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4.4 out of 5 stars37
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 28 December 2015
I found myself needing to listen to this music several times to get under its' skin. It is an interesting fusion of musical angles, sometimes suggesting what Genesis might have been like if they had kept together, but ultimately having their own identity. That being said, I hoped it would grab me more, but didn't. Very well played, very good vocals and interesting songwriting, but competence doesn't necessarily mean excellence. Quite possibly, BBT fans will say the problem lies with me, not the music!
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on 25 April 2010
OK, so I'm biased! I first discovered Big Big Train via their demo tape 'The Infant Hercules' back in the mists of the previous century. Since then I've bought and enjoyed their several offerings. Unlike most reviewers their last outing, 'The Difference Machine' just didn't do it for me personally - good, but not one to push all the right buttons. However, 'The Underfall Yard' is quite outstanding! It's one of those albums that just gets better and better with each listen.

Greg Spawton and Andy Poole are joined by new vocalist, Dave Longdon who, I must say, does a brilliant job, adding flute as well to give that extra dimension (and a warm feeling for those who still love Genesis!). Nick D'Virgilio (of Spock's Beard fame) takes the drum stool and, of course, does a terrific job. On the contributing musician front BBT have some great contacts to call on, something which gives this album something special: Francis Dunnery (ex. It Bites), Jem Godfrey (Frost*) and Dave Gregory (XTC) all add their own personal talents.

I won't bore you by breaking the CD down track by track but put it into the CD slot, press 'PLAY', sit back and enjoy and .... the amazing thing is it just gets better and better as the album progresses. It opens strongly and, astonishingly, each track hits a new high! There isn't an ugly spot in it - just wonderful melody and harmony. You know, this is a very special album as it basically has everything I need, want, desire, embrace, worship, or simply love/like in terms of music; give it a chance to blossom and shine with all its colours and maybe, who knows, maybe you'll agree and put it up there in your Top 10. I can only entreat you to give it a chance.....
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on 19 July 2010
It seems like I've been waiting 35 years for this release. I've not listened to a "prog" album continuously for two weeks in a long time and having never heard of Big Big Train before it has me wanting to explore their back catalog. And although I can't imagine them having recorded anything this brilliant before, I can't wait to find out.

Take the compositional skills and musical ability found on "Selling England-Wind/Wuthering" and "Yes Album-Relayer", throw in a tad of maybe 71-72 KC and middle period GG, add some of the best bits from a few of the more contemporary "neo-prog" bands (perhaps Anglagard, Porcupine Tree and Spocks Beard[very few best bits found in that cupboard I must say]), add a vocalist that understands melody and does not sound like a clone of Steve Walsh, James LeBrie or Sully Erna and for good measure throw in Dave Gregory (...makes me think I did not pay enough attention to XTC) and you've got "The Underfall Yard". At least in my 60 year old humble opinion. And I'm not some old pathetic geezer who only listens to Jimmy Buffet and thinks everything released by the Stones since "Exiles" is just wonderful either. I like to be challenged by music and these guys do just that.

This is one of a handful of recordings that I'll listen to until I drop, or at least until full-time senile dementia takes hold and I can't remember where I put my 2,000+ cd collection. It belongs in any proper music collection, not just the ones that belong to 56 year old shut-ins that have every "prog" recording released and still live in their mothers spare bedroom.

Dave Hoeltje
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on 7 January 2010
This is just stunning, simply stunning. Give it 3 or 4 listens and you will be in, i have had this album a couple of weeks and cannot stop listening to it. Every listen gives you more. Essential purchase.
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on 5 August 2011
I admit it, I love prog rock, especially 1970s or 1980's stuff, Genesis and Yes. Until a few years ago I thought that the genre had slipped quietly into oblivion until I found Porcupine Tree and by some judicious searching found that prog is alive and well and living, by and large, in Scandinavia.

The Underfall Yard was delivered to me a week or so ago and the first time I listened to it was like the first awaited play of something like Selling England or Close to The Edge. Excuse the hyperbole, but this album is that good.

Evening Star is a blissed out instrumental with an eclectic instrumental mix; how many bands are brave enough to combine guitars with the French horn and tuba, the flute and dulcimer? Not many, and fewer could pull it off.

Master James of St George flirts with jazz; the elegant guitar around the three minute mark segues into something more complex and as with every track on the album, Nick D'Virgilio's drums drive the song without distracting embellishment.

Last Train recalls Genesis circa Nursery Cryme; whimsy undercut with muscle. David Longdon's vocals recall Gabriel at his peak and the guitar solo is a piece of real wit and beauty.

The title track offers more flamboyance and a slightly heavier feel at times; fans of Frost will quickly discern the work of Jem Godfrey in the synth solos. This track times in at 22:54 minutes and yes, the twenty minute album closing track is something of a prog rock cliche but that doesn't mean it can't be a triumph; this is.

I have rarely come across an album that I have enjoyed as much as this in recent years; only Deadwing, Milliontown and Empires Never Last come close.

If you buy only one prog rock album this year, buy this.
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on 24 October 2010
Prog albums are a tough proposition. Almost all of them have some weakness - e.g. Battle of Epping Forest on Selling England by the Pound, Parallels on Going for the One, and so on. Some track sounds weak, twee, out of place, overproduced, or just overblown. Some mistake creeps in. This album has none. None. Not one. Intricate, intimate and inventive songs, amazingly arranged with stunning production and outstanding musicianship. Even the improbable 20+ minute epic is brought off with the sort of aplomb that puts the attempts of Frost* and It Bites to shame. A monumental album. Quite how the guys are going to follow this one is beyond me. This is about as good as it gets.

I got this almost a year ago and keep going back to it. If you have any understanding of prog, give this a try and you will too. This has the sort of depth that any prog band would be proud of.
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on 16 February 2011
The Underfall Yard is simply brilliant.
The best of '70's progressive with a modern twist, evocative lyrics and a case that really adds to the package.
The title track has gone straight to my favourites list, very accessible and worth 20 minutes of anyones time.
Hats off to Greg Spawton and the band.
Go and buy this album!!!
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on 31 January 2013
As a fan of most prog from the 70's onwards, I'd read some reviews for Big Big Train which compared them favourably to Hackett-era Genesis, whose music was about as good as it ever got for me. So, having some promotional credit and small change from a gift voucher, I thought I'd give them a try with this album.

On very few albums do I like all the tracks, or all the main sections of the longer tracks. That's true even for some of my all-time favourites. But on the first listen I was blown away, this hit the spot with the opening chord, and simply didn't stop hitting it all the way through!

It's full of very Genesis-like soundscapes in the instrumentation, the harmonies, the chord progressions. But this is definitely not derivative, it has its own style which is more pleasingly rocky in many places. Some of the rhythms are perhaps closer to Yes (another favourite). The songs' subjects and lyrical content are folky but come across really well with the superb heartfelt vocals. All the band members put in strong performances (another Yes trait) and the whole sound is very tight. I loved the occasional sections of Camel-like flute, and also brass which felt more like a part of the group than an addition for the track.

I'm only torn now as to whether to play it again or try 'English Electric' instead, which I simply had to go and buy as soon as this album had finished. You have been warned!
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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2013
I've had Big Big Train's UY for a few years now so i can say that this isn't initial over-reaction. Like many of the other reviewers i think it deserves to sit at the top table of Prog Rock - with Close to the Edge, Red, Octopus, Selling England - as a modern classic of the genre. It's got everything
- the majestic symphonic sound
- the complex instrumental interplay (including use of unfashionable instruments eg flute and brass)
- compositional integrity
- distinctive voice (even if it shows its inspiration and influences and firmly British heritage
- some great great solos
- top vocals that do justice to the very good lyrics and memorable melodies
- but it's also accessible and devoid of self-indulgence, pomposity or cliche
in fact its one great musical experience after another, from start to finish, stunning ideas and surprises, and a 20 minute final, title track that (still after 2 years) just leaves me breathless and profoundly and sublimely, aurally and cerebrally satisfied.
Just read that back and its not hype, honest. Try it for yourself.
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on 27 December 2009
I first got into BBT in 2004 with the brilliant 'Gathering Speed' and then preceded to obtain the back catalogue, in 2007 came IMHO the disappointing 'The Difference Machine', fast forward to december 2009 and what has to be one of my favorite release's of this year. Its a grower, but after a few plays its got you and just gets better and better.
If you had to say what BBT sounded like you'd always have to say 70's genesis ('last train' a fine example) and yet still retaining there own distinctive sound, which on this album has become a highly polished affair, everything works, vocals, guitar work ('victorian brickwork' steve Howe would be proud!!) Flute, and i'd never thought i would say it, but even the brass works!! The album is worth the 8 quid alone for the outstanding 23min 'the underfall yard' title track, and what a 23mins!
I listen to alot of music and am forever seaching for that next great album, and would like to think at 45 i had acquired an ear for a good one when i hear it, so if you appreciate well crafted music, played by talented musicians then hit that buy button and help not only support this band but get them some deserved recognition.
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