Beyond Prog: GRIMSPOUND by Big Big Train

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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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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Radiant Records Announces Live Morsefest 2015 Set

Radiant Records has announced a live release of Morsefest 2015, featuring two concerts covering Sola Scriptura, ?, and selections from the catalogs of Transatlantic and Spock’s Beard. One of the concerts even finds Mike Portnoy and Nick D’Virgilio on the same stage together.

You can pre-order the set now over at Radiant’s website. My only beef with the variety of sets on offer (besides the high price) is the fact that they aren’t offering a 2 Blu-Ray/4CD set. All they have is the 2DVD/4CD set or the 2 Blu-Ray set. Why they aren’t offering a DVD/Blu-Ray/CD set (much like the excellent Transatlantic KaLiveoscope box set from a couple years ago) is anyone’s guess.

Check out the trailer:

Without Compare: FOLKLORE by Big Big Train

Big Big Train, FOLKLORE (Giant Electric Pea, 2016). 

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

Tracks: Folklore; London Plane; Along the Ridgeway; Salisbury Giant; The Transit of Venus Across the Sun; Wassail; Winkie; Brooklands; and Telling the Bees.

By chance, the new issue of PROG arrived at the same time as FOLKLORE.  A glorious day.

The centerpiece of third-wave prog, Big Big Train, matters.  How they write music matters; how they write lyrics matters; how often they perform live matters; how they package their music matters; and how they market what they do matters.  They are a band that has evolved significantly over twenty-plus years of existence, a restless band that never quite settles on this or that, but rather keeps moving forward even as they never stop looking back.  In their art, they move forward; in their ideas, they move backward.  All to the good.

Continue reading “Without Compare: FOLKLORE by Big Big Train”

Big Big Train’s FOLKLORE Arrives in Michigan

It’s not everyday that a Big Big Train album appears in my mailbox.  An immense thanks to Kathy Spawton and Greg Spawton for sending it, and to the band for signing it!

Veronica Rose celebrates with SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR, BBT style.

Continue reading “Big Big Train’s FOLKLORE Arrives in Michigan”

Progarchy Radio Episode 7

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Episode 7

Hey everyone, my apologies for taking so long to get episode 7 recorded.  Still, I hope you enjoy it–over two hours of prog and New Wave.  This episode features new songs from Big Big Train, Frost*, Mike Kershaw, Airbag, and Ayreon.

In addition, songs from Neal Morse, The Tangent, Salander, The Reasoning, New Model Army, New Order, Foo Fighters, Catherine Wheel, Echo and the Bunnymen, and The Cure.

“My Old Friend” — @DaveKerzner on Kevin Gilbert

Dave Kerzner tells the story behind “My Old Friend,” a song on one of the best albums of the year:

Here’s a song I wrote and dedicated to Kevin Gilbert. It’s called “My Old Friend”.

The song features the first reunion of my fellow “Thud” bandmates Nick D’Virgilio and Russ Parrish since we last played together with Kevin in the mid 90s. On the Deluxe Edition of “New World” there is a trippy intro piece called “Theta” that also features Durga McBroom (of Pink Floyd fame who knew Kevin back in the Toy Matinee days and he produced her first demo… btw Guy Pratt, also from Pink Floyd, played on that Toy Matinee album as well) and Satnam Ramgotra on tabla who played with Thud on the Kashmir single as well as on songs like “Joytown” and “Waiting” which can be heard/seen on the “Kevin Gilbert – Live At The Troubadour” DVD. Also joining us on the track are Fernando Perdomo on bass + backwards guitar and Maryem Tollar with an exotic Egyptian vocal solo. I sing, play keys and acoustic guitar on this one.

The story of the song is about the main character of “New World” meeting up with a mysterious Shamen-like apparition in the desert where a grand perspective and vital wisdom is shared. I purposely wrote the words a bit more toward Kevin’s style. The music has hints of our old “Thud” live band sound, particularly with the creative contributions of Nick, Russ and Satnam. However, the Doors, Nick Drake and Peter Gabriel are as much of an influence in this piece. Hope you like it. Here’s the Standard album version to listen to off of my Sonic Elements bandcamp page.

The lyrics:

“My Old Friend”

Hello, my old friend
From the other side of the end
You’ve come to visit me again
Poetic license to pretend

Hello, to the shape unknown
Waiting dauntless on my own
Bare and fragile flesh and bone
I am eager to be shown

Give me reason, give me art
Unearthly wisdom you impart
Crossing over, shaking hands
With someone who understands

Hello, my old friend
From the other side of the end
We both took that drive
To an unexpected curve
With hollow people
Who’ve got a lot of nerve
Restrained what we deserve
In a cloud you observe

Give me reason, give me art
Unearthly wisdom you impart
Crossing over, shaking hands
With someone who understands

Give me courage, give me grace
Spin the dogma that I face
I am tuning to the signs
Etching truth in cosmic lines

So long, my old friend
One day we shall meet again

I also can’t help thinking of Pink Floyd when Dave sings, “Hello…”!

Dave adds:

I’ll tell you something I like about this song (and especially the version on the Deluxe Edition that has the intro piece I mentioned). Because it reunites me with Nick, Russ and Satnam and we’ve only improved as musicians over the years since (not that these guys weren’t ALWAYS amazing but they certainly haven’t lost it that’s for sure) it has the feel of something NEW with that band. It’s impossible to do any new songs with Kevin unfortunately (I wonder what music he’d be making if he were still around today). But, the other players in that band have a distinct character and artistry to their playing and it’s nice for that chemistry we have to shine again, even if just for this moment. It’s deep. I’m very honored they came on board for this. It means so much to me.