Apart from the mighty Yes, few prog bands have a musical history as complicated as Big Big Train. Their 2023 incarnation features just one original member – band founder Gregory Spawton – but even bis role on board the prog rock locomotive has changed over the years. He’s transitioned from guitar based duties to playing bass and bass pedals, making him very much the anchor when it comes to live performance. The band weren’t always about performing in front of an audience, of course; for decades, they were notoriously gig-shy and it was only after the arrival of vocalist David Longdon in 2009 that BBT started to think very seriously about the possibility of returning to the stage.
2022 has gone extremely quickly. With most people back at work in their offices and gigs being a regular occurrence, everything has felt far more like those old pre-2020 days. Almost as if to celebrate a shift back towards “normality” (though we’re no means out of the woods with regard to viruses) lots of our favourite bands went into overdrive, and a few of them even produced albums that are up their with their finest work.
Below, you’ll find Real Gone’s ten favourite releases of 2022, along with a few others that really stood out. It really has been a great year for music; some of the stuff we’ve not included was also of a very high standard, and it really felt like there was something new to explore every week.
For even the greatest bands, there’s rarely such a thing as overnight success. This was certainly true for British prog band, Big Big Train. They spent the second half of the 90s and the early noughties recording independent albums that clicked with a small core of people, but remained largely hidden from the prog world at large. Works like ‘Goodbye To The Age of Steam’ and ‘Gathering Speed’ set out a rich musical stall that showed a love of Anthony Philips, and despite changes in line-up and sound, their music retained a very pastoral, very English heart that inspired all who heard it. Despite cult adoration, genuine success often seemed elusive; it wasn’t really until the release of their sixth proper album, 2009’s ‘The Underfall Yard’, that the band started to gain the kind of attention they’d long deserved.
Despite a global pandemic derailing gigs, it’s been a very productive couple of years for British prog band Big Big Train. They released a critically acclaimed album, ‘Common Ground’ during the first half of 2021, and another new album is expected in the early part of 2022.
In the meantime, they’re set to warm the cockles of prog fans with a surprise new single, ‘Proper Jack Froster’.
For many prog rock fans, Rikard Sjöblom is a man who requires no introduction. Over the past few years, his multi-instrumentalist’s skills have become invaluable to the popular Big Big Train both in the studio and on the road.