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Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree Sixteen Golden Greats CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

3.85 | 89 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Near Perfect Compilation Finds Great Balance

I must first say that this album was the first thing I owned from Peter Gabriel. I knew the hits from So, but this was the first album I was able to listen to continuously. During my college years, this tape remained in my car non-stop for months. It is a soundtrack for many of my summers, my roadtrips. It was the gateway from which I discovered early Genesis and developed my love of prog. It continues to be a tie that binds my brother and I, songs that we shared in those days when we were both growing up. So I'm a little biased.

Because this greatest hits album was my reference point for this great artist's music, it was always hard for me to differentiate these songs from their respective albums (aside from So and Passion which I got a little later but long before the first four). It has been an interesting experience going back and trying to listen to the songs in their original context. For some of Gabriel's best works, like "San Jacinto," "Here Comes the Flood," "Games without Frontiers," I think of all together.

Enough of my experience, which serves simply to say that the album by itself is wonderful, and succeeds in its purpose completely. The proof of a compilation album is in the song selection, and here it is quite good. The most notable points are that PG II (Scratch) is completely unrepresented, which is, in my opinion, appropriate. Two wonderful tracks are omitted, the first being Security's "Rhythm of the Heat," which was certainly not a hit but one of PG's most colossal solo tracks. The more bewildering choice was to leave out perhaps Gabriel's most famous and iconic track, "In Your Eyes." That song was THE love song of the late 80's; Gabriel's most covered, and in retrospect probably his most beloved.

The one new track "Shaking the Tree" is excellent, combining the world music of Passion with pop sensibility, a formula which would dominate the following studio album, Us. The simple piano reworking of "Here Comes the Flood" is a much superior version to the one on the debut album, though I do enjoy both. Bookending with "Solsbury Hill" and "Biko" is the perfect choice, and the track order flows very smoothly start to finish. The dark brooding intensity of the dark story song "Family Snapshot" follows megapop hit "Sledgehammer" and it works.

Someone else wrote that a greatest hits album never deserves a 5 star rating and that's probably appropriate. But this is an album that belongs in any library that doesn't have the component albums. It's an excellent entry point into one of the most important solo careers in prog. I recommend it without reservation.

I'll review the individual albums in succession soon, but this was my first love, so I felt I needed to give Shaking the Tree its due.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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