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Big Big Train: Grand Tour
Big Big Train - Grand Tour Music Review

Big Big Train: Grand Tour

Melodic Progressive Rock
4.5/5.0

Okay. So I've been living under the proverbial progressive music rock. This is my first go around with England's Big Big Train. Founded nearly 30 years ago, the band has been releasing albums since 1994. And I never heard of them or simply have no recollection of them, Senator. Please don't kick my ass. Here's their twelfth studio album, Grand Tour.

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Big Big Train

For most progressive rock fans, Big Big Train needs no introduction. They play prog in the great English tradition, you know, like Yes, Genesis, or Marillion. The song arrangements are grand and expansive, which is truly an understatement. Grand Tour boasts the faithful prog rock elements of compositional intrigue and superb musicianship. But for Big Big Train that's not enough. The band adds their own brass ensemble including trombone, french horn, and tuba. But there's more. BBT adds symphonic embellishment, not from some puny bank of synths (though they do have them), but from an 18-piece orchestra, which includes three cellos. I love cellos. Yet, in the end, it all sounds so simple, unpretentious, and curiously inviting. And mellow.

BBT's prog is rather mild in character. I wouldn't suggest putting it on as background music for your next wine and cheese frolic. Though it would fit, it would disappear in your ears like shopping mall muzak. But BBT can be up beat. Alive has some serious rock groove hidden away in its arrangement. And the instrumental Pantheon has a latent sense of heaviness in parts, but mostly, like in the middle, it sounds like jazz-rock fusion. But that musical feeling is found elsewhere as within Ariel and Voyager where, just after the midpoint, things get both lively and frisky in arrangement. In the latter song, in that fusion section, you'll hear some stronger lead guitar work. All said, Big Big Train's Grand Tour is a tour-de-force of delightful and entertaining classic melodic progressive rock for some very talented musicians. Easily recommended to prog wonks everywhere.


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The Bottom Line

Big Big Train's Grand Tour is a tour-de-force of delightful and entertaining classic melodic progressive rock for some very talented musicians. Easily recommended to prog wonks everywhere.

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