English Electric (Part One)
Presenting eight brand-new songs, English Electric takes the listener on a journey through the English landscape, from the mining towns of the north to the chalk hills of the south.
Along the way, extraordinary tales are told of inland navigators, art-forgers, miners and men of industry; stories of people who dream of the daylight but are given up to the depths.
English Electric is a celebration of the people that work on, and under, the land and who made the hedges and the fields, the docks, the towns and the cities.
'Tell me do you know
the song of the Hedgerow?'
Produced by Andy Poole
Recorded by Big Big Train at English Electric studios
Double bass on Upton Heath, Judas Unrepentant and Summoned By Bells, drums, brass band, classical guitar and violin recorded by Rob Aubrey at Aubitt studios
String section and double bass recorded by Ken Brake at Regal Lane studios
Recorder on Summoned By Bells was recorded by Edo Spanninga at Studio Aurelia
Mixed and mastered by Rob Aubrey at Aubitt studios
Cover and booklet photography by Matt Sefton
Portrait photograph by Pete Callow
Design by Andy Poole
Curator: Greg Spawton
Big Big Train:
Andy Poole, Dave Gregory, David Longdon, Greg Spawton, Nick D’Virgilio
Abigail Trundle (cello)
Andy Tillison (organ, Moog, keyboards)
Ben Godfrey (cornet,trumpet,piccolo trumpet)
Danny Manners (piano,double bass)
Daniel Steinhardt (electric guitar)
Dave Desmond (trombone)
Eleanor Gilchrist (violin)
Geraldine Berreen (violin)
Jan Jaap Langereis (recorders)
Jon Truscott (tuba)
John Storey (euphonium, trombone)
Lily Adams (backing vocals)
Martin Orford (backing vocals)
Rachel Hall (violin)
Sue Bowran (violin)
Teresa Whipple (viola)
Verity Joy (backing vocals)
Violet Adams (backing vocals)
The First Rebreather
The true story of Alexander Lambert who dived heroically into the flooded Severn Tunnel in 1880. The navvies who built the tunnel lived in fear that the river would break in and drown them all. However, when the tunnel flooded, the water was fresh rather than tidal. It came from an underwater spring which flowed through a fault in the rock. Conventional diving equipment was used to try to close an iron door in the tunnel to hold the water back. The equipment failed due to the air-hose continually being snagged.
The tunnel engineer had heard of a man called Henry Fleuss who had developed an experimental diving apparatus called a Rebreather (in effect, it was the first aqua-lung.)Fleuss was persuaded to make an attempt on the tunnel but was so frightened that he turned back and said he would not return to the darkness ‘for £10,000 or more.’The equipment was handed over to Diver Lambert who carried out a number of dives which involved swimming 1000ft up the flooded tunnel in complete darkness. Lambert, The First rebreather, confronts his fear in the tunnel whilst the workmen await his return.
David's Uncle Jack was a collier who worked from a young age in the Derbyshire coal mines in the early 20th century. Jack was obsessed with hedgerows and the countryside and spent all of his spare time exploring the landscape with his dog, Peg.
Winchester From St Giles' Hill
Winchester stands at a number of crossroads in time, like London and York and is a microcosm of British and English history. There was a prehistoric settlement at Oram’s Arbour, then it became a Roman town and afterwards, a Saxon capital and stronghold. The Normans built a castle and the massive cathedral.
St Giles’ Hill is at the east of the city and forms part of the western edge of the South Downs.
From the top of the hill you can see all of Winchester. The song is an historical view of the development of the city and of (as Peter Ackroyd called it) the ‘long song’ of England.
This is the story of Tom Keating, the forger. Tom was an art restorer who eventually turned to forgery after failing to break into the art market. He was on a personal crusade to destabalise the art world by forging works to fool the experts. He deliberately planted clues in the works that would reveal them as forgeries. He also cunningly managed to falsify provenances for his forgeries.
However, in 1970 an article appeared in The Times concerning auctioneers' suspicions about the provenance of thirteen water colours. Tom knew the game was up and handed himself in. He was eventually arrested and charged in 1977 but the case was dropped due to his deteriorating health. He died at the age of 66 and is buried in the churchyard of Dedham Parish Church.
Summoned By Bells
This is a song about continuity and change in the Highfields area of the East Midlands city of Leicester. Greg's parents and grandparents grew up in Highfields where they worked on the railways. Places and people change but, in essence, may remain the same.
A song of friendship and of the Dorset countryside.
A Boy in Darkness
Uncle Jack told David the true stories of how children suffered in the mines in the 19th century. Although there has been considerable progress there are still plenty of dark corners where children may suffer. This song is about shining light into those dark places.
The album ends with Uncle Jack and a walk along the hedgerows.
"Another step in the Train's seemingly irresistible ascent." PROG
"A grand statement." RECORD COLLECTOR magazine
"Fragrant, mellifulous and, quite frankly, awe-inspiring." CLASSIC ROCK