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Thread: Big Big Train - New album Grand Tour announced May 17th

  1. #51
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    Who is the second singer on Theodora? Is it Nick? Sounds a bit different than his usual voice, but I can't put my finger on why...

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by progfan915 View Post
    Who is the second singer on Theodora? Is it Nick? Sounds a bit different than his usual voice, but I can't put my finger on why...
    It's Nick.
    He also doubles David Longdon on backing vocals during the whole of The Florentine.
    Not just a Genesis fanboy.

  3. #53
    I have often thought what Crimson, Yes and ELP musical careers would have been like if they had taken one of their albums and stuck to the formula and ignored the angst around the late seventies toward progressive rock and made a string of closely related albums, some thing Steve howe talked about wistfully.

    Well I have my answer this is my fifth BBT CD and they are once again mining the same territory. So they have the problem of the new music being compared to the very best of Full Power and Folklore but lacking the surprise and audacity of the originals. I have been soaking up Grand Tour but put "Folklore" on in the car today and I can see in the future saying OK I need my BBT fix and head straight for "Full Power" and "Folklore". I know people talk very positively of "Underfall Yard".

    The three long pieces on GT are far and away the most interesting but "Ariel" has some real misfires (lyrics and arrangements) in amongst some really great chord shapes and "Voyager" sounds oddly earth bound given its narrative but then that may be the reference to Prometheus Fire which has unique connotations for me. That leaves me with "Roman Stone" which not only has a lot of personality but the use of both Violin early on to play the melody is enchanting and Horns latter work a treat and give it that crucial sense of new pastures. I also really appreciated the sparseness of the instrumentation avoiding that ponderous everything in the kitchen sink feeling that permeates some of the music. I found myself thinking of the hypnotic beauty of "Formentera Lady" This I will continue to listen to.

    Some pieces are neutral but the start up piece would be far better as an instrumental, Longdon takes it from fresh to predictable. I come out of Theodora when Nick starts singing in that horrible generic 'american' rock tenor voice (Mike Portnoy on Kaleidoscope , Moonsafari who I know are European but sound mid atlantic). This is a song where Longdon's phrasing is really laboured (That sincere angst ridden breathy thing he does) until we get into that predictable "Full Poweresque" chorus and the telegraphed key change.

    Pantheon - hum an exercise in being derivative (Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, late seventies jazz guitar work) and then mercifully it just stops. When I think of the "world" jazz bands that feature on Radio 3 on a saturday afternoon this piece just comes across as a rehearsal, where is the élan, the flair the fun, the naughtiness, the joy, the swing ?

    "Progressive Rock Bands" who play "formally" doing Jazz flavoured instrumentals is tricky the last few runs on "Voyager" are much better, energised full of personality, like "Brooklands" and they tell a story rather than coming across as a workout.

    Robert Fripp very sensibly employed Jazz musicians for that trip. Mr Bruford and Mr Holdsworth made it work on that one and only magnificent U.K. album.

    In summary I am glad ELP made diverse projects like "ELP" and "Works" and Crimson made "Islands" and "Lark Tongues" and didn't make "Tarkus" and "In the Court of" endlessly. As for BBT I love "Full Power" and "Folklore" and like the previous CD, "Grand Tour" offers un adulterated fresh joys once you whittle it down.
    Last edited by Michelle Johnston; 06-01-2019 at 01:47 PM. Reason: Spelling of name.

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle Johnston View Post
    [...] I come out of Theodora when Nick starts singing in that horrible generic 'american' rock tenor voice (Mike Portnoy, Moonsafari) [...]
    To be honest, I kinda stopped reading after this point. I’m confused by a couple things:

    1) That anyone would compare Nick D’Virgilio’s voice to Mike Portnoy. They are worlds apart.

    2) What does it have to do with Moon Safari, a band from Sweden?

    Also not sure what’s so “horrible” about Nick’s voice.

    Anyway, I didn’t really make it any further than that.

  5. #55
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    I tend to like "generic" rock tenor voices....but I'm not a fan of Nick's vocals for some reason. Just my own personal taste. To me he doesn't sound like anyone I would have put in the "generic rock tenor" category though.
    Just sitting at home rocking back and forth and jealously caressing my invisible collection of theoretical assets.

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    I found Nick's vocal in "Theodora" jarring, not because there's anything wrong with it, but just because the timbre of his voice is so different from Longdon's. In another band (or a different version of this band), it might have been a female vocal instead, and maybe worked better. On the other hand, it's been so long since anyone other than Longdon sang a lead in BBT, it might have been a shock no matter who it was.

    BBT is my favorite band right now, and I am also a fan of Nick's. I was excited to see how his level of participation had risen on this record, including a solo composition, two co-writes, a solo vocal, and lots of strong background singing. Yet, as good as Grand Tour is, the few things that bother me about it are often Nick-related. The drums are frequently too busy and sometimes too forward. His "Pantheon" instrumental isn't bad, but leaving it out would have resulted in a tighter and still-lengthy album. His solo vocal is a bit sore-thumbish.

    At the same time this record has a new energy that is welcome, and may also be coming from Nick (who's to say?). His strong presence in the newly-coalesced backup-vocal ensemble helps crystalize the band's overall vocal sound in a new and welcome way. And of course, while perhaps sometimes busy and forward, his drumming is spectacularly good.

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdclark View Post
    I found Nick's vocal in "Theodora" jarring, not because there's anything wrong with it, but just because the timbre of his voice is so different from Longdon's. In another band (or a different version of this band), it might have been a female vocal instead, and maybe worked better. On the other hand, it's been so long since anyone other than Longdon sang a lead in BBT, it might have been a shock no matter who it was.
    Nick had a small lead on the Grimspound album and Rachel had a bona fide lead vocal on the same album.

    Quote Originally Posted by rdclark View Post
    At the same time this record has a new energy that is welcome, and may also be coming from Nick (who's to say?). His strong presence in the newly-coalesced backup-vocal ensemble helps crystalize the band's overall vocal sound in a new and welcome way. And of course, while perhaps sometimes busy and forward, his drumming is spectacularly good.
    It's the new backing vocals I have a hard time adjusting to. Guess I'm used to David doing his own backing vocals.
    Not just a Genesis fanboy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeFrog View Post
    Nick had a small lead on the Grimspound album and Rachel had a bona fide lead vocal on the same album.
    Time to re-listen, I guess. That's the BBT album I have had the most trouble with and know least well.

    As for the new backing vocal sound, it's obviously been moving in this direction as the band shakes out as live-performance ready. So I guess their live shows now will sound even more exactly like the record than ever.

  9. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    To be honest, I kinda stopped reading after this point. I’m confused by a couple things:

    1) That anyone would compare Nick D’Virgilio’s voice to Mike Portnoy. They are worlds apart.

    2) What does it have to do with Moon Safari, a band from Sweden?

    Also not sure what’s so “horrible” about Nick’s voice.

    Anyway, I didn’t really make it any further than that.
    It doesn't matter what you think about my post its what you think about the music. I am not interested in your sarcastic remarks about my post but about your well thought out cogent thoughts about the music which are entirely absent but then your kind of smarmy self absorbed putdown is entirely typical of the level of debate on these sites. Do not bother to reply. You remind me of why I do not waste my time with this kind of thing. For that I thank you for being first out of the block.

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle Johnston View Post
    is entirely typical of the level of debate on these sites.
    This is actually a very fair site, that is very tolerant of all opinions the vast majority of the time, Michelle. No forum that invites debate and discussion is perfect, but by and large, progressive ears is far more accepting and free of out-and-out vitriol, than most. At least that has been my experience.

    neil

  11. #61
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boilk View Post
    This is actually a very fair site, that is very tolerant of all opinions the vast majority of the time, Michelle. No forum that invites debate and discussion is perfect, but by and large, progressive ears is far more accepting and free of out-and-out vitriol, than most. At least that has been my experience.

    neil

  12. #62
    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle Johnston View Post
    It doesn't matter what you think about my post its what you think about the music. I am not interested in your sarcastic remarks about my post but about your well thought out cogent thoughts about the music which are entirely absent but then your kind of smarmy self absorbed putdown is entirely typical of the level of debate on these sites. Do not bother to reply. You remind me of why I do not waste my time with this kind of thing. For that I thank you for being first out of the block.
    Oh lord...

    It wasn’t a put down. I was genuinely confused about why you mentioned Portnoy and Moon Safari, and thought you might clarify so I could understand your post.
    Last edited by aith01; 05-29-2019 at 12:37 AM.

  13. #63
    Occipital Provocatee Plasmatopia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Oh lord...

    It wasn’t a put down. I was genuinely confused about why you mentioned Portnoy and Moon Safari, and thought you might clarify so I could understand your post.
    I share your confusion about this, so I was also hoping for some clarification.
    Just sitting at home rocking back and forth and jealously caressing my invisible collection of theoretical assets.

  14. #64
    Those guys can compose catchy progish melodies. I like it!

  15. #65
    That ”Alive!” song, is that about enjoying the beauty of life? Only heard it once but remember a few lines about the ”cliffs of Dover”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drake View Post
    That ”Alive!” song, is that about enjoying the beauty of life? Only heard it once but remember a few lines about the ”cliffs of Dover”
    Yes it's mostly about enjoying the beauty of life, I suspect the line about the cliffs of Dover was added to make it fit with the Grand Tour concept, where the song represents the excitement of the departure.
    Not just a Genesis fanboy.

  17. #67
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    Is it wrong that I prefer Mike Portnoy's voice to Nick's?
    Prog's Not Dead

  18. #68
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    Well I've now had a chance for one listen through Ariel, still have 'Voyager' and 'Homecoming' to enjoy, but so far I am liking it.

    'Roman Stone' is probably my favorite so far, as well as 'Ariel', which seems to break new ground a bit and is very well written. (David Longdon's finest piece in my opinion) I also enjoyed 'Florentine'. 'Pantheon' I enjoyed the middle section to, the first couple minutes seemed to lack decent melody, but repeated listenings often prove me wrong! but I do always enjoy an instrumental, although they've had better instrumentals in the past I feel. The only song that doesn't do much for me is 'Theodora', which comes off a bit bland to me, save for the change where Nick sings, I actually quite enjoy that section and the chord change that initiates it. Other than that it seems overly predictable. I look forward to the last 2 as they are both Greg Spawton tracks, and I love his songs consistently.

  19. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle Johnston View Post
    I have often thought what Crimson, Yes and ELP musical careers would have been like if they had taken one of their albums and stuck to the formula and ignored the angst around the late seventies toward progressive rock and made a string of closely related albums, some thing Steve howe talked about wistfully.

    Well I have my answer this is my fifth BBT CD and they are once again mining the same territory. So they have the problem of the new music being compared to the very best of Full Power and Folklore but lacking the surprise and audacity of the originals. I have been soaking up Grand Tour but put "Folklore" on in the car today and I can see in the future saying OK I need my BBT fix and head straight for "Full Power" and "Folklore". I know people talk very positively of "Underfall Yard".

    That leaves me with "Roman Stone" which not only has a lot of personality but the use of both Violin early on to play the melody is enchanting and Horns latter work a treat and give it that crucial sense of new pastures. I also really appreciated the sparseness of the instrumentation avoiding that ponderous everything in the kitchen sink feeling that permeates some of the music. I found myself thinking of the hypnotic beauty of "Formentera Lady" This I will continue to listen to.
    Love your first paragraph. Would love to hear how things could have progressed without that weakness disguised as strength thing called 'Angst'

    I may agree that 'Full Power' is my favorite overall, and love much of 'Folklore', although some tracks (Along The Ridgeway, Brooklands) I like quite a bit better than others (Wassail, Winkie). But I really think you should give 'Underfall Yard' a shot. I think you'll enjoy it too.

    I'm with you on 'Roman Stone', a very beautiful piece.

    One more thing Michelle, please give us and aith01 another chance. Most of us are decent folk, with a passion for the same music you love and you made some nicely thought out comments that would be welcome on our site. We're all just human, sharing what moves and disappoints us among the music we love.

  20. #70
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    Now that I've listened all the way through I can better comment. There's always a song on each later BBT album it seems that brings tears to my eyes. For this album it was 'Voyager', the first 4 minutes or so. Difficult to describe intellectually other than saying it comes across with a beautiful melody, and an extra chord that goes deeper than the norm. It seems they cut that chord change out for the rest of the song, but I will need to listen again. Probably that's my favorite, followed by Homesong, Roman Stone and Ariel. Overall quite nice, I would think anyone that liked the last few would like this as it continues down the same lovely path. And one of the nicest packages for a single cd I've ever seen.

  21. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by LeFrog View Post
    Yes it's mostly about enjoying the beauty of life, I suspect the line about the cliffs of Dover was added to make it fit with the Grand Tour concept, where the song represents the excitement of the departure.
    Thanks. I think it is too much, actually. Also strikes me that so many Prog bands are too fond of including themselves in their videos. I mean, why not try and do some real video art instead. And that air-playing on the instruments got “we are a prog band” written all over it ...

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drake View Post
    Thanks. I think it is too much, actually. Also strikes me that so many Prog bands are too fond of including themselves in their videos. I mean, why not try and do some real video art instead. And that air-playing on the instruments got “we are a prog band” written all over it ...
    You have to remember prog bands do videos on rather low budgets so they need a simple and cheap idea to make it stand out.
    Me, I rarely watch videos more than once so that the visuals don't get in the way each time I listen to the music. Seems like a good idea as far as Alive is concerned.
    Not just a Genesis fanboy.

  23. #73
    Enjoying it immensely so far with The Florentine currently the standout track.

  24. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by LeFrog View Post
    You have to remember prog bands do videos on rather low budgets so they need a simple and cheap idea to make it stand out.
    Me, I rarely watch videos more than once so that the visuals don't get in the way each time I listen to the music. Seems like a good idea as far as Alive is concerned.
    Using the band members kids would be a better idea ... To be honest, this approach bores me to sleep. In every video, the musicians play leading roles. Me I have made 4 videos. No musicians included whatsoever. Cost: well maybe a few bucks.

    It’s about time some band tried something new.

  25. #75
    There is nothing new under the sun.

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