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Peter Gabriel - Flotsam and Jetsam CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel

Crossover Prog

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3 stars This 3-section collection of tracks from the great Peter Gabriel features a lot of tracks that were released on various singles and EPs, soundtracks and what-not that are being made available for the first time digitally. Many of these tracks are relatively rare when compared to Gabriel's albums and releases and have probably not been heard before by a majority of his casual fans. It is a great collection and pretty much runs in a chronological order.

There are some great offerings here among these 62 tracks. Among these are the extended version of "Slowburn" from the "car" album, a live version of "Solsbury Hill" which was originally from a fanclub flexi disc, and alternate version of "I Don't Remember" and a remixed version of "Biko", and that is all just from the first "disc" of material. But there is an equal amount of less interesting material to wade through here like the 4 tracks from the "DIY single" released in 1978, the instrumental version of "Shock the Monkey" which suffers without Gabriel's vocals attached, and "Shosholoza" from the "Biko" 12" single released in 1980.

The second "disc" of material features several dance and extended mixes as this was the time when 12" singles featuring endless versions of the same song were quite popular. There is some repetitiveness among the tracks on this section of the collection, but the best selections were put into this collection so that when the same title appears more than once in sequence, the tracks are variable enough so that you don't get as bored of it as you might think. Highlights here are the special mix of "In Your Eyes", the up-beat version of "Mercy Street" (mixed by William Orbit) which brings new life in this normally overlooked masterpiece from the album "So". But, again, there is some material of lesser interest to get through here, so it is a sort of "pick and choose" game.

The last section of material carries us all the way up to 2016. This one has some of the most interesting and varied material. There are several soundtrack and homage tracks that are actually really good like his covers of "Summertime" and "Suzanne" and the catchy version of "Shaking the Tree" (from 1997 and the "Jungle 2 Jungle" soundtrack) and the City of Angels version of "I Grieve". There are some lesser known tracks from digital singles released in 2016, and these are also quite good; "I'm Amazing" and "The Veil". But, once again, there are some multiple versions of tracks. "Growing Up" has 3 different versions in a row, the most interesting of which it the Trent Reznor remix. The other two tend to make listening to the entire album a chore however. Like the other "discs" of material, this one has its share of weaker material.

For the casual fan, this collection has its share of ups and downs, and listening to it as a whole can result in an experience that feels a bit haphazard at times. This collection is one that works better as one where you can pick, choose, and play your favorites at will. It also works quite well for collectors of Gabriel's music that want to just hear everything they can, and will give this type of consumer satisfaction in hearing tracks they never had a chance of hearing otherwise, and actually owning them to their heart's content. I try to rate collections from a casual listener's standpoint however and how cohesive it sounds. Even though the music is in a chronological order, which by itself is quite logical, in this case it makes the entire collection seem a bit haphazard when listened to as a whole. Yes there is some excellent stuff here, but there is a lot of mediocre material that bring down the entire experience. There is a plethora of both types of tracks here, so it all averages out to a 3 star collection. It's great to have easier access to these tracks, but you have to listen to a lot of stinkers to find the gems here.

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Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2020 | Review Permalink

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