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Peter Gabriel - OVO CD (album) cover

OVO

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

3.55 | 158 ratings

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lazland
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I am presently reading a book entitled The Blunders of Our Government, which is an entertaining look at the (many) cock up's that our political and establishment leaders inflict upon us. One such blunder was the shockingly expensive Millennium Dome built and populated for the new century celebrations, but, in reality, a rather crass "Cool Britannia" stunt inflicted upon us by Blair and co.

The book details the mess in some detail, but does not mention once a certain Peter Gabriel, who, having plotted several similar (aborted) projects elsewhere in Europe over the years, got the gig to compose and coordinate the musical extravaganza at the Dome. There is a reason for this, and it is a simple one. By and large, his contribution, and the music that found its way onto this cd, was a success, artistically, if not commercially (it bombed, but, then again, so did Passion, which I regard as his finest work ever, including his Genesis period).

Gabriel, very much in keeping with the political thoughts of the time (multi cultural society & etc.), took his base from the pioneering Real World work and artists he had nurtured, together with stalwart long term collaborators such as Levin and Rhodes. It is, like Passion, a collection of songs and ideas that tell a story, except there are, here, more lyrics present.

The cd did come with a booklet, which gave an insight into the story of the show. It, to quote, tells the story of three stages of our evolution, through the lives of three generations of a family. It is the story of a family in transition, divided by internal conflict, and by the great changes going on around them. It is also a story of forbidden love.

There's straightforward then, eh?

Musically, it is grand, exceptionally well produced, complex, and not for those who seek a "quick fix", which is why, of course, it didn't sell too well. When you hear the pounding, urgent, intense drums on The Time Of The Turning (reprise), though, you simply sit agog and wonder at the genius behind it. For sure, if you enjoyed Rhythm Of The Heat on PG IV, this is for you.

A couple of tracks, those, it is fair to say, more "traditional" Gabriel tracks, became long term live staples. My personal favourite is Father, Son, a quite gorgeous tribute to his and our fathers', recognising those special moments we have and had with the man responsible for who we are. The brass section on this, by the way, brings the track an intensity and emotion that the live version could never have. There is also Downside Up, sung here by Elizabeth Fraser (of Cocteau Twins) and Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile), a track which I think is sumptuous, but did sound better vocally live with Gabriel and his daughter Melanie, although having said that, the live version could never capture those incredible closing rhythms and beats heard here.

Also, in case people thought this was a mainly cosy affair, we do also have Gabriel at his most industrial and explorative, witness The Tower That Ate People, which then morphs into the recurring African beat of Revenge. The whole album closes naturally, and impressively, mixing the tuneful, emotional, adventurous, and as an ensemble piece, with the very long (for solo Gabriel) Make Tomorrow.

This album deserves to be featured more highly in any appreciation of Gabriel than perhaps it is at present. Full of great ideas, almost perfect production, and thoughtful music which did far more to promote and capture a multi cultural country, society, concept, and continent than any politically correct cobblers forced on the population by New Labour. Going back to the book I am reading, it is no accident that Gabriel is not mentioned as one of the Dome blunders.

Four stars for this, an excellent album, only just falling short of the extremely high standards set by Passion. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

lazland | 4/5 |

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