Monday 25 April 2011

Goodbye to the Age of Steam (2011 re-issue)

Completing the trio of BBT-related releases over the last few weeks is the re-issue of our first album, Goodbye to the Age of Steam, which is now on sale in the BBT shop (and will be available from Amazon UK and USA from May 3rd).

Goodbye to the Age of Steam was originally released on the GEP label in 1994 and has been unavailable for the last few years. It isn't representative of where we are now as a band and it wasn't something we intended to go back to, but Rob Aubrey had a window in his schedule last year and offered to re-mix it from the master tapes. The 1994 version of the album was recorded and mixed on a very tight budget and the opportunity to achieve the best possible sound quality with a complete re-mix was something we could not resist.

We have also added three bonus tracks to the album to ensure the 2011 version of Goodbye to the Age of Steam is a value-for-money release. Firstly, there is an extended version of Losing Your Way, featuring an instrumental section which was edited out of the album version; then a track called Far Distant Thing which we recorded for a radio session in 1993, and finally, an instrumental track called Expecting Dragons which reworks some of the album themes and motifs and which features the band's modern line-up.

Those of you who are familiar with the original release will also notice that we have used new artwork for the re-issue. The painting for the 1994 cover was sold at auction and we have no idea where it is. So we asked our artist, Jim Trainer, to paint some new images. Cracking job he made of it too (the re-issue features a 12-page booklet which includes a number of Jim's paintings.)

So, there it is. We've now completed our programme of re-issues and, from this point on, it is all about the future as we continue work on English Electric and start thinking about some gigs.

In the meantime, I hope you'll find something to enjoy on Goodbye to the Age of Steam. It's certainly not up there with The Underfall Yard or Far Skies Deep Time, but it's part of the Big Big Train story.



Steve Dunstan said...

Although very different to what the boys are doing now, this is still an excellent album. The track 'Blue Silver Red' has always been one of my favourite songs and would make any BBT compilation.

Ordered this morning, looking forward to hearing the new tracks :)

claus said...

already received the new version - it's brilliant and i still like it, although it's very different from what bbt is now.
speaking of the past though: why neglect "bard", which is a much stronger album than gttaos? this i don't understand. bard would gain very much from remastering. and there are really some gems on it, like "the last english king", "blacksmithing" or "for winter".

but right now thouroughly enjoying your first album! those were the days! ;-)

Gregory Spawton said...

We just don't get on with Bard. I wouldn't want to re-issue it without doing some further work on it and we don't have the time with all of the new material we have to complete. Age of Steam was easy as Rob did most of the work!

There are some good songs on Bard, though, and what we have done is to record entirely new versions of The Last English King and This is Where We came In with the new line-up. These will come out at some stage.

Anonymous said...

Seemingly instant delivery - thanks. A wonderful album made ever more wonderfuller via sonic improvement and bonus tracks.

This is bound to get the band even more deserved attention.

As for Bard, well I have to respect your view, but I think it is also an excellent album.


claus said...

well at least there will be some new versions - the last english king with david as singer should be gigantic!

maybe some day in the future bard will get the same lovingly treatment as your other albums (that way it would also look better in my cd-shelf!) ;-)

Steve Dunstan said...

Blow The House Down is a revelation, and the acoustic guitar sound on Blue Silver Red is so much better than the original. Good job guys and Mr Aubrey :)
Also have to mention the artwork, Jim Trainer as usual has summed up the material wonderfully.

Driver said...

Very nice guys. Well done. Although I haven't heard the original 1994 version, this re-issue was quite obviously a worthwhile effort. Also, as someone else said - "seemingly instant delivery". I have to say, excellent service all round and great value for money. Many thanks...

Jim said...

I typed a long reply to this post ages ago but the system crashed. I wanted to thank and agree with Steve Dunstan but he'll probably never read this now.

"Blow the house down" is an absolute bloody revelation and book-ended by two of the best instrumentals ever. This passage alone is the very reason I first feel in love with the music of Big Big Train. It blew me away completely and still does.

I bought the CD in virgin records (my only BBT purchase from a record store). I only picked the CD out of the racks because of the cover, then noticing they were on GEP I though they had to be worth a tenner. What a great investment that was! The CD has traveled the world with me - I took it to Japan and spent ages looking for the Japanese version with the two poets bonus track. I love everything about it.

When Greg asked me to do some artwork for the re-release I was both excited and nervous. Very nervous.

I spend one summer on the Lizard with the player on repeat, and the original cover just has such meaning for me. The album is permanently linked with that distant summer - I can't think of the area without hearing those tunes. Aside from the music, and playing, I just loved all the lyrics, all that placement, imagery and politics - nothing had ever moved me like it.

How could I match the original artwork? I couldn't do another engine house (I'd already stolen that image and used it for The Underfall Yard). I really wanted to do it justice. I bought some books on trains and the politics of the era looking for inspiration. I had a few sketches relating to the songs but they just didn't work or move me in the way I wanted. I started cutting relevant images from these reference books and gluing them to my sketches (along with my old chemistry text from university - Dr Jones would be pleased). Andy liked the initial cover image (and the link with an earlier piece I had done for "The Infant Hercules" demo. Encouraged, I set to work with my scissors glue and acrylic paint.

I had a great time listening to the songs again and re-examining the lyrics. You would not believe how much time I spend deciding what colours should be used - is this a green song? and if yes, what colour green?

I'm so pleased Steve likes the finished thing. I'm more proud of this than any other work I've done for the band. But would I pick this cover from the shelves in Virgin?

Thanks Steve.