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Peter Gabriel - Up  CD (album) cover

UP

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

4.00 | 414 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
4 stars It's not a perfect album, but extremely rewarding in the end. I'll begin by going ahead and getting the weaknesses out of the way, so I can move on to far better things. First there's "Growing Up", which, while it's not bad, I have to be in a specific mood to listen to. It seems like every PETER GABRIEL album I've heard (minus the soundtracks) has at least one song that is aiming a little too obviously to be a hit single, and on Up, this is the one. There is something a little bit contrived about it. The other track I don't really feel the need to listen to is "The Drop". There just doesn't really seem to be enough to it...while I appreciate the contrast to the more heavily textured parts of the album, it just doesn't do anything much for me.

That's the key thing I like musically about it--the thick layers which, although there is a lot of electronically-based stuff, there are also generous numbers of analogue instruments to balance it out. This keeps it from sounding too harsh on the ears, although I think a certain amount of edginess is intentional on GABRIEL's part. The unique textures of the various songs, the number of moods he manages to capture, is quite impressive. But once you factor in the lyrics, some of them can pack an incredible punch. In one case, I didn't fully appreciate it until suffering for myself the very experience he describes, even though I already recognized what a good song it was. There was something about it I didn't fully understand--but now that I do, it is incredibly powerful indeed.

Let me tell you something about "I Grieve".

He got it right.

I went through a period around the end of 2003 where it seemed like I was experiencing one loss right after another, some of which hit me with a completely unexpected force. It was only then when I was able to understand for myself the feelings he described and captured in his music, only then when I was able to understand the gyrations in the mood of the song. When you're in the worst part of grieving, there are times when you feel positively bipolar, and a bit afraid of this because your mood seems to be entirely out of your control. One second you are in the throes of deep depression--the next you're filled with elation and peace. But that peace evaporates on you the instant you begin to believe it might remain. Yes, things eventually do even out, but it's hard during that time when you almost begin to fear it never will. He's captured that extraordinarily accurately, and now I am in a position to say so fairly authoritatively.

The other highlights of this album are "Sky Blue", with an absolutely wonderful appearance by the Blind Boys of Alabama. You'll also hear a variation on this theme on the soundtrack album Long Walk Home, if that intrigues you. "No Way Out" is also very powerful, and makes a good prequel to "I Grieve"...perhaps this song is the actual moment of the death. But also, there is some extraordinary drumming at the end of that song, that I very highly recommend hearing. (By the way, if you like that drumming style, I suggest Broken China by RICK WRIGHT for more.) "More Than This" is another incredibly touching song, that in some way sounds like the beginnings of recovery from the loss you hear about earlier in the album. At least, that's how it feels to me after my experience. But the one with the most "punch" to it of all is "Signal to Noise", with its climax that absolutely must be heard to be believed. Another song I very much like, although in my opinion one of the weaker ones musically, I have to say it--the lyrics to "The Barry Williams Show" are just TOO dead-on accurate!

Overall, although this album isn't perfect, I do suggest picking up a copy because most of it is truly spectacular. Don't expect the soft, soothing sound of Us or the completely pop sound of So...this one has got intricate layering and sharp edges. In a nutshell, don't give up after your first listen. This one will grow on you.

FloydWright | 4/5 |

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