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Big Big Train: The Likes Of Us
Big Big Train - The Likes Of Us Album Art

Big Big Train: The Likes Of Us

Melodic Progressive Rock
5.0/5.0

Now in their fourth decade of making music, legendary band Big Big Train returns with their sixteenth studio album, The Likes Of Us. The new album reflects some changes. It will be the first album of new music with singer Alberto Bravin (PFM) and keyboardist Oskar Holldorff who joined in 2022. Bravin replaces friend and long serving vocalist David Longdon who dies tragically in 2021. Bravin is also an accomplished songwriter, establishing a musical partnership with bassist Gregory Spawton. A second change is signing to InsideOut Music, the premier prog label. In the past BBT released their material via their own label, English Electric Recordings. (You can still get their music and The Likes Of Us via their website.)

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Big Big Train

A third difference within The Likes Of Us is the lyrical themes of personal reflections from the musicians. By example, the opus Between The Masts speaks to the two radio masts in Sutton Coldfield which Spawton recalled from childhood. From Bravin's childhood came Miramare, the story about the castle built by Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife Carlotta of Belgium.


But, musically, nothing has changed with Big Big Train. You will still be entertained with some of the finest classic melodic progressive rock in the new century. Yet, perhaps the elephant in the room must be addressed: Alberto Bravin replacing David Longdon on vocals. Though those are big shoes to fill, there's no worries here. No comparisons are necessary. Mr Bravin sings with clarity and range, easily raising song melody and harmony. Fine vocal arrangements have always been a signature feature of a BBT arrangement, a pillar equal to the instrumentation. Bravin and BBT have a bright future.

Speaking to the album in general, and a few songs also, as a prog fan I enjoy both the intrigue of technicality and the imagination of individual musicianship. For Big Big Train, the former is always rendered with subtlety to dissolve complexity into song accessibility. That's why songs like Miramare, Last Eleven, or the seventeen minute opus Beneath The Masts work so well. The listener is moved along with gentleness of a paper boat on a Midlands trout stream.

The latter musicianship is executed with a simple passion: elevate and move the arrangement whether by a piano melody, bass line, violin and synth embellishment, or a brass section injection. These merge well within the lively Light Left In The Day, the sweeter and smooth Love Is The Light, or the subtle, short rocker Skates On. All these things are both wonderful and, perhaps, mysterious and so requiring several listens to appreciate.

All things considered, with The Likes Of Us, Big Big Train reaffirms their passion and talent for melodic progressive rock. They are skilled masters of the genre, and this album is another entertaining offering for fans of the same. Easily recommended.



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The Take Away

With The Likes Of Us, Big Big Train reaffirms their passion and talent for melodic progressive rock. They are skilled masters of the genre, and this album is another entertaining offering for fans of the same. Easily recommended.

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