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Big Big Train - The Underfall Yard CD (album) cover


Big Big Train


Crossover Prog

4.17 | 759 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars PA turned me on to this beautiful album. I saw it listed in the Top 2009 albums and was intrigued by both the band's name and the album title.

The 5-minute Evening Star begins a capella and then turns instrumental, with a spacey flute section at about the halfway point, and transitioning to a horns piece with a harpsichord- sounding keyboard in the background. When I listen with eyes closed I can imagine a talented high school marching band doing this piece on a football field on a Friday night.

Master James of St George begins his march with a bit of drumming and then the singing begins. I love this singer's voice. I can easily imagine the repeated "Master James James James Jaaames of St George" being tiresome with a different vocalist. The song includes some nice countersong, and the lyrical theme about building castles gives me chills. There's a pleasant guitar solo over drums about 3 minutes in, with acoustic turning to electric, and with choral voices joining in. At the end we get whistling and the sea. Love it. "Lines get broken down."

Victorian Brickwork starts immediately with melancholic singing over gentle guitar. "Fog hampered the search." A murder mystery? "Told me many stories of the great ones." "Every day they put the boats out, but not this day." The first few listens suggested there's an interesting story in there. Repeated listening reveals that story, but I won't give it away. There's a nice trumpet piece just before the rocking guitar kicks in at the 2-minute mark, and this brief rock'n'roll section (and its reprise several times throughout the piece) reminds me somewhat of YES on The Yes Album, and at 12.5 minutes, it might have fit very well on that album. About 8. 5minutes into it, a guitar solo fades out and the song seems like it might end, but a trumpet piece leads a fade-in to another section that might also sound nice being performed by a marching band. (I guess I like marching bands.) "Lost in low light."

Last Train. This is the one that pulled me in. The singer starts right in, over a gentle guitar, bass and percussion, and a bittersweet melancholy sound to it. I guess I also like sad- sounding music. (Probably explains why I liked Jackson Browne back in the 70s.) This song has a definite Genesis sound to me, but it does not seem like a Genesis clone piece in any sense. Great guitar solo about 3.5 minutes into the song. "Living on the line for all those years."

Winchester Diver begins with a musical coda with flute and chorus that builds to the vocals entering about 2.5 minutes in. This song also tells an enjoyable story, and includes the first mention of Underfall. The tempo is slow throughout the first half and picks up just after the halfway point. There's some more nice flute and some lyrical repetition in the second half before a fading thing with cymbals. My least favorite song on the album and I still love it.

And then there's the 23-minute The Underfall Yard. I'm just going to say that it's an awesome epic, and recommend that you give it a listen, and it won't cost you anything except a little bandwidth, since the band has generously made it available for download on their website.

"Those days have gone. their names are lost the stories left untold."

Big Big Train may not have found their names, but they have found the stories and shared them to us in a lush and beautiful musical setting. Personally, I'd categorize this album as Symphonic instead of Crossover.


krishl | 5/5 |


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