Possibly only in New York City?s East Village could a Belgian, Frenchman, and Iranian come together musically to create such a unique-sounding album, originally released on Mainstream in 1969. Featuring ouds, sitars, minitars, melodicas and dumbek drums, the trio successfully grafted Eastern rhythms onto a Western structure. The frantic strumming of opener, ?Fruit of The Desert? establishes a driving rhythm that effectively captures the feeling traveling on the titular train that provided the band?s moniker. Listening to Guy Duris? sing his French lyrics to ?Dance for Me? over an Eastern backing is just one of the many disorienting album and, like a journey on the fabled train, there are twists and turns and unexpected surprises around every corner. On the negative side, Farshid Goleshorki?s tympany and dumbek solos on ?Layla? [NOT the Clapton song] and ?Impulse (Forty-Two Drums)? demonstrate that persussion solos are boring and pointless, regardless of the instrument creating the racket.
The mystical aura of ?Birds of India? and ?Caravan of Silk? will leave more than visions of hookah-smoking caterpillas dancing in your head, while ?Train to Bombay? and ?For A Moment? deliver some of their most ?Westernized? arrangements ? they?re giddy little pop numbers that might actually have made some noise on the singles charts to help introduce the band to a wider audience. (Unfortunately, the marketing geniuses at Mainstream failed to recognize the importance of using singles to sell albums and they declined to release any from the album.) Overall, this is a groundbreaking recording that will appeal to fans of (US) Kaleidoscope, John Berberian and The Rock East Ensemble, Magic Carpet, Oriental Sunshine, Incredible String Band, and late-period Mighty Baby (eg., Jug of Love and, particularly, their Habibiyya offshoot), and their influence resonates today in the work of Saddar Bazzar, and Eastern-flavored, acid folksters like Green Crown, In Gowan Ring, P.G. Six and Fit & Limo. 7/10 -- Jeff Penczak (20 August, 2008)