Fireworks

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Big Big Train - 'English Electric, Part 2' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/ab/97/f7/Big-Big-Train-English-Electric-Part-2-37-1373760304.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 14, 2013    
 
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An album that is definitely a grower.

Had this album arrived sooner, there's no doubt the review you are about to read would have been rather different. Why? Because this is an album that is definitely a grower, perhaps a little strange given that Part 1 was an album that I adored from first play and also featured in my Albums of 2012 shortlist. Initial plays of 'EE2' left me somewhat underwhelmed and rather disappointed; however perseverance has revealed, slowly, the wonders and nuances of the songs to the point where I adore this album. It doesn't quite reach the same dizzying heights as its predecessor but after the songs have got into the psyche it's a close run thing.

If you're not familiar with Big Big Train (BBT) they are a quintessentially English Prog band whose pastoral style brings to mind early Genesis, although on this album I am often reminded of Marillion thanks to Dave Longdon's vocal delivery with inflections of Steve Hogarth as well as the usual comparison of a Gabriel/Collins hybrid. Lyrically the band trade on their Englishness; songs about trains, the shipyards and coal mines being testament to that, whilst the use of brass and strings adds depth and atmosphere to each track.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Opener 'East Coast Racer' is a 15-minute epic about an iconic steam train, Mallard, which was the record breaker of its time. A delicate piano refrain starts the piece before the drums of Nick D'Virgilio and bass of Greg Spawton pick out a theme appropriate to the subject matter and one that brings Genesis' 'Driving The Last Spike' to mind. The brass and string arrangements give the track its BBT edge and help the song move through its various phases quite seamlessly; over time this has become a firm favourite. 'Swan Hunter' traces the social history of the famous shipyard all encapsulated in beautiful melodies while 'Worked Out' has equally compelling themes and refrains. Lyrically, 'Leopards' is unusually cryptic for this band, but the tune carries it along rather nicely. 'Keeper Of Abbeys' is a delightfully pacey number where the vocal harmonies are spectacular and Dave Gregory comes to the fore with some wonderful guitar solos which he also delivers on the powerful 'The Permanent Way'. Imagine the live version of Genesis' 'Afterglow' and you'll get an appreciation of how this song builds and the pleasure it delivers. I'd have closed the album with that track but the band elect to go with the elegance and beauty of 'Curator Of Butterflies' which wends its way through a delightful phases and is wonderfully served by exquisite brass and string arrangements courtesy of Dave Desmond and Gregory.

Get this album, play it and give it your complete attention then play it again; you won't be sorry.

Gary Marshall

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