By 1999 the members of Train had been working on,promoting and touring with their debut album for 3 years. It had taken a little time for momentum to build on the eponymous Train but after Meet Virginia had taken off in late 1998 this EP was pushed out (albeit in very limited numbers) to keep the band fresh with fans. The title One And A Half represents the fact that it was an EP being offered between their 1st and 2nd full length studio albums.The EP offered up 3 new Train tunes, 1 song from the debut, an acoustic version of Meet Virginia and the prize of the disc the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On. I love how this record captures where the band was at this moment in time, when everything was still fresh, bubbling with a musical exuberance that is tangible and although they were just starting to experience some recognition, they were still a relatively unknown entity. This is the Train that I loved, that I miss and unfortunately barely exists now. In my opinion Rob Hotchkiss was the heart and soul of Train and, I believe, served as their musical conscience. You can hear on this offering how the band still held true to their classic rock roots. The record kicks off with “Counting On You”. The sound of Rob’s acoustic guitar is complimenting perfectly with Jimmy Stafford’s bluesy electric accompaniment. Pat’s vocals are rough and blend into the fabric of the song instead of blasting over the tune. The 2nd song on the album is the slow down groove “Hopeless” and I like the feel of this song and apparently so did the band since it is the only new song from this collection that they would include on their next record Drops Of Jupiter. The third cut might be the biggest reason to own this collection. It is the bands cover of “Ramble On”. At this time the song had become a staple of the bands live show and often the highlight of the evening. Pat Monahan’s vocals our spot on, maybe not so surprising when you know that prior to Train he sang for a Led Zeppelin tribute band. This gem is followed by 2 more new songs “Sweet Rain” & “The Highway”. “Sweet Rain” is a fantastic song that was later the only new song from this set that was included on 2004’s Alive At Last disc. It exemplifies the musical talent and range that this band possessed in its early day, before they began focusing too much on being pop stars. Starting off with a groovy bass line and moving into a nice groove that is finds Pat once again using his vocal range in a beautifully understated fashion that fits the song like a comfortable pair of shoes. The disc closes out with the acoustic offering of the bands big hit off their debut Meet Virginia. If your a Train fan, this CD is a must have.
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