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Big Big Train - Grand Tour CD (album) cover

GRAND TOUR

Big Big Train

 

Crossover Prog

4.04 | 363 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

BrufordFreak
4 stars Despite the departure of founding member Andy Poole (wishing you all the best, Andy, and many thanks for all of the great music), Big Big Train have crafted one of the best albums I've heard from them since 2008's The Difference Machine. The return of a more frequent use of a more acoustic, folk-tinged sound combined with continued integral involvement from orchestral instruments (including now-permanent band member, violinist Rachel Hall) as well as a pronouncedly diminished influx of bombast, pretense and Anglo-centricity makes this a much more enjoyable listening experience for me than much of the Dave Longdon-era BBT output.

1. "Novum Organum" (2:33) sounds like glockenspiel, kalimba, and other hand percussives before piano joins in. Singer Dave Longdon soon enters. At least we try. (4.5/5)

2. "Alive" (4:31) opens sounding just like RUSH's "Subdivisions." A real upbeat, uptempo song to get your blood pumping. (8.75/10)

3. "The Florentine" (8:14) a folk rock opening with mostly acoustic instrumentation and strummed acoustic guitars fills out into a kind of Southern rock-tinged jam in the vein of THE OUTLAWS before coming round to a more majesterial STRAWBS-like finish. (13/15)

4. "Roman Stone" (13:33) (25.5/30)

5. "Pantheon" (6:08) opens like an ANDREW LLOYD WEBER instrumental overture or bridge song before the real song slowly establishes itself, layer by layer, over the full length of the second minute. Surprisingly, it remains an instrumental, though stepping out of its original theatric clothing. (8.5/10)

6. "Theodora in Green and Gold" (5:38) piano-based opening allows Dave Longdon to sing one of his more emotive vocals in a lower, slightly softer register. One of my favorite vocals from Dave since his debut on the The Underfall Yard album. Some nice key and dynamic shifts also make this a top three song from me--including a lead vocal part for (I assume) Nick D'Virgilo in the second half. (9.25/10)

7. "Ariel" (14:28) (26.75/30)

8. "Voyager" (14:03) (27.32/30)

9. "Homesong" (5:12) opens as another folk song like something by IONA before the cool, driving piano, bass, and drums rhythm track settles into play. Horns and other instruments enter during the second verse to enrich the palette while also somewhat drowning out the cool rhythm theme. Electric guitar and violin trade solo flourishes beneath and within the music--even when Dave is singing. It's unusual to have Dave's lead voice mixed this far back into the music. I like it. More like the old BBT. (8.75/10)

Total Time 74:20

B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music and, overall, one of my favorite Big Big Train releases.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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