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Big Big Train - English Electric (Part Two) CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.08 | 773 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The follow up to the extremely popular Part One, this has, latterly, been re-released as a double cd, with new tracks, and, perhaps, is probably best listened to as part of a whole, rather than separate to, its predecessor.

I am, though, probably, one of the few who rather prefers this to the first English Electric album. This, I suppose, is because I am a bit of a sucker for exceptionally well produced, and played, melodic progressive rock. Some may call it "commercial" (not a helpful word, because, at the end of the day, all acts want to be commercial, i.e. Sell a few copies). I simply call it gorgeous and pastoral, and it has, to me, far more of the feel and structure to it of the exceptionally beautiful The Underfall Yard.

It does not have on it a track of the sublime perfection that is Judas Unrepentant, but, then again, I would struggle to name but a handful of albums in recent years which did. What it does, though, is bring storytelling, in a lush musical environment, to the forefront, and BBT are to be congratulated on this.

Opener, East Coast Racer, and Swan Hunter, especially, carry on the band's fine tradition of addressing social, historical, and, yes, nostalgic issues from an England which simply no longer exists, no matter how much many in rural England, especially, might wish it to be so. The brass and string on East Coast....especially bring that evocative feel to the forefront, and David Longdon is perhaps the only vocalist in the world of bringing such a picture to life, and how well he does it.

Swan Hunter is rather interesting from a personal perspective, because my grandfather worked there before joining the British Army. I am, though, rather surprised that no other reviewer has picked up the fact that, far from being some sort of Genesis influenced clone, this track screams out Crosby, Stills, and Nash in its conception, thoughts, and execution. If this was not written as a tribute to that great trio, then I am so far off the mark as to probably never bother reviewing again. It is, by the way, as lush as it sounds, quite superb.

The whole feel of this album is that of a band that are deeply comfortable in making music that engages the mind and is far more complex in its playing than strikes one in the first few listens, one of the reasons why I have taken an age in reviewing it.

There is not one weak track on this work, and I, for one, really welcome the Hedgerow Revisited wonder that is The Permanent Way. It is the perfect accompaniment to that marvellous track, and both should bookend the whole work. Dorset itself is brought to marvellous life.

I regard this cd as being superior to the first part, which I still find to be too inconsistent to merit a masterpiece rating. This is consistently excellent, the harmonies, lyrics, lead vocals, and musicianship, including the wonderful guest spots, combine to create what is perhaps the finest folk influenced album in many a year. I do not kid any readers of this review when I say that Ian Anderson himself would have struggled to create such a landscape as this in the heady days of Songs From The Wood or Heavy Horses. This is the sound of an English band at the top of its game. Simply listen to the pastoral beauty that is Keeper of Abbeys, and never fail to be moved by the lead guitar solo that bursts onto your consciousness to remind you of folk rock at its best.

After many listens, I believe this trumps the first part, and can only struggle to find any faults. If we had such a rating, I would award 4.5 stars, but awarded the perfect five, if only to highlight just what a sheer joy of life and a beautiful country this album brings.

lazland | 5/5 |


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