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:
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.