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Peter Gabriel - New Blood CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

3.62 | 155 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Making the followup to Scratch My Back into what's essentially an "orchestral self- covers" album may show a disappointing lack of ambition, but this is a much more enjoyable album than its predecessor nonetheless. As on the last album, Peter follows a strict no percussion allowed, piano-and-orchestra-only rule (except for the weirdly out of place new track, "A Quiet Moment," which is some sort of ambient track I guess), but he makes one major improvement from his previous approach: instead of trying to cram all of the material into the same downbeat, ultra-minimalist, dirge-like mode that dominated Scratch My Back, he allows the arrangements to take on the same rich tapestry of atmospheres that made most of these tracks so enjoyable in the first place. There's some melancholy and darkness, sure, but there's also majesty and joy, and the result is that the album is a far less oppressive experience than its predecessor. Plus, Peter ends up finding some rather innovative solutions to the problem of how to handle the "no drums allowed" constraint when dealing with tracks that had once been percussion-heavy: "The Rhythm of the Heat," "Intruder" and "Digging in the Dirt" especially deserve high marks in this regard.

The song selection is fairly unpredictable for such an endeavour, and takes this album beyond the glorified greatest hits affair that it could have been. Security gets a surprising three tracks; aside from the aforementioned "Rhythm," the album also includes remakes of "San Jacinto" (no worse than the original) and "Wallflower" (extremely moving, and enough to lift my feelings towards the original a bit). The selections from So aren't as surprising, but we still get a lovely "Mercy Street" in addition to the fairly predictable "Red Rain" (lovely), "In Your Eyes" (cheerful but a little overlong) and "Don't Give Up" (arrrrrrrrrrgh). III gets the aforementioned "Intruder," OVO has two interesting selections in "Downside Up" and "The Nest That Sailed the Sky," Up gets "Darkness" (a little sillier in its melodrama here than in the original, but still fine), and of course the album ends with "Solsbury Hill" (lots of fun). This isn't a perfect setlist, but it's not a bad one either

If there's a general drawback to the album aside from the feel that it's mildly redundant, it's that Peter's daughter Melanie, featured on many tracks as one of the female backing vocalists (and serving as the sole one on "Downside Up") hasn't improved much since the Growing Up Live DVD, where she was a slight embarrassment. On the other hand, Ane Brun contributes some fantastic backing vocals, and this balances out the Melanie weakness fairly well. In the end, this album probably turned out about as well as it could have, and while it's a little pointless, it's still a blast to listen to a couple of times. Casual fans need not bother, but hardcore fans will probably enjoy this plenty.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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