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.
Back in the 90s, Neal Morse was one of the most talented people to emerge on the prog rock scene. With elements of Gentle Giant and Yes mixed with the Morse Brothers’ distinctive own style, Spock’s Beard gave prog a real kick up the arse with their first three albums. Their third album ‘The Kindness of Strangers’, especially, marked the band as one of the new breed of greats since it blended some great proggy ideas with the pop charms of Jellyfish and Crowded House to create a record that mixed excess with a truckload of melody. It was a disc they would never better. In the early 2000s, Neal found religion and left the band for a solo career. His albums from then on featured some reasonable music but divided fans due to some very heavy handed and preachy lyrical concerns.
Over the past decade, prog band Big Big Train have gone from strength to strength. Following the release of their ‘Underfall Yard’ album in 2009 the band’s popularity has continued to soar.
In many ways, their ‘English Electric’ pair of albums seemed hard to top – especially when reissued as a deluxe two CD set, resequenced with extra tracks – but the more pastoral ‘Grimspound’ and ‘Second Brightest Star’ have continued a wondrous musical ascent.
Fifty years is a long time for anything. It seems an especially long time for a band to exist…and particularly one that always set out to push boundaries and create music that wouldn’t necessarily appeal to the pop music buying masses. …And yet, here we are: prog rock legends Yes celebrated their half century in 2018. Granted, they’ve had an ever evolving, less than stable line up – no fewer than nineteen members have passed through the official ranks of Yes since their inception in 1968, and at the end of 2018, none of the band members are the true founders – but there is still a Yes. Detractors be damned.
Masterminded by Dave Kerzner, ‘Yesterday And Today’ is an all-star tribute that celebrates all line-ups and all eras of a great band, featuring a few very familiar faces, some of whom have been brave enough to tackle a couple of deeper cuts from the Yes catalogue.
It’s been a long journey for Big Big Train. From early gigs and their first proper album ‘Goodbye To The Age of Steam’, the elusive ‘Bard’, work with vocalist Sean Filkins and beyond, their first decade or so was about constant growth and change. While often recording great material, it seemed the band just couldn’t settle. With the release of ‘The Underfall Yard’ and the addition of vocalist David Longdon to their ranks, the band’s fortunes changed.