Artist/ Band: Big Big Train
Title: Far Skies Deep Time
Label: English Electric Recordings
Year of Release: 2010
Offical Artist/ Band Link
- What a nice surprise from the British progressive band Big Big Train. Their brand new CD ( they list as EP but it has 5 songs and plays like a CD which matches or goes beyond what some other artist sell for full length CD ) called “Far Skies Deep Time” is a step back into the classic Genesis era with Big Big Train’s own special stamp. It’s a perfect combination of their best (IMHO) and an amalgamation of the premium parts of their first three releases. It takes one back before the neo prog bands came into the picture, and you genuinely get a throw back to the glory days of what most of us progressive music lovers really liked about this entire genre. A fine mix of eclectic classical, jazz rock, ballad, pop, and epic lingering lead guitar lines, sweet melodies, complex songsmithing, and lush keyboards (we all melted with the walls of mellotron and moog bass pedals) with theatrical vocals, magical imagery, and giant audio/visual atmospheres that took us places.
‘Far Skies Deep Time’ gives you five songs with all that. It begins with what could have been off “Trespass” in all it’s delicate guitar and vocal work. One of the lines in the lyrics go “ Where did the beauty go?” and I say.. RIGHT HERE!. The magic is back!! Flute and all. The vocalist has a similar pitch and delivery of Peter Gabriel/Greg Lake/John Wetton, but not a clone. The two guitarists are especially tasteful, and play just what makes it at it’s best ( I swear you have the ghost of Hackett at times and also Anthony Phillips). Many musicians will know just what I am talking about here. It’s the line up of musicians that will make a believer out of even neo prog lovers here.. Nick DiVirgillio (Spock’s Beard and many session recordings you love) on drums, Dave Gregory (anyone know XTC?) on 6 and 12 string guitars, ebow, and then of course, foundation members David Longdon on lead and backing vocals, flute, accordion, mandolin, banjo, vibraphone, keyboards, glockenspiel, percussion, Theremin, Andy Poole on bass guitar, bass pedals, and keyboards and last but not least, Greg Spawton on 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, electric and bass guitars, and keyboards. There is also a nice guest list but I will let readers find that out for themselves *s*
The music rolls on from gentle to powerful, all the time having a gleaming progressive music lover’s spiral with a cherry on top. Big Big Train have three early progressive rock releases which are all good, but still not top of the morning. I felt they hit a pinnacle with “ Difference Machine” as they took a giant leap forward and combined a Bark Psychosis/ Genesis perfect storm and just blew the minds of a anyone who discovered this gem. The next release “ Underfall Yard” (also has Dave Gregory on guitar) seemed to skate a bit from that exact “Difference Machine” formula, but it did grab the old classic progressive elements and held them dear, and gave any Genesis fan (vocals sound so much like Gabriel at his most delicate) a dose of ‘wish that band still existed” smile. Excellent!! So what we have with ‘Far Skies Deep Time” is a nice trifold digipack with booklet that will be a delight for anyone who already loves Big Big Train, and a must have for all people yearning for a realistic taste of the old days when those folklore progressive rock band sounds made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up to attention. If the last epic song on this recording doesn’t do it for you, then you might be dead.
For the uninitiated, buy these three -“ Big Difference”, “The Underfall Yard”, and this one “Far Skies Deep Time”. If you don’t like these, than well, I’m talking to the wrong person . Enjoy and know the art of the original progressive rock bands still does dance around the fire.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson on November 8th, 2010
- The 2nd Review:
- In 2010, Big Big Train released an EP entitled Far Skies Deep Time.
The line-up for the album was/is Greg Spawton (6 & 12 string acoustic & electric guitars, bass, keyboards), Andy Poole (bass, bass pedals, keyboards), Dave Gregory (6 & 12 string electric guitars, E-bow), Nick D’Virgilio (drums, percussion) and David Longdon (lead vocals, flute, accordion, mandolin, banjo, vibraphone, keyboards, glockenspiel, percussion, Theremin). Special guests include Jonathon Barry (guitar solo on “Fat Billy Shout Mine”), Danny Manners (double bass on “British Racing Green”), Tony Muller (piano on “British Racing Green”) and Martin Orford (keyboard solo on “Fat Billy Shout Mine”).
Opening up this album or EP is a cover of “Master Of Time” (7:44) which was originally done by Anthony Phillips. Anthony Phillips only had it in demo form from 1973 and never finished it. According to the band, this is the first time they ever recorded cover tune. Upon listening to the demo of this song, I feel this is a very faithful to the original but done in a Big Big Train style.
“Fat Billy Shout Mine” (6:33) was originally intended to be on The Underfall Yard. This song also features the last recorded performances by Martin Orford who did the keyboard solos on this song. You can read about the subject matter on the BBT website. This is definitely should be spoken about among the classic BBT songs.
“British Racing Green” (3:58) is a mellower song with a soft jazz vibe to it. Aside from the subject matter, this is one of the most beautiful songs the band has ever recorded. This has a wintry atmosphere to it.
“Brambling” (4:59) this has similar subject matter in it as the previous song did. I’ll let you, the listener, research it at the band’s website. It is a perfect Autumn sounding song. This is one of my favorites of the album as well as the entire BBT catalog.
“The Wide Open Sea” (17:43) is an amazing classic sounding epic song which is a unique ghost story from the seas with a twist. There’s some details on the BBT website. (I don’t want to give away all the band’s secrets.) It’s a somewhat somber tune that reminds me of something that Genesis did on their Wind & Wuthering album. This is the perfect way to end off this EP.
Big Big Train has grown beyond being called a Neo prog band, in my opinion, ever since The Difference Machine and should be considered classic sounding progressive rock. This is the best album Genesis never made and is one of the best releases of 2010. I think this is just a glimpse of what’s to come the band. With great pride, I will say that this is a highly recommended album!
Reviewed By Ron Fuchs on December 19th, 2010
- 1. Master of Time
- 2. Fat Billy Shouts Mine
- 3. British Racing Green
- 4. Brambling
- 5. The Wide Open Sea
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