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Big Big Train

Crossover Prog

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Big Big Train Far Skies Deep Time album cover
4.11 | 229 ratings | 13 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Master of Time (Anthony Phillips cover) (7:44) *
2. Fat Billy Shouts Mine (6:39)
3. British Racing Green (3:59)
4. Brambling (5:00)
5. The Wide Open Sea (17:44) :
- a. The Sea Is My Blood
- b. From Cradle to Calvery
- c. The Pleasures and Dreams of Men
- d. Harbour Lights
- e. Far Beyond Cardinal Points
- f. I'm So Very Far from Here
- g. Let Us Speak of Love
- h. Calvary (The Sea Is My Blood - reprise)

Total Time 41:06

* Note: The import and download version featured "Kingmaker" instead of "Master of Time". The 2017 reissue of the album (available on CD only) features both "Kingmaker" (as track 1) and "Master of Time" (as track 6).

Line-up / Musicians

- Greg Spawton / guitars, keyboards, bass
- Andy Poole / bass & pedals, keyboards
- David Longdon / lead & backing vocals, flute, accordion, mandolin, banjo, vibraphone, keyboards, percussion, theremin
- Dave Gregory / guitars, EBow
- Nick D'Virgilo / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Jonathan Barry / guitar solo (2)
- Danny Manners / double bass (3)
- Tony Müller / piano (3)
- Martin Orford / keyboard solo (2)

Releases information

CD English Electric Recordings - EERCD009 (2010, UK)
CD English Electric Recordings - EERCD009 (2017, UK) Remastered, with 6 tracks

Thanks to AgentSpork for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy BIG BIG TRAIN Far Skies Deep Time Music

BIG BIG TRAIN Far Skies Deep Time ratings distribution

(229 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (13%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

BIG BIG TRAIN Far Skies Deep Time reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
4 stars Greg Spawton and his fellows offer entertaining songs here and now ... once again provided with a recognition value, when it comes to those prog dinosaurs like Genesis and Yes. Officially released as an EP the complete length even corresponds to a vinyl album. 'Far Skies Deep Time' is still only available if you join the band's mailing list, what I know. While perfectly linking to their predecessor masterpiece 'The Underfall Yard' it's worth it in any case. Well, spend comparatively few money and reach for high quality music ... it's just that simple. In order to point out a remarkable change - although they have invited some additional musicians (f.e. Martin Orford) for the recordings - wind instruments are reduced on David Longdon's flute this time.

The Master Of Stones, James of St. George by name, is replaced by the Master Of Time here, required to take them back through the years. A cover version, that's right. They offer a folksy intro with acoustic guitar which will probably let you reckon that this may go into a completely new direction - only for a short time though. Welcome to the known BBT realm now ... just imagine that Genesis never would have left their prog traces! You will find rather complex compositions with changing time signatures, twists and turns, lush instrumentation, wonderful melodies.

'She looks at me, we tore each other's hearts out' - nearly missing a prog substance as such British Racing Green is an ambivalent soundtrack for lovers, a charming ballad, melancholy pure. This is able to bring tears to my eyes, nice piano and flute interaction - but surely off the common BBT track, with other words - a new facet. The following Brambling holds a haunting jazzy interlude supported by some Mellotron impressions.

'The Sea Is My Blood' ... finally they enter The Wide Open Sea with much pathos ... and the legend begins ... an epic divided in eight sections. David Longdon picks up the accordion in between when it comes to Paris. Towards the end a Steve Howe reminiscent guitar solo is coming up. Again this is proving the BBT typical approach to offer an intricate song structure.

A new sign of life from this band which should not be ignored. David Longdon is fully integrated into the songwriting process here for the first time. It works - as you can expect from this band - in the aftermath of 'The Underfall Yard' at the latest. High quality stuff comprising short songs as well as epics. Well, if you only concentrate on Nick D'Virgilio's drum playing for example ... then at the latest you know that this is of value what you hear - 4.5 stars really.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars There are no signs of BIG BIG TRAIN slowing down any time soon, in fact if anything they are gathering speed (haha). To have former XTC guitarist Dave Gregory and SPOCK'S BEARD drummer Nick D'Virgilo as permanent members doesn't hurt the already impressive trio of Spawton, Poole and Longdon.This band oozes class and intergrity.

"Master Of Time" is actually an Anthony Phillips cover and what a great song this is. A beat with vocals leads before a minute and we even get some banjo on this one that comes and goes. A calm with flute after 3 minutes then it picks up with prominant bass. Love the guitar 4 minutes in that goes on and on.Nice. "Fat Billy Shouts Mine" is a song that pushes all the right buttons for me. It opens with the sound of sea gulls before it kicks in with vocals around a minute. Nice chunky bass here and I find this song so moving for some reason. Martin Orford adds some keyboards on this one. We also get some accordion and the sound picks up before 3 minutes. I like the instrumental section late. Two fantastic tracks right there.

"British Racing Green" is mellow with vocals and this is my least favourite tune on here. "Brambling" builds quickly then it settles with vocals.Organ a minute in with guitar. Mellotron 3 minutes in and flute late. "The Wide Open Sea" is the almost 18 minute closer. Atmosphere early on then reserved vocals join in after a minute. I like the mood on this one. Accordion after 5 minutes.This stays fairly laid back even with the tempo shifts. I like the guitar and more intense sound 15 minutes in.The final minute is filled with atmosphere as faint sea gull sounds end it.

A solid 4 stars and 41 minutes is just right.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars UK band BIG-BIG TRAIN has six full-length albums to their name since they started out, the latest of them "The Underfall Yard" from 2009. 2010 saw the band celebrating their 20th anniversary, and while no new full-length album appeared, the band decided to release the next best thing, the album-length EP "Far Skies Deep Time", to celebrate the occasion.

"Far Skies Deep Time" is a delightful creation that should cater quite nicely for those with an interest in symphonic art rock. The emphasis on strong melodies and distinct moods is of a kind that should appeal to fans of the vintage variety as well as those with a soft spot for Neo-prog, and when sold as a low-price EP this should prove to be excellent value for money for all concerned.

Review by m2thek
4 stars *This is a review of the 2011 release of Far Skies Deep Time with "Kingmaker" replacing "Master of Time" as the first track.

With each successive album they release, Big Big Train reinforces what they know how to do: make coherent, succinct collections of music. They continue to do this with the offspring of 2009's The Underfall Yard, the EP Far Skies Deep Time. While it may not be as consistent or reach the same heights as its big brother, the album holds its own ground in their catalogue and is perfect for fans who want a little more Big Big Train before English Electric releases later this year.

Far Skies Deep Time is a shorter album than most in this era, coming in at 43 minutes, and containing five songs. The opener and closer are longer more developed songs, with the three in between being shorter and simpler. Like Big Big Train is known for, the songs are in perfect order and the flow from one to the next is masterfully done. Even as an EP, Far Skies Deep Time is a more complete musical package than many full albums released in the last few years.

I do suggest that you buy this version of the album, because the opener, "Kingmaker" is one of the strongest songs by the band I've ever heard. It is wonderfully composed, has one of the most enticing guitar melodies I've ever heard, and has excellent singing. The next three songs are done well, but don't provide the same rush as the first song. If nothing else, they all tell nice stories, and have enough interesting music to hold your attention until the finale.

The final song on the album, "From the Wide Open Sea" is a very well done, 17 minute song. While it is more compartmentalized than and not quite as exciting as its cousin "The Underfall Yard," it is an excellent song and a great conclusion to the album. Again, like the band is known for, "From the Wide Open Sea" takes an old story and puts a spin on it to turn it into a musical adventure. This one in particular tells the tale of Jacques Brel, a Belgian musician who spent most of the end of his life on the sea upon learning of his terminal illness. The lyrics, and in particular, the singing by David Longdon, are in great form, and it's a pleasure to experience both.

Longdon deserves a special mention, as his inclusion to the band a few years ago seems to have been the best thing they could have done. Not only does he bring his excellent voice to their music, but he adds more and more eclecticism the longer he's been with them. He again adds many flute portions and contributes, to my knowledge, the first accordion solo on a prog song, both of which color the music in a unique way.

My only less than stellar comment about the album is that the three middle songs don't have the same quality as the two they are bookended by, whereas on The Underfall Yard all of the songs were excellent, and not just the two longer ones. They certainly don't bring the album down, and have enough to offer that I'm glad they were included.

Small qualm aside, Far Skies Deep Time is a great album, even for an EP, and if you're a fan who can't wait for the next Big Big Train release, this will make the waiting so much more enjoyable. If you're new to the band, check out The Underfall Yard, and if you want more in a similar style, take a look here.

Review by Horizons
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Reached for the far skies, grasped only the clouds.

Stretching from the generic spectrum of Crossover Prog with songs like "Master of Time", to the beautifully cohesive epic of "The Wide Open Sea", Far Skies Deep Time comes off as a mixed bag in both power and consistency.

"Fat Billy Shouts Mine"," Brambling", and "The Wide Open Sea" are the real high points of Big Big Train's most recent EP release, giving the album a majority of quality Crossover..

"Fat Billy Shouts Mine" reveals an abundance of Big Big Train's sound: providing symphonic mellotron layers, a great keyboard-led bridge, then wrapped together with some rock passages. "Brambling" is a song the revises The Difference Machine's sound. Having some similarities to Yes, they achieve a fluid song with some expert drums driving the song. The mellotron takes it's place in this song too, this time accommodating Longdon with his really great vocals. They match the band so well, a reflection of their musical direction. "The Wide Open Sea" is the 17 minute epic that really makes this album wonderful. Big Big Train takes you with them on their journey of a man's connection with the ocean that stands before him. The song has a building tension that breaks into the band's ethereal state of mind or becomes nimble, creating an eclectic anatomy for this beautiful creature.

Master of Time and British Racing Green are the remaining songs, exerting predictability and never really rewarding the listener. "Master of Time" comes of a bit cliche, but doesn't have terrible execution. "British Racing Green" is painfully stagnant, never changing the song's theme, constantly being a painfully barren song. Though, while both are the definite weak points, and never do the rest of the album justice, i can imagine them having some praise from others.

Far Skies Deep Time is a definite step down from the masterpieces of The Difference Machine and The Underfall Yard, but is a good output from the band.

3.5/5 Stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Oh, I love this EP!! Iīm not exactly Big Big Trainīs biggest fan, even though I liked their previous The Underfall Yard very much. Itīs just that I found that CD to be a little too dense for my actual tastes and I dontīreally know their discography all that well, and I have not a good idea of what they are all about yet. Anyway, I was quite surprised by the opening track, their version of a song called Master Of Time. I had never heard the original one but, boy, does BBT play it good!! It sounds like the good days of classic Genesis: melodic, yet complex, with very tasteful arrangements and a heartfelt delivering. I was hooked at the first listening. That tune alone is worth the price of the CD. Of course the remaining tracks are not that easy and familiar, but again I found them to be very good and did enjoy the record a lot. It seems they found the masterīs winning formula lost to most prog acts nowadays: a good balance between the simple and the intricated together with a good melody line.

Those guys definitly are terrific musicians and they have the right influences. If you love classic symphonic prog rock of the 70īs you must get to know BBT. And more important: they know how to write excellent tunes in that vein with much personality and a style of their own. Itīs really refreshing to find a band that sounds so familiar and yet had something so up to date and unique. By the way, hardcore proggers will love the 17 minute epic Wide Open Sea for its many twists and turns, coupled with fine mellotron waves.

Production is simply brilliant: you can hear everything. And the band haa the luck to find a very fine singer in the person of David Longdon, who not only has a good voice, but also knows how to give the songs the right emotional interpretation. As if that was not good enough the guy also plays several other instruments (among them a mean flute!)! Iīm looking forward to hear their newst releases.

Conclusion: a must have to any prog collection. Highly recommended!!

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars I guess it was inevitable. I sort of had it coming. There was always something about BBT, whenever I approached their music. I have never cared for the name, though. It sounds like one of those pop wonders of the 80's and I can't help but twitch ever so much. But that is just the name and I have gotten past that now. Or something.

The music is, however, brilliant in many ways. I find that there is so much to love and cherish in their output, simply because of the high quality of music and for the genuine britishness found inside. I love all things british and stories of the emerging railways or of the sea or any other story from the past makes me a very happy camper. BBT:s music leads by way of The Kinks a direct line from the past into the future. Someone said that most times prog, these days, aren't really progressive. It is more a business of keeping the greatness from the past and keeping the ragged flag flying still. Maybe that is true. I for one do not really care. For me prog lies in everything from before and transforming it into something genuine and hopefully the band manages to hit a note never played before in that order.

This EP, which in length surpasses most other contemporary full length albums, is, for the record (!), one of those albums that manages to preserve the past and project it into something contemporary. It is british, it is progressive and it is marvellous. From the opener "Master of time", past the fantastic "British racing green" and head first into that gloriuos "The wide open sea", BBT is on top of their game. This is progressive music at it's finest. Sometimes leaning towards pop I get the feeling of (later) Genesis but the progressive movement of the chords and notes are ever so present.

This is a great album. I had it coming. Though I tried to duck the music hit me right in the face. I find it rather brilliant and think that everyone ought to listen, if nothing else, to the epic "The wide open sea". There it is. Divine. Beautiful. Brilliant.

Latest members reviews

5 stars What a great EP! While The Underfall Yard showed this band making music in the modern era that only sounded like the best Prog of the 70's they release another showcase of songs that could have been on that album. Dave Gregory returning to become a full time member and making his presence heard. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2937484) | Posted by altered_beast | Tuesday, July 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A Few Great Tracks. The best tracks here come at the end. Indeed, each track seems better than the one beforehand on this release, and at 41 minutes, I consider this to be a regular album, rather than the 'extended EP' it is formally labelled. The album begins with "Master of Time", a cover origi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1743138) | Posted by Walkscore | Thursday, July 13, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8/10 It's very rewarding to see how the Big Big Train had a remarkable evolution in recent years. His early albums were lacking in quality or attractive but from Gathering Speed ​​things improved for them, culminating in an unprecedented masterpiece, entitled The Underfall Yard, w ... (read more)

Report this review (#559920) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, October 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I've only discovered this band about three months ago and I've picked up four of their releases to date. My most recent acquisition is the "Far Skies Deep Time" EP and I have to say, what a marvellous collection of songs/progressive music and a fitting follow on from the magnificent "The Underfall ... (read more)

Report this review (#325795) | Posted by Driver | Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After the big success of the Underfall Yard, Big Big Train wanted to deliver a new gem as a gift for their fans. Here is a new EP (total 41 minutes?) with previously unreleased songs and one cover from an old Anthony Phillips song (of course this revisited version is far better than the original ... (read more)

Report this review (#308269) | Posted by luc4fun | Thursday, November 4, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's a little unfair to describe this recording as an EP, really - clocking in at over forty minutes it's as long as most albums were back in the day of vinyl, and there's a consistency to the sound that makes it more than just a collection of songs. This is the first collection of new material ... (read more)

Report this review (#308024) | Posted by amazingwilf | Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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