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.
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.
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.