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Big Big Train - English Boy Wonders CD (album) cover


Big Big Train

Crossover Prog

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4 stars Well here is an interesting album. At first I wasn't impressed and felt a little dissapointed with the mostly slow pacing of EBW but my opinion changed after several (hundred) plays! it now has to be one of my favourites from big big train gang! after extensive listens, there are new and interesting, yet very subtle nuances to be found especially between the blending interpaly of keyboard and guitar, but you won't get the benefits of EBW at first. Like any decent Marillion album or something! (errr) the warm soundscapes are cleverly hidden and take time to sink in. it is a hard-work album but give it time. The complexities shine through but the great thing about this album is that it's never over the top -its hard to put into words but this album has a lot of qualities about it and a essaential for any BBT die-hard
Report this review (#12000)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I discovered this album recently in a charity shop in oxford, you never can tell what you might pick up!Anyway in this case it was ENGLISH BOY WONDERS FROM the U.K's BIG BIG TRAIN And what a great album it is, but such a shame it was lying there in oxfam! these guys should have there records selling in HMV and TOWER records not some 2nd charity shop for gods sake! this is an outstanding album, I havent heard any other ofBBT's music so I havent got anything to compare it unfortunately, but sounds very similar to jadis's recent work and touches of genesis and XTC this is a lovely album and definately value for money (I only payed Ł2.00!), 13 songs over an hours worth of summery prog rock/pop. Although would probably sell for more i should imagine and you may be able to purchase from their website. I should imagine this was one of BBT's more popular releases.
Report this review (#12001)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Well, it only gets worse prog-pickers, this is a dire uninspiring dirge from beginning to end. Far too much singing (thats because it all sounds the same, the tempo settles just as the singer begins his soul-less narration, or so it seems to me....) English Boy wonders !!! Not the song writers thats for sure..... I know a lot of people hate plagiarism and sort of retro copies of Yes/Genesis - but this CD could do with a bit of 70's prog injected into it's sorry attempts at interesting music.Words fail me, on how they churn out the same song and so on in an attempt to out rubbish themselves with every track. Nothing is inspired, just listless music adrift in the doldrums of the nowhere lyrics and hum-drum tempo, sort of boring by numbers. I was thinking of how people slag off IQ's "Nom zamo" and "Are you Sitting comfortably" two albums that may be classed as Crossover prog because those 80's cds have very poppy efforts on also...However, If I give this one star (I have to, can;t give it no-stars) then both the IQ efforts would be 10 start efforts in comparisson. Don't take my word for it - buy this CD, listen to it and then realise you've just wasted 70 minutes of your life....
Report this review (#244654)
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars To be fully honest (as I have always been), my brother once referred to this band and asked me what I was thinking about their music. He likes the neo-prog genre more than I do which is probably due to the age difference we both figure.

Still, when I listen to the music available on their first album, I couldn't find any glittering prizes. Some fine guitar breaks submerged into an ocean of below average music.

It is a real pain to listen to this album from start to finish. Is this prog? Is this neo-prog? I don' t know. To my standards, what I can listen here is just average music, borderline.

This debut album is hard to define. Well, actually: the more I listen to it; the least difficulties I have while thinking about it. The global feeling being just an average and a longish album. Even if some nice melodies as " Cloudless And Starry And Still" are available.

Things are definitely improving with one of the best track: the long and gorgeous " Albion Perfide". Wild guitar breaks are combined with some peaceful imposing keyboard breaks and provides a fantastic feel.

As far as I'm concerned the epic "The Shipping Forecast" is the best track available: it holds some great mellotron parts and overall fine breaks. Most of these parts are pure magical moments. This song is the best available, it is a great and fabulous moment of music. Superb, really.

Just a little behing is the great " Reaching For John Dowland". A complex song which varies from from folk acoustic matter to eclectic sublime matter.

Remaining songs aren't so thrilling and I have to admit that as a whole, I can only rate this work with three starts.

Report this review (#263395)
Posted Friday, January 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars 3/10

As much as I try to understand this album, the less he does for me. It is clear that the Big Big Train in his early career does not reach the feet of him who has been seen in recent years. English Boy Wonders is just a mediocre album that went through my life, and I hear him say that sometimes in order to give a rating here on the site was a tolerable experience. Again the fault lies with the singer, whose voice is one of the worst I've ever heard. Completely soulless, she takes the music of this album (which itself is neither possible up to snuff) to a level of incapacity like never before. There are a few highlights here and there (the flute and twelve-string guitar, for example), but overall I do not like this album. 2 stars.

Report this review (#550841)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Enough already!

I can't let the previous reviews go by withot adding my own humble opinion.

I make no apology for awarding this album the full 5 stars. Oddly, the band don't seem over-keen on this work, referring to the original recording as unfinished and disjointed (I hope I am not mis-quoting). It was re-recorded in 2008, but I still prefer the original.

I really have no problem with the vocals, in fact all of the contributions are top-notch. These guys can play, but importantly they can also write great material, marrying delightful vocal passages with long instrumental breaks.

I agree this is a difficult album to get into. At times rough and distorted, sometimes wistful and poppy. Give it a chance and be rewarded. There is a gem here. Just don't expect Dream Theater or Pink Floyd. Approacj with an open mind.

Same goes for their debut too.

Report this review (#551517)
Posted Sunday, October 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Big Big Train was one of the bands that I enjoy in last years being a moderate fan, I mean I like'em oveall but not got crazy about it. Untill they released The underfall yard 3 years ago and become a well known name in prog world, they had aswell some more then decent albums prior not quite known worl wide. English boy wonders from 1997 is among their most acomplished works, at least for me combining parts who remind me of Genesis but less symphonic with some memorable neo/pop and indie arrangements the result is pritty much ok, even great in places. What I like to this band with a quite long career being formed in late '80 and havinbg almost 10 albums in their sleeves, is that almost every album has something to offer, alternating good to excellent moments, and overall catalogue is quite consistent. Here on this album are some excellent pieces like the uplifting and full of joy Big empty skies, Albion perfide is another highlight clocking around 11 min with nice breaks , keyboards and melodic lines a thing that define all Big Big Train albums, very nice. A giddy thing is aswell catchy and damn fine tune, the rest are ok but the problem is that in some parts is to much singing and mellow parts to my ears, and is little to long album almost 80 min, if there were at least shorter with 10-15 min were better for sure. Still fine neo crossover prog where both fans of prog and those more into indie stuff might get something wel played and performed.3.5 stars among my fav Bi Big Trains albums.
Report this review (#875970)
Posted Saturday, December 15, 2012 | Review Permalink

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