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Big Big Train - Gathering Speed CD (album) cover

GATHERING SPEED

Big Big Train

 

Crossover Prog

3.67 | 221 ratings

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snelling
5 stars Well I've decided to review this now, 13 years after its release, because with the now popularity of BBT, there may be many who have not ventured into their pre-Longdon era, and although all of these albums are good, this is the one album I believe to be equal to the albums with David Longdon. No, it doesn't have his incredible voice. It has that of Sean Filkins, who nonetheless evinces a charm that matches the personality of the music. And no, it doesn't quite boast the pristine production of the current era. But it does still have a very nice sound, very much worth enjoying. The two surviving members have taken on different roles as well. Greg Spawton, who so deftly covers bass duty, was on guitars here, including lovely layers of 12-strings recalling those gorgeous pastoral Genesis moments in 'Lovers Leap' and 'Cinema Show'. And it was Andy Poole playing bass.

So here we have a selection of 7 songs, most of which are either very good, or as in the case of a couple, as good as anything they've done. Notably, "Fighter Command", a song with a rare depth of feeling and emotion, that although very different from what BBT are doing today, has no less passion, and has that strongly subtle underlie of melancholy that helps make their music so moving. The 12-string moments here are truly beautiful, and in fact, not something they've done since, at this level. The other song that is noteworthy, in that it is possibly the most poignantly beautiful song they (or anyone?) has ever produced, is "The Road Much Further On". There are those moments within their catalog that are beautiful enough to bring tears. I think of the piano and flute instrumental section of "Winchester From St. Giles' Hill". Or the Mellotron climax in "East Coast Racer". Or, when the horns come in near the close of "The Underfall Yard". Well this song has that level of feeling pretty much throughout. And if one finds the beauty of Greg Spawton's music compelling, this is not a song to be missed. Also notable is "Sky Flying On Fire", a Hackett-esque instumental, arguably the finest of their too few and far between instrumental pieces.

And curiously, this is the one Big Big Train album that can work on a summer day, though it isn't confined to that season, but the compelling late autumn feel that many of their albums display is less fixed on "Gathering Speed", which at the same time remains their most pastoral release, helped by those lovely layers of 12-strings.

snelling | 5/5 |

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