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BIG BIG TRAIN

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Big Big Train biography
BIG BIG TRAIN have released five albums including the critically acclaimed "The Difference Machine"(2007) and "The Underfall Yard"(2009).

BIG BIG TRAIN was formed in 1990 by Andy POOLE and Greg SPAWTON. They were joined by Ian COOPER (keyboards), Steve HUGHES (drums) and Canadian vocalist Martin READ. Initial influences on the band's music included Steve HACKETT, Anthony PHILLIPS, IT BITES and PREFAB SPROUT. A demo cassette tape of the band's first songs, recorded on 8-track, was released in October 1991 and was followed by live performances. The demo tape "From the River to the Sea" was re-recorded and released as a self-financed demo CD in May 1992, following which BBT played some higher profile gigs in England.

In January 1993, a second demo tape, "The Infant Hercules" was released and the band then spent the next six months writing the music for its first proper album, "Goodbye to the Age of Steam". This was recorded in a hectic two week period in July 1993. Soon afterwards, BBT signed to the progressive rock label GEP, where they found themselves as label mates of IQ.

"Goodbye to the Age of Steam" was a big leap forward for the band, both in terms of songwriting and recording quality. The response to the album was very positive, culminating in a licensing deal in Japan where the CD was re-released in 1995, with a bonus track.

In the meantime, Ian COOPER had left the band (for family rather than musical reasons) and live performances were put on hold while a replacement was sought and a new album was written.

Recording of BBT's second album commenced in July of 1995 (with Greg filling in on keyboards) and continued, sporadically, until completion 18 months later. During the sessions, a new keyboard player, Tony MÜLLER was recruited. Some of the songs from the new album were debuted at the band's only show from this period at the Astoria, London. "English Boy Wonders" was finally released in autumn 1997, although in an incomplete state as the band had run out of money to finish the album. "English Boy Wonders" combined progressive rock (GENESIS, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR) with indie-pop influences (XTC, THE CURE.)

Steve HUGHES left BIG BIG TRAIN in September 1998 and went on to join THE ENID. He was replaced by Pete HIBBIT. They were subsequently dropped by their record label, GEP. After a few more live performances, the band's momentum seemed all but spent.

Greg and Andy began work on some new songs with...
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GrimspoundGrimspound
Import
Imports 2017
Audio CD$10.51
$10.51 (used)
FolkloreFolklore
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$9.04
$7.78 (used)
English Electric: Expanded EditionEnglish Electric: Expanded Edition
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$14.77
$14.76 (used)
Underfall YardUnderfall Yard
Import
Ais 2009
Audio CD$9.91
$7.00 (used)
Stone's Throw From the LineStone's Throw From the Line
Import
Imports 2016
Audio CD$12.09
$12.09 (used)
English Electric Part 2English Electric Part 2
Import
Ais 2013
Audio CD$5.35
$4.37 (used)
English Boy WondersEnglish Boy Wonders
Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$20.15
English Electric: Full PowerEnglish Electric: Full Power
CD Baby 2013
Audio CD$26.99 (used)
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BIG BIG TRAIN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BIG BIG TRAIN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.41 | 146 ratings
Goodbye To The Age Of Steam
1994
3.30 | 148 ratings
English Boy Wonders
1997
3.23 | 125 ratings
Bard
2002
3.70 | 207 ratings
Gathering Speed
2004
3.62 | 271 ratings
The Difference Machine
2007
4.17 | 652 ratings
The Underfall Yard
2009
4.20 | 912 ratings
English Electric (Part One)
2012
4.12 | 721 ratings
English Electric (Part Two)
2013
4.04 | 398 ratings
Folklore
2016
4.37 | 138 ratings
Grimspound
2017

BIG BIG TRAIN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.41 | 54 ratings
From Stone And Steel
2016
4.81 | 27 ratings
A Stone's Throw From the Line
2016

BIG BIG TRAIN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.47 | 24 ratings
Stone & Steel
2016

BIG BIG TRAIN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.29 | 42 ratings
English Boy Wonders (2008)
2008
4.90 | 147 ratings
English Electric: Full Power
2013

BIG BIG TRAIN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.43 | 34 ratings
From The River to the Sea
1992
3.19 | 19 ratings
The Infant Hercules
1993
4.03 | 175 ratings
Far Skies Deep Time
2010
4.24 | 65 ratings
Make Some Noise
2013
3.64 | 78 ratings
Wassail
2015

BIG BIG TRAIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Folklore by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 398 ratings

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Folklore
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Grimspound by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.37 | 138 ratings

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Grimspound
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by The Jester

4 stars Personally speaking, I think that Big Big Train reached the top with the release with the English Electric 1&2 albums, but the release of Folklore was a major step back. Grimspound is the new album of this very talented Englsih band, which comes one year after Folklore. I was kind of disappointed with Folklore, because the truth is that, I was waiting for something more by them, after the 2 wonderful albums I mentioned above. In Grimspound, Big Big Train seems to leave the Folk influences aside, and concentrate to their usual melodic/mellow/romantic style. Beginning with the excellent 12-minute-long epic Brave Captain, the album begins to reveal to the listeners its beauty track by track. The musicianship of the band is at a very high standards once more, but that should not come as a surprise. The production is very good and the sound is crystal clear. Also, the participation of Judy Dyble (ex-Fairport Convention) in the song The Ivy Gate was a big surprise. Most of the compositions are rather long and complicated, in a beautiful and 'gentle' way. (I can't describe it otherwise, I'm sorry). Also, most of the songs are including so many major changes into their structure, that is impossible to say from the beginning where each song is going to 'lead' you. A fine example of that, is the album's second track, the instrumental On the Racing Line. I didn't like the song at first, so after 2 minutes I skipped it. The same happened the second time I was listening to the album as well. But the third time, I was dealing with something and let it play. And right after the second minute, there is a major change of 'direction' which changes the song so much, that I was wondering which song I am listening to. Further than the opening song, the album includes one more epic, the 15-minute-long A Mead Hall in Winter, which, together with Brave Captain, are some of the highlights of the album, (together with the wonderful Meadowland). To conclude this, I think that Grimspound is one step higher than Folklore, and one step below English Electric 1 & 2. So, a rating of 3.5 out of 5.0 is a fair one I think. (But I will give 4 stars) If you like Big Big Train, you should buy Grimspound. If you didn't like Big Big Train so far, don't bother. If you don't know Big Big Train, this is a good album to begin with. But then I recommend to continue with English Electric 1 or 2.
 Grimspound by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.37 | 138 ratings

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Grimspound
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by eastcoastracer

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 pleased to say that Grimspound has met up to all expectations IMHO. I am not one to compare album versus album, I just take what I can from each one. The quality of the songwriting is still outstanding, the vocals, as always, excellent and the chops, well, of course they are top notch. Each of the songs give me something different to appreciate just like all the BBT albums and there isn't a song I don't like - again!

Great to hear Rachel Hall featured more and also the addition of the wonderful Judy Dyble on "The Ivy Gate" adds yet another positive element to the music. The highlights for me - at this stage anyway;

The "hook" in " A Mead Hall in Winter" one of the most sublime pieces of music I've ever heard . The feeling of sadness when 'Meadowland" finishes too soon. Imagining "Brave Captain" as the opener at this years concerts. The addition of three different lead vocalists being Judy, Rachel and Nick - again, adding to BBT's point of difference. Great keys and guitars all the way through with some interesting lines as part of the layered sound.

And the sheer "Englishness" of the sound and atmosphere. BBT continue to shine and give us a sound that is different from everyone else, long may this continue.

 Grimspound by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.37 | 138 ratings

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Grimspound
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by snelling

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 Line", which is a fabulous instrumental, showing genuine creatively and even breaking new ground for BBT. Personally I think every BBT album deserves an instrumental, and this is quite likely the strongest instrumental track they've done and ranks with their finest work to date. Next is "Experimental Gentlemen", which starts and ends very well, to be followed by the lovely "Meadowlands", a more acoustic, pretty track, something they've always done very well. The title track follows, which is another one of my favorites on the album, using chordings that represent a bit of a departure from the rest of the album, and their sound in general. The climax of this song is in the middle, an instrumental break that is pure magic. "The Ivy Gate" is a folky song featuring Judy Dyble on vocals, who sounds wonderful. "A Mead Hall In Winter" is the magnum opus, a solid track, all over the place, with enough changes and variation to hold my interest, although I wouldn't put it in the same league as some of the previous magnum opuses such as "East Coast Racer" or "The Underfall Yard". RIkard and David did an excellent job putting this one together. The closer, "As the Crow Flies" is gorgeous, another of my favorites. There is a you tube video of this that is highly worth checking out. Had me nearly in tears. A great way to end the album. Overall, another winner from the kings of British pastoral prog.
 Grimspound by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.37 | 138 ratings

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Grimspound
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by buddyblueyes

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 Electric and have never turned back. Every release from the band since has been two-lines-down-the-middle solid. BBT has accomplished what so many neo-prog bands very rarely obtain, they have defined their own direction and sound, and created a unique atmosphere -- a dazzling world you can escape to during these bat-s@#t insane, politically-charged times.

The musicianship is jaw-dropping excellent, proving that time, longevity, and a strong collaborative group with ambition can soar to unlimited heights. Nick's drumming is getting even better and I can't wait to see what he brings back to Spock's Beard after this performance. A highlight is "On The Racing Line," a dynamic, tour-de-force of instrumental mastery by all the musicians, but Nick is just killing it with the snare work, syncopation and creativity! David's vocal melodies continue to paint, with broad strokes, songs that evoke the earl grey, old-English world. The harmonies sound fantastic especially at the end of "Grimspound" and the duel vocals on "The Ivy Gate" are excellent! "The Ivy Gate", in particular, showcases how BBT never stands still within their defined sound, always blazing new trails. The song contains numerous structures, twists and turns that always keep the listener captivated at the subtle changes of mood and vocal inflections. The keyboards add a unique spice to the song "A Mead Hall In Winter," blending just the right amounts of piano and synth, dancing around David's soaring vocal lines. It's here where we could start to think BBT can be categorized as a love child between early Genesis, Sting's early solo releases, and a classical folk chamber group.

With three of the songs over the 10 minute mark, prog fans should delight. The consistent world BBT has crafted for listeners is ever-changing and still fresh. At sunset, as we finally ascend to the top of this mountain, we're in awe, observing a vast, uncharted sonic landscape ahead of us as BBT shows no signs of slowing down nor resting on their laurels.

Album Of The Year? They may have it locked up indeed.

Live Concert Pairing: iamthemorning opens. BBT headlines.

 Grimspound by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.37 | 138 ratings

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Grimspound
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

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.

 A Stone's Throw From the Line by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Live, 2016
4.81 | 27 ratings

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A Stone's Throw From the Line
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by javajeff

5 stars More Big Big Train is a good thing! I think this performance is excellent, so any fan of their music should definitely pick it up. The sound quality is solid for a live show, but it is not the same for those that have been enjoying the studio recordings at 24 bit 48khz. Those high resolution studio recordings have punch, but you get the interactive element with a live audience, and some differences in music and vocal performance for this release. I can listen to their music on as many different presentations as they offer. David Longdon took me by surprise on some notes as he showed some versatility in a looser live setting. Nick D'Virgilio sounds great on drums as usual, Greg Spawton is excellent, and the addition of Rikard Sjöblom adds to an already amazing pool of talent. I think this is an excellent addition to any progressive rock fan's collection, and a must for Big Big Train fans. The band that takes me on journeys across the pond through their music has given me a new journey to enjoy. A big kudos to Greg Spawton and crew for amazing musicianship and an excellent live presentation!
 Folklore by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 398 ratings

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Folklore
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Folklore by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 398 ratings

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Folklore
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Folklore by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.04 | 398 ratings

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Folklore
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to dean for the last updates

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