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BIG BIG TRAIN

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Big Big Train biography
Formed in 1990 in Bournemouth, Dorset, England

BIG BIG TRAIN was formed 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 without the rest of the ban...
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BIG BIG TRAIN discography


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

2.28 | 50 ratings
From the River to the Sea
1992
3.48 | 197 ratings
Goodbye to the Age of Steam
1994
3.23 | 196 ratings
English Boy Wonders
1997
3.10 | 162 ratings
Bard
2002
3.67 | 260 ratings
Gathering Speed
2004
3.69 | 339 ratings
The Difference Machine
2007
4.18 | 818 ratings
The Underfall Yard
2009
4.21 | 1107 ratings
English Electric (Part One)
2012
4.11 | 883 ratings
English Electric (Part Two)
2013
4.02 | 624 ratings
Folklore
2016
3.99 | 530 ratings
Grimspound
2017
3.75 | 293 ratings
The Second Brightest Star
2017
4.04 | 428 ratings
Grand Tour
2019
3.88 | 152 ratings
Common Ground
2021
4.12 | 154 ratings
Welcome to the Planet
2022

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

4.39 | 87 ratings
From Stone And Steel
2016
4.20 | 82 ratings
A Stone's Throw from the Line
2016
4.33 | 62 ratings
Merchants of Light
2018
4.36 | 25 ratings
Empire
2020

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

4.63 | 40 ratings
Stone & Steel
2016
4.46 | 18 ratings
Reflectors of Light
2019

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

4.19 | 52 ratings
English Boy Wonders (2008)
2008
4.85 | 213 ratings
English Electric: Full Power
2013
4.21 | 19 ratings
Summer's Lease
2020

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

2.96 | 27 ratings
The Infant Hercules
1993
4.04 | 219 ratings
Far Skies Deep Time
2010
4.03 | 99 ratings
Make Some Noise
2013
3.77 | 112 ratings
Wassail
2015
4.25 | 44 ratings
London Song
2017
3.38 | 37 ratings
Merry Christmas
2017
3.70 | 24 ratings
Swan Hunter
2018
4.36 | 14 ratings
Lanterna
2021
3.33 | 9 ratings
Made from Sunshine
2021
4.42 | 12 ratings
Proper Jack Froster
2021
2.75 | 4 ratings
Bats in the Belfry
2021

BIG BIG TRAIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Welcome to the Planet by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.12 | 154 ratings

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Welcome to the Planet
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

5 stars On 20th November 2021, BBT vocalist David Longdon died in hospital after an accident at his home. This obviously had a major impact on the band and everyone who knew him, yet they had just completed their latest album so what to do with it? David was very proud of the recording, and in conjunction with his partner, the band made the decision to release it in January 2022. Of course, this meant I had not heard it prior to David's passing, so it is quite possible that my review is impacted due to that knowledge, but I will attempt to remain as objective as possible. Although the band had changed to a quartet for the previous release, 'Common Ground', they were now operating as a septet with no guests whatsoever. David Longdon (lead vocals), Gregory Spawton (bass), Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and Nick D'Virgilio (drums, vocals) were now joined permanently by three musicians who all performed on the previous album as well, Carly Bryant (keyboards, lead vocals), Dave Foster (guitars) and Clare Lindley (violin, vocals).

Unlike most progressive bands, Big Big Train have become more prolific as they have got older: it took them twenty years to release their first seven albums, yet in the last ten they released eight, and at a much higher quality as well. Not bad for a band I have now known for more than 30 years, and this was their fifteenth (yes, I include the CD version of 'From the River To The Sea' as their debut as that was how we regarded it at the time). They have increased much of the complexity which was found on 'Common Ground' yet maintaining the freshness and light so that one never feels overwhelmed or smothered and instead is taken on a journey where one does not know where or how it is going to lead. The result is exciting and enthralling as one is taken into a world full of beauty and surprises. One can understand why David was proud of this as his vocals are outstanding, but there are lengthy passages where he makes no appearance at all, yet the music is still vital and engaging.

The violin lets the band move in folkier directions when the time is right, and they also allow themselves to play in standard time and be commercial when they want, and then go off at tangents at others, always with a harmony to the arrangements which is superb. Greg combines with Nick to provide wonderfully melodic and powerful basslines which cuts through the gentler aspects, grounding the music so it never goes too far in any direction but instead stays core to the vision. The result is possibly the finest BBT album of their career, but instead of looking forward to the follow-up we now wait to see what happens next. That there will be a next was never in doubt, and in March the band announced their new singer is Alberto Bravin of PFM.

This is a wonderful album. Do not listen to it in sadness at David's passing, but instead treat it as the triumph it is, an incredible piece of work.

 Common Ground by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.88 | 152 ratings

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Common Ground
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars I am always nervous when it comes to listening to a BBT album, and especially when writing about it, as I am probably the person who has been reviewing them longer than anyone else in the world. The band have reinvented themselves multiple times over the years, but the one constant has been Greg Spawton, and last year's 'Common Ground' saw them take another jump sideways as the band undertook a serious culling. Although they had some guests (including the wonderful Dave Foster who cut his teeth on the same circuit as the original BBT), the band was now David Longdon (lead vocals), Gregory Spawton (bass), Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and Nick D'Virgilio (drums, vocals). BBT's style has changed over the years, but somehow, they have always seemed very English, even though that has not been the nationality of all those involved. Here that pastoral sound has been combined with a freshness and openness as they used David's vocals to even better effect, although they also demonstrate that here is a group of musicians who can really play. There are times here when they come across as mid Eighties Gabriel with some fairly commercial elements, yet they also use dated keyboard sounds when the time is right, throw in weird time signatures and an angular quirkiness which brings a smile to the face. There is even a guitar-led section towards the end of "Black With Ink" which could have come straight from Spock's Beard.

However, that being said, one of the joys of Big Big Train is that they are themselves, and not trying to be anyone else. In their early days they had very much their own sound, and the same is true today in that the music supports the vocals, placing David strongly in focus, yet when studying the arrangements, one quickly realises there is a great deal going on underneath and they are doing far more than provide support and instead have the right mix of complexity and commerciality to really elevate.

It is a very different album indeed to 'The Grand Tour', as the band have gone back to their roots and into themselves and have then thrust their ideas outwards to create something which is very special indeed.

 Welcome to the Planet by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.12 | 154 ratings

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Welcome to the Planet
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars BIG BIG TRAIN is the singular group that I knew later on, not knowing where to place them, at a time when I was lacking the voice of Peter GABRIEL; in short a group stamped english group with a lot of sizes as musicians. Album in two parts, here we go:

'Made from Sunshine' bucolic, playful, in an English style with choirs, trumpet, the BBT style for the moment without too much particularity. 'The Connection Plan' with nervous violin, phrasing and jerky voice depending on the tune. 'Lanterna' where David puts his voice forward, the shadow of the archangel is very present here and brings me back to my first listening to this very singular group, navigating between pop, prog and rock, merging GENESIS with Roine STOLT and musical ideas from XTC, the creative Anglican melting pot quietly. 'Capitoline Venus' for short label Charisma melody as interlude. 'A Room with No Ceiling' for the instrumental jewel, open drawers which lead with accordion on green valleys, limit bossa nova, then decreasing return.

The 2nd part leaves with 'Proper Jack Froster' and David in front, I find there bucolic sounds of the XTC, innovation going on folk, jazz with the trumpet contribution and this bewitching voice which plunges back decades into rear of the 'Foxtrot' era; Clare comes with violin and vocal to give a touch of sensitivity, of emotion before a sublime solo in depth, the notes unfold on an aerial choir. 'Bats in the Belfry' jazzy-prog rock instrumental, bass, synth and front pads; cinematic air on a BOF by James BOND it's catchy, crystalline organ break it's like being in heaven, a little laser and Nick puts his all into it in a breathtaking finale; the title of the album. 'Oak and Stone' for David's jazzy piano and vocal ballad; the Genesis end for the instrumentation and ethereal vocals 'Welcome to the Planet' and the return of Clare on a title where the trumpet brings sensitivity and solemnity, the flute amplifying; a soaring, latent break with Clare who leaves on the voice of Sarah BROWN during her performance on PINK FLOYD, a final in fireworks and the 2nd title of the bluffing and innovative album.

A strange disc with a beginning without much particularity, neutral sensitivity, without extra... then it takes off over the titles, especially from the second part and we arrive amazed at the end of the album. The problem, David's flight to the real skies is just unthinkable given his always perfect performance; speechless, I ask myself the question of the continuation of the group, in short live the present moment for the moment.

 Grimspound by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.99 | 530 ratings

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Grimspound
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by ElChanclas

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 and double bass; Rikard Sjöblom on guitars, keyboards and backing vocals; Rachel hall on strings (violin, viola, cello) and backing vocals; Greg Spawton on bass and backing vocals and Nick D'Virgilio on drums, percussion and backing vocals?OMG, what a cast of characters!

Every time I sit down to listen and review a BBT album it just gets harder and harder for me because their albums just become better and better, like a nonstop growing snowball that just accumulates layers and layers of musicianship, talent, memorable melodies, lessons learned, lessons taught, timeless songwriting, and incomparable cohesion between its members. A more than deserved follow up to the immense Folklore (2016), Grimpsound is the first of two masterpieces of albums released in 2017 (more about that in the near future), memorable but a little darker in the melody and lyrical content, with hooks so huge they could easily catch a whale.

Brave Captain, On The Racing Line, the title track Grimpsound, A Mead Hall in Winter? a group of songs that reach so deep inside the listener, sometimes symphonic, sometimes Neo, sometimes even Heavy at spots without abandoning the always expected playfulness they add to all of their work, beautiful when fully digested, and then it simply stays forever. Another mandatory listen to any Prog lover, enjoy!

 The Difference Machine by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.69 | 339 ratings

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The Difference Machine
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars The Difference Machine stands at the end of an era for Big Big Train. The most obvious reason why this is the case that it's the last album from before David Longdon joined, but it's worth noting that the lineup shift between this one and The Underfall Yard was even more significant than that; Dave Gregory joined on guitar, Nick D'Virgilio of Spock's Beard joined on drums, and for the run of albums from The Underfall Yard to The Second Brightest Star the fivesome of Gregory, D'Virgilio, Longdon, and Big Big Train co-founders Gregory Spawton and Andy Poole would be the core of the band even as other members were added to the ensemble here and there.

The lineup shift in between The Difference Machine and The Underfall Yard, however, is not just significant for who showed up: it's also notable for who left, since it's the last album with Steve Hughes and Sean Filkins. Hughes had been a stalwart of the group, appearing on every prior release except Bard - and you get the impression that even the band members who were on Bard wish they hadn't been, because the band haven't even tried to reclaim it the way they did with English Boy Wonders. With his disappearance, only Andy Poole and Greg Spawton remain of the original lineup, and whilst the early years of Big Big Train were patchy ones, I still think Goodbye To The Age of Steam was a classic and losing another link to it feels like the end of an age.

Sean Filkins might not have had as long a tenure in the band as any of the other three members on this album, but he'd also been on Gathering Speed, with this album made by four of the same five band members as that one (founding keyboardist Ian Cooper departed after Gathering Speed, leaving Greg Spawton to handle that side of things) you can see Gathering Speed and The Difference Machine as forming a sort of middle period for Big Big Train - bringing a level of stability which they hadn't had since Goodbye To The Age of Steam, rekindling hope in the project after the demoralising mess of Bard, and paving the way for The Underfall Yard to kick off a new era for the group.

However, there's a fascinating contrast between the two. Gathering Speed seemed like a shift from the blend of classic and neo-prog influences and 1990s indie rock which the early band explored to a more purely classic prog influenced style. On the Difference Engine, they take those influences and use it to construct this murky, mysterious atmosphere - like Genesis trying to chart their way into space rock realms but they used a chart drawn by Van der Graaf Generator so they end up falling into a black hole or something.

As well as being a strong coda to the brief Sean Filkins-fronted era of the band, the album also contains the seeds of the group's future - Nick D'Virgilio and Dave Meros of Spock's Beard guest, not only signalling Big Big Train's gently increasing stature in the prog scene but also inadvertently giving Nick a little audition for Hughes' drum stool. Pete Trewavas of Marillion also appears, and perhaps it's appropriate that Big Big Train's pre-David Longdon era was bookended with releases with neo-prog legends guesting (IQ's Martin Orford having appeared on Goodbye To The Age of Steam) - not because they sound like 1980s neo-prog here, but because they are once again here coming up with a modernisation of classic prog, albeit with a much more unabashed embrace of the sounds of the past and much less regard for currently-popular sounds than usually associated with neo-prog. Big Big Train began their career with what I believe is a five-star album; in The Difference Machine, they finally made another five-star classic, definitively putting an end to the difficult slump they went through in between.

 Folklore by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 624 ratings

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Folklore
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by ElChanclas

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 Sjöblom former from #beardfish, as well as violinist #rachelhall. Then we have the rest of the lineup:

#davidlongdon (RIP) on lead vocals, flute, mandolin, acoustic guitars

#nickdvirgilio on drums, percussion and backing vocals

#gregspawton on bass, acoustic guitars and backing vocals

#andypoole on acoustic guitars, keyboards and backing vocals

#davegregory on guitars

#dannymanners on keyboards and double bass

I have a friend that always talks about how deep early #genesis music and melodies run through his veins, that they come to our lives to stay with us forever, and that's exactly how I feel with BBT's music, specially after late Longdon joined the band.

The title track Folklore opens the album and it's an automatic winner, all of it, sensational. Even though we will find a couple of snippets that will remind us of the previous musical concept of EE Parts 1 & 2, this song already directs the listener to a new concept, both musical & lyrical, and in both this song and the following London Plane (one of my favs) Rikard's playing can be truly felt and heard, as well as the beautiful and memorable strings. BTW, the symphonic discharge here lead by Longdon's flute and Nick's frenetic drumming is immense!

Along the Ridgeway brings the first horns of the album, at least the first noticeable ones, as well as the female backing vocals, beautiful combination. Honorable mention to D'Virgilio's singing, what a par him and Langdon were? Hall's violin is another highlight in a song that jumps from classic prog rock to symphonic to modern Neo to symphonic again. How many instruments interacting together without interfering on their marvelous work. Chapeau

Salisbury Giant follows introducing some haunting and darker melodies, teasing with the same idea already presented on the title track solidifying the concept. I love the keys on this track, so well accompanied by the "background" guitar licks and enhanced by the strings and vocals. Greg Spawton is a master songwriter, he deserves a place at the composser's Olympus without a doubt.

The Transit of Venus Across the Sun kicks off with the beautiful instrumental orchestration that unexpectedly evolves into a logic continuation of the concept, pastoral at times and even tribal at others but never abandoning their roots, just a brief experimentation here and there, magically blended with their musical blueprints. Great chanting choruses.

Wassail appears here again after being released the previous year in the EP by the same name, one of those eclectic Longdon tunes with a funky retro groove modernized by his vocalization and the outstanding rhythmic work accomplished my Spawton & D'Virgilio, heavy & symphonic, evocative & hooky, folky & danceable, great!

Winkie, the pigeon! How many birds (blue hen) have been awarded a gold medal, a military one? Winkie did! So keeping the storytelling going, Langdon smartly transmits this incredible story to the listener, how Winkie help save the crew who crashed in freezing waters after being damaged in mission to Norway, the crew set her free and she flew all the way back home to her owner who alerted the authorities and hence a rescue search happened, the crew was saved and winkie honored with the Dickin Medal? and all of this with superb musical performance.

Brooklands teases again with previous musical concepts because that's just what Spawton does, and its great, a thin but almos predictable connection between all his creations, different but similar? a lucky man, a lucky man! Spawton, D'Virgilio and Sjöblom deliver top shelf progressive rock, that kind of music that will test the pass of time and will be recognized and adored 40-50 years from know, no doubt about it. Honorable mention to the flute playing by David, so clean.

Telling The Bees closes this #masterpiece of an album with hopeful like melodies with that feeling that something important and much awaited has been accomplished and perhaps delivering some nuances of what to expect from the band's future works. I really like the liberty that has been given to Sjöblom in this album, he might not have his writing print here yet, but his wonderful and soulful playing can be felt everywhere in numerous layers and forms. A well deserved ending to a great album, a must listen to prog rock fans!

 The Underfall Yard by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.18 | 818 ratings

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The Underfall Yard
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

5 stars There are some albums that I like to consider as masterpieces in their own league, whether that be based on artistic intent, beauty, or its own charm that bands seem to not dabble as much in. This album is sort of the ladder in this retrospect. I really love Big Big Train a ton. I love their more English and sorta rustic approach to Progressive rock. They have this sorta feeling within them that makes them stand out among the crowd of bands trying to recapture what made Prog in the 70s so special (no offense by the way). Now if there is one album that I must say represents this band's unique sound and stylings, that would be The Underfall Yard. This is the album that really broke the mold for them and it made them stand on their own feet. So I decided to re-listen to it and review it with all my heart and soul.

The first song is Evening Star. This is a very good opener for the album. Mostly instrumental with the occasional choir vocals backing it up. What I adore on this song is how it, one, introduces the sorta sound and style found on this album, and two, how it builds into a very nice crescendo. The band allows this song to breathe on its own for a while until it bursts into this beautiful energy of sounds and art. For an opener track this strong, it would be a disservice not to at least give this album a full listen.

The next song is Master James of St. George, a song about James of St. George and how he built castles of stone and blood, but due to modern times rolling in, they were destroyed for railways, introducing a core idea the band has with trains and English legends. I gotta say, I adore this song a ton. The lyrics are mostly a repetition of the verse and chorus, being that of the title and the line "Of the fields and the sky, He used to build castles of stone, Steel and blood, But lines get broken down." However it never feels too annoying, mostly due to the late David Longdon's lush and beautiful vocals, and how the song goes into an instrumental segment in the middle to most likely allow some breathing room. I love how this song just goes from point a to b to c in a great and consistent pace. Nothing feels too slow or too fast, just great all around. Also, the drums on this song, and most of all on this album, is just great. Super punchy, but also delicate and beautiful. Nick D'Virgilio is very talented and shouldn't be underestimated.

The next song is the first real big one, being Victorian Brickwork. A 12 minute piece of amazing sounds and movements. Like the previous song, it has a wonderful pace that allows itself to breathe through the listener without it feeling too wild or inconsistent. Even when there is a clear chord or drumming change, it feels as though it never really loses its ideals or goals, and even near the end where it gets a bit different with the lack of drums and horns, it just feels super connected and grand. I really love those final 5 or 4 minutes of this song. Super pretty, super bright, and just super well done. I gotta commend the arrangements here, cause they are wonderful. I gotta commend David Longdon's vocals again, cause they are truly great. Super old and rustic, and clearly homegrown, but they feel perfect for Big Big Train's sound. The lyricism is also great, continuing the themes of times changing with the basis of trains and engines. From what I can tell, it's about a boy who works at a train yard, and gets swept up in time which is symbolized as ocean tides. It really gives you the idea that while the modern day is good technology wise, those old feelings of the past and its tech cannot be underestimated.

After that, we have, Last Train. Just another super well done song from the boys, still keeping up with that beautiful, ever changing yet consistently grand sound. I love how this song gives the guitars a time to really shine. They did have their moments in the last songs, but here, especially through the middle to the near end point, it just solos it out and allows itself to really puncture you in those good feelings. I gotta say, Greg Spawton really excels on here, and you can just feel his enjoyment in his solo. Just super crisp, punchy, but never feeling half-baked or in your face. It allows you to breathe and jam out with it. The lyrics this time seem to be telling about death and how people may experience entering the afterlife in different ways, either by getting on a train, going North, or just leaving to go back to your house. I love how it makes you have your own thoughts on what the entryway to the afterlife will be like for you. A little dark, but kinda hopeful in a way.

Next track is Winchester Diver. I gotta say, I love this track, super nice, super well breathable, and a bit more quiet in terms of the songs on this album (until the last few minutes). Still super well done, but I have to say, this may be the weakest point on the album. Again, it is not bad, it is really well done, but I have to admit, it's a bit forgettable. Whenever I listen to this album, after Last Train I always expect The Underfall Yard (which we'll get to next) will play, but then Winchester Diver plays, and I am slightly taken aback by this song. I guess that is the only really big criticism for this album, but in the sea of amazing songs, something a little small as a great but sorta weaker song doesn't hurt, it's just a bump on the road is all.

And now we are at the last song, The Underfall Yard. This is a big 22 minute epic that continues the sounds and performances from the previous songs, but buffs it up to something even greater. The start of the song is super joyous and gives a sorta symphonic neo-prog vibe, much like IQ or Anubis, but unlike them, they really take those fundamentals and just lay them out to really make one great piece, plus they allow Greg Spawton to shine once more with some fabulous guitar solos. Speaking of those solos, they allow the song to get a little weird, sometimes with more unconventional drumming or instrumentation, but it's not too forcefully done, just a little nudge in the unconventional direction, which I really like. Around the middle, it gets a bit quieter, and a bit delicate, which allows the vocal works to shine a lot. I just love the size and shape David's vocals have, I don't know if it's because of the reverb or how lush it gets, but it's just beautiful. I gotta commend also to how the song just feels throughout its run. Again, the band really has the gift of arranging and crafting songs to make them feel consistent in their pacing while also changing them enough to not feel boring or seriously annoying. Segment of this song feels half baked, everything feels super laid out in how they made it that it just blows me away every time I hear it. This is where the band just really shines in their full force, this is where they are at their peak of creativity, playing, and style, and when David just belts out the title of the song at full force, it just sends shivers down my spine. For one last commendation for this song, it just has to be the reprisal of the start of the song with those great and hooky chords that just evolve into a great guitar solo by the ever so lovely Greg Spawton, and how it leads to a beautiful ending that just ties a fat and amazing bow around this whole album. It goes full circle for this experience, it's so majestic that you really have to hear it for yourself to really get the full picture of it.

Fellas, this is just an amazing masterpiece. I really do mean it when I say that this is a must listen for anyone. Every bit of it feels so good and so grand that it really just punctures your soul in the best way yet. Go listen to this album, heck if I had the money I would even say buy this album, digitally or physically, cause this album is straight gold from start to end. Get it on vinyl, or cd, or download the album, whatever, just go support this band cause they really do deserve more recognition than ever for their stuff. All in all, a masterpiece that needs all the recognition it can get.

 English Electric (Part Two) by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.11 | 883 ratings

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English Electric (Part Two)
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by ElChanclas

4 stars So EEPO is most likely to have run out of praising adjectives by the moment it's sequel EEPT was released, and I guess it must have been very hard for the band to accomplish such greatness back to back?not the case though, another incredible album top to bottom, it might lack of memorable hymns as The First Rebreather, Judas Unrepentant or even Hedgerow but I think is even a little bit more solid than its predecessor.

The 15min epic East Cost Racer opens up the album with a solid statement, maybe the story of a race car being built from scratch? The time and sweet invested by men to get the machine ready for running? Who cares, the track is a magnificent example of how good is #gregoryspawton as a music composer and lyricist, and with Longdon as copilot, it just can't get any better. BTW, Ruth

Ic section here is something to praise as well, so impressively accurate!

Swan Hunter brings things down following a formula portrayed by the band so many times before it is positively welcomed by the listener. Longdon's participation in the writing process adds a unique feeling to BBT's songs, so profound and intense. Beautiful song, beautiful lyrics, magnificent instrumentation and just enough melody to avoid stickiness! Horns, strings, percussion, all in one and one for all. A highlight!

Worked Out. Come on lads, walk beside me one more time into the darkness, further that we've even been before. How can you invite someone to the darkness in such a melodic way? Spawton again! Definitely the rocker and the first face to face between guitars and flute, a battle that has become a staple for the band's music. Finally Gregory's fire has been unleashed and will delight us from time to time throughout the rest of the album.

Leopards is all #davidlongdon showcasing his unique beautiful sadness well translated into music by the rest of the band, a little slow and mellow for my taste, however musically impressive. The acoustic guitars sound incredible! Folky and corky, sounding more like a Christmas Carol or lullaby but nevertheless great and perfectly placed in the center of the masterpiece.

Keeper of Abbeys is the beginning of the end, the song that opens what for me is the best section of the album, the last 24 or so minute of music. The violin is simply magnificent as well as the whole instrumental passage, simply hypnotic and catchy with a very persuasive D'Virgilio confirming what a great addition to the band he is, both on drums and backing vocals! Another musical gem by genius Spawton, the way it blends into the next song is so smooth!

The Permanent Way is perhaps my personal favorite of the album, every second of this track is memorable, specially when the genius grabs the song structure and melody and somehow revisits The First Rebreather without letting the listener even take notice, formidable. That violin-guitar duet will transcend history!

Curator of Butterflies is a song so amazing and beautiful it's capable of melting ears and brains. Not only the title is awesome but the lyrical content is really beautiful, as well as the melodies. Previously I talked about the violin- guitar duet but what about the flute-guitar tandem? So memorable, what an incredible way to close such an impressive album. Enjoy!

 Welcome to the Planet by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.12 | 154 ratings

BUY
Welcome to the Planet
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by gbjones

4 stars A SOLID four stars. Very impressive. This album is a cut above their more recent albums, which were pretty darn good to begin with! Greg Spawton is back, writing or contributing to a majority of the forty-seven minutes (you may remember he was the major contributor on the watershed album Underfall Yard). My favorites are Lanterna, A Room with No Ceiling, Proper Jack Froster, Bats in the Belfry, and Oak and Stone. These songs are all among the best pieces ever written by BBT. All fans are shocked at the death of David Longdon. At a risk of sounding insensitive, I want to say that the group will survive. The tough part will be replacing Longdon's unique voice, which almost guarantees the group will survive in very good yet different form, since Longdon was not a major songwriter.
 Welcome to the Planet by BIG BIG TRAIN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.12 | 154 ratings

BUY
Welcome to the Planet
Big Big Train Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Like many here, Dave Longdon's sudden and unexpected departure from his corporeal body has left me stunned. I was not expecting an album from them again--especially not so soon as this--but am quite pleased by it. There is a very different side of the Train on display here--one that I wish we might have seen/heard more of over the past 14 years and, should Greg and Nick continue, I hope to hear more of in the future. As it stands, this is a wonderful tribute to Dave Longdon's skills--showing a range that we'd not seen as much of since he joined back in 2009 for The Underfall Yard. Well worth the investment even if it's not all ground-breaking on-the leading-edge progressive rock.

- Part One: 1. "Made from Sunshine" (4:04) a totally straightforward lite-rock ballad with Dave on lead vocals and Carol Lindley. Nothing very special here (though the lyrics about a newborn child are touching.) (7.75/10)

2. "The Connection Plan" (3:55) part Jem Godfrey's FROST* part old Jeff Lynne's ELO, this music is smart, concise, and snappy, if not very original. Nice lyrics and professional construction but very poppy. (8.25/10)

3. "Lanterna" (6:29) opens with a sensitivity and style that reminds me of the great songwriting bands of the 60s like The Mamas & The Papas or The BeeGees. GREAT vocal harmonies. At the end of the second minute the song jumps into full rock/prog rock regalia with a great construct, great palette (totally BBT) with great pacing and power and some awesome "classical" piano on display. Just great music. Nice polished lead guitar solo in the solo spot which is interestingly followed by an odd space-ambient outro. Disappointing finish but still my first top three song. (9/10)

4. "Capitoline Venus" (2:27) gently picked acoustic 12-string guitar with Mellotron accompany an impassioned Dave Longdon. Whenever this guy sings about walking in nature with his one true love I just melt. As much as I appreciate all the English history lessons BBT have given us, I believe their emotionality is best channeled through love songs like this--especially with Dave in the lead. My sentimental favorite and a top three song. (5/5)

5. "A Room with No Ceiling" (4:52) An awesome and refreshing opening with some cool, almost jazzy guitar play over some pseudo jazz support from Fender Rhodes, chunky bass, and Nick D'Virgilio's virtuosic (as always) drum play. Organ and accordion dominate the militaristically paced third minute. We're on the Continent! Cool experiment by the band that really works. At 3:30 we move back into the jazzier motif of the opening with bass and Fender Rhodes playing over a quieter rhythm section. The song then fades away with solo accordion playing a plaintive (familiar French?) melody. Definitely a top three song for me--a style I wish the Train would use more. (9.25/10)

- Part Two: 6. "Proper Jack Froster" (6:38) opens with a smooth folk rock feel and sound similar to The Byrds, Fotheringay, The Strawbs, or The Woods Band. It then turns pop-rockier like a Supertramp song or even Genesis' "A Trick of the Tail" with the rhythm section's addition. Eventually enters a more stylistic area of classic folk rock songs that might have reached Top of the Pops heights--especially with the presence of Carly Bryant's sultry vocal in the background and, in the middle, the lead. Excellent pop guitar solo in the second half--equivalent, to my mind, to a Skunk Baxter "Reelin' in the Years" ear-popper. Could be a top three song, but there are others! (9/10)

7. "Bats in the Belfry" (4:54) with Greg's straightforward one-riff bass line, this one has a little cheesy "B-side" feel to it despite Nick's excellent drumming. The horns and "horns" give it a bit of a Chicago/Herb Alpert feel until those Dick Dale guitar lines and organ center. Weird. Then it tries to get soundtrack VANGELISy. Weirder! Must be a Nick composition cuz it sure does showcase him. (8.25/10)

8. "Oak and Stone" (7:12) Pure Longdon-era BBT opening with piano, solo voce Longdon, and excellent banked vocal harmonies. Brushed drum kit give it an old jazz lounge crooner's feel (which is not how I've ever thought of Dave's voice; a crooner he is not.) At 3:15 Greg's upright bass, Rikard's tinkling of the ivory, and Clare Lindley's violin take us into a new section (still jazz loungey) This one just feels like a Dave Longdon swan song just as the final song on 2021's Common Ground, "End Notes" did. Beautiful composition and production if not necessarily BBT's typical style. (13.5/15)

9. "Welcome to the Planet" (6:41) More jazzy horn arrangements open this footlights/stage-ready song--more like an Andrew Lloyd-Weber outtake with the sophisticated vocal arrangements and back-and-forth between Carly Bryant, Dave, the Greek Chorus, and the quiet, spacey and spacious instruments. Quite lovely in an ENID/ELOY/PINK FLOYD way. Carly even goes Clare Torry on us in fifth and sixth minutes--even through the spurt of celebratory New Orleans jazz funeral/wake music that precedes Clare's final lyric. (9/10)

Total Time 47:12

I don't think I've ever heard a BBT album with so much exposure of historical roots, influences, and/or homages; that is, very little here sounds "classic Big Big Train"; a lot of sounds imitative and/or honoring old 1960s/1970s musical styles and palettes. It's interesting, entertaining, and enjoyable and usually works very well--which, in my opinion, is a testimony to the maturity and skill of this wonderful collection of musicians. So, I'm on board: Welcome to the Planet! Long live Big Big Train!

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of crossover progressive rock music. Take away the first two songs and you'd have a masterpiece.

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

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