Big Big Train – English Electric (Part One)

Big Big Train - English Electric (Part One)

Big Big Train - English Electric (Part One)

“English Electric Part One” is Big Big Train’s eight album, released in 2012. The title implies, obviously, a Part Two, released in 2013. Even more so than the predecessor “The Underfall Yard”, this newer release was immensely praised by Prog Rock aficionados, and has even been considered by some to be one of the greatest albums of the genre of the decade. Although this last statement is a bit exaggerated, “English Electric Part One” is most definitely the greatest Prog Rock album of 2012, proving that Big Big Train has officially matured as a group.

The music on the album is for many, very reminiscent of old Symphonic Prog groups, more in particular Genesis: that is especially because of the vast array of instrumentation that is used on this album, especially keyboards. But there’s a lot of clean and acoustic guitar, flutes, strings, horns, and so on. It’s definitely the most lush release so far from Big Big Train. The previous albums however also had an astonishing amount of varied instrumentation. The brand new improvements that really surprise are the outstanding songwriting skills this band proves to have, as they are able to consistently write beautiful, gorgeously crafted songs, that hit almost all of the right spots. Another massive improvement of theirs is the structuring of the songs: if in earlier albums, their tracks at times felt a little messy and over- blown in length and flow, now they sound in order, perfectly structured and well-balanced.

The album itself shows not only a great and diverse palette when it comes to instrumentation; Every song, basically, has a unique trait that makes it distinguishable over the rest of them, and that is a quality that is hard to pull of in one album and impressive when successful, considering the structuring problems the band had with “The Underfall Yard”. A song like “Uncle Jack” has a predominant banjo, while “Judas Unrepented” has much more organ/keyboards, “Upton Heath” meanwhile has a very memorable and beautiful choir section in the chorus.

“English Electric Part One” is a sweet, gentle, melancholic piece of work, strengthened by fantastic musicianship, including the charismatic, lyrical vocals that weave in each track all of the different melodies beautifully. It’s diverse, catchy, lush, and challenging: four qualities that are more than enough for a Prog Rock album to work.


1. The First Rebreather (8.32)
2. Uncle Jack (3.49)
3. Winchester From St Giles’ Hill (7.16)
4. Judas Unrepentant (7.18)
5. Summoned By Bells (9.17)
6. Upton Heath (5.39)
7. A Boy In Darkness (8.03)
8. Hedgerow (8.52)


* Andy Poole – bass, keyboards
* Greg Spawton – guitars, keyboards, bass
* David Longdon – vocals, flute, glockenspiel
* Dave Gregory – electric guitar
* Nick D’Virgilio – drums

Additional musicians:
* Rob Aubrey – mixing, mastering
* Ken Brake – string section, double bass
* Edo Spanninga – recorder
* Andy Tillison – organ / keybords / moog
* Martin Orford – backing vocals
* Abigail Trundle – cello
* Teresa Whipple – viola
* Geraldine Berreen – violin
* Eleanour Gilchrist – violin
* Danny Manners – double bass
* Rachel Hall – violin
* Violet Adams – backing vocals
* Lily Adams – backing vocals
* Jon Truscott – tuba
* Dave Desmond – trombone
* Ben Godfrey – cornet
* John Storey – euphonium
* Jan Jaap Langereis – recorders
* Verity Joy – backing vocals
* Sue Bowran – violin
* Daniel Steinhardt – electric guitar


Review by Nick Leonardi

1 Comment

  1. Chris Topham

    June 12, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Nice review. I’m also very proud to point out that here at Plane Groovy we released this as a double heavyweight vinyl album with two bonus tracks; selling fast but still available both as a regular album and also fully signed by all six band members! English Electric Part Two will also be released by Plane Groovy on 23 September.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

%d bloggers like this: