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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members.

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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Big Big Train - Wassail (EP) - 2015
albumcover

    
“... three new songs (two of which are exclusive to the EP) and a live track ...”

Completely agreeing about it's content, I give you the first lines of the Big Big Train biography that was included in my promo copy of the the new “Wassail” EP;
Over the last 25 years, Big Big Train has established a respected place for itself on the UK progressive rock scene. It's unique brand of music, although inspired by some of the seventies greats, brings its own distinctive approach to the “English pastoral” Prog tradition, featuring rich arrangements, a mix of electric and acoustic instruments, and an amalgamation of influences from post-rock, folk, classical and pop.

The in two parts issued “English Electric” albums of 2012 that later were re sequenced as the double album “English Electric: Full Power” received rave reviews and put the band on the map in the premier league of progressive rock. The band's line-up has with the addition of keyboardist Danny Manners, violinist Rachel Hall and guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom grown to an eight piece.

Later in 2015 the band will release their live performances filmed at Real World Studios on DVD and Blu-Ray (“Stone and Steel”). This “Wassail” EP will give you a glimpse of what is coming in the near future. The band scheduled their new album “Folklore” for release in early 2016.

Nick D'Virgilio - drums, backing vocals; Dave Gregory - 6 and 12 string electric guitars; Rachel Hall - violin, viola, cello, backing vocals; David Langdon - lead and backing vocals, flute, mandolin, percussion; Danny Manners - keyboards, backing vocals; Andy Poole - keyboards, mandolin, backing vocals; Rikard Sjöblom - 6 and 12 string electric guitars, backing vocals; Greg Spawton - bass guitar, bass pedals

The “Wassail” EP contains three new songs (two of which are exclusive to the EP) and a live track (“Master of St. George”) that was recorded in the Real World studios of Peter Gabriel.

The EP opens with the title track “Wassail” which is inspired by a traditional ritual from the West of England, dating back to early-medieval times, to wake the cider apple trees and scare away evil spirits by banging pots and pans and firing a shotgun overhead, thereby protecting the harvest later in the year. Much singing and drinking takes place as part of the ceremony. Sarah Louise Ewing made the beautiful cover and booklet paintings to illustrate this happy sounding track. A song with beautiful classical and pastoral elements next to a happy sounding and catchy refrain. The progressive rock of Big Big Train is very diverse and in this new song you can also find some folk influences.

The other new songs “Lost Rivers of London” and “Mudlarks” are London themed songs. “Mudlarks” were 19th century scavengers who eked a living from the sale of anything they could find in the mud of the river Thames at low tide. In “Lost Rivers of London” you can enjoy the typical BBT vocal harmonies. Next to the lead vocals of David Longdon the band is gifted with five members who besides performing on their instruments are also helping out with the backing vocals. In “Mudlarks” the violin and synths are forming a pact against the Hammond organ, the guitar and the great drumming of Nick D'Virgilio. The almost instrumental track is one of the highlights of this EP. As a bonus we can enjoy a remarkable live performance of the song “Master James of St. George”.

What a great piece of music! Big Big Train is one of Britain's finest progressive rock bands. Their English pastoral style is unique and if you like rich arrangements, vocal harmonies and a great mix of electric and acoustic instruments in your Prog, this one is for you. I only can give this EP the full points and therefore it is highly recommended to you by progVisions.

Douwe Fledderus - July 2015
rating - English Electric Recordings

 

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