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Peter Gabriel - Up  CD (album) cover

UP

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

4.00 | 439 ratings

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Raff
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I must be one of the few people on this site who definitely prefers Peter Gabriel's solo output to anything he did with Genesis. Even though some may vehemently disagree, I see his solo albums as nearly perfect examples of that notorious 'crossover' subgenre, blending mainstream appeal with more sophisticated, intellectual influences. True, some of his earlier work did indeed stray a bit too much into pop territory for some to feel comfortable with calling him a fully prog artist. However, Up is probably one of PG's most progressive offerings for years, and easily on a par with his Eighties classics, PG 3 (aka "Melt") and 4 (aka "Security"). After the huge commercial success of "So" (his most accessible effort by far), and the rather nondescript "Us", this is a strong return to form for one of the most stimulating, complete artists on the modern music scene.

"Up" is largely a dark, richly atmospheric album. What strikes me most every time I listen to it is the spacey, haunting overall slowness of the songs - the only exception being the upbeat, yet ultimately disappointing "The Barry Williams Show", which to be perfectly honest sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. Gone are the funky grooves of the likes of "Sledgehammer" or "Big Time" - the closest we get here is "Growing Up", which is nowhere as catchy or radio-friendly as those two songs, though still somewhat 'danceable'. On the other hand, the rest of the tracks are intense, rarefied, and ever so slightly disturbing, providing a great opportunity for Peter to display his unique vocal style. The opening "Darkness" is a perfect example of the general mood of the album, stark yet intimate, with Peter whispering and pleading over the heavy, stop-start percussive patterns - almost a throwback to my favourite Gabriel opener, the disturbing "Intruder" from Melt.

While the standard of all the compositions on "Up" is very, to these ears two tracks stand head and shoulders above the rest: the beautiful, melancholy ballad "Sky Blue", and the hauntingly dramatic "Signal to Noise". Both songs, in their own different ways, have a deeply moving quality, further enhanced by Peter's masterful vocals. There is no doubt that his voice has really matured a lot over the years, and his interpretation of the intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics is awe-inspiring. In some odd way, I see this album as more 'vocal' than 'musical': namely, the voice seems to be the main instrument, and the music more of a background that adds depth and texture to Peter's emotional singing.

If I had another half star at my disposal, I would give Up a 4.5 star rating. Those who were disappointed by "Us" or "So" could do much worse than give this one a listen - Peter is back, and he'll hopefully release another album of the same quality in the near future. Very highly recommended.

Raff | 4/5 |

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