When Big Big Train appeared on the prog rock scene in the early 90s, they immediately set themselves apart from other new bands. Whereas other new arrivals seemed set on reworking things that were obviously derived from early Marillion or writing their own ‘Supper’s Ready’, Big Big Train were different. Their love of all things pastoral and a deep respect for the solo works of Anthony Phillips gave them a heart so much bigger than their would-be peers. With shifting line-ups came changes in sound, but the idea of “the song” always seemed to be key, but it wasn’t until the arrival of vocalist David Longdon in 2009 that they really broke into the big leagues.
For those not old enough to experience Bob Marley in his prime, UB40 provided a very important introduction into contemporary reggae music. Their earliest material, powered by massive basslines and even bigger social/political messages really got to the heart of early 80s Britain. Their first ten years, in particular, presented the work of a band that seemed almost infallible. They could shift from political anger, into 70s influenced dub, through to a deftly played cover tune without missing a beat. Their show from the Hammersmith Odeon in 1983 – still denied a DVD release – is a near perfect example of the early UB’s in full flight.
If you were a metal fan between 1999 and 2001, it almost became impossible to avoid Slipknot for a while. Their debut album gained the band a truckload of magazine coverage and around the turn of the millennium, they became a massive draw at festivals.
Every so often, a record producer comes along whose mastery of the studio takes on a legendary status. The early years of pop showed off the technical talents of George Martin and Phil Spector; the world of disco gave a platform to Quincy Jones and Geogio Moroder (Quincy’s hand in making Michael Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’ a global success cannot be understated – it’s a stunning sounding record) and the rock scene gave Martin Birch plenty to apply a distinctive style.
The Stranglers were an important part of the first movement of British punk. Not so much in that they were capable of writing angry, antagonistic songs, but more in the fact that they managed to inject various elements of late 60s dark psychedelia into the then new musical phenomenon.