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Big Big Train – ‘Welcome to the Planet’

Publisher
English Electric Records
FFO
Neal Morse, Pendragon, Genesis, Arena, Marillion
Release Date
28/01/2022
Publisher
English Electric Records
Genre
Progressive Rock

Bringing a second slice of progressive joy to their audience in just over six months, Big Big Train’s “Welcome to the Planet” once again shows the consistency and vision of a band who despite a myriad of line-up changes over the years, keep a sound as familiar and comfortable as your fluffy slippers.

The arrival of this album however, is with a deep sadness as lead singer David Langdon sadly passed away late last year, and didn’t get to see it released; it is therefore somewhat ironic that this album contains some of the most unforced joy to appear anywhere in the Progressive genre. There’s also a complex breadth of moods and musicality that shine through as sounding entirely comfortable and as natural as breathing to the assembled talents in the band.

The album’s two instrumentals, “A Room With no Ceiling”, and “Bats in the Belfry”, are where the most complex and diverse elements can be found, the latter would have been easily worthy of inclusion on any mid to late 70’s Genesis or Yes record. “Proper Jack Froster”, a somewhat whimsical evocation of a childhood winter could have been plucked straight from the “…and then there were three” session tapes, and  “Made From Sunshine” is quite simply the most life-affirming and positivity filled song that could be made without recourse to pseudo-religious overtones. “Oak and Stone” brings the album’s most affecting wistful and reflective moment, paced and sung like a reflective Peter Gabriel composition with simple and beautifully arranged double bass and violin; a mini-masterpiece for staring out of a rain-sodden window whilst sipping an afternoon coffee.

Closing the album, title track “Welcome to the Planet” brings back the positivity and joy; an opening fanfare (yes, really!) and ranges freely from almost whispered vocals to music-hall vaudeville brass with an irrepressible sense of companionship, calm, and, indeed, a “welcome”.

"Possibly the band’s finest work; repeated listens just make it even better"
90

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