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.”

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.

Continue reading “Beyond Prog: GRIMSPOUND by Big Big Train”

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:

Continue reading “FOUR Major Awards for Big Big Train Last Night”

Pre-Order GRIMSPOUND by Big Big Train

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Greg Spawton posted this minutes ago:

The new Big Big Train album, Grimspound, will be released on April 28th 2017. Pre-orders of the album are now available at our official stores at Burning Shed (for vinyl and CD’s)

https://www.burningshed.com/store/bigbigtrain/

and the Merch Desk (for merchandise and CD’s)

http://www.themerchdesk.com.

Pre-orders of hi-resolution downloads are available at Bandcamp

https://bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com/

All LP versions feature double, 180g vinyl with a gatefold cover and 4 page booklet featuring lyrics and the stories behind the songs. A complimentary code for a high-resolution download version of the album is provided with each vinyl order. There is a limited edition clear vinyl version alongside the standard black vinyl version and orders of this limited edition version will include a postcard signed by all band members.

The CD version comes in a gloss laminated softpack and features a 24 page booklet with lyrics and the stories behind the songs.

The hi-res download version includes a PDF of the CD booklet.

A limited edition blue vinyl version of the Folklore is also available at Burning Shed (orders will be shipped with a complimentary hi-resolution download code).

Big Big Train are playing three shows at Cadogan Hall, London, in the autumn. The first two shows are sold out and only a few tickets remain for the third show (a Sunday matinee performance.) http://www.cadoganhall.com/event/big-big-train-2016/

Chestertonian Spawtonious


          Out of the mouth of the Mother of God,
          More than the doors of doom,
          I call the muster of Wessex men
          From grassy hamlet or ditch or den,
          To break and be broken, God knows when,
          But I have seen for whom.

          Out of the mouth of the Mother of God
          Like a little word come I;
          For I go gathering Christian men
          From sunken paving and ford and fen,
          To die in a battle, God knows when,
          By God, but I know why.

          And this is the word of Mary,
          The word of the world's desire
          'No more of comfort shall ye get,
          Save that the sky grows darker yet
          And the sea rises higher.'

          Then silence sank. And slowly
          Arose the sea-land lord,
          Like some vast beast for mystery,
          He filled the room and porch and sky,
          And from a cobwebbed nail on high
          Unhooked his heavy sword.

          Up on the shrill sea-downs and up
          Went Alfred all alone,
          Turning but once e'er the door was shut,
          Shouting to Eldred over his butt,
          That he bring all spears to the woodman's hut
          Hewn under Egbert's Stone.

          And he turned his back and broke the fern,
          And fought the moths of dusk,
          And went on his way for other friends
          Friends fallen of all the wide world's ends,
          From Rome that wrath and pardon sends
          And the grey tribes on Usk.--G.K. Chesterton






PROG Magazine Issue 74

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For better or worse, the latest issue of PROG is just slightly too big for my scanner to handle it all.  Ian would be proud, I’m sure.

I suppose it seems a bit silly for me to state the following.  After all, who I am–a goofy, middle-aged American professor and historian?

Still, when PROG issue 74 showed up in my post box today, I was both thrilled and proud.  Yes, the proud part is the silliness.  Does Jerry Ewing need me to be proud of him?  Well, I am.

After everything PROG has gone through over the past three months, how great is it that I get issue 74 only days after it’s released.  Under the previous company, it took about a month for each issue to get here (in the states).  In fact, issue 73 just showed up this past weekend.  Now, 74 is already here.

Amazing.

And, it looks gorgeous.  Jethro Tull, Tim Bowness, The Mute Gods, ARW, Dream Theater, and Blackfield are all covered.  And, best of all, Greg Spawton shows up on page 10 and Andy Tillison and Matt Cohen on page 11.  Call me a very happy fanboy.

Congratulations, Jerry!  You are our leader.  No question.