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Thread: FEATURED CD - Big Big Train : English Electric (Parts 1 And 2)

  1. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Plasmatopia View Post
    I don't think the Genesis comparison is deniable...but I don't think it would be fair to paint BBT as any sort of Genesis clone. That doesn't make sense to me.
    Maybe, but on every thread I have ever read on this band the 'G' word does crop up time and time again.

    And these comments are world wide. They cant all be wrong.

  2. #52
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toothyspook View Post
    Maybe, but on every thread I have ever read on this band the 'G' word does crop up time and time again.

    And these comments are world wide. They cant all be wrong.
    They're not wrong that there are at least some similarities. They would be wrong, in my opinion, if they were all saying "Genesis clone".
    Just sitting at home rocking back and forth and jealously caressing my invisible collection of theoretical assets.

  3. #53
    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    The Underfall Yard is their masterwork IMHO! EE part 1 hit me as a slight step down, but still very worthwhile. You won't find better songwriting, engineering, arranging or production anywhere else in progdom!

    I don't really like the way they release an album then expand it after you've already bought it. Full Power is a great example! If you bought EE 1, EE 2 doesn't give you the full package! You need to rebuy EE 1 to get the whole shebang with Full Power.

    Still, though, these guys are a sumptuous mix of musical goodness!

  4. #54
    I don't think anyone could deny that they are in the Genesis-wing of the symphonic prog genre. But they aren't a clone in the way of Citizen Cane or The Watch, for example.

  5. #55
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    Another is exaggeration. "Repulsed by the positive" is hardly the tone of anyone in this thread that isn't a huge fan. As I've said in the past on music forums, praise usually requires no explanation, criticism does.


    Anyway, I have read this thread with interest and appreciate some of the insight into why the music stands out for them. I agree with those that The Underfall Yard works for me more than EE personally.
    To be more specific, to make comments about whether posts are positive or negative, is in fact a critique of the posters more than the music. For example:
    "but am surprised at some of the more rapturous responses they seem to provoke." Which is the most exaggerated comment about commenters in this thread. IMO, praise or negative criticism is more valuable when cast into the reference frame of the commenter. Some people just don't like symphonic prog and that would be nice to know. But to critique positive posts as being from religious fanatics because one doesn't like the music, doesn't communicate any useful information to me.

    I don't think the posts relating BBT to Genesis are useful, while sure you can analyze and correlate, whatever. I don't care how people classify music except in the broadest sense, because to do at a finer level loses detail. If one wants to classify in order describe the music one does or doesn't like, that's fine.

    I find right brain things difficult to describe in text.
    “[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

  6. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    To be more specific, to make comments about whether posts are positive or negative, is in fact a critique of the posters more than the music. For example:
    "but am surprised at some of the more rapturous responses they seem to provoke." Which is the most exaggerated comment about commenters in this thread. IMO, praise or negative criticism is more valuable when cast into the reference frame of the commenter. Some people just don't like symphonic prog and that would be nice to know. But to critique positive posts as being from religious fanatics because one doesn't like the music, doesn't communicate any useful information to me.

    I don't think the posts relating BBT to Genesis are useful, while sure you can analyze and correlate, whatever. I don't care how people classify music except in the broadest sense, because to do at a finer level loses detail. If one wants to classify in order describe the music one does or doesn't like, that's fine.

    I find right brain things difficult to describe in text.
    Since the comment about being surprised at some of the rapturous responses came from me, I should apologize if it came across as insulting. My intended point was that I actually do enjoy BBT, but in a somewhat lukewarm way, and am simply somewhat surprised by how many people seem to consider them the very best in contemporary prog. Since you seem to be suggesting that more context would help you better to understand where critical comments come from, I'm happy to oblige. I enjoy a very wide swath of prog, but probably gravitate most to symphonic, pastoral, and avant subgenres, and away from anything remotely metallic, and am only lukewarm about most neo aside from Marillion. On the surface, I would expect that BBT would be a perfect fit for my preferences; however, there's something about the production that perhaps feels too "neo"-like for my tastes--I keep expecting to hear Neil Morse pipe in (and I know that not everyone considers Neil Morse projects to be "neo," but I definitely do). I know that one of my main issues with IQ is the somewhat plodding drum style (in comparison to the '70s groups they might otherwise evoke), and that may be part of my problem with BBT as well, though I'd have to listen again to be sure.

    The word I used in my original post, "homogenized," is what keeps coming to mind as the best way to describe what I don't like so much about BBT--they never sound like they might be playing live in the studio, but rather sound overly polished in a way that was never true of Gabriel-era Genesis, to use only the most obvious point of comparison. They remind me a bit of a band trying to write like Gabriel-era (or perhaps early Collins-era) Genesis, but also trying to get the studio sound of "Calling All Stations"-era Genesis. I don't want to exaggerate this too much--as I said, it is hard for me to put my finger on whatever aspect it is of their music that leaves me somewhat cold, since in theory they should be right up my alley. In the end, I suppose it comes down to the issue of "mood" that Bill G. brought up--to me, BBT has a lot of great ingredients, but lacks the mood or atmosphere to which I personally respond, whereas for others, apparently they set exactly the right mood/atmosphere. To me, I guess they sound more like Americans trying to evoke Englishness than the Englishmen they actually are.

    As for a contemporary symphonic prog album that really knocks me out, I would nominate Renaissance's Symphony of Light or the most recent Anglagard.
    Last edited by NorthNY Mark; 08-05-2014 at 02:56 PM.

  7. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    Everybody is entitled to their opinion, however in the spirit of communication, an example of what one considers good, would go along ways towards helping us understand why one doesn't like something. Just being repulsed by the positive seems to be a common ailment on the internet.
    The fact that something (which overall gets good feedback) could be criticized on the net just because initially it got this good feedback is true. Maybe it's human nature. I speak about the overall feel, not myself. It's also true for movies. I don't think there is a film which has been met with universal acclaim. Well, maybe the first Die Hard is an exception, I really haven't heard anybody say something negative about it, no matter what they like. Well, maybe Burt Reynolds who was offered the part of John Mclane but refused and said something like: "I don't regret turning down anything that Bruce Willis has done." Otherwise you'll hear all you can imagine about Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, Blow-Up and so on.
    But OK, enough with that.

    The comment I made was about IQ...
    Presto Ballet's first two albums I like better than some of IQ's output. Although the last from IQ was a good record, I think it was well done, the keyboards made the difference - more variety in them. As far as I can tell, both bands use mellotron but PB's use of keyboards I find more captivating, also their production is clearer. Both play hard edged prog rock so I think are comparable.

  8. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    Another is exaggeration. "Repulsed by the positive" is hardly the tone of anyone in this thread that isn't a huge fan. As I've said in the past on music forums, praise usually requires no explanation, criticism does.


    Anyway, I have read this thread with interest and appreciate some of the insight into why the music stands out for them. I agree with those that The Underfall Yard works for me more than EE personally.
    Yup, agreed.
    If everybody sang the same song here there would be no debate. It would be like Peter Seller's initial phone conversation with his Russian counterpart in Dr.Strangelove: "I'm coming through fine and you're coming through fine...We're both coming through fine." It was something like that. What a harmony.

  9. #59
    Member emperorken's Avatar
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    These albums are ones I should like a lot, but I don't. They have one of THE great singers in David Longdon. And it's not that I haven't tried, but I find the music rather bland and uninspiring. I call it "easy listening prog". Nothing powerful, dynamic, or exciting here to my ears.

  10. #60
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthNY Mark View Post
    Since the comment about being surprised at some of the rapturous responses came from me, I should apologize if it came across as insulting. My intended point was that I actually do enjoy BBT, but in a somewhat lukewarm way, and am simply somewhat surprised by how many people seem to consider them the very best in contemporary prog. Since you seem to be suggesting that more context would help you better to understand where critical comments come from, I'm happy to oblige. I enjoy a very wide swath of prog, but probably gravitate most to symphonic, pastoral, and avant subgenres, and away from anything remotely metallic, and am only lukewarm about most neo aside from Marillion. On the surface, I would expect that BBT would be a perfect fit for my preferences; however, there's something about the production that perhaps feels too "neo"-like for my tastes--I keep expecting to hear Neil Morse pipe in (and I know that not everyone considers Neil Morse projects to be "neo," but I definitely do). I know that one of my main issues with IQ is the somewhat plodding drum style (in comparison to the '70s groups they might otherwise evoke), and that may be part of my problem with BBT as well, though I'd have to listen again to be sure.

    The word I used in my original post, "homogenized," is what keeps coming to mind as the best way to describe what I don't like so much about BBT--they never sound like they might be playing live in the studio, but rather sound overly polished in a way that was never true of Gabriel-era Genesis, to use only the most obvious point of comparison. They remind me a bit of a band trying to write like Gabriel-era (or perhaps early Collins-era) Genesis, but also trying to get the studio sound of "Calling All Stations"-era Genesis. I don't want to exaggerate this too much--as I said, it is hard for me to put my finger on whatever aspect it is of their music that leaves me somewhat cold, since in theory they should be right up my alley. In the end, I suppose it comes down to the issue of "mood" that Bill G. brought up--to me, BBT has a lot of great ingredients, but lacks the mood or atmosphere to which I personally respond, whereas for others, apparently they set exactly the right mood/atmosphere. To me, I guess they sound more like Americans trying to evoke Englishness than the Englishmen they actually are.

    As for a contemporary symphonic prog album that really knocks me out, I would nominate Renaissance's Symphony of Light or the most recent Anglagard.
    It seems that most English musicians have been imitating Americans for decades, even Sandy Denny performed many songs which were imitation folk and roots music. Phil Collins, Adele, Joss Stone ... mimicking American music. So what is really English. I know no American musicians mimicking Englishness. BBT isn't symphonic in the way Renaissance is, and Renaissance is more classical alluding to a fantasy of the way England once was. BBT alludes more to a fantasy of modern England, not some mythology, not that I don't enjoy the mythology embedded in best of English art rock of the 70s. 3 songs IMO of BBT need to be listened to before forming an opinion, Judas Unrepented, English Racer, and Curator of Butterflies. There is nothing in this music resembling a Neal Morseism. Neal Morse does sound like an American imitating the English, especially the Beatles.

    As to sounding like a produced but not live quantity, I don't get that at all. An example of that is Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, and Alan Parson. BBT's Lets Make some Noise was recorded live.
    Last edited by Firth; 08-05-2014 at 07:19 PM.
    “[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

  11. #61
    Quote Originally Posted by emperorken View Post
    These albums are ones I should like a lot, but I don't. They have one of THE great singers in David Longdon. And it's not that I haven't tried, but I find the music rather bland and uninspiring. I call it "easy listening prog". Nothing powerful, dynamic, or exciting here to my ears.
    I wouldn't say it's bland for me. The first EE is good. I think Steven Wilson is a bit bland. I agree that the BBT singing is good, I also think that IQ's singing is very melodic. But these bands have a bit too soft of a production. Of course, they can't make it harder and more bombastic if it doesn't suit the sound/direction/vision. They play what they play. Not every band should be the same. I would like there to be more music like Presto Ballet, Simon Says or Mystery but it is what it is.
    Usually when someone brings up Magellan, Frost or Haken or anything like that, people say that they don't like the pomposity or bang to the walls keyboards which are very much to the front. They say that this music lacks subtlety. There are all kinds of opinions. Comes down to taste, I guess.

  12. #62
    Rather than "easy listening prog", BBT seem to recall a time when pop/rock music could contain elements of rock, folk, jazz (among others) and song length was not limited to 2-5 minutes -- bands like Traffic, and Genesis, for example.

    They make some lovely music that contains subtlety, rich sonic textures, and also a few powerful moments when the songs call for it. They do have dynamics to their songwriting (for example, listen to their song Kingmaker). To call them "easy listening" is doing them a great disservice, and is very unfair.

    I'm grateful that they are around and making music today.

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Rather than "easy listening prog", BBT seem to recall a time when pop/rock music could contain elements of rock, folk, jazz (among others) and song length was not limited to 2-5 minutes -- bands like Traffic, and Genesis, for example.

    They make some lovely music that contains subtlety, rich sonic textures, and also a few powerful moments when the songs call for it. They do have dynamics to their songwriting (for example, listen to their song Kingmaker). To call them "easy listening" is doing them a great disservice, and is very unfair.

    I'm grateful that they are around and making music today.
    Agreed, and when one critiques a music it helps to provide an example of one considers dynamic prog. The quietest moments of most modern prog bands are just weak and non-interesting. The prog metal folks (DT) are into high energy which all by it self is boring too.
    “[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

  14. #64
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    I understand if this doesn't grab everyone (what music does?), but the criticisms of "no dynamics" or "plodding" make me wonder if we're listening to the same band. I think both those descriptions are demonstrably, self-evidently false.
    Just sitting at home rocking back and forth and jealously caressing my invisible collection of theoretical assets.

  15. #65
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plasmatopia View Post
    I understand if this doesn't grab everyone (what music does?), but the criticisms of "no dynamics" or "plodding" make me wonder if we're listening to the same band. I think both those descriptions are demonstrably, self-evidently false.
    "Plodding" compared to what?
    “[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

  16. #66
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    "Plodding" compared to what?
    Hummingbirds.
    Just sitting at home rocking back and forth and jealously caressing my invisible collection of theoretical assets.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plasmatopia View Post
    Hummingbirds.
    “[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

  18. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by emperorken View Post
    These albums are ones I should like a lot, but I don't. They have one of THE great singers in David Longdon. And it's not that I haven't tried, but I find the music rather bland and uninspiring. I call it "easy listening prog". Nothing powerful, dynamic, or exciting here to my ears.
    I feel the same.
    “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

  19. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Rather than "easy listening prog", BBT seem to recall a time when pop/rock music could contain elements of rock, folk, jazz (among others) and song length was not limited to 2-5 minutes ... They make some lovely music that contains subtlety, rich sonic textures, and also a few powerful moments when the songs call for it. They do have dynamics to their songwriting (for example, listen to their song Kingmaker). To call them "easy listening" is doing them a great disservice, and is very unfair. I'm grateful that they are around and making music today.
    Yep, exactly how I feel about the band that BBT has developed into over the last few years.
    There is a broader range of harmonic subtlety, pastoral textures, imaginative playing and different kinds of sentiments and dramatic moods in English Electric Full Power than most prog bands manage in an entire career. The sheer diversity of styles, scorings, sounds and types of narratives (in the lyrics) make this a very, very special double album.

    I can appreciate why some who bought EE1 and then also bought EE2 felt a bit over-burdened when they released Full Power (and also the 'Make Some Noise' EP for those who just wanted the four new tracks). But, at least for British fans, the cost of all these CDs is amazingly good value. I don't resent paying for Full Power at all.

    Moreover, sequencing EE1, EE2 and the EP tracks into the same order as Full Power won't actually do the job quite fully because the way the tracks are mixed means that some of them segue wonderfully into each other (e.g. "Make some noise" goes atmospherically into "The first rebreather"). Also, I found that EE2 never quite did it for me as much in isolation as EE1 had - but then when you put the whole lot together in the 'Full Power' edition it just all clicks together and knocks me out - and some of the EE2 tracks actually seemed to become stronger in their final contexts. Quite simply, this album is marvellous - and it's easily the most coherent double-album collection of varied songs of all kinds of parameters that I think I've heard in a really long time. The pacing of the sequence of tracks is just perfect as well - culminating in "Curator of butterflies" so beautifully.

    After hearing EE1 and EE2 very enthusiastically, I initially continued to think that The Underfall Yard and Far Skies, Deep Time were the best things they'd done by far - but then the entire English Electric Full Power double-album set has proved to be a masterpiece.

    I don't much care for the earlier more so-called "Neo" stuff they did in the 90s, but the band they've become (since Dave Longdon and Dave Gregory joined) is comfortably one of my favourite prog outfits currently active. For what it's worth, the others might be Frost, Moon Safari, Sanguine Hum and Transatlantic - all bands that have their whining detractors on here, but all of whom give me the kind of joys that some older venerated bands are unlikely to ever stimulate again.
    Last edited by Dodie; 08-06-2014 at 11:55 AM.

  20. #70
    Love this album. I actually like more than 'The Underfall Yard', I guess the melodies seem (even) stronger to me-"East Coast Racer", "Uncle Jack", "Winchester From St Giles' Hill", "Curator of Butterflies", etc... etc... all excellent.

  21. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by emperorken View Post
    These albums are ones I should like a lot, but I don't. They have one of THE great singers in David Longdon. And it's not that I haven't tried, but I find the music rather bland and uninspiring. I call it "easy listening prog". Nothing powerful, dynamic, or exciting here to my ears.
    I know what you mean about thinking you should like something but don't. I've been having that issue with Mahler for about 30 years.

    But the last line "Nothing powerful, dynamic or exciting..." seems extreme. "Exciting" is in the eye of the beholder. But "dynamic" in terms of contrasts between loud and soft, happy and sad, dense and open textures. This album is virtually definitive of "dynamic" in any terms I'm familiar with. As for "powerful," there are climactic moments in The First Rebreather, A Boy in Darkness, Judas Unrepentant, East Coast Racer and more that just raise the roof. And there are so many quiet moments that I find equally powerful.

  22. #72
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    Full Power is the first record in a while that I get an ear worm at times when I feel energized and positive about something completely different than the music, and non-musical.
    “[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

  23. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    As to sounding like a produced but not live quantity, I don't get that at all. An example of that is Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, and Alan Parson. BBT's Lets Make some Noise was recorded live.
    Euhm, that song certainly WASN'T recorded live although the video for it might give you the impression. The band is as we speak wrapping up live recording sessions (for DVD) @ Real World Studios.

  24. #74
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    This interview and commentary is so appropriate:



    http://progarchy.com/2013/09/30/perf...ic-full-power/
    “[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

  25. #75
    Very accomplished and very English-not to mention Very Good. I'm not a voracious listener of prog as I'm often busy trying to make it but I really enjoyed English Electric Full Power. Sure, it has a lot of classic prog going on-mostly taking influence from 70's Genesis but it's much more orchestrated and the song seems to rule instead of any one member's instrument.

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