This amazing ASV/Living Era album presents the sounds of vintage steam locomotives of the London Midland and Scottish Railway, recorded between the years 1955 and 1961. The producers of this album of historical sound collages may obviously be counted among those British citizens who maintain a sentimental attachment to their trains. One can surmise this even by glancing at other volumes in their Steam series: Steam Railway Sound Effects, The Age of Steam, Impressions of Steam, and Portrait of Steam indicate something along the lines of a healthy obsession. This volume, Sounds of the Steam Age: L.M.S., unfolds pleasantly as the listener passes through Bletchley Station in November 1955 and stands outside observing the activity on the platforms and savors the sounds of various engines whipping through at express velocity, making a "stately departure" or "running light," "wheezing unhappily" and running in reverse. Nowhere else will you find such poetically written liner notes. Here, for example, is the first sentence accompanying track 17 (the only recording issued here in stereophonic sound): "Out on the moors at the Blea Moor end of Batty Moss (Ribblehead) Viaduct which, on the continuing 1 in 100 gradient of the 'Long Drag' from Settle, takes the line towards the Blea Moor tunnel, more than 1,100 feet above sea level." Also provided are all of the known numbers for these locomotives, and their colorful names: the Lickey Banker, the North Borneo, the Duchess of Abercorn, the City of Sheffield, the Blackpool, the Duchess of Buccleuch, the City of Nottingham, the Duchess of Rutland, the Bunsen with its double chimney, and the Boy Scout. This fascinating album of portable analog tape recordings is ideal for those who study locomotives but may also serve as a potential exercise in surrealism for those who are so inclined.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf