BIG BIG TRAIN – The Underfall Yard [Remixed, Remastered & Expanded] (2021) HQ

BIG BIG TRAIN - The Underfall Yard [Remixed, Remastered & Expanded] (2021) full
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English premier crossover prog act BIG BIG TRAIN is releasing a new 2021 version of their acclaimed album ”The Underfall Yard”, Remixed, Remastered & Expanded.
Originally released in December 2009, now BIG BIG TRAIN decided to take time on the re-issue to make it special, and asked engineer Rob Aubrey to go back to the original sessions and mix the album again from scratch. The band also spent some time working on bonus material, which ended into a second full disc.
There’s 48 minutes of new material, including a fresh studio re-recording of the album’s epic title track, the ‘Songs From The Shoreline’ suite, which was planned for the album’s original release, and a newly composed song written specifically as a companion piece for this, the definitive version of this wonderful album.

‘The Underfall Yard’ was a turning point for Big Big Train. It was the first album to feature David Longdon on vocals, the first to feature impressive Nick D’Virgilio as the band’s drummer (Nick played on a couple of tracks on 2007’s The Difference Machine album but only as a guest) and the first to feature the distinctive sound of Dave Desmond’s brass band, creating a unique identity for BBT which the band went on to explore further on subsequent albums, English Electric, Folklore and Grand Tour, and in live performance.

While promoting ‘The Underfall Yard’, Big Big Train took a punt and gave away the monolithic, 23-minute title track free via their website. This counter-intuitive gambit paid off. Years later, with their fortunes flourishing, BBT polled their Facebook fans (affectionately dubbed `Passengers’), and learned that this generous/shrewd gesture had led to many thousands of sales of the parent album.
In turn, that LP was the gateway to the band’s world for a large proportion of the receptive audience that followed them ever since. To this day that fan favourite still shifts units and remains their best-selling release to date.

At that time, the band were 19 years, six albums and three singers in. This was their first outing with their new find, frontman and multi-instrumentalist David Longdon. From the a cappella choral lines of opener ‘Evening Star’ and into the cascading rounds of ‘Master James Of St George’, it was clear his seasoned vocals gave fresh depth and soul to bassist / writer Greg Spawton’s ever more refined compositions.
With ‘Master James’ and defining gut-puncher ‘Victorian Brickwork’, Spawton took the trauma of his father’s recent death and couched it in textured, complex and listenable progressive rock.
Drawing on grand heroics in the stirring ‘Winchester Diver’ and the title opus, Spawton was developing a unique way with historical English themes, setting the template for BBT’s distinctive musical identity.

So many sonic trademarks were coming together for the band at this point. Former member Andy Poole did much of the under-the-bonnet stuff on the original; on this remixed remaster BBT’s trusted engineer Rob Aubrey buffs to a new sheen a record that shone anyway.
The work of (soon-to-be official) members Nick D’Virgilio and Dave Gregory gleams anew, as do the baleful, colliery band tones of Dave Desmond’s brass ensemble. The extras here are three new recordings by the ‘classic’ BBT line-up, including now-former members Gregory, violinist Rachel Hall and keyboardist Danny Manners.

With a shiny new brass prelude and updated guitar solo from guest Francis Dunnery, ”The Under Fallyard New Version 2020′ is a vibrant read that shows what a difference a decade, live experience and true chemistry can make.
‘Songs From The Shoreline’ re-points ‘Victorian Brickwork’ and reunites it with later EP track Fat Billy Shouts Mine, and the brand new ‘Brew And Burgh’ is an elegantly simple, sentimental Spawton anthem about the fellowship found among the band, and their Passengers too.
It’s a sweet coda to this, the definitive edition of a modern prog masterpiece.

 

CD 1
1. Evening Star
2. Master James of St George
3. Victorian Brickwork
4. Last Train
5. Winchester Diver
6. The Underfall Yard

CD 2
1. Songs From The Shoreline:
(i) Victorian Brickwork (New Version)
(ii) Fat Billy Shouts Mine
2. Prelude To The Underfall Yard
3. The Underfall Yard (New Version)
4. Brew And Burgh

David Longdon – lead vocals, flute, mandolin, glockenspiel, keys
Nick D’Virgilio – drums; backing vocals
Andy Poole – bass, keyboards
Gregory Spawton – keyboards, guitars, bass
Dave Gregory – guitars, electric sitar, Mellotron
Guest musicians
Jon Foyle – electric cello (track 1), cello (tracks 3, 4, 5)
Rich Evans – cornet (tracks 1, 3, 6), cornet solo (track 3)
Dave Desmond – trombone (tracks 1, 3, 6)
Nick Stones – french horn (tracks 1, 3, 6)
Jon Truscott – tuba (tracks 1, 3, 6)
Francis Dunnery – guitars (track 6), guitar solo (track 6)
Jem Godfrey – synthesizer solos (track 6)

 

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