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.
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.