Posted 20 hours ago

Door One

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David, sadly, died - depriving BBT of an incredible voice and the wider rock world of a genuine genre-straddling vocalist. Trusted co-producer/engineer Patrick Phillips oversaw the album’s completion after Longdon’s untimely death in November 2021. David had also finally, after many years, begun to gain both widespread acclaim and respect, furthermore he had found satisfaction in his life with partner Sarah Ewing. The album was steered to completion under the control of David's close friends Patrick Phillips and Gary Bromham and his partner Sarah Ewing. Stacey is one of four main musicians featured, along with bassist Steve Vantsis, saxophonist Theo Travis and Longdon’s former band mate from Gift Horse, Gary Bronham who contributed many instruments to the album.

You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. This one has a funky edge, powered along by electric piano, with some clavinet and Travis’s sax joining towards the end of the track. Birdsong, echoing piano and a building cinematic atmosphere characterise instrumental prelude Into The Icehouse, an Eno-esque mood-setter that, in a kinder world, might have served well as intro music to a live show. There’s No Ghost Like An Old Ghost” is next, kicking off with Jeremy Stacey’s drums, a highlight of many tracks on this album.The mandolin and melody line give a folky lilt, the guitar solo and Wurlitzer organ are bluesy, and Theo Travis’ smokey sax outro is pure class (as a steer Longdon’s pointed Travis to Dick Parry’s work on one of his favourite albums, The Dark Side Of The Moon). In doing so David achieved two things: getting the album across the line but sadly posthumously, aided by friends and colleagues keen to ensure the world heard what David wanted to say.

It opens with Into The Icehouse, an instrumental, ambient piece of birdsong and minimal piano tones playing almost a lament. Gradually other instruments get added as the intensity builds, and the piece is brought to a close when some picking on guitar or perhaps another stringed instrument appear. Especially because – as Longdon looks back on doors opened, paths chosen, and where those choices have led – this personal, emotional and frequently sublime record simply vibrates with life, and living.It won’t change the face of music or knock the world off its axis, but Hell, Fire And Damnation is yet another damned fine addition. It doesn’t ruin this album, as I think it does add a layer of emotion that isn’t always present with BBT, but it can be distracting and certain moments do not sound very good at all.

So from the tragedy of David’s death, we can find hope and purpose and celebrate his memory with this fine collection of songs. The opening has hints of David Crosby’s jazzy inflections and song structures as well as the harmonies. The decks are cleared after that emotional trip with the orchestral intro to “Sangfroid” (which means “composure under trying circumstances”). The CF was then finished and mastered by some exceptional musicians and studio technicians as a tribute to this irreplaceable musical force.

David Longdon – Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Mandolin, Keyboard Programming, Piano, Stylophone, Percussion. Thankfully, Big Big Train have chosen to continue, albeit in a different configuration and one that pays tribute to their deeply missed colleague.

David will certainly be missed but his legacy lives on in his recorded works and this album will certainly be a part of that legacy that he leaves us. It’s a high bar, but that album is the closest relative of Door One, his second solo release after 2004’s Wild River. Sangfroid follows and is another song about relationships and their transient nature, this track has great lyrics that are really heartfelt and poignant.

The lyrics are excellent across the board, with the closer “Love is All” feeling like David reaching out from the grave to grant us wisdom. Door One’s lyrics tackle many areas of his life which were challenging, and the theme of difficult relationship issues that David faced earlier in his life runs through it. The song then enters a haunting melancholic flute section backed with piano as David sings “The Letting Go” over an ever increasing drum pattern which, in turn, leads to sustained chords and it’s a suitably strong ending to an excellent track. Nicely crafted tracks but a couple do seem to be that they are missing the final touches to the album. You feel comforted by the familiarity of David’s voice but but refreshed by the direction he takes in some songs.

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