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Peter Gabriel - Live Blood CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

3.54 | 40 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A live album to cap off the "Peter goes orchestral" project was inevitable, but that doesn't mean it was really necessary. In person, I bet this would have been a lot of fun (especially since this album was recorded a while before the release of New Blood), and maybe if he hadn't released New Blood I would find more novelty here than I do, but as is this pretty much just rehashes the other orchestral albums, and what few additions this album does provide are more mixed than I might have guessed. There is a rather lovely rendition of "The Drop" here, with very sparse orchestration, and "Biko" works decently enough in this context to deserve repeated listens. Sadly, though, "Signal to Noise," the one Gabriel number here to have featured an orchestral in its original context, falls surprisingly flat, simply because the lack of chanting turns out to leave a glaring hole, and the minimalist backing vocals from Ane Brun and Melanie Gabriel simply aren't strong or interesting enough to fill it (this is actually a more general problem on the album than just this song; I didn't mind them too much on New Blood, and actually liked Ane quite a bit there, but they both come across as pretty second-rate here, and there are times when Melanie barely even gets to that level).

I don't want to go nuts and pretend that large parts of this aren't enjoyable. Everything that worked on New Blood basically works here ("San Jacinto" ends up pretty rousing in this setting, as do "Red Rain" and "Mercy Street"), and I actually like the rendition of "The Boy in the Bubble" (preceded by a hilarious spoken introduction, in which Peter first comes clean that the process of getting other people to cover his songs hadn't gone quite like he'd hoped it would, and then mentions that, for "The Boy in the Bubble" he "stripped all the African blood out of it, and we're left with another miserable white man's song") here more than on Scratch my Back, and overall the list of included songs is pretty decent. And yet, 2 hours and 20 minutes is an awful lot of time to spend listening to something like this, where everything gets pounded into the same general template, and I say that as somebody whose tolerance for late-period live albums that function as compilations is quite high.

Also, surprise surprise, "Don't Give Up" is no better live with an orchestra than in studio with an orchestra, and it was no better in studio with an orchestra than it was originally. What a gross way to finish the "regular" performances (there's a rendition of "The Nest That Sailed the Sky" to close out, and while it's basically just the original version it leaves a better taste in my mouth than what came before it).

Honestly, if he had just removed the covers (except maybe "The Book of Love"), thrown away the orchestra, and released a live album with the same track listing as found here but with his regular band, I probably would have ended up enjoying it significantly more. As is, as great as so many of the songs here are in their essence, and as well as Peter's voice continues to hold up, I just can't feel much enthusiasm for this.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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