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Big Big Train

Crossover Prog

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Big Big Train Grimspound album cover
4.00 | 545 ratings | 11 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2017

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Brave Captain (12:37)
2. On The Racing Line (5:12)
3. Experimental Gentlemen (10:01)
4. Meadowland (3:36)
5. Grimspound (6:56)
6. The Ivy Gate (7:27)
7. A Mead Hall In Winter (15:20)
8. As The Crow Flies (6:44)

Total time 67:53

Line-up / Musicians

- David Longdon / lead & backing vocals, flute, melodica, electric & acoustic guitars, banjo, piano, celesta, synth, mandolin, lute, percussion
- Dave Gregory / electric & 12-string guitars
- Andy Poole / acoustic guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- Rikard SjŲblom / guitar, keyboards (8), backing vocals
- Danny Manners / keyboards, double bass
- Rachel Hall / violin, viola, cello, backing vocals, string arrangements
- Greg Spawton / bass, bass pedals, backing vocals
- Nick D'Virgilio / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Judy Dyble / vocals (6)
- Philip Trzebiatowski / cello (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Sarah Ewing

CD English Electric Recordings ‎- EERCD0019 (2017, UK)

2xLP Plane Groovy - PLG050 (2017, UK)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy BIG BIG TRAIN Grimspound Music

BIG BIG TRAIN Grimspound ratings distribution

(545 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

BIG BIG TRAIN Grimspound reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kev rowland
5 stars Over the last few years Big Big Train have been making a real name for themselves in the prog world, but I have missed out on the last few albums, so haven't really been fully aware of what has been going on. To me they will always be special, the first band ever to send me something to review, and I still have that 1991 demo tape, 'From The River To The Sea', and I am looking at it now. My brain has real issues in understanding that this small independently recorded and released cassette is the same band who are now playing this incredibly complex and professional music that is coming out of my speakers. True, there have been one or two line-up changes over the years, and they have gone from a five-piece to an octet, but Andy Poole and Greg Spawton were there at the very beginning, and they are still there now (while then-drummer Steve Hughes has separately gone on to be a recording artist in his own right).

It is interesting to note not only the people in the band, but the instruments being played, as it does give an insight into the complex and layered nature of the music. These days it is David Longdon (lead and backing vocals, flute, acoustic guitar, mandolin, percussion), Dave Gregory (guitars), Andy Poole (acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards, backing vocals), Rikard Sjöblom (keyboards, guitars, accordion, backing vocals), Danny Manners (keyboards, double bass), Rachel Hall (violin, viola, cello, lead and backing vocals, string arrangements), Greg Spawton (bass, bass pedals, acoustic guitar, backing vocals) and Nick D'Virgilio (drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals). If that wasn't enough, they have the one and only Judy Dyble guesting on vocals on one number as well.

I will never forget Greg making a beeline for me when he saw me in a pub in Winchester as he wanted to know what I thought about their new album, and I had to admit that I didn't like it as I felt they had moved too far away from their sound and it was nothing like I expected to hear from BBT (I later changed my mind after I had played it some more, honest). But, this is not a release that I would ever have expected to hear from the Dorset boys, as this is something of incredible depth and layers. I think one of the things that really makes this album work so much for me is that it is obvious that everyone involved is a master of their craft, but they are all incredibly restrained and working together to provide what is right for the music. I have been lucky to see Nick play live with Spock's Beard numerous times, and have many albums on which he has performed, but this must be the most laid-back I have ever heard him. In many ways, the lead instrument is that of Rachel, but it only works as it does due to the backdrop that is provided against it ? which can be a 'simple' acoustic guitar, or something far more powerful.

Dave Longdon has a wonderful voice, and it his vocals, combined with the melodies and instrumentation that makes this a very special album indeed. According to ProgArchives they released the best live album of 2016, and I would have thought that the chances of this being the top 2017 studio album are very high indeed. I was one of the very first reviewers of their music, and back in December 1991 I said, "If you like Genesis (prog not pop), Galahad or Marillion, then this is the band for you". More than twenty- five years on, I am pleased to amend that, and just say that here is a band for lovers of all great music, whatever the genre. Superb.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This band of seasoned veterans has morphed and gelled into a cohesive unit whose compositions set the standard for other symphonic prog bands of this decade.

1. "Brave Captain" (12:37) In my humble opinion, this is one of the best songs BBT has ever done. Where so many times before the music and the story the band is trying to tell feel over-the-top bombastic (for reasons that seem to often escape me), this time everything seems to click. Dave's vocal rendering of the story is nicely restrained. The amazingly evocative section starting at 4:12 is prog perfection. All instrumental contributions are so perfect, Nick D'Virgilo's drumming never more virtuosic and necessary. At 7:20 a mute-effected vocal begins the rendering of the flyer's story. It's so effective that I get goosebumps and tears brimming at my eyes every damn time I listen to it. And when Dave switches out of the closet into the open air to describe the last flight! Amazing! Genius! The instrumental play out with the single phrase "brave captain of the skies" being repeated by both Dave and a choir is perfect (as is the atmospheric "air" sounds as the song fades). (9.75/10)

2. "On The Racing Line" (5:12) organ, piano, bowed double bass open this one before the band breaks into a jazzy-boogie piano-based Nick D'Virgilio instrumental race. This song definitely serves to showcase Nick's amazing drumming: so tight, so concise, so well-integrated into the song--despite its many dynamic and tempo shifts. Great use of strings in support at the end. (9.25/10)

3. "Experimental Gentlemen" (10:01) parts of this song, both melodically and instrumentally, shine as among the best work BBT have ever done. The unfortunate thing is the sometimes awkward, disjointed and inexplicable shifts from section to section (e.g. from the amazing opening/intro to the simplistic singing section at the two minute mark--if there was ever a case to cite an instance in which two entirely separate songs are suddenly and inexplicably melded together, this is one). Fortunately, the melodies and lyrics of the first singing section are engaging. In the fifth minute, the vocals take a break and we settling into a section of very nice instrumental tapestry. But, then, suddenly, at 5:34, we're back to the "experimental gentlemen" vocal theme. The song is playing out like a Broadway reprise--like the introductory music you receive when returning from a musical play's intermission. "The wonder of it all" is a wonderful epithet signaling another switch--to a soft, gentle, and very moving instrumental section which plays out to the song's end. (9/10)

4. "Meadowland" (3:36) with it's 12-string guitar and violin, this one opens quite nicely. Shaping up to be a little more folk-country oriented than I expected, the song continues as an instrumental until the 1:18 mark. Dave's AMERICA-like vocal enters with the strings continuing to weave around behind him sans drums (with organ--and, later, piano). Nice, mellow song. (8/10)

5. "Grimspound" (6:56) a beautiful folky song with wonderfully simple and catchy melodies from both instruments, chords, and vocal lines. I love Dave's voice so much when he is restrained and relaxed. And I LOVE his flute work. At 3:35 the band decided that a little more umph! and bombast were needed. Too bad. What should have been left alone... Nice work from the strings (electric and otherwise) in sixth minute. I do love the choral singings of the Latin phrases at the end. (9.5/10)

6. "The Ivy Gate" (7:27) banjo is the most conspicuous instrumental presence with this one from its opening--until the warbling voice of the great Judy Dyble opens the singing telling the tale of Thomas Fisher. Constructed with ample variety and dynamics, no section, no lyric, no melody sucks me in enough to warrant repetition or research. This is a good song with just average appeal and engagement factor. (8/10)

7. "A Mead Hall In Winter" (15:20) with some very nice instrumental work--especially from the organ--and some awesome multi-voice background vocal arrangements. Again, the melodic lines employed here are simply not as engaging as the instrumental solos are impressive. (8.5/10)

8. "As The Crow Flies" (6:44) very nice, spacious song with the delightful presence of a female vocalist (Rachel Hall) singing the second lead. Flutes, piano, violin, acoustic guitars, organ, all are given ample room to be heard on this one--which is nice. (8.5/10)

Big Big Train certainly have their own style and distinctive sound. They are very polished, very skilled musicians, and their compositional skills and instrumental arrangements are of the highest quality and grade while their sonic renderings of music are always just shy of miraculous. Where they seem to fall a little short--at least, to these ears--is in matching their music to the story that they are trying to tell (or, perhaps better put, in matching their musical expression to the significance of the historical text of their chosen "heroes"). The conundrum they present to me time after time reminds me of the story I've heard so many times about the reactions of Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, and Steve Hackett to first hearing the vocal story telling that Peter Gabriel had recorded over their music for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars After losing my long review once again on this site I'll try again with a short one. I'm pretty big on the middle period of BIG BIG TRAIN's discography from the 2007 "The Difference Machine", 2009's "The Underfall Yard", 2010's "Far Skies Deep Time" and 2012's "English Electric(Part One)". I couldn't get into "Folklore" or this one, although I do feel this is a little better than "Folklore".

Songs like "Experimental Gentlemen" and "The Ivy Gate" just don't do anything for me while the opener "Brave Captain" is my favourite. I'm not big on the strings here because they are so safe sounding but most of the album is safe sounding. I like the sections where they amp it up or do something adventerous, but there's way too few of those to make me consider anything more than 3 stars.

Hopefully this works as I press "save" but it's getting to the point on here that I'm having difficulty caring one way or the other. BIG BIG TRAIN is such a talented band who play mature music with meaningful lyrics, but i'll stick to the ones I mentioned in the intro thanks.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Grimspound is the 10th studio album by UK's progressive rock act Big Big Train, featuring late David Longdon on lead vocals, flute, percussion, piano, guitars, mandolin, etc; Dave Gregory on acoustic and electric guitars; Andy Poole on keyboards and acoustic guitars; Danny Manners on keyboards a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2781353) | Posted by ElChanclas | Monday, August 1, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first Big Big Train albums that I've heard were Grand Tour and Folklore and it was love at first sight. I was so impressed with the mature sound of this band that I was so eager to try the rest of their discography as soon as possible. One by one, Folklore, English Electric and The Underfall Ya ... (read more)

Report this review (#2269658) | Posted by emisan | Monday, October 14, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Shortly after Grimspound came out, Big Big Train seemed to be the talk of the town. I couldn't click on a prog website without stumbling across news or raving reviews. A friend of mine recommended them, so I took a listen. Sorry to say, I just don't get what all the hype is about. Overall, t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1940239) | Posted by wiz_d_kidd | Thursday, June 21, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Excellent! Close to 5 Stars. More lively and diverse an album than Folklore, Grimspound is a welcome addition to the BBT catalogue. It keeps with the now-established mature BBT sound (and thus also BBT formula), but with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting, and to differentiate it fr ... (read more)

Report this review (#1743316) | Posted by Walkscore | Thursday, July 13, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review # 56. Personally speaking, I think that Big Big Train reached the top with the release of the English Electric 1 & 2 albums and the release of Folklore was a step back. Grimspound is the new album of this very talented English band, which comes one year after Folklore. I was kind of ... (read more)

Report this review (#1722466) | Posted by The Jester | Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Having discovered BBT only 5 years ago, I have fallen under their spell and so it was with much anticipation that I looked forward to this new album. When it was declared that there would be no brass on this release, I thought that it was a brave move given how unique that sound is. I am very pl ... (read more)

Report this review (#1721947) | Posted by eastcoastracer | Monday, May 15, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Yet another beautiful release from Big Big Train, but I admit I was concerned throughout the first track, "Brave Captain", which seemed overly repetitious, without enough going for it to merit it's 12-minute length. However, my concern immediately dissipated with the next track, "On The Racing L ... (read more)

Report this review (#1716822) | Posted by snelling | Tuesday, May 2, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's easy to become an immediate fan of Big Big Train. They truly have a very accessible, crossover sound -- a band that answers the desires of Gabriel-era Genesis fans who always wanted to know what would happen if Phil never took over and went 80s pop synth. I became a fan of BBT with English E ... (read more)

Report this review (#1716777) | Posted by buddyblueyes | Tuesday, May 2, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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