Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Big Big Train - English Electric: Full Power CD (album) cover


Big Big Train

Crossover Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Second Life Syndrome
5 stars Hot on the heels of the excellent "English Electric, Part 2", Big Big Train has released an interesting boxset. This set includes the masterpiece "English Electric, Part 1", the strong but not quite as good "English Electric, Part 2", and four new songs, "Make Some Noise", "Seen Better Days", "Edgelands", and "The Lovers".

I gave 5 stars and 4 stars to Part 1 and 2 respectively, and so this set becomes a 4.5 star set automatically. It is interesting, however, that BBT has reordered the track list to accommodate the new songs, and so this is a little disconcerting at first. Yet, the music is still amazing, and I like that they inserted the new songs, rather than just throwing them on the end of the album. The question then becomes "Are the new songs any good"? The answer is, of course, "Yes".

"Make Some Noise" leads off the set as a more pop oriented tune. It certainly has a catchy chorus, but it also has an awesome flute solo near the end that is worth the wait. It's no 5 star song, but it's still strong. Next, "Seen Better Days" is a nice tune that is very standard BBT. It is melodic, has great vocal harmonies, and has that great nostalgic feeling. "Edgelands" is a gorgeous, short piano track that hints at some of the more familiar melodies from "Part 1". It is the first new track that is 5-star for me. It's simply peaceful and beauteous. Lastly, then, "The Lovers" is the strongest of the new tracks. This 5-star masterwork utilizes neo-prog synth at points, and has a skillful, brilliant instrumental section in the 3rd quarter. This song instantly felt right.

So, with two incredible albums, two masterpiece tracks, and two strong tracks; this boxset is indeed somewhat of a new experience and is deserving of 5 stars overall. I'm rather impressed with BBT over the last couple years, and it will be interesting to see if they can keep up this level of quality in the near future.

Report this review (#1052373)
Posted Thursday, October 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars A really great idea to put in one album the two volumes of "English Electric". And the new songs fit in very well. "Make Some Noise" is a great pop-song, with vocals on the front. When I listened to the first volume I was amazed, I couldn't stop listening to it, there's something magical with it. The voice of Mr. Longdon? The vibrant rhythm section? The brass arrangements? The delicate flute lines? The string arrangements? The melancholic melodies? The backing vocals? Or perhaps the incredible guitars of Dave "Duke" Gregory? ALL of it... In general terms, the second volume (4,5 would be a proper rate) is not as excellent as the first one (5, without a doubt). But the Big Big Question is: how is this band going to surpass the BEAUTY of the first volume? But now, when you listen to the volumes together, with the new songs, everything falls into place. Make you a favor: stop reading this review and buy this fantastic double album (it comes with a 96 page booklet). The best of 2013? More than this: one of the best records made in the 21st Century so far...
Report this review (#1054617)
Posted Saturday, October 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Compilation of all the individual masterpieces from the incredible 2 part album series called "English Electric": "Part I" and "Part II". All 15 songs from both albums included.

Also includes 4 new songs, one of which ( Make Some Noise ) is a massive disappointment. Still, I eventually 5'd both English Electric albums so this one is a no brainer.

The alternate track listing mixed in with the new songs might even draw in some new fans.

Song Highlights include - Judas Unrepentant, East Coast Racer, The First Rebreather, Keeper of Abbey's and a lot more!

The new singer they found is perfect for this band as well. A very talented vocalist.

Report this review (#1057961)
Posted Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is musical, artistic, emotional and thematic perfection! It's very rare to have in my hands an album that I can't say anything negative about. This is such an album! It's flawless from beginning to end really. The opener Make Some Noise serves as an overture for the beautiful suite of songs which then unfolds. Yes, they are all wellknown songs from English Electric parts 1 and 2 but have a slightly different running order and some of the songs are segueing into the next in the most breathtaking way (The Edgeland Sequence for instance, also available from the bands Soundcloud-site). The new numbers fit in perfectly within the theme the songs are woven around. The booklet is crammed with gorgeous pictures by Willem Klopper and Matthew Sefton, all the lyrics of course and then the stories behind the songs. David Longdon and Greg Spawton published the stories in their respective blogs at the time of the releases of the single albums and they are a rewarding read for everyone interested in finding out what inspiration is all about. True art for everybody!! I love this band from the depth of my heart!
Report this review (#1078497)
Posted Monday, November 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Usually I find myself offended by bands releasing box sets of previously presented material for the sake of the almighty buck. However, in this case I find myself elated with "Full Power", as its not just a rerelease but a different engine. If you have ever watched the Godfather Parts 1 & 2, and then watched the Godfather Saga you will know what I mean. Not only adding the 4 new tracks, but reordering them to make sense of the new material has added value rather than repacked 2 excellent albums. The sum of the parts is greater than the 2 wholes.

Well done boys, well done

4.6 stars

Report this review (#1104224)
Posted Tuesday, December 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
Heavy Prog Team
5 stars At long last I got around to actually listen to these much raved about albums. Their English Electric albums being, as far as reviews go, brilliant pieces of music. Intrigued but somewhat sceptic I listened casually in short stabs, not really focusing on what actually went on in there.

I suppose I at first felt a bit reluctant due to what I perceived as a tad too poppy approach. No, there is nothing wrong with a bit of pop in prog. On the contrary, actually. However humble and receptive I proclaim myself to be, I did think, at first, that pop was the overall dominating style of music and that was not to my liking. But then I had barely listened.

This box contains the two full albums of English Electric, as you probably know already. The full body of the work plus a newly recorded song, "Make some noise". As many have stated already, that song is not their greatest work. It certainly isn't a favorite of mine, I can tell you. From a pure art perspective the box is beautifully made. It's black cover with the rusty emblem on the front is magnificent. The box is constructed as a book, containing details about the recordings, lyrics and the history behind it all. It is, for sure, a beautiful box and packed with amazing photos and stories. Really stunning.

The music, then? The packaging is all very well but what about the music? That is all that matters in the end, no matter how well you package it. Forget what I wrote about this being pop. I mean, it is. In some respects, but it is pure prog. Big Big Train possess a pop sensibility that matches anything the big bands of the 70's and 80's could muster. Genesis, Yes, Marillion... They all had that feeling for writing complex yet (at times) accessible and melodic pieces of music within the framework of prog. That is exactly what BBT does. And in a glorious way, at that. Now, after really having listened to the music, I can tell you it wasn't all love love at first (aural) sight. It came to me, after a while.

The first track I really came to grips with was "East coast racer", the longest epic of the entire duo of English electric. It is a fantastic work of art, the entire 15.45 minutes of it's duration. I really came to terms with the whole album by way of examining the second part of the saga that is English electric. "Worked out" is brilliant, as is "The lovers" with it's stabs of electric piano (played JUST the right way, the way that makes me shiver), the wonderfully melodic "Leopards" and so on. The songs unfolded before my eyes, revealing a kingdom and a plethora of moods and progressive brilliance. After this brekthrough, which came rather quickly I must add, my defences were dismantled and all of my soul lay bare for the invasion of BBT:s exquisite brand of music. Influences ranges from The Kinks, by way of Genesis and the 70's style of prog into the 80's and combines folk, prog, pop into a sense of timelessness that is overpowering and thrilling. (There is even traces of The Byrds in the song "Hedgerow".)

This box, containing the two parts of English electric, is, I think, quite the essential part of any prog collection, if you are into melodic, utterly british (an essential part of their music and a part I love more than anything) and carefully constructed music. It is so well conceived throughout and full of great harmonies, musical intricacy and grandeur, really, that it is hard to not being, at least, smitten by it's honesty and sincerity. I feel overwhelmed and actually very grateful to BBT for putting so much love and energy into this project, allowing me to submerge myself into genial music as this.

In conclusion, this is a brilliant collection of two of the most brilliant pieces of prog made in contemporary times. Maybe not breaking new ground (then again, not many do) but they claim a musical territory that is genuine and personal. A claim of musical territory named Big Big Train, where their own brand of prog ecology is flourishing and reaching for the heavens. I better stop now, before growing all soppy on you all.

Just a last word, give the music a serious listen. Really, do. I implore you.

Report this review (#1143325)
Posted Friday, March 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Both parts of the English Electric Saga were masterpieces of prog. Combining just the right amounts of classical and modern eclectic prog. This combined work is a mammoth of an album that is absolutely essential in every collection of discerning music lovers, let alone prog enthusiasts. Musicianship is impeccable throughout but it's the songwriting that always occupies center stage. You simply feel not a note is wasted, that every choice made was according to the needs of the songs. Listen to it and prepare to be astonished. To me this is the most important musical statement made in the realm of progin the last 20 years.
Report this review (#1143376)
Posted Friday, March 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars I resisted buying this for a while. Amazon kept recommending it to me but I thought both Big Big Train and English Electric were rubbish names so I didn't want to like it. However, desperate for new music one day, I downloaded it considering that it was good value for a double album and the reviews were very positive.

The first track Make Some Noise makes an immediate impression. It's pretty catchy for prog, and could even be a popular mainstream track perhaps. I know many progheads don't like the track but I do. It's been done very, very well, and is still undeniably progressive. I cringe at one or 2 of the lyrics but love the music.

The First Rebreather follows, and even on the first listen I know this is album I am going to like. Some years later I learnt what it was actually about (it makes so much more sense now!) but nevertheless this is a great track.

I won't go through track by track but will mention some highlights.

Uncle Jack starts a bit folky for my tastes, but when it gives way to the wonderful vocal refrain about yellowhammers, lacewings et al it is just sublime. I love the piano work in Swan Hunter. Each chord is simple in itself, but the sequence is simply brilliant and inspired.

Hedgerow rules for its passionate chorus and the lovely sound effects conjuring up an outdoor walk in the summer. Then the refrain from Uncle Jack returns and everything just works.

Judas Unrepentant was a slow burner, but I love the 11/8 13/8 couplings and the quirkiness.

Winchester from St Giles Hill is perhaps my favourite track of all. It's brilliant from beginning to end. Fantastic chorus. Fantastic instrumental section. Absolutely wonderful.

The Permanent Way ties up themes from The First Rebreather and Hedgerow in a very clever way.

East Coast racer is an exciting train ride of a track, and Curator of Butterflies is beautiful and gentle yet with a quiet power.

Is this the greatest album of all time? A preposterous question of course. But only because no album is the best of all time ? it's too subjective and changeable for such a title to be meaningful. But this album nevertheless makes me ask the question. And I'm not alone. Almost universal 5-star ratings tell a significant story. This is the best gamble I have ever taken on buying an album without hearing it. I could rave about the piano playing , the guitar solos, the wonderful brass arrangements and a man who sings about things as bland as trains and mines and water meadows as if his life depends on it, but I'm no writer. This is just something you need to hear.

Report this review (#1432604)
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2015 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #12

When inspiration is mixed together with talent the result, everybody knows, is the crystallization in the form of precious stones of different shapes and colors that shine even in total darkness irradiating waves of joy that cause extreme pleasure eternally.

Global Appraisal

For some years the band was already recording rather pleasurable albums but come 2012 they outdone themselves releasing the first volume of what would later become this extended collection of songs of the highest order.
I underline the mention of "songs" in the sense of little stories expressed in a lyrical/musical identity readily recognizable on its distinct personality and meaning.
I must say I feel impotent to express on words the overwhelming richness of detailed arrangements, vocal harmonies, varied instrumentations (see credits), thoughtful lyrics, everything being so carefully and pleasurably done exuding quality without fail.


19 precious stones - 19 no less.

Note: Much preferable to get this "Full Power" as it contains the total of vol. I & II plus 4 extra songs just as good.

Report this review (#1490878)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2015 | Review Permalink

BIG BIG TRAIN English Electric: Full Power ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of BIG BIG TRAIN English Electric: Full Power

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives