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Peter Gabriel - Big Blue Ball CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel

Crossover Prog

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Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Originally recorded at Real World studios over numerous sessions between 1991 and 1995 this album has finally seen the light of day. Like a large jigsaw puzzle and through mainly the erstwhile efforts of Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger ( World Party fame) and mixer/producer Stephen Hague after many hours and hard labour, Big Blue Ball is now available to the listeners.

The music is a collaboration of sorts from various artists. Much more useful to view the credits section , but mainly Karl Wallinger, Joseph Arthur, Tim Finn ( Split Enz/Crowded House fame), the ubiquitous David Rhodes on guitar, Deep Forest and Tchad Blake to name a few. First class production and sound quality gives this album the distinct Gabriel wall of sound with the Passion,Us world music elements also.

The album kicks off with the typical Gabriel rocker Whole Thing. In fact if you are looking for similar strong songs in this vein on the album check out also Exit Through You and ' Burn You Up, Burn You Down ( the last one also off his recent Hits album release. Joseph Arthur works well with Peter Gabriel as does Karl Wallinger in delivering three solid tracks. Other noteworthy songs are the beautiful Altus Silva and the highlight for me River with world renowned Hungarian vocalist Marta Sebesteyn delivering a perfectly plaintive voice. The final track is the self titled Big Blue Ball written and sung by Karl Wallinger and is a very uplifting positive song to end this environmentally conscious album on.

For any Peter Gabriel fans I strongly recommend getting this. For me this even stronger than the Ovo release. A solid three and a half stars.

Report this review (#175924)
Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars We all know that Peter Gabriel is a very brilliant sales manager of himself. This album is merely a commercial operation, maybe to give contribution to the musicians who performed the songs. I Think it's not more than this (unfortunately More than This is one of the most beautiful songs of his last REAL album Up).

I think, when you perform songs with your friends, and you enjoy this moment, you should avoid to use your great name to sell it!

In some passages it seems to listen something like rap, in others afro-music, but quite never Peter Gabriel.

Sorry my friend, you're the one I'd like to spend a lot of time chatting and speaking of music and social items, but I can't give you more than 1.5 star.

Report this review (#178679)
Posted Saturday, August 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
3 stars Buy yourself a couple of these and you'll have a pair of big blue-balls... If that ball was to roll down that hill it would crush those poor sheep!

This is not a Peter Gabriel album, nor is claimed to be anywhere on the album cover. It's more of a Peter Gabriel and Friends album along the lines of an LP I have from years back, the WOMAD album. And what a bunch of friends, many names from the world of prog and far too many artists I'm not familiar with.

To be certain, Peter did produce all of the tracks which were recorded at his Real World Studios, spanning 1991 to 2007, but was not present as a musician on all of them. The tracks he did appear on: Whole Thing, Exit Through You, Burn You Up Burn You Down, Rivers, and Big Blue Ball would be a comfortable fit for a Peter Gabriel album.

It's a mostly world music oriented album, but don't dismiss the non-Gabriel tunes, they're cool in their own right. If you're not close-minded to world music there's stuff here that might just expand your musical horizons.

Report this review (#182164)
Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is NOT a Peter Gabriel Album ? but It's Not Bad

BIG BLUE BALL is another of the Peter Gabriel's Real World projects, not a solo album by any means. As most know, Gabriel has been active in promoting world music for nearing 30 years now. In the 80's he coordinated the WOMAD festival, and his work (along with Paul Simon's) were instrumental in the world fusion surge in popularity during the 90's. Gabriel still spends most of his time recording and promoting various world artists, and this disc may have simply been a fundraiser for that effort. BIG BLUE BALL is a record of three collaborative sessions in 1991, 1992, and 1995 at Real World studios covering a huge span of musicians. Strangely, this project was not put in to finished form until 2007 for 2008 release.

There is one good Gabriel song on the album, the opener "Whole Thing." It's fairly typical of the US era, featuring plenty of world percussion along with Gabriel's big studio sound. The melodies are good, and it would have stood up as a nice album track had US had a real follow- up (which many of us would have appreciated in the mid to late 90's).

The rest of the album is a sampler of other bands and Gabriel friends. Karl Wallinger of World Party and the Waterboys actually had a large musical role in the album, and singer Joseph Arthur leads several songs. The variety is quite nice, from African voices and percussion to Middle Eastern tonalities to Celtic flavors. Some of the programming is pretty dated, with the ethno-rap "Jijy" sounding particularly dinosaur-like. Overall, this is a pleasant disc to put in on a drive, seamlessly returning to track one for a continual world beat background music. Unfortunately, none of the songs really blow me away. They are all good, but none are truly excellent aside from the world instrumentation.

It's also very hard to give this much prog cred as it wasn't released until long after these sounds were part of common culture. Even in 1995 when the last session was recorded, listeners already would have been somewhat familiar with these sounds. (Thanks in part to Gabriel's own efforts). I got the disc used and certainly don't feel cheated, but this is a non- essential novelty. 2/5 stars.

Report this review (#265008)
Posted Monday, February 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Big Blue Ball is not so much a PG album as it is the result of several uber sessions of his Real World studio. Many different artists and styles are found here, more so than on your typical (if there is such a thing) release from Peter Gabriel. These artists include the expected, such as Papa Wemba and David Rhodes, and the unexpected such as Vernon Reid and Sinead O'Connor. A complete list of all those involved would be as long as any review, so I will not even try to get all the names in. A few more deserve mention, however: Natacha Atlas, Manu Katche, Tim Finn, Billy Cobham, Hossam Ramzy, and Marta Sebestyen. If you are familiar with these names you can get a sense for the World Music style found throughout this album. It is not even universally recognized as a PG album but this belies the fact that even if he is not found on every track, his presence is felt throughout. The sound is rich and clean. Many of the sessions were spontaneous and this gives the music a freshness that sounds great to my ears. PG gave the musicians space to create and let them do their stuff. And what wonderful stuff it is. But the original tapes, finished by 1995 (note the album release was not until 2008), were described by the man himself as a bit of a mess. Great performances do not a great album make. Production comes into play, and Stephen Hague was called in to organize it all into something worth listening to, much in the same way Teo Merceo organized a bunch of Miles Davis sessions into coherent albums. I think he did a good job. As an album, Big Blue Ball is not centered around any particular idea or plan. This is a collection of songs performed by dozens of different artists. The PG sung tune can be placed alongside anything else he has done. The rest run from the contemporary to the traditional, jazzy to atmospheric, pop to experimental. The mix of African, Asian, Latin, and European styles, often in the same song, is dizzying. This is not an album for purists; rather it is one of the global village signifying that music is music no matter how many different styles express it. As has been said before, music is a universal language. That may not be entirely true, but there is plenty of room for musical crossovers such as what we hear here. Many people may be turned off by the eclectic nature of the offering but I revel in it. The key here is that they are all good songs. My least favorite is actually the closing titular piece, which is the most pop of the bunch, but I understand why this became the name of the album. What better way to call our own planet and a project of people from all corners of it than Big Blue Ball? My favorites include the opener, Whole Thing, very PG, and Altus Silva, one of the more atmospheric pieces. Serious fans of music often say that they are open to new sounds but this is only so to varying degrees. If one wants to get away from the typical guitar-bass-drum-keys-vocals of most rock, this may be a good place to hear what is going on in other parts of the world, or as I should say, other parts of our global society. There is no good excuse to be bored by the same old thing as there are plenty of other options out there. And perhaps this is the broader purpose of Big Blue Ball; to introduce people to music from around the world. This is fully consistent with PG's WOMAD (World Music, Art and Dance). The world of music is more diverse than many of us realize. This is not to say that we would all enjoy all the different styles, but for the adventurous it is a grand and broad world. It is a big blue ball on which we live; explore it.
Report this review (#1358164)
Posted Friday, January 30, 2015 | Review Permalink

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