|2009||English Electric Recordings||EERCD005|
I've been a Big Big Train fan ever since I got my hands on Bard (2002), an album that featured great melancholic symphonic prog in the tradition of 70's Genesis. After that the band put out two studio albums : Gathering Speed (2004) and The Difference Machine (2007), two excellent records that had a slight flaw, in my humble opinion, a lead singer (Phil Collins sound alike Sean Filkins) that pushed his voice to the limit a bit too often. Still Gathering Speed and The Difference Machine are albums that should be added to any symphonic prog fans' music collection. Recently, Big Big Train have been working on their back catalogue and making old stuff available again, a great pleasure for their many devoted fans. Now, nearing the end of 2009, a new cd is available... The Underfall Yard .
Until now my favorite Big Big Train album was Bard, but this is no longer the case. The Underfall Yard is a Gem among the Gems. All that I like about Big Big Train's music is in there. The writing and composing are at their best, the performances are just great (with a palette of talented guest musicians, Nick D'Virgilio not being the least) and the mood is mellower than on recent albums. Lead singer David Longdon is a great addition to the band. His voice is pretty close to Sean Filkins's, but he sings in a much more controled manner than his predecessor. Big Big Train has changed lead singer quite often, but I certainly hope that Longdon is a permanent addition to the band. In fact, if Big Big Train found the time to put Longdon's voice on previous recordings, I would certainly buy them even though I own the originals.
Time will tell if The Underfall Yard remains in my unofficial top 10 albums of all time list. For now, I can't help myself thinking of the best songs on A Trick of the Tail ("Entangled","Mad Man Moon"...) when I listen to this CD. Certainly my best album of 2009, and there has been many good ones (Porcupine Tree, Steve Hackett, IQ...). My highest recommendation indeed.