Big Big Train have been around since 1990 playing their own brand of very English Progressive Rock. The current line-up, consisting of Nick D'Virgilio, Dave Gregory, David Longdon, Andy Poole and Gregory Spawton are producing the best material of this lengthy career and, in my opinion, the some of the best music in the Prog scene as a whole. I would even go as far as to say that this album and the last one (The Underfall Yard) are two of the best Progressive Rock albums released in the last few decades!
...like all great albums "English Electric Part 1" takes a few listens to fully appreciate, but every track on the album has that rare combination of instant appeal and depth to draw you in and repay multiple listens; Each replay is a delight of discovery as the true majesty of the music and the storytelling in the lyrics unfolds before your ears.
Big Big Train are masters of their art; they have incredible song-writing ability, musicianship, attention to detail and depth, astonishing production (well done Mr Rob Aubrey) ...and the lyrics and vocal delivery are just sublime.
The choice of subject matter and instrumentation makes the listening experience a walk back in time through the English countryside. Pastoral vistas unfold, we hear of suffering in the harshest of working conditions contrasted with the simple pleasures of the countryside, eccentric artists hoodwinking the best in the business, tales of pioneering exploits pushing the boundaries of human endeavour. It's gripping stuff; the kind of song writing that delivers spine chills by the bucket load and compels the listener to learn more about the subjects.
To give the uninitiated some idea of what BBT sound like; it would be easy and somewhat valid to draw parallels with early Genesis, but that would, in all honesty, be under-selling Big Big Train. They have captured that quintessential English Prog sound, made it their own whilst, at the same time, injecting a fresh vibrancy to it so that it's relevant in the 21st century. No mean achievement!
2012 has been a great year for music and BBT have been up against some stiff competition but in my book there's only one contender for album of the year and this is it. I look forward to playing this album a lot more and am already anticipating the follow-up "English Electric Part 2" in 2013.
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