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Peter Gabriel - Us CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

3.62 | 469 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I suppose that every artist has one of these...well, at least the good ones. You know what I mean, don't you? A record that sounds exactly like the one just before it, where everything is in exactly the same place...except it sounds totally different?

On the one hand, you still get a bunch of cool, funky, danceable grooves and some heartfelt ballads, just like good ole So. However, with Us, there IS something different. I guess it has something to do with maturity, or a lack thereof. See, this puppy is like Pete's Minstrel in the Gallery; his simple, sad, cathartic ode to his lost love (read "divorce").

I reckon that's what makes him sound so old. And by old, I mean tired. Tired of fighting. Tired of pain. That dude singing "Blood of Eden" and "Washing the Water;" Is that REALLY the man who once sang "Red Rain?" "Shock the Monkey?" "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight?" I don't think so.

But of course, this IS still the same ole Pete we've come to love (or loathe). Case in point, "Come Talk to Me" opens with a blast of African drum beats and bagpipes. Heh. Who else would dare do something like that? AC/DC? "Come" is a nice little song, good lyrics, and the climby chorus is great. Perhaps a little too long for its own good, but, what are you gonna do?

"Love to be Loved" is a little less hard hitting, a rather straightforward ballady sorta deal. Nice chorus, but not terribly effective, in my opinion. But "Blood of Eden" of fantastic. There true beauty in there, I swear it. I love the self recycling chorus, and the bridge is a billion times more effective than the one from "Love to be Loved."

But I think that "Steam" is the best song off the record. Unforgettable really. I could listen to that all day. Not only is it a fantastic, shape shifting, brilliantly orchestrated artsy pop rocker, but none of the overall feeling of the album is lost. The chorus where he yells "Gimme ST-E-E-E-A-M!" is both hopeful and desperate. "Only Us" cools us down from all that (beat) from all that ST-E-E-E-A-M! Uh, sorry. "Only Us" is another okay ballad. The chorus is kinda cool, but hardly brilliant.

However, "Washing of the Water" might be, just might be, the prettiest song on the record (REAL hard to tell that). The verses are sung with almost passionless sorrow, but it grows little by little, until it hits the painfully desperate conclusion. Of course, that's not to understate "Digging in the Dirt." The verses are biting and angry, scary even, but they give way to a downbeat, optimistic, truly gorgeous chorus. Kudos to Peter Hammill for the backing vocals (which are there, ya just gotta "Dig" 'em out. Heh).

Unfortunately, nothing past this point is quite as good. Still nice enough though. "Fourteen Black Paintings" is the weirdest piece of the lot (more so than "Dirt" even!), a sort of abstracty, ambient piece. Does that equate boring? Uh, no comment. "Kiss That Frog" might not have the power of "Steam," but it's just as fun. It's impossible not to like the dorky but cool fairy tale lyrics, or the repeated "c'mon c'mon c'mon c'mon baby" bit.

"Secret World" has a nice melody, but it never feels like it does anything with it. Perhaps it lingers a little longer than need be, but, so did the opener, and the closer is just as effective (if not more so). In other words, that's a wrap folks, and all in all, a great experience.

Not a masterpiece by any means, I'm sorry to say. I wonder if anything truly cathartic can be; it's so personal that it can't help but be a little muddy. I'm not just talking about the weaker tunes here (and, in truth, none of them are offensive or anything). I mean that the flow sometimes feels a little off. I mean, putting ambient lil' "Black Paintings" between the moody "Dirt" and the funky "Frog?" Whose idea was that?

But beyond that, if you like Peter Gabriel (and I like him reasonably enough), then you'll love this thing. Pete bears his soul! We get some quality melodies (suitably complex too, this puts the "art" back in "art pop"), some great lyrics, some moments of real beauty. Resonance even (I mean, "Washing of the Water," I've been there, haven't you? Almost brings me to tears, I mean it). Heh. Maybe I just Pete's old man voice.

And, even if you aren't the world's most diehard Peter Gabriel fan (and, I am certainly not that), you still should have this in your collection. I mean, dude, it's like a who's who of art rock! There's bound to be SOMEONE you care about on this record (oh, look, John Paul Jones!).

And don't even get started on the music videos (chicks in towels and babies buildin' towers)...

The Whistler | 4/5 |


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