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Peter Gabriel - Plays Live CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

4.08 | 216 ratings

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Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Unfortunately this will only review the latest, "Highlights" version of this great live album, even though I know the orginal, double-LP version quite well. As a matter of fact, I saw PG live at the Hammersmith Odeon on the tour that was then recorded for this album: it was a really impressive, emotionally moving performance, as one could have expected from a musician of such stellar quality. Strange as it may sound, I have a definite preference for Gabriel's solo output in comparison with his work with Genesis - never my favourite band, though of course I recognise their essential contribution to prog.

"Plays Live" showcases some of the best work contained in Peter Gabriel's first four solo efforts, though the real highlights are taken from his third and fourth albums, known respectively as "Melt" and "Security". The album strikes the right balance between lighter-hearted songs with strong, even danceable rythm (courtesy of Messrs Jerry Marotta and Tony Levin, certainly two masters of their craft), such as dynamic album opener "I Have the Touch", "DYI" and "I Go Swimming", and haunting, intense mood pieces - which, to my mind, represent by far the best side of Peter's solo work, especially from a vocal point of view.

Besides album and concert closer "Biko", a mournful, deeply heartfelt tribute to South African political activist, absolute standouts are an excellent version of the eerie, atmospheric "The Family and the Fishing Net"; the deeply disturbing "No Self-Control" (remarkably different from the studio version, without Kate Bush's backing vocals and with a more pronounced use of percussion); and my favourite Gabriel track of all time, the hauntingly powerful "San Jacinto", featuring a cracking vocal performance by Peter, possibly his best ever. The ending of the song is nothing short of mesmerising, with Peter's passionate voice repeating "hold the line" over the backing provided by Larry Fast's synthetisers. However, on this 'condensed' version of the album I surely miss another of my favourite tracks, weird masterpiece "Intruder".

As in the case of most Gabriel albums, the cover art is also worthy of note, showing Peter's painted face in all its expressiveness. "Plays Live" is definitely recommended to all lovers of emotional, quality music, regardless of its 'prog' quotient. PG may have come a long way since his Genesis days, but his contribution to modern rock is oustanding, and he is still a force to be reckoned with.

Raff | 4/5 |


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