Recorded in 1974 by Nigel Fletcher & Rob Woodward
Total time 56:30
LP released by Argo Records/Decca, UK, 1975
A classic if ever there was one, this extremely focused LP contains field recordings of a specific type of British diesel locomotives, namely the Class 52 [+], in use from 1961 to 1977. It was recorded by Nigel Fletcher & Rob Woodward who at the time were members of a UK pop/rock band called Lieutenant Pidgeon – formerly Stavely Makepeace – with several chart hits during the 1970s (see official website and Wikipedia). It seems a portion of the British population is worshiping their locomotives like nothing else and the Class 52 Westerns were arguably the most popular among trainspotters. While personally having no interest in engines of any kind, I was moved nonetheless by the unusual fondness and devotion to diesel engines found in this record. The duo uses 2 different strategies to their proceedings. The microphone is either set up along the track and the train passes at full speed or slowly climbing a hill with engine at full throttle ; on the other hand, some tracks are recorded in the station, with various locomotives maneuvering, speaker announcements, conversations. Some of the latter category include studio montage as well. I can’t claim the tracks are varied – for obsessive field recordists repetition is key to enjoyment – but once you get acquainted with the sound of the massive diesel engines, you notice the nuances, you spot a familiar loco, you appreciate the power. The back cover comes with complete track description (included as a text file with the d/l link) and includes some matter of fact lines like: ‘The eastbound milk train hoots as the driver sees my torch on a moonless night!’ (tr.#17, side A). Industrial music for industrial people, anyone?