And so the hard work of the past two years reaches its culmination with the delightful package that makes up English Electric: Full Power, which is comprised of both the band’s acclaimed English Electric albums plus the four new songs included on the new EP Make Some Noise EP, released simultaneously and itself an excellent mid-priced, nine-track primer. However, it’s not just a cynical money grab, as some ‘fans’ have griped online.
The new set comes housed in a lavish 96-page digibook with all the songs’ thoughtful, interesting lyrics, the stories behind every song and biographical details of the other musicians the band worked with on the project. It also rearranges the music to fit into the sequence originally envisaged by the band – apparently some pieces of music just weren’t ready at the right time. This has also caused some consternation among those abovementioned prog fans, and opinions filtered out – some of it, you will be completely unsurprised to hear, not exactly complimentary about the new sequencing on offer on Full Power. So let’s try to put it all into perspective offline, shall we?
English Electric, Parts One and Two, are two quite wonderful albums from a band currently beginning to reap (hopefully) richly deserved dividends from an extraordinary body of work, not least over the past decade, as they have carved out their own unique niche. Listened to as separate pieces, they are hugely enjoyable, and having been reworked here in the manner originally intended, they now allow the listener another insight into a work that relates the travails of the working people of the English landscape over a period of time.
Of the new songs, the ebullient Make Some Noise strikes home easiest – with lines like ‘Chasing adolescent dreams, baked beans and Soda Streams…’, it’s a heartfelt evocation of times gone by that works beautifully in context, and out of context shows that the band can pen an anthemic rock song that could easily resonate with fans beyond the prog realm.
With these two albums and a Prog Award under their belt, this is without a doubt their finest hour. How on earth do they follow this? I don’t know, but if anyone can, Big Big Train can.