Beyond Prog: GRIMSPOUND by Big Big Train

Grimspound
Artwork by Sarah Ewing.

Big Big Train, GRIMSPOUND (Giant Electric Pea, 2017).  Tracks: Brave Captain; On the Racing Line; Experimental Gentleman; Meadowland; Grimspound; The Ivy Gate; A Mead Hall in Winter; and As the Crow Flies.

The band: Greg Spawton; Andy Poole; David Longdon; Nick D’Virgilio; Rachel Hall; Danny Manners; Dave Gregory; and Rikard Sjöblom.

The Rating: Perfect.  Beyond prog.

Go, go, go said the bird: human kind

Cannot bear very much reality.

Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

–T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton.”

There can be no doubt that Big Big Train is not just one of the best bands of third-wave prog, but also one of the best bands of the rock era.  I suspected this when I first heard THE UNDERFALL YARD back in 2009 and was moved at every good level of my being.  Subsequent releases from the band have only confirmed this for me.  Every note, every lyric, and every brushstroke matter for the band.  They take their music seriously, and they take us—their followers—seriously.  Aside from the music (if there is, in any reality, such an “aside”), it’s clear that the two founders and mainstays of the band, Greg Spawton and Andy Poole, know how to form and leaven communities.

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Princess Eadgyth (Edith), the “Kingmaker” by Big Big Train

 

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Track 1: “Kingmaker”

Musically, an homage to Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, “Kingmaker” tells the story of  a powerful and devout medieval woman, Eadgyth, the granddaughter of King Alfred the Great, and often remembered in the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions as “St. Edith” (one of a few St. Ediths, this Edith might have been known as “St. Edith of Polesworth; not surprisingly, many of the traditions are vague).

The sister of King Athelstan, she married King Otto of Germany in 929.  Wildly popular, she promoted a devotion to St. Oswald, one of the most romantic figures of the high middle ages.

Only relatively recently, English scholars discovered her bones.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jun/17/archaeology-forensicscience

Continue reading “Princess Eadgyth (Edith), the “Kingmaker” by Big Big Train”

FOUR Major Awards for Big Big Train Last Night

cropped-a0770580005_10.jpgSo, from checking social media this morning, it seems that some big things happened in England last night for our great friends, the eight members of Big Big Train (nine if you count Rob!).

[First post listed only THREE awards–corrected.  FOUR.  Apologies for the error.]

This is from David Longdon:

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Best Live Release of 2016: Big Big Train’s STONE AND STEEL

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EERBR001.

Retro-re-review of Big Big Train, STONE AND STEEL (EERBR001; English Electric, 2016).

Way back on the first day of April, 2016, I posted this:

https://progarchy.com/2016/04/01/the-incomparable-gift-of-excellence-big-big-trains-stone-and-steel/#more-19100

For the most part, the live studio versions performed on STONE AND STEEL are similar, but not identical to the original album versions.  It’s clear that the band encourages spontaneity in each musician.  Watching the band, I was happily surprised to see how many duties Manners and Poole (even Longdon plays keys briefly) share when it comes to the keyboards and just how much Gregory (my all-time favorite guitarist, along with Alex Lifeson) shares with Sjöblom.  Such sharing, of course, is nothing if not a sign of wisdom and charity, yet another example of why so many of us love this band.  Individual ego diminishes in proportion to the excellence manifested by the entire band.

Spawton, it must be noted, is clearly the sturdy pillar around which all revolves.  Though he’s off to the side and not in the limelight, his bass is strong, innovative, and warm.

My review was glowing, and there’s nothing in it I would change, even 9 months later.  When it comes to live releases in 2016, there have been a fair number of simply excellent ones.  Steve Hackett’s TOTAL EXPERIENCE, Aryeon’s THE THEATER EQUATION, Morse’s ALIVE AGAIN, and even BBT’s second live release of the year, A STONE’S THROW FROM THE LINE, each captured something unique about the musicians and the time period.

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Two of Big Big Train’s Greatest Epics

I know, I know.  There are so many songs to chose from when thinking about the greatness that is Big Big Train.  I’m hoping to give a little more time to analyzing each of these majestic tracks, but for now. . . simply enjoy.  The first is by Greg Spawton, the second by David Longdon.

One quick point, however, these two tracks strike me as necesssary twins.  Obviously, they each deal with the sea.  But, they also deal with love.

More to come.  Again. . . enjoy.

 

Congratulations to Big Big Train

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From ProgMaster Jerry Ewing

We at progarchy are thrilled to know that BBT has been awarded Band of the Year and Best Live Performance by Prog Magazine.  Excellent choices, all around!

And, we’ve been loving BBT for years and years!  Feel free to explore our past reflections on the band.

Big Big Train – English Boy Wonders – 1997/2008 – Review by Brad Birzer

Big Big Train – English Electric: Full Power – 2013 – Review by Brad Birzer

Big Big Train – English Electric: Full Power – 2013 – Review by Bryan Morey

Big Big Train – English Electric: Full Power – 2013 – Video Review by Brad Birzer

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by Alison Henderson

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by Brad Birzer

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by Craig Breaden 

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by Craig Farham

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by Erik Heter

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by Frank Urbaniak

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by Ian Greatorex

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by John Deasey

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review by Nick “Dr. Nick” Efford

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt. 2 – 2013 – Review/Open Letter to BBT by Pete Blum

Big Big Train – English Electric Pt.2 – 2013 – Review by Tad Wert

Big Big Train – Folklore – 2016 – Review by Brad Birzer

Big Big Train – Folklore (hi-res audio tracklist version) – 2016 – Review by Bryan Morey

Big Big Train – Stone and Steel – 2016 – Review by Brad Birzer

Big Big Train – The Difference Machine – 2007/2010 – Review by Brad Birzer

Big Big Train – The Underfall Yard – 2009 – Review by Brad Birzer

Big Big Train – Wassail EP – 2015 – Review by Brad Birzer

A Beginner’s Guide to Big Big Train (2012) – By Brad Birzer

Bryan Morey reviews Folklore

 

The Gatefold Vinyl Glory of Big Big Train: Folklore ★★★★★

artwork

In terms of perfectly integrated, fully coherent masterpieces, I thought BBT might have peaked with The Underfall Yard. The Far Skies and Wassail EPs, and the multiple versions of English Electric (with no definitive track order), all contained fantastic music, but evinced an unmistakable prog version of ADD, as BBT and their fans were fiendishly enabled by the latest technology to “build your own” concept album, with your own favorite track order: S, M, L, XL, XXL, Full Power, whatever.

But now with Folklore, we have a stunningly coherent concept album that has absolutely perfect flow. And here’s the best part: the perfect flow is found not on the CD version (because “London Plane” works best not coming after “Folklore” but after “Salisbury Giant”) but on the glorious vinyl gatefold edition that has the definitive order for the tracks.

Continue reading “The Gatefold Vinyl Glory of Big Big Train: Folklore ★★★★★”