Progressive Rock’s Novel: The Deep Pastoral Englishness of Big Big Train

By a curve of the river/at the end of the road/black waters rise again.–final lines of THE SECOND BRIGHTEST STAR

Tasteful.  Elegant.  These two words enter into my mind and soul, over and over again, at the beginning of every song on the new “companion” album by Big Big Train, THE SECOND BRIGHTEST STAR.  And, not just at the beginning, but in the middle of each, and at the end of each.

Tasteful.  Elegant.

Artwork by the extraordinary Sarah Ewing.

As I look back over the history of Big Big Train (despite the rather mechanical image of the band’s title), the band seems to have a radically organic life to it.  It’s not changed as much as it’s become.

It began as an oak sapling that struggled in intense competition for light and nourishment.  After a burst of growth, it faltered a bit, and its Entherds, Gregory Aurelius Spawton and Andrew Epictetus Poole, decided to prune it considerably.  In doing so, they allowed it to grow in ways known only to the creator of nature herself.  As with all great things in this world, the band was not invented.  It was discovered.

Tasteful.  Elegant.

Spawton and Poole discovered the necessary talents of D’Virgilio, Gregory, and Longdon, then Manners, and then Hall and Sjöblom, realizing they could not become until they became one.  These Endherds chose not to mix oaks, but rather to graft new chestnuts onto the oak.  Somewhere in the mind of nature, the band had always existed—this profound mix of oak and chestnut—but it’s only come into its own over the past eight years.

Continue reading “Progressive Rock’s Novel: The Deep Pastoral Englishness of Big Big Train”

Straight from BBT: The Update

Art by the amazing Sarah Ewing

Hi all

Following the April release of “Grimspound”, Big Big Train are releasing a companion album, “The Second Brightest Star”, on Friday (June 23rd).

The album features 40 minutes of new songs and instrumentals which explore landscapes, rivers and meeting places and take the listener on voyages of discovery across the world and to the stars.

Alongside the new tracks, there is a bonus selection of 30 minutes of music where songs from the “Folklore” and “Grimspound” albums are presented in extended format.

You can hear the title track at:

“The Second Brightest Star” is available to order now for delivery commencing on 23rd June from our official stores:

* Burning Shed –
CD and limited edition double gatefold 180g seafoam green vinyl. (All vinyl copies will include a code for a complimentary hi-res download.)

* The Merch Desk –

* Bandcamp –
Hi-res download

The album will be released on Spotify and other download and streaming services in July.

Best wishes,
Andy, Danny, Dave, David, Greg, Nick, Rachel & Rikard

Big Big Train–What’s Next? I Have No Idea.

bbt_railway_logoI would assume that almost every reader of progarchy was surprised today by the announcement that Big Big Train would be releasing a new album in less than 48 hours. The band rightly offered PROG magazine an exclusive announcement as well as a link to one of the songs.

I’ve only criticized PROG once and that was when the magazine featured Steven Wilson on the cover rather than BBT. I think. In fact, I might have a few details mixed up in my head. This would’ve been back in 2013 when ENGLISH ELECTRIC FULL POWER came out. I was convinced then–and remain so–that EEFP was NOT just a “game changer” in the music world, but a defining point for all of rock. I thought that Ewing and PROG had lost a great opportunity to make history by placing BBT on the cover.

Well. . . I guess I was being a bit goofy at the time. After all, it’s Jerry’s magazine, not mine! After that criticism, I decided never to criticize the magazine publicly. After all, I’m writing for fun, not to keep afloat a magazine and a business. Hail, Jerry!

Continue reading “Big Big Train–What’s Next? I Have No Idea.”

New Big Big Train Album–in 2 Days!

Big Big Train will release a brand new album on June 23 – only two months after our latest release ‘Grimspound’! The Second Brightest Star is a companion album to Folklore and Grimspoundand features seven new songs (about 40 minutes) which “explore landscapes, rivers and meeting places and take the listener on voyages of discovery across the world and to the stars.”

In addition, the record will come with a bonus selection of 30 minutes of music (named ‘Grimlore’) where songs from Folklore and Grimspound are presented in extended format.


  1. The Second Brightest Star
  2. Haymaking
  3. Skylon
  4. London Stone
  5. The Passing Widow
  6. The Leaden Stour
  7. Terra Australis Incognita


  1. Brooklands Sequence
    (i) On The Racing Line
    (ii) Brooklands
  2. London Plane Sequence
    (i) Turner On The Thames
    (ii) London Plane
  3. The Gentlemen’s Reprise

The Second Brightest Star is the last album in a cycle of releases which started back in 2009 with The Underfall Yard album. Our writing over this period has focused on the English landscape, the people that work on the land and their folklore stories. The band will be moving on to different landscapes and subjects in future years as we play more shows outside of England. But we had a few more stories left to tell and wanted to bring them together on The Second Brightest Star.

You can listen to a stream of the new album’s title track on Soundcloud.

The album is available to order from Burning Shed and The Merch Desk. It’s available in limited edition double gatefold 180g seafoam green vinyl, CD and on hi-resolution 24/96 download. All vinyl copies will include a code for a complimentary hi-res download.

The Second Brightest Star will be released on Spotify and other download and streaming services at a later date in July.

An Important Note for Progarchy Readers

Dear Progarchy Readers,

Just FYI–because of changes in WordPress well beyond our control, nearly 5,000 of you lost your registration to this site about two weeks ago.  I’m terribly sorry.

If you’d like to sign back up as “followers,” we’d be grateful.  If you don’t, however, we certainly don’t blame you!  What a screwup.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 4.09.53 PM

Anyway, I’ve received a number of emails asking me if, for some reason, this or that person was intentionally kicked off the site.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Not a single person was kicked off or restricted.  Whatever else we are, we’re dedicated to free speech and free debate.  Keep your language PG-13, and you’re in!  Say what you want and what you will. is a free-speech, libertarian republic, bordering on anarchy.  Free minds, free markets, free will.

Yours, Brad (ed)

Rush and The Tangent: Influences and Speed

This morning, Andy Tillison, the mighty and mischievous redhead of the prog world, posted this wonderful essay on how much Rush has influenced him and his music.


Delayed yesterday owing to the highly unpleasant news about Jonas – and only because I know he’s on the mend – here is the FOURTH of the albums I have chosen to represent some of the influential albums on The Tangent’s career. Once again to stress that this is not a chart, a “best of” – nor is it an effort to say or imply that The Tangent sound like this. Because today – i do not think we sound anything like this band, who (like the previous artist) hail from Canada

rush moving pictures
Perhaps THE greatest album in prog history?

So far my choices have been street credible and artistically laudable I think – and there will be those who heave a sigh of disappointment when they see that I chose an album by Rush. Indeed, I spent many years not having a great deal of time for this group and they didn’t really hit me until the mid 80s. But when they did… they did.

What I find so appealing about Rush – is something that Sally had also identified, independently of me before either of us met.. and that to us – to try an explain, is the MOTION in which Rush songs set themselves. Where many progressive bands take a stand on the hilltops- taking a view of the broader vista, Rush are always IN the landscape, travelling through it – usually at some speed! They’re looking at the hills that others are standing on – as they whizz past gas stations and motels, steel works and a very very familiar real world environment.

Continue reading “Rush and The Tangent: Influences and Speed”

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