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Peter Gabriel - OVO CD (album) cover

OVO

Peter Gabriel

Crossover Prog


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arqwave@lycos
4 stars as a "soundtrack" is emotional and surronded by perfection. Every piece of the music is linked and fluid, a great expresion of modern times through the story of a family. Tha artwork and the book that comes with it is marvellous, the percussion basis in "the time of the turning (reprise)" is outstanding.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#24090)
Posted Friday, April 09, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars More a showpiece album than a soundtrack. Ovo surprised me on release only in that it is so good. Great contributions from Elisabeth Fraser and Richie Havens ( check out also ' Please Don't Touch' by Steve Hackett). Shankar plays some mean violin too.Highlights are ' Low light', ' Make Tomorrow' ' Downside-Up' and last but not least ' The nest that sailed the sky' Worth having for sure.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#24093)
Posted Friday, July 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
soundsweird
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A real mixed bag. Instrumentals, female vocals, male vocals, and even some songs sung by PG himself. Songs that sound almost traditional alongside songs with a distinctly modern style. This is a recipe that's sure to put off many listeners, but there are some great songs here, and that should always be the bottom line. Of course, if you only like PG's poppier material, skip this one.

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Send comments to soundsweird (BETA) | Report this review (#24094)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
mamimaye@hotm
5 stars This Album is my favorite Gabriel`s album, it really combine his different kinds of musical tendences: world music, electronic and of course, rock music. Also, it is a complete conceptual work/show that can make you feel sensations more than a just the music. It really rules!!!!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#24095)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
evenless
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I got "OVO" because I was completely swept away by "UP" and "Growing Up Live". To me "OVO" was somewhat of a disappointment.

Fair to say that if I had not been spoiled by "Up" and the awesome "Growing Up Live" DVD, and just heard it after "US" I would probably have liked it more. But now I had set my expectations too high. And what was left were the nice tracks that I already knew from the "Growing Up Live" DVD. All instrumentation on this album is superb again by the way. I guess I still ought to give this CD a few more spins.

So my advise would be: get "SO", "US", "UP" and "Growing Up Live" first. After that I would go for "Secret World Live" and if you are a completionist of PG's work get "OVO" and "Long Walk Home" (A soundtrack for the movie "The Rabbit Proof Fence" )

Pretty good album, but not for starters!

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Send comments to evenless (BETA) | Report this review (#109830)
Posted Tuesday, January 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A cash guzzling white elephant. No, not the album.

OVO is not really a Peter Gabriel solo album, but more of a soundtrack with Peter at the helm. The project was kicked off in 1997, when Gabriel was invited to join in the creation of "a visual and musical experience for London's Millennium Dome". The dome itself was a cash guzzling white elephant, built as part of the millennium celebrations, but tucked away in a corner of the UK.

The concept is a variation on an oft used theme, looking at three generations of a family. These are not consecutive generations, the first is from he prehistoric era, the second from the industrial period (approximately now), and the third inevitably in the future. Confusingly, these generations live together, leading to conflicts in priorities and preferences. OVO is the youngest of the family, an infant born into the enigmatic world of his parents and grandparents.

So much for the concept, what of the music? Right from the start it is clear that "OVO" leans heavily on the "Real World" sounds which Gabriel has investigated and nurtured for many years. A glance at the line up reveals renown musicians such as Ravi Shankar, Tony Levin, and Richie Havens all contribute to the diverse sounds on which the album is built. Anyone who is not familiar with the wonderful voice of Richie Havens should hear his performance on this album, he has one of the finest voices in modern music.

There really is something for everyone here. One minute we are being uplifted by a Celtic reel ("The weaver's reel"), the next we have a delicate Gabriel vocal ("Father son"), and no sooner is that finished but we have a "Sledgehammer" type piece of heavy rock ("The tower that ate people").

Elsewhere, ethnic rhythms come to the fore, including didgeridoos and Dhol drums. Several of the tracks are instrumentals of various styles. "White ashes" has a curious mix of African type rhythms and mumbled vocalising, with synthesiser effects drifting in and out. Elizabeth Fraser's vocals on "Downside up" are striking and melodic, the song having more than a passing similarity to "Don't give up" (the titles even sound the same). The song plays out with some fine orchestration, the rhythm section behind it being recorded by top producer Danny Lanois. The album closes with one of Gabriel's longest songs ever, "Make tomorrow". The piece brings together many of the musicians who have graced previous tracks in a slightly understated but highly effective finale.

For what is essentially a soundtrack, "OVO" is a very strong album. I actually find myself preferring this to some of Gabriel's official solo releases. The enormous diversity of the music, the engaging of top musicians, and the strength of the compositions combine to result in a fine album which will be around far longer than the Millennium Dome!

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#124809)
Posted Wednesday, June 06, 2007 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars Two standout tracks on this album save it from complete mediocrity. That is The Nest That Sailed The Sky and the wonderful 10 minute mini epic Make Tomorrow. Unfortunately, the album concept disappears up its own shaft of complexity. Some of the guest appearances work well enough (Ravi Shankar and Richie Havens, namely) but overall it is overblown and comes across as new age nonsense, with extreme new age themes that are as heavy handed as the musical arrangement.

I am not a fan of this type of music and Peter Gabriel has done better on Up and his first 3 albums. The orchestral treatment is tiresome on Ovo, though i have to hand it to him. He has taken risks with this and it is an interesting first listen. After the initial shock of what the album is about it wears thin very quickly. The only tracks I play now are the last 2. Unfortunately, the rest is a waste of talent.

I will mention though that the booklet is beautifully produced and innovative. I guess that, and the 2 aforementioned tracks, warrant it a minimum of 2 stars.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#218127)
Posted Monday, May 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Face it, the 1990s weren't very fulfilling if you were a big fan of Peter Gabriel. While in '92 he did release what I consider his best record ever, the stupendous "Us" album; if one discounts the live discs culled from the resulting tour he basically disappeared from sight for the rest of the millennium. I do understand that he had some personal issues to work out and that he'd said pretty much all he had to say in revealing songs like "Digging in the Dirt" and "Secret World" but 8 years is an eon for an avid admirer such as I when waiting for new tunes. As a matter of fact, by the time he got around to putting out OVO in August of 2000 he'd so effectively vanished from the public eye and ear that many didn't even notice. Maybe it was the turn of the century brouhaha or that I'd changed so many things in my life by that time but when I learned about OVO's existence I didn't even bother to investigate. The descriptions of it being a soundtrack/project kinda deal didn't really foster any urgency in me to get a copy so I put it on the back burner.

Two years flew by. In September '02 Peter released "Up," an honest-to-God studio CD and I bought it pronto. Yet that challenging, strikingly mature album didn't pack the punch that "Us" did when it swept me off my feet and didn't leave my changer for months. My educated guess was that Gabriel no longer cared to compete in the music biz rat race and was content to return to being viewed as the eclectic outsider he was at the start of his solo career. I wholeheartedly applauded his decision, accepted that Peter wasn't going to deliver a fresh record every few years and satisfied myself with occasionally revisiting his exemplary catalogue of work. Even though I had all of Gabriel's albums OVO got lost in the shuffle and became an overlooked item. Recently a friend gave me a copy so I finally got around to hearing it a decade late. It was a pleasant surprise in that it's highly reminiscent of the genius he displayed on the "Passion" soundtrack while possessing a lot of the better aspects of "Up." The plot is vague (a forbidden Romeo and Juliet-ish scenario where the duo don't die but procreate a son who's the culmination of peace between earth people and sky people following a war involving the two factions) but that's okay. The bottom line is that it has the paw prints of the one-and-only Peter Gabriel all over it and that makes it well worth your time.

However, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the first cut scared the crap out of me and caused me to suspect that an imposter had invaded his body. "The Story of OVO" opens with a dirge-like atmosphere that's slightly suffocating but that's not the problem. Assaulted by two rappers, I instantly got the urge to projectile vomit due to my acute and incurable allergy to that form of expression. (Sorry, but I'm just not genetically designed to accept hip-hop as an art form. Sue me.) Once one traverses Peter's momentary lapse of reason, though, good stuff arrives starting with "Low Light." It drifts in like dawn over an ominous drone, then symphonic strings descend with Gabriel's wordless voice before things become even more ethereal. It's a beautiful piece of music. "The Time of the Turning" is next and it sports more of a full orchestra motif. Guest Richie Haven's voice is eerily akin to Peter's as he sings emotive lines like "It's the time of turning and there's something stirring outside/It's the time of turning and the old world's falling/Nothing you can do can stop the next emerging" while the underlying rhythm buoys the tune effortlessly. An instrumental, "The Man Who Loved the Earth/The Hand that Sold Shadows," follows and it's a return to the earthy aroma of the first cut sans the monotone rapping. Odd effects rattle around that give the impression of some hooded, vinyl-scratching DJ mole at work and then the 2nd half ensues with an abrupt upswing in tempo and a rude, grinding electric guitar.

"The Time of the Turning/The Weaver's Reel" marks the reprise of the earlier melody but this time it features sparser instrumentation and Elizabeth Fraser's angelic vocal singing "Did you see it move?/There's something there/It's in this very cloth that I weave/In the most peculiar ways that we behave" that expands to include spirited Irish pipes and violins that dominate Part II. They perform a frenetic melody with verve, then the track alternates between the two themes. Peter gave it an intriguing arrangement and the overall product comes off as highly progressive in nature. "Father, Son" is to die for. After a lone piano intro Gabriel's voice appears and wraps you in his unique, husky warmth as he sings about the hard-to-express relationship between a man and his pop. "Remember the breakwaters down by the waves/I first found my courage/knowing daddy could save/I could hold back the tide/with my dad by my side," he croons passionately. This is the kind of song in which Gabriel displays his gift of being able to reach in and grab your heart. "The Tower that Ate People" is the brand of fun, arresting weirdness I've come to expect from him. His distorted vocal and his manipulation of electronic noises create excitement while, at the same time, all semblance of commercial viability goes sailing right out the window. "The more we are protected/the more we're trapped within," he warns. Gotta love him for that. "Revenge" is a short snippet of sound wherein I detect an appealing Nine Inch Nails influence. It leads to "White Ashes," an experiment with different types of synth percussion bounding underneath the nursery rhyme melody that trills "The weight of a dream can bring you down."

"Downside Up," with its folkish air and the duo of Fraser and Paul Buchanan on vocals, is a 180 degree alteration in atmosphere that's disarmingly quaint. "All the strangers look like family/All the family looks so strange/The only constant I am sure of/Is this accelerating rate of change," they sing. Along the way the song increases in pace and intensity as it broadens into a tune that's much more involved. The gorgeous instrumental, "The Nest that Sailed into the Sky," sets a mystical mood reminiscent of the earlier "Low Light" while delving even deeper into a state of serenity. Acoustic guitars and Buchanan's pleasant voice sow great expectations for the closer, "Make Tomorrow." Rumbling rhythms take over briefly, then subside in wake of the repeated chorus, "Make tomorrow/where the sacred meet the scared/Make tomorrow/where the dreamer's dream is dared" that brings Havens and Gabriel back into the spotlight. As so many of Peter's compositions do, this tune shape-shifts and evolves all the way to the last note.

I stated earlier that the story line is enigmatic and fairly nebulous but then so is the narrative of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" and it didn't keep the music and poetry of the lyrics of that epic from making a lasting impression on my psyche. OVO may not be in that league but it certainly makes for an engaging, intriguing listen. And any time you see musicians like Tony Levin, Manu Katche, Steve Gadd, Shankar and David Rhodes on the list of contributors you know it's going to be of a lofty caliber no matter what. Yet I must penalize Mr. Gabriel a half star for his dubious hip-hop gaffe that makes me wonder how many turned OVO off at the first syllable of rap. If you're one of those folks I sympathize with your involuntary gag reflex but I urge you to simply hit the skip button and give the rest of the album another chance. It is superb prog fare.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#621915)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2012 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I am presently reading a book entitled The Blunders of Our Government, which is an entertaining look at the (many) cock up's that our political and establishment leaders inflict upon us. One such blunder was the shockingly expensive Millennium Dome built and populated for the new century celebrations, but, in reality, a rather crass "Cool Britannia" stunt inflicted upon us by Blair and co.

The book details the mess in some detail, but does not mention once a certain Peter Gabriel, who, having plotted several similar (aborted) projects elsewhere in Europe over the years, got the gig to compose and coordinate the musical extravaganza at the Dome. There is a reason for this, and it is a simple one. By and large, his contribution, and the music that found its way onto this cd, was a success, artistically, if not commercially (it bombed, but, then again, so did Passion, which I regard as his finest work ever, including his Genesis period).

Gabriel, very much in keeping with the political thoughts of the time (multi cultural society & etc.), took his base from the pioneering Real World work and artists he had nurtured, together with stalwart long term collaborators such as Levin and Rhodes. It is, like Passion, a collection of songs and ideas that tell a story, except there are, here, more lyrics present.

The cd did come with a booklet, which gave an insight into the story of the show. It, to quote, tells the story of three stages of our evolution, through the lives of three generations of a family. It is the story of a family in transition, divided by internal conflict, and by the great changes going on around them. It is also a story of forbidden love.

There's straightforward then, eh?

Musically, it is grand, exceptionally well produced, complex, and not for those who seek a "quick fix", which is why, of course, it didn't sell too well. When you hear the pounding, urgent, intense drums on The Time Of The Turning (reprise), though, you simply sit agog and wonder at the genius behind it. For sure, if you enjoyed Rhythm Of The Heat on PG IV, this is for you.

A couple of tracks, those, it is fair to say, more "traditional" Gabriel tracks, became long term live staples. My personal favourite is Father, Son, a quite gorgeous tribute to his and our fathers', recognising those special moments we have and had with the man responsible for who we are. The brass section on this, by the way, brings the track an intensity and emotion that the live version could never have. There is also Downside Up, sung here by Elizabeth Fraser (of Cocteau Twins) and Paul Buchanan (The Blue Nile), a track which I think is sumptuous, but did sound better vocally live with Gabriel and his daughter Melanie, although having said that, the live version could never capture those incredible closing rhythms and beats heard here.

Also, in case people thought this was a mainly cosy affair, we do also have Gabriel at his most industrial and explorative, witness The Tower That Ate People, which then morphs into the recurring African beat of Revenge. The whole album closes naturally, and impressively, mixing the tuneful, emotional, adventurous, and as an ensemble piece, with the very long (for solo Gabriel) Make Tomorrow.

This album deserves to be featured more highly in any appreciation of Gabriel than perhaps it is at present. Full of great ideas, almost perfect production, and thoughtful music which did far more to promote and capture a multi cultural country, society, concept, and continent than any politically correct cobblers forced on the population by New Labour. Going back to the book I am reading, it is no accident that Gabriel is not mentioned as one of the Dome blunders.

Four stars for this, an excellent album, only just falling short of the extremely high standards set by Passion. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#1138943)
Posted Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | Review Permalink

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