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Big Big Train

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Big Big Train Folklore album cover
4.02 | 639 ratings | 15 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Folklore (7:33)
2. London Plane (10:13)
3. Along the Ridgeway (6:12)
4. Salisbury Giant (3:37)
5. The Transit of Venus Across the Sun (7:20)
6. Wassail (6:57)
7. Winkie (8:25)
8. Brooklands (12:44)
9. Telling the Bees (6:02)

Total Time 69:03

Track list of LPs & HiRes Download editions:
1. Folklore (7:33)
2. Along the Ridgeway (6:12)
3. Salisbury Giant (3:37)
4. London Plane (10:13)
5. Mudlarks (6:10) *
6. Lost Rivers of London (6:02) *
7. The Transit of Venus Across the Sun (7:20)
8. Wassail (6:57)
9. Winkie (8:25)
10. Brooklands (12:44)
11. Telling the Bees (6:02)

* Bonus tracks

Total Time 81:15

Line-up / Musicians

- David Longdon / lead & backing vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, mandolin, percussion, string (1,7,9) and brass (1,7) co-arranger
- Dave Gregory / guitars
- Andy Poole / acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards, backing vocals
- Rikard Sj÷blom / keyboards, guitars, accordion, backing vocals
- Danny Manners / keyboards, double bass, string co-arranger (4,5,9)
- Rachel Hall / violin, viola, cello, backing vocals, string arrangements
- Greg Spawton / bass, bass pedals, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, string co-arranger (4,5)
- Nick D'Virgilio / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Dave Desmond / trombone, brass arrangements
- Ben Godfrey / trumpet, cornet
- Nick Stones / French horn
- John Storey / euphonium
- Jon Truscott / tuba
- Lucy Curnow / violin
- Keith Hobday / viola
- Evie Anderson / cello

Releases information

Artwork: Sarah Louise Ewing with Andy Poole (design)

2LP English Electric Recordings ‎- PLG044 (2016, UK) 2 bonus tracks not on CD (from 2015 Wassail EP)

CD Giant Electric Pea ‎- GEPCD1049 (2016, Europe)

Digital album (2016) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy BIG BIG TRAIN Folklore Music

BIG BIG TRAIN Folklore ratings distribution

(639 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

BIG BIG TRAIN Folklore reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Great album' is a Big Big Refrain for Big Big Train, as their latest album "Folklore" is another stellar achievement in their career, pretty much 6 in a row since "Gathering Speed", back in 2004. Now firmly established with a solid core of devoted musicians, this amazing band has reached pretty much the prog throne, left vacant by the dormant Porcupine Tree and with little challengers looming on the horizon. Their exemplary sound and vision has enthralled a wide cross section of the progressive community, recognizing those precious elements that make prog so, well,? progressive! Everything is first class, from the artwork, the production, the clear arrangements, the magnificent melodies, the lyrics and mostly, the creative delivery that is effortlessly jaw-dropping. David Longdon is speedily becoming a world class vocalist while shedding his 'Gabriel meets Collins' clone label which was once quite apparent but now has morphed into his own style altogether. Greg Spawton is a clever composer and slick guitarist, especially when regularly flanked by the mythical Dave Gregory of XTC fame. The bass duties are ably handled by co-leader Andy Poole whose imprint on their style is indelible. Nick D'Virgilio needs no introduction, he is simply one of the top 5 rock drummers on the planet with a career path that rivals the very best of his craft. The recent addition of Rikard Sjoblom of Beardfish adds even more keyboard splendor, dueling with Dave Manners on all matter of ivories. Solid crew!

The seven and a half minute title track sets the tone from the get go, a forceful romp that showcases Longdon's incredible mastery over his lungs, tempestuous organ and tortuous guitar solos, all expertly held together by the Poole-D'Virgilio tandem, with occasional synthesizer blasts, some deft flute trills and Rachel Hall's violin. The crew wastes little time delving into an epic ride on "London Plane", a slick trip down memory lane as Longdon masterfully displays his Gabriel-esque rasp, a swirling adventure that takes its 10 minute timeline perfectly, evoking a variety of soft yet passionate emotions , very English. The pastoral feel is augmented by the bucolic interface of exquisite acoustic guitar and slippery violin, furthered by some aggressive electric guitar phrasings that underline what a huge axeman Dave Gregory is. Soaring vocals exude strong British tendencies verging on nostalgic but these musicians have always had a very historical perspective on their craft, and rightly so. They are not interested in re- inventing the prog wheel, just perfecting it! I always tire of supposed music experts who constantly rail at prog not being innovative enough! Really? As compared to what? Pop? Metal? Progressive rock has polished itself into a well- defined art form, which is why it has survived torrents of petty ridicule and indignant scorn from the ignorant and profiteering masses (which continues today on the net).

The pensive and innocent "Along the Ridgeway" seeks to perpetuate this unruffled solemnity, a glorious melody shaped by some startling backing vocals, providing lead singer Longdon with the spotlight to decorate the melody with his powerful and heartfelt voice, aided by some sparkling piano, violin and organ additions. Its companion piece "Salisbury Giant" serves to elevate the mood further, raising it to a loftier plane, the violin carving the delicate purity of a melancholic past. The contrast between puerile and mature is simply breathtaking.

Staring at the stars is surely a habit for the curious and wandering artistic mind and "The Transit between Venus across the Moon" addresses the vastness of our universe whether external or internal, and the symphonics really shine through majestically, including strings and woodwinds to add a sense of endless discovery. David Longdon's raspy lilt does wonders here, delivering the urgent and despairing lyrics with apparent control and stellar dedication. A whirlwind guitar solo spirals lovingly amid the dense orchestrations, like some shining comet gliding intensely through the glittering space of time and matter.

The sprightly "Wassail" is strongly reminiscent of more modern British prog-folk, as I could not help drawing slight comparisons to old Traffic circa 'John Barleycorn must Die', both in the rampant organ churning up a storm, as well as Longdon doing a lil Stevie Winwood vocal and the overall energy in the endearing contrasts between pastoral serenity and bluesy wail. 'The apple of my eye', indeed! This is quite an energetic tune, almost beckoning an impromptu sing along in the pub reaction. The slick fiddle section furthers the bucolic feel.

The rather stunning surprise track here is without a doubt the rollicking "Winkie", an evolution of the previous piece, highly cinematographic, as if some soundtrack composition with amazing singing, both lead and backing and including some effect-laden radio voices to add to the score. D'Virgilio thumps enchantingly, driving the mood with aplomb, thus giving the lead voice the perfect platform to bellow strong and proudly. Plenty of shifts and turns, swerves and reversals to keep the most ambitious listener content, the kaleidoscope of sounds presented are brilliantly portrayed and evoked with heartfelt zeal.

The longest piece is the nearly 13 minute extravaganza "Brooklands" and aims at the poignancy heartstrings, muscled by a sensational bass and drum foundation, as well as a series of speedboat soloists that slither over the brooding waves with apparent comfort, powered by musical engines of eternal drive. The sizzling guitar breaks are phenomenal, the flute interventions perfect, D'Virgilio pounding masterfully like some race car driver gone berserk, while Longdon cries wonderfully into his microphone, all contributing to anointing this epic with the highest praise, perfect BBT's highest evolution yet. 'Lucky man', indeed!

This impressive set list finally rests upon the laurels of a gentle breeze, bees fluttering in the sunshine, an unpretentious ballad that seeks no progressive challenge, nothing more than a melodic au revoir that is both comfortable and content. Longdon does sound a lot like Uncle Phil here, but the delicacy of the slithering countrified guitar solo (is that you Mr.Gregory?), the relaxed piano and strings , as well of the gentle choir background exude tears of happiness flowing down some cheek. Unpretentious and beautiful.

In all honesty, both "English Electric" chapters left me only slightly satisfied, perhaps needing more of a revisit that I had initially thought , this gorgeous album on the other hand seems overtly more concise, attractive and seductive. Maturity, vision and team work has paid off handsomely, with a truly distinctive set-list of brilliant songs, with determination and principled vision.

5 urban myths

Review by Warthur
3 stars As the title suggests, on Folklore Big Big Train take a more folk-oriented spin on their nostalgia-themed Genesis- inspired prog. The folk influences peak, to my ear at least, on Wassail, a bid to go into full-on folk territory at points which doesn't quite work. Overall, the album seems to me to adopt the more gentle, sedentary approach of the second English Electric album and take it further, to a point where I can't really follow it; it doesn't help that I can sit through a whole listen of the album and then discover to my surprise that it's finished without successfully making a single lasting impression on me. It isn't boring, as such - it's quite pleasant from beginning to end - but it regularly threatens to become boring.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars While carrying forward some of the bombast of the previous four releases, I find my self greatly appreciative of the more laid back songs on this album. Dave Longdon's vocal approach to the delivery of these lyrics is also, in my opinion, an improvement over some of the previous releases. There is no disputing that he has a wonderful, powerful, and exciting voice but, as I've said in the past, I find quite a disconnect in the way he chooses to sing/deliver the lyrical content with the meaning/message of the lyrics: Exactly how or why does one choose to get so emotional--and loud--when singing about these characters and scenes from English history? I love the presence of violin on almost every song (kudos, Andy, Greg and RACHEL HALL!), as well as that of strings and horns on many of the songs. Really nice fit with your music. Maestro Nick D'Virgilio is flawless as always and Dave Gregory lays down several of my favorite tracks I've ever heard from him. And of course, a big shout out to founders Andy Poole and Greg Spawton: your perseverance and passion has truly paid off! BBT is a force!

1. "Folklore" (7:30) the sounds of folk instruments gives the album's opening some promise but then the orotund vocal and anthemic background chorale I don't know why these songs and lyrics always have to sound so overpowering--as if they're trying to create rock anthems. (8/10)

2. "London Plane" (10:10) What?! After what I just wrote here they go and turn in a 180 degree turnaround. Tender, delicate, gentle slow pacing, tasteful (as opposed to pretentious) solos make this song a very welcome experience. Do I detect a Richie HAVENS quality to Dave's voice? Awesome! The revved up middle section for instrumental show is okay--unnecessary but notably restrained. Then the finale is sheer prog heaven--with one of my all-time favorite Dave LONGDON vocal sections in the ninth and tenth minutes. (9/10)

3. "Along the Ridgeway" (6:06) opens quite beautifully, piano and horns interplaying over bass and drums. Dave's vocal starts out a little less bombastic than usual, almost delicately--as do the conjoining background vocals. The second section with its staccato beat is just as engaging, though brief, giving way to a new layer of a weave of strings and picked electric guitar over which Dave and background vocals continue their singing. This is a great song--far more understated and less showy than their other stuff. At the 3:00 mark a nice instrumental section with GENESIS-like time signature ensues in which a Roger McGUINN (THE BYRDS)-like electric 12-string guitar solo, electric violin, and organ take turns soloing. At 3:48 the full soundscape continues in support of Dave's vocal return. Then at 4:15 things quite down in the background into a kind of jazzy soundscape before the full strings and horn sections join in briefly. My favorite song on the album. I could see this one being doubled in length. (9/10)

4. "Salisbury Giant" (3:36) is an odd little duck in that it opens with a feeling as if it is meant to be an instrumental interlude as full band with organ, slide guitar, and strings plod their way through an interesting GENESIS/BEATLES conglomeration. The song kind of twists and turns, never truly establish its identity, until Dave Longdon's vocals enter for the final 90 seconds. (8/10)

5. "The Transit of Venus Across the Sun" (7:18) opens with Christmas in the park sounding horn ensemble (which is then joined by violin and more horns) in a Pachelbel-Yule-ish weave. Then, at the 1:35, cymbol crescendo closes the door on the classical instruments and introduces 12-string guitars, piano, bass and drums in order to support Dave Longdon while he sings us along a RICHIE HAVENS-like celestial journey. The third section of the song that begins at the 4:11 mark notes the introduction of a chorus of what sounds like Latin chanting. This shifts into English at 4:45 as the accompanying instrumental support builds. Then, just as quickly, everything fades at 5:20 to leave us with finger-picked 12-string guitar and tuned percussion before everyone rejoins for Dave's final vocal and an symphony-supported electric guitar solo from Dave Gregory. Nice song. A top three for me. (9/10)

6. "Wassail" (6:47) takes a kind of bombastic approach to medieval troubadour song. THE STRAWBS were able to do this in the 70s. For my ears and mind this one is just a little too over the top--especially the chorus and the lead vocal overall. The instrumental foundation is awesome, it just gets too powerful in the chorus sections. (8/10)

7. "Winkie" (8:26) I think this one is intended to tell a war hero story in a kind of KATE BUSH-JETHRO TULL way. This one takes me back to 2004's World War II-oriented Gathering Speed. Good song with nice bass play throughout. (8/10)

8. "Brooklands" (12:38) opens in what feels and sounds like a very typical (formulaic) BBT way. Nice pace with batterie master Nick D'Virgilo's typically syncopated drumming, Dave Longdon's typcially impassioned vocals, and Dave Gregory's distinctive guitar sound. Again, not being a lyrically-oriented music listener, I wonder how much of the music is lost on me because I take no joy or meaning from the words; vocals are merely another instrumental melody line added into the music. There are some nice sections to this song--like the "lucky man" section of the sixth minute and the ensuing GENESIS-like instrumental section (which is pretty amazing--especially Nick's work). But overall, once again, full engagement and full impact are lost on me. (8/10)

9. "Telling the Bees" (6:03) offers a nice shift in sound for first 40 seconds--a kind of early ERIC CLAPTON or STEVE WINWOOD sound and style. Plus, it's a love song. And a good one at that! Great pedal steel guitar solo! My final top three song from the album. (9/10)

Not a masterpiece but a solid four star album: Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

Review by FragileKings
4 stars My second Big Big Train acquisition after "English Electric" and an album I felt somewhat essential to my collection. Not only had I been entertaining the idea of purchasing another BBT album but the artwork impressed me so, and furthermore, for the first time since becoming a member on PA, I was actually interested in purchasing new releases of the year.

After a few listens to the whole album plus additional listens to selected tracks, my lingering impression is that this band have a knack for musical perfection. First, they know their place as a progressive rock/folk band; the music embraces both the electric and rockin' side when called for but also keeps a firm handle on the folk side with its accoutrement of acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitar, violin, viola, cello, flute, mandolin, and even accordion. Dave Longdon, who initially left me with the impression that he sounded a lot like Genesis-era Peter Gabriel when I first heard "English Electric", has now proven to me he has his own distinct voice.

As can be expected from this band, the nine songs offered here are carefully crafted with lyrics poetically depicting English imagery, history, and folklore and sung with expression and feeling. The instruments contribute with an impeccable sense for timing and mood. The drums come in with a shuffle or jazzy intro, or roll and rock the skins. The piano lays down beautiful blossoming paths while the organ throws out meaty notes. The band can play for speed and complexity, subtlety and grace, tension and atmosphere. Just listen to that foreboding intro to "Salisbury Giant" or see the pigeons take flight with the flutes in "Winkie". Swing your pint glass of apple cider to "Wassail" and smile to the endearing lyrics and melody of "Telling the Bees".

Yes, this is an album that has been crafted to perfection. And yet there is one nagging thought I have about it: there are few parts that really make my ears prick up and have me asking, "What track is this? This is fantastic!" I really like "Winkie" for the story and how the music and lyrics help create the image of the story. "Salisbury Giant" has a great intro. "London Plane" and "Brooklands" have pretty cool instrumental sections. There's something in each track really. However, there aren't any songs that hit me with that extra jolt that has me cuing up the culprit song for replay day after day.

That final thought aside, the modern prog fan can't really go wrong with Big Big Train and this album really shows what they are made of. An easy four stars with an eye on 4.5.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Subtle, not bombastic. that┤s why I think a lot of people simply don┤t get Big Big Train. Their music is rich, complex and full of layers that are hard to perceive at first listening. Or second. So I can understand why so many other reviewers seem to fail to see the point: like 70┤s Genesis, Big Big Train is a band that takes you in a gentle way, with a music that seems to be simpler that it really is, even banal if you don┤t pay close attention. But if you do, you┤ll find pure gold. I had this new CD for several months and I deliberately delay a review because I wanted to be sure if my first impression was right. It sounded like a masterpiece when i got the album. After dozens of spins I can assure now with much more confidence: it IS a masterpiece. I had my doubts if this band could deliver such an outstanding work after already producing such brilliant albums like The Underfall yard and English Electric parts I and II. But they did it. And|I┤m very happy the chance to review such fine piece of art.

I already had their EP Wassail, that showed the band at their peak, promising a full CD that could actually match its precedents. In fact, after the band recruited singer/multi instrumentalist David Longdon it seems they found, finally, the right chemistry that so many prog acts seem to look for all their lives: the right balance between the old and new, the simple and complex, originality and familiarity. Most important, they know how to write fine melodies. On this new CD the inclusion fo violinist Rachel Hall as a permanent member gave the band a more folk-ish element (hence the title) that adds very well to their overall sound. The songwriting is strong as ever, showing the enormous maturity those guys got since their early times: all the tracks are great, with no weak tracks to be found anywhere. The combination of excellent songs with exquisite arrangements plus emotional and spotless performances make Folklore one of the best albums of music in general I┤ve heard this year.

I won┤t bother to cite every quality of this CD or even comment on every track. Suffice to say this is really a work of art, where every note counts. Music so well crafted, played and produced that is hard to believe someone is doing such labor of love nowadays. It may take a few spins to really get into Folklore, but you┤ll be very well rewarded if you do.

If you like symphonic progressive music in the vein of the great bands of the 70┤sat their peak, like Genesis, but with originality too and a modern twist, this one┤s for you!

Rating: 5 stars. A truly prog masterpiece.

Review by lazland
4 stars Folklore is the ninth studio album released by BBT, and was an instant top five album for me in 2016. It develops the themes inherent in English Electric, particularly the second part, and sees, for me, the band developing very nicely into the natural successor to one of our finest, and best loved, pastoral progressive rock acts of the classic era.

What, another Genesis tribute allegation, you ask? No, not a bit of it. This band, not particularly in terms of approach, but most definitely in terms of their use of English lore and joyous storytelling of our heritage are, to me, the modern day Jethro Tull. Think of that band's wonderful folk rock period between Songs from the Wood and Broadsword...., transport it into the 21st century, and here we go. London Plane, with its tale of a boat squadron on course to Runnymede, could quite easily fit in on any one of those Tull masters. The chorus of this soars.

The album explodes into sound with the title track. Pure folk prog, with Longden's flute and Rachel Hall's exceptional violin playing right to the fore. The latter, to me, is a very welcome addition to this band. Her playing on this and the live set released on Stone and Steel are exceptional, and her backing to Longden's feeling lead vocals complement each other very well.

The band now boast eight members, living in disparate areas of not just the UK, but literally the world, with Rikard Sjoblom adding important textures on guitars and keyboards, and the drummer from America who I regard as being the finest modern exponent of the trade, Nick D'Virgilio. His work shines on this, and both also contribute backing vocals, making the band sound throughout as a vocal and instrumental symphony.

Along The Ridgeway uses both Hall's violin and the welcome return of the brass section to great effect. It segues effortlessly into Salisbury Giant, a huge figure which one adorned pageants in medieval Wiltshire, now housed in a museum there. These are gentle pieces, with intelligent use of orchestration creating a solemn, thoughtful, mood. Longden sings it beautifully. I fell in love with his voice on the wonderful Martin Orford swan song, The Old Road, and he is, to me, a world class vocalist.

Brass and violin also introduce us to the exceptional The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun. The lyrics, vocals, and music take me back many years to when I was a young man fascinated by the vastness of the visible night sky, and wondering just what it would be like to fly there, a la James T Kirk. You are taken to this place on the "so many words left unsaid" sequence, before Dave Gregory produces a scintillating guitar solo leading the entire outfit in a symphonic burst of pure noise. Quite lovely.

Wassail has attracted some criticism. It is beyond me why. When I first heard it on the EP release of the same name in 2015, I knew we were in for a real old treat with the forthcoming album. Whilst the accompanying video, costumes and all, might seem a tad corny, this is prog folk at its most powerful, with swirling keyboards and thunderous riffs, led by Spawton on bass and D'Virgilio on drums moving things along at a fair old pace. The story itself is of pagans travelling between houses and orchards wassailing, boozing to hearty effect on Wassail, a rather strong mulled cider.

There is one track on the album that I still struggle to "get", and that is Winkie. The story behind the song is straightforward enough, that of a World War Two flying hero. It is played well enough, with the drums especially moving things along swiftly, and Longden evokes true emotion in The North Sea passage when radio contact with the plane is lost. However, it is, to me, slightly too breathless and wordy at times to truly impress. Great in parts, but not as a whole.

The epic length track on the album, clocking in at 12.40 minutes, is Brooklands. This venue, of course, was the world's first motor racing circuit, and the track evokes all of the romance and thrill which that venue brought to the pioneers who raced there, the smells of the engines, and the crowds who followed the sometimes dangerous exploits of the participants. I love the thoughtful guitar lead, whilst D'Virgilio excels on a tuneful drum pattern, with Spawton producing a deep, growling, bass line. A great story and tribute to a time long passed away, this is intellectual prog folk at its peak. The section leading to the denouement has the entire band, keys, flute, violin, rhythm, guitar stretching themselves to the limit, before we come down to earth gently with a delicate vocal.

All which precedes, though, leads up to the biggest thrill, the final track, the sumptuous and beautiful Telling The Bees. I didn't think that the band could better Hedgerow, to me a highlight of prog rock in all the time I have listened to this great genre. This one does it, in spades. It plays to every strength this great band have. It aches with emotion, and has, at its heart, the memories of a loved father, honoured in old custom by telling the bees of a life and love. "The joy is in the telling", and the telling is a wonderful noise. This song evokes memories of loved ones no longer with me, and I sing it at the top of my voice, but with love and fond memories, not sadness, the way such fond memories are meant to be. This is a gloriously uplifting track, and yet another reminder of why this band are so special. Listen and let the emotion wash over you.

This is yet another fine release by a band who I hope will continue to carry the torch of quality English progressive rock for many years to come. Four stars, and simply excellent.

Review by The Crow
3 stars This is the first I hear of Big Big Train, and therefore also my first review of this band!

When I first listened this album some weeks ago I was blown away. Maybe because this good band was unknown to me till recently and it was one hell of a surprise. But after a few listens this euphoria dismissed a little, although I still think this album is pretty good. The splendid production is also remarkable, despite the loud D'Virgilio drums.

But let's talk about the songs!

The album starts with Folklore, a very appropriate title for a track which mixes wisely symphonic prog, neo-prog and folk elements. The chorus is not so good, but the rest of the song is pure enjoyment with its two splendid guitar solos, being the last answered by another catchy keyboard solo. With this first track I was aware that this band is plenty consolidated and good assembled. Every instrument has its moments and they sound is coherent and cohesive. Very good!

London Plane is a flute-introduced slow piece with beautiful lyrics about this city and an outstanding instrumental section with a lot of jazz influences, perfect for the keyboardist to show off... OK, and D'Virgilio. Along the Ridgeway is also a bit slow. I think the album needed a bit power at this point, but this track doesn't deliver. It has nevertheless fine choirs in the Spock's Beard style and another great instrumental section witch strings and another good keyboard solo.

Salisbury Giant continues the end of the previous song, and Transit of Venus Across the Sun comes with an instrumental introduction of strings and wind instruments. Beautiful and with another great solo, Genesis-reminding guitar melodies but again too slow and a bit boring. This is the verification that this album lacks rhythm, or better structure. I think the songs are good, but they are not in the right order or maybe they are too long. I don't know... But sometimes I find Folklore just dull.

Luckily Wassail comes to rescue the ship with its good vocal melodies, lyrics with roots in the nature and landscapes, powerful drums and a keyboard towards the end which reminds me to Deep Purple! And Winkie follows this pleasant path with a funny text, great bass and good rhythm. The section which starts at 3'38'' is pure magic! My favorite song of the album.

And then comes Brooklands which is not a bad song, but at this point of the album it contributes not so much to its quality apart of giving minutes to the final duration. No surprises here. Nevertheless, its central section is pretty good with more jazzy instrumentation and very good drumming. The drums are maybe a bit loud, but it's impossible to deny the quality of D'Virgilio as a drummer.

Ok, Telling the Bees... This will be short: I can't understand how this band closed this good album with such a lousy and cheesy song. Completely forgettable.

Conclusion: Folklore is a stimulating mixture of symphonic prog with jazz influences, folk tunes, neo-prog and a bit of hard rock from a consolidated band which also delivers a very good sound and production. But it fails to offer a cohesive experience because a pair of dull tracks (Salibury Giant, Transit of Venus Across the Sun, Brooklands), and fairly bad one (Telling the Bees) and an bad tune order in my opinion.

Nevertheless, its good songs (Winkie, Wassail, Folklore, London Plane...) make this album a strong recommendation for modern prog lovers with lots of classic influences, despite not being excellent.

Best songs: Folklore, London Plane, Wassail, Winkie.

My rating: ***

Review by fuxi
5 stars [I originally wrote the following review back in 2017:]

This is it, with this album Big Big Train truly establish themselves as prog gods, I mean, after THE UNDERFALL YARD and the live triumph of STONE AND STEEL there couldn't be any doubt, but FOLKLORE makes it plain: this band reaches heights few can aspire to. In my opinion FOLKLORE is even stronger than its immediate successor, GRIMSPOUND, mainly because it rocks harder. To my surprise, some reviewers have complained that FOLKLORE features tunes that are easy on the ear - a form of reasoning I really don't understand! Just think about it: 'Firth of Fifth', 'Mother Goose' and 'Karn Evil 9' all sound supremely catchy (at least in part) and they're from albums many of us recognise as masterpieces... Moreover, anyone who listens without prejudice must notice that David Longdon's lead vocal now sounds more confident and more mature than ever. Furthermore, the album as a whole benefits from the prominent violin playing of Rachel Hall. Finally, while FOLKLORE boasts fewer soaring guitar solos than THE UNDERFALL YARD, I was delighted by the large number of imaginative keyboard solos. All in all, I simply have to agree with those Prog Archives colleagues who have stated that FOLKLORE shows BBT at the top of their game.

All of which makes me wonder: how is it possible BBT aren't even mentioned in ROCK PROGRESSIF, Aymeric Leroy's authoritative French study of the genre (2014) or in THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS by David Weigl (2017), an informal chronicle which caused quite a stir in the U.S. media? Both Weigl and Leroy are sympathetic towards progressive rock and devote entire chapters to the "rebirth" of the genre after its 1980s nadir. Does BBT music (in all its Englishness) have difficulty travelling across the pond? Surely everyone will notice that (especially since 2009) BBT have mastered the classic 1970s British prog sound AND are taking it in exciting new directions?

In the past, bands such as Yes were habitually accused of sounding "over-technical". I finally realised how wrong this was when I heard Rick Wakeman say that for him Yes's music was all about emotion - which lay mainly in Jon Anderson's voice. Well, folks, apart from the virtuosity BBT so abundantly display, I can think of no other current prog band that convey subtle feelings in such a sophisticated manner. Long may BBT thrive!

Latest members reviews

4 stars Folklore is the ninth studio album by the English #progressiverockband #bigbigtrain and is the first one to include mister Gunfly, the super talented guitarist, keyboard player and vocalist Rikard Sj÷blom former from #beardfish, as well as violinist #rachelhall. Then we have the rest of the line ... (read more)

Report this review (#2758640) | Posted by ElChanclas | Sunday, June 5, 2022 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Decent Music, but BBT Formula. Big Big Train (BBT) albums, and this album of theirs in particular, often come across very strongly on first listen, because the execution, playing and singing are so strong, but that feeling tapers off with multiple listens due to what I can only call the "mushines ... (read more)

Report this review (#1743160) | Posted by Walkscore | Thursday, July 13, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Folklore" is a lovely album, a breath of fresh air in a polluted world, and a joyful rebound after the "Wassail" ep, which I found pretty lackluster. The opening track is okay, far from being among the album's best, but has a great, lively instrumental passage that gives the song a nice energet ... (read more)

Report this review (#1578792) | Posted by snelling | Wednesday, June 15, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Review #24 I discovered Big Big Train with the release of the album The Underfall Yard in 2009. My first impression was that they were good, but they were reminding me of the after-Gabriel era of Genesis, that's why I didn't pay so much attention. Next, the albums English Electric Parts 1 & 2 w ... (read more)

Report this review (#1577190) | Posted by The Jester | Friday, June 10, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As a long-time fan of Big Big Train, I awaited news of their next album. Their release, along with Haken's, stood out as the highlights of the year. However, their Youtube "release" of the title track left me unimpressed, and the raves in the comments, made me just want to hear what they were he ... (read more)

Report this review (#1573938) | Posted by axeman | Thursday, June 2, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars English independent prog band Big Big Train follow up the pastoral delight that was English Electric with Folklore, and although EE was a hard act to follow, the strength of the songwriting has delivered a mostly successful album. There appears to be an interesting dichotomy in the songwriting de ... (read more)

Report this review (#1573781) | Posted by Starless | Thursday, June 2, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have long intended reviewing albums that have had an impact on me. Having been immersed in this album for the last four days, I feel it would be a fitting first review for Prog Archives. I apologise in advance for the length, but I have written the sort of review I like to read. The short ve ... (read more)

Report this review (#1572616) | Posted by saboliver | Monday, May 30, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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