......................................THE BAND AND RECORD OF THE MONTH
Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal - Logo
. OCTOBER 2007
Big Big Train is a fantastic and sensational band in the best British Prog Rock tradition. Inspired by 70s "Yes", "VDGG", "King Crimson" besides the usual Symphonic Progressive Rock influences of "Genesis", layered within strong Neo-Progressive Rock style from "Marillion" and "IQ", where, they are capable of combining different styles with genuine Progressive Rock elements, without sounding forced. The musicians are full of power and precision in their playing, making the instruments more fluent and especially more powerful in the arrangements, where all sounding unique and highly original. Listen carefully "The Difference Machine", the first song, "Hope This Finds You"  is an overture, It sounds 
as an emotionally soundtrack. The second track titled "Perfect Cosmic Storm", is possible find a collection of musical styles on the composition, a perfect combination of  Progressive Rock, full of  symphonism, with dynamic Jazz Rock Fusion, almost fifteen minutes with a lot of amazing instrumental passages. "Pick Up If You're There" is an inspired progressive piece, which features intense instrumental,  where guitar, bass, drums and keyboard between different vocal styles, work very well. "Salt Water Falling On Uneven Ground" and "Summer's Lease" are perfect, the musical themes are more varied and very symphonic, with an atmospheric instrumentation, a sound that is simultaneously intense and melodic, hard and symphonic, where you can hear echoes of "Genesis", "Marillion" and "IQ", but the end result is fantastic and, for me, the best tracks on the album. Overall a fantastic CD and one I would suggest any fans of bands like "Yes", "Genesis", "Pallas", "IQ", "Marillion" and "Kino", will definitely love "The Difference Machine". Brilliant and fantastic, highly recommendable...

The musicians currently working on the Big Big Train are:
Gregory Spawton - Keyboards, Guitars and Vocals
Tony Wright - Tenor & Alto Saxophone
and Flute
Becca King - Viola
Sean Filkins - Vocals
Steve Hughes - Drums
Andy Poole - Bass
Also on The Difference Machine features extensive contributions from some progressive music heavyweights like:
Pete Trewavas - Bass
Nick D''Virgilio - Drums
Dave Meros - Bass

The roots of Big Big Train go back into the 1980's, when Andy Poole formed a songwriting partnership in Bournemouth, England, with his childhood friend, Ian Cooper. At around the same time, Greg Spawton had also formed his first band, "Equus". That band played a few local gigs around the Birmingham area before splitting up when Greg went to university in 1984. Meanwhile, Andy and Ian's band, "Arcshine", recorded a few demos and occasionally emerged from their home studio to play some gigs.

In 1987, Greg moved down to Bournemouth. Shortly afterwards, he met Andy and they discovered that they shared a mutual appreciation of "Genesis", "Van Der Graaf Generator" and other progressive bands. In particular, they were both fans of a then relatively obscure band called "IQ". Indeed, Andy had spent some time as a roadie for "The Lens" and "IQ".

In the late 1980's, they decided to record some demos together. After a few months, the very first Big Big Train songs emerged, "The Obstacles Facing Mr Jones" (part of which ended up in "Kingmaker") and "Least Peculiar Thing". Andy also continued to work with Ian on the "Arcshine" project, although the two songwriting teams existed in parallel, never getting together.

In 1989, the meeting finally happened. "Arcshine" ceased to exist, and Big Big Train (Ian on keyboards and vocals, Greg on guitar and Andy taking up the bass guitar) was formed. More songs were written (Jas, Downhilling) and some "Arcshine" songs were also adapted by Big Big Train (Pathways, The Friend Inside.) Various singers were tried out before the band auditioned a young Canadian, called Martin Read. 

Shortly afterwards, the line-up was completed when the 15 years old Steve Hughes joined Big Big Train on drums. A demo cassette tape of the band's first songs, recorded on 8-track, was released in October 1991 and was followed by a handful of live performances. The demo tape "From the River to the Sea" was re-recorded and released as a self-financed CD in May 1992, following which Big Big Train played some higher profile gigs in England.

In January 1993, a second demo tape, "The Infant Hercules" was released and the band then spent the next six months writing the music for its first proper album, "Goodbye to the Age of Steam". This was recorded in a hectic two week period in July 1993. Soon afterwards, Big Big Train signed to the progressive rock label GEP, where they found themselves as label mates of "IQ".

"Goodbye to the Age of Steam" was a big leap forward for the band, both in terms of songwriting and recording quality. The response to the album was very positive, culminating in a licencing deal in Japan where the CD was re-released in 1995, with the traditional bonus track. In the meantime, Ian Cooper had left the band (for family rather than musical reasons) and live performances were put on hold while a replacement was sought and a new album written. 

Tony Müller was recruited in early 1995 and recording of the new album commenced in July of that year and continued, sporadically, until completion 18 months later. Some of the songs were debuted at the band's only show from this period at the Astoria, London. 'English Boy Wonders' was finally released in autumn 1997 although to a much less positive reaction than Age Of Steam. At this stage, after a less than pleasurable recording experience, a poorly received second album and with a record label which had stopped returning calls, it felt like the band had run its course.

Steve Hughes left the band in September 1998 and went on to join "The Enid". He was replaced, briefly, by Pete Hibbit. After a few more live performances, the band's momentum was all but spent and Greg and Andy retreated back to their studio without the rest of the band. Events had turned full circle; Andy and Greg, with no particular goal in mind and without even a band line-up, slowly began work on some demos, more out of habit than anything else. 

As the demos began to take shape, Greg and Andy called in other musicians as and when required. In February 2002, after three years of irregular writing and recording, 'Bard' was released. Bard received some excellent reviews. At the same time, "The Enid" went into hibernation and Steve Hughes rejoined. 

After that Andy and Greg carried on writing and Steve and Ian decided to come back on board. A new vocalist, Sean Filkins was recruited to replace Tony and the songs came very easily. A new album, "Gathering Speed", was released in March 2004. With the core element of Greg, Andy and Steve back together (see photo) Big Big Train decided to carry on writing and recording.

A new set of songs emerged and the band's most successful and critically well received album, "Gathering Speed", was released in 2004. Featuring new vocalist Sean Filkins and contributions from Ian Cooper, "Gathering Speed" tells the story of a fighter pilot in the summer of 1940.

A new album the "Difference Machine" is currently being recorded and will show further progression in the band's music. "The Difference Machine" will be followed by an introductory release, English Electric, including a mixture of new and re-recorded material.

New Release

"The Difference Machine"

01) Hope This Finds
.....You (3.12)
02) Perfect Cosmic
.....Storm (14.40)
03) Breathing Space
04) Pick Up If You're
.....There (13.39)
05) From The Wide
.....Open Sea (1.20)
06) Salt Water Falling
.....On Uneven
.....Ground (12.38)
07) Summer's Lease

The Different Machine was mixed by Rob Aubrey (Asia, Spock's Beard and IQ).

Also, you can read more informations, of the recording process for the first and the new album in, Big Big Train blog at the Band´s MySpace Site.

Would like any other information about the band, please send e-Mail to Big Big Train.

For more information and every thing about the band, please visit BIG BIG TRAIN HOME PAGEN
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