side and say, yes, they are one of my favorite bands. While the album manages to be both better in almost every way, yet not quite as good as TUY, its addition solidifies Longdon-era Big Big Train as a great modern symphonic band.

Avoiding that last comparison to TUY for now, let's talk about what Big Big Train's overall sound is like. They are listed here as Crossover, but they are now obviously Symphonic. There is a strong balance between structured, melodic instrumental passages with powerfully sung ones. Instrumentally there is also a good balance between guitar and keyboard (as well as other eclectic instruments) which all take the lead about the same amount. While the music found within the songs is great, I think the most important thing about this band is that they are very concerned with crafting their albums as complete pieces, and English Electric is no different: you'll find repeated musical and lyrical themes, the songs are structured in a logical way in regards to mood and length, and the albums as a whole are kept to reasonable lengths. Another important aspect of Big Big Train's music is their lyrical content. Lately they've been interested in telling real world stories through their music, and EE takes this to the extreme with each song telling the tale of a noted Englishman, whether they were socially famous or just important to one of the band members.

So, how has this changed since the last album? Surprisingly a lot. TUY was critically and commercially Big Big Train's most successful album so it's very refreshing to see them treat their new material so differently. Most importantly, EE is sonically miles ahead of TUY. If I could find one complaint about the previous album it's that while all of the songs were great, there was a lack of diversity. Taking a look at how the first four songs start out, it's like they made a specific point to be as diverse as possible: a gloomy guitar line starts the first song, warm banjo strumming the second, pastoral flute and piano the third, and furious organ and guitar to start the fourth. The choice of instruments has also been expanded; as mentioned, the banjo makes an appearance, as well as multiple flute and violin passages. There is a return of the brass band from TUY as well as the addition of a few female vocal harmonies. Judging EE on these textural elements alone, it is expertly made and it would be challenging to find a contemporary album that could stand up to it. The quality of the production is also stellar, and even at the conclusion of the album where 1,000 things are going on you can hear everything perfectly.

The only area that I find TUY overshadowing this album is in the composition. English Electric is a more adventurous album in terms of song structures compared to its somewhat formulaic predecessor, and because of this, it is hit or miss. About half of the songs here are spectacular and the emotional climaxes, when they pay off, are really hard hitting and even surpass some on TUY. However, some of the songs in the middle section drag on a bit , some of the stylistic choices can be a little boring, and the only attempt to recreate a passage from the previous album (the ethereal brass coda of 'Victorian Brickwork') falls pretty flat in comparison. While the songs can be a little inconsistent, a really special note must be made for the closer, 'Hedgerow,' which contains one of the most beautiful musical moments I've ever heard which is only so effective because of the seven songs that come before it.

Even though the sum of the individual songs doesn't have the same success of the last album, English Electric Part One is still a great overall package. The wonderful thing about the album is that it is clear that the whole piece was the main focus and you're really rewarded for listening from start to finish. Furthermore I'd go so far as to call it one of my favorite arranged albums ever and I could listen to the instrumental diversity all day (and have in fact repeated the closer on multiple occasions). A year later it's clear that this is one of 2012's best, and comes in as a close second for Big Big Train's best album. Simply put, this is must-hear material and we can only hope that their next main album continues the band's masterful approach to composing albums as a whole.

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Send comments to m2thek (BETA) | Report this review (#1105473) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, January 02, 2014

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sometimes you really strike gold at PA! I discovered this band through this site and I must say I´m quite impressed. Well, the much praised The Underfall yard did not exactly won me over. it was clear that the band was good, but there was something missing yet at that point. Actually the CD sounded a little overworked too. But when I heard the following EP Far Skies Deep Time, I knew they had nailed it! It was the perfect combination of great songwriting, perfect arrangements and excellent songwriting, coupled with outstanding performances. That did the trick. So I was quite anxious to hear what would come next.

English Electric (Part One) is basicly everything I had hoped for: great symphonic prog rock which mixes very well simple, nice melodies with complex arrangements and inspired performances of all involved. The comparisons with Gabriel-era Genesis are not a coincidence. Not only is this band highly influenced by that band, but they also found the right formula that made Genesis the classic band they were (all the elements mentioned before). Still, Big Big Train does not copy Genesis, that of the same matter dutch band Odyssice captured so well 70´s Camel spirit without really sounding like a cover band. That´s the difference: BBT (and Odyssice) produce a familiar style of music, but they do too have a personality of their own all along. That´s very rare.

Of course the album would have never worked if they hadn´t have the excellent songwriting hability to match their obvious terrific technique. There are absolute no fillers, with all the tunes being very well done both in terms of writing and, specially, of performances. It´s so hard to see an album where every instrument, every voice, every note fits in so smoothly (another Genesis trait during their heydey). There are no fillers nor highlights, all the tracks do stand on their own, although the opener The First Rarebreather may be a personal favorite. Certainly BBT finally reached a maturity rarely seen nowadays. Since singer and multi intrumentist David Longdon joined the fold they have been getting better and better with each release. And his flute playing is certainly one of the most interesting features of this record

Ok, some people will cringe upon hearing this CD, claiming the music has nothing original (meaning zanny), that they play too "safe" (nothing to shock you) and break no new ground (even at the expense of the music itself). I wll disagree, since they are quite original on their own way. It´s quite accessible, I admit it, but still it takes several spins to fully grasp its full richness. And the music is beautiful, skillfully played and imaginatively arranged. To me this is good enough. Wrap it up with an excellent production work and you´ll have one of the most stunning works I´ve heard in a long, long time.

I´m really anxious to get English Electric (Part Two).

Rating: 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!!

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#1118390) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, January 23, 2014

Latest members reviews

4 stars I recently highlighted Big Big Train on a community radio station show, which prompted hours of listening and research about this band and, in particular, their last three studio albums: The Underfall Yard and English Electric Parts I and II, partly because when I do radio shows, I prefer to give so ... (read more)

Report this review (#1077802) | Posted by zwordser | Saturday, November 16, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars After having finally gotten around to Big Big Train's well received 2 part concept album English Electric, I can safely say the praise has been overly effusive. The albums aren't bad, but that's about it. There is absolutely nothing captivating about them. Sure they're well preformed and crisply ... (read more)

Report this review (#1060947) | Posted by R-A-N-M-A | Wednesday, October 16, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I agree with many of the points people make when giving Big Big Train's upteenth album the highest mark - lush instrumentation, employing almost every live instrument at disposal of folk and rock musicians (lutes, flutes...), strong dramatic vocals (one of the best, in my opinion, among the Gene ... (read more)

Report this review (#1021005) | Posted by Progrussia | Tuesday, August 20, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "English Electric Part One" is Big Big Train's seventh studio record and it was released last year 2012. It is ranked as the third best record from 2012 and I won't blame the other listeners. From the very start I put the record on I liked it and it also grows in my ears. Since then they have ... (read more)

Report this review (#973819) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Saturday, June 08, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first track (Rebreather) will remind you of 'Dancing with the moonlit knight', such is its quality. Then there's track 7 (A boy in darkness), which, ordinarily, would be a fine, fine album finale. In fact though, it's followed by the exceptional 'Hedgerow' which has a chorus that'll grab ... (read more)

Report this review (#949121) | Posted by sussexbowler | Thursday, April 25, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars As a lover of (nearly) all eras of Genesis, I have been a huge fan of Big Big Train ever since David Longdon joined the band in 2009. When The underfall Yard was released late that same year, I listened to it countless times. When hearing of the pending release of English Electric Part One, I was ... (read more)

Report this review (#933266) | Posted by lukatherfan | Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have listened to this long enough to finally give my review: And it's a no-brainer. ENGLISH ELECTRIC (part 1), is everything people have been saying it is- a wonderful slice of English, Genesis- like prog. Great melodies, skillful instrumental playing, nice lyrics, and a very fine singer. My pe ... (read more)

Report this review (#932656) | Posted by mohaveman | Monday, March 18, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Big Big Train's Third Consecutive Masterpiece I am having an unhealthily fast growth of love with this band. In a matter of months I had come to own over half of their discography. I love Big Big Train so much because of their maturity and focused, pervasive artistic vision in addition to the ... (read more)

Report this review (#928427) | Posted by Quote | Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I have made a number of honest attempts to "educate" myself into liking this band (and this album). But, no serendipity has not materialized. It's time to say something :) There are way too many bands, making way too much music that is (IMO) unoriginal and unremarkable in; life is to short to ... (read more)

Report this review (#922025) | Posted by Argonaught | Sunday, March 03, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is it. It is hard to describe what makes this CD so good. It almost has this spiritual/ transcendent quality to it. While Big Big Train's The Underfall Yard is good and so is English Electric Part 2, this CD goes beyond those to be something more. There are not throw away songs here. They ... (read more)

Report this review (#896713) | Posted by stefano | Sunday, January 20, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Tons and tons of 5 Star ratings for this Big Big Train output! Nr 3 Album of 2012 currently on the PA! What am I not getting here? Lets say it right away. The English Electric Part 1 is not a bad album. It has actually three quite exciting pieces on it: The First Rebreather (sounding very Ge ... (read more)

Report this review (#893406) | Posted by King Manuel | Sunday, January 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Hey guys! Once there was a Brit-prog band named GENESIS , if you like BBT you´ll flip upside down with them. Some of the band members are still around. Maybe you have heard of one of them Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Phill Collins and Peter Gabriel; back then he was the vocalist an ... (read more)

Report this review (#886465) | Posted by admireArt | Wednesday, January 02, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Though the music of this band is slightly better, the approach of this band remind me of (for me infamous) neo-prog bands like Unitopia, Magenta, Glass Hammer etc. Big Big Train are focused especially on impersonating of Genesis branch of prog. I miss genuine excitement in this kind of music. ... (read more)

Report this review (#885485) | Posted by stewe | Tuesday, January 01, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Really cool album from start to finish! Music arrangement of the highest quality,already looking forward to part two! Considering the vast improvement from "The Underfall Yard"(which was itself a masterpiece), I'm waiting to see what will part 2 be like! Solid start through "The first rebreath ... (read more)

Report this review (#884866) | Posted by siegese7en | Monday, December 31, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Is this just another Genesis rip off? Not! While you might think that this is just another Genesis sound- alike, it is definitely not. It certainly does have some elements that are reminiscent of Genesis, and the lead vocal does have a lot in common with Peter Gabriel. Actually, I find more o ... (read more)

Report this review (#884751) | Posted by TechnicallySpeaking | Sunday, December 30, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars BIG BIG TRAIN: English Electric (Part One) 4/5 Line up:- Andy Poole / bass, keyboards - Greg Spawton / guitars, keyboards, bass - David Longdon / vocals, flute, glockenspiel - Nick D'Virgilio / drums Additional musicians: - Rob Aubrey / mixing, mastering - Ken Brake / string section, ... (read more)

Report this review (#864972) | Posted by Gandalff | Friday, November 23, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Being a huge fan of Big Big Train's 'Underfall Yard', I eagerly awaited the release of 'English Electric Part 1' and I have not been disappointed. I consider this release to be the prog album of the year which is a grand statement considering all the quality prog released in 2012. The album begi ... (read more)

Report this review (#862477) | Posted by TomLucas | Monday, November 19, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Being new to Big Big Train I was a bit weary on whether to get this album. Listening to a sample I thought it was just another Genesis clone, but after seeing the high reviews I gave in and got it. Needless to say I was extremely surprised. Their music obviously has a large Genesis component, yet s ... (read more)

Report this review (#853552) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Thursday, November 08, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Big Big Train have been around since 1990 playing their own brand of very English Progressive Rock. The current line-up, consisting of Nick D'Virgilio, Dave Gregory, David Longdon, Andy Poole and Gregory Spawton are producing the best material of this lengthy career and, in my opinion, the som ... (read more)

Report this review (#851188) | Posted by Neil Palfreyman | Monday, November 05, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Big Big Train - English Electric Part 1. I only came upon this band at the release of their 2009 album "the Underfall Yard". After hearing "Master of Tides" a few times on Morow, it grew on me, and my curiosity towards this band was sparked. After seeing the ratings here, I bought the album ... (read more)

Report this review (#839704) | Posted by jverweij | Wednesday, October 17, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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