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Peter Gabriel Passion - Music from The Last Temptation of Christ album cover
4.08 | 496 ratings | 31 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Feeling Begins (4:00)
2. Gethsemane (1:25)
3. Of These, Hope (3:56)
4. Lazarus Raised (1:25)
5. Of These, Hope (reprise) (2:44)
6. In Doubt (1:32)
7. A Different Drum (4:40)
8. Zaar (4:53)
9. Troubled (2:55)
10. Open (3:27)
11. Before Night Falls (2:20)
12. With This Love (3:39)
13. Sandstorm (3:02)
14. Stigmata (2:27)
15. Passion (7:38)
16. With This Love (choir) (3:21)
17. Wall of Breath (2:29)
18. The Promise of Shadows (2:14)
19. Disturbed (3:35)
20. It Is Accomplished (2:55)
21. Bread and Wine (2:20)

Total Time 66:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Gabriel / vocals, synths (Prophet 5, Fairlight, Roland D50), samplers (Akai S900, Emulator), piano (12,20), flute (2), whistle (3,5), percussion, bass (3,5), double bass (21), computer Fx (6-8,12,18), producer & mixing

- Baaba Maal / vocals (5)
- Youssou N'Dour / vocals (7,15)
- Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan / vocals-qawwali style (15)
- Julian Wilkins / vocals-choir boy (15)
- David Rhodes / guitar, EBow (17,21)
- David Sancious / synthesizer & synthesizer arrangements (12), Hammond (20), backing vocals (7,9)
- David Bottrill / tambourine (18,20), slide guitar (20), engineer & mixing
- Antranik Askarian / Armenian duduk (1)
- Vatche Housepian / Armenian duduk (1)
- Kudsi Erguner / ney (11,17)
- Jon Hassell / trumpet (15)
- Richard Evans / tin whistle (21)
- Robin Canter / oboe (12), cor anglais (12,16)
- The Musicians of the Nile / arghul (17)
- Lakshmir Shankar / double violin (1,3,5,7,8,10), vocals (10)
- Mahmoud Tabrizi Zadeh / kemenché (6,8,13,14)
- Manny Elias / surdo & octobans (1)
- Hossam Ramzy / tabla (1,8,11,13,19), tambourine, triangle, finger cymbals, dufs
- Nathan East / bass (8,20)
- Fatala / percussion (5,7), African percussion (19)
- Manu Katche / percussion (13)
- Billy Cobham / percussion (9,20), drums (9,18)
- Djalma Correa / Brazilian percussion (15)
- Massamba Diop / talking drum (3,5)
- Said Mohammad Aly / percussion (19)
- Mustafa Abdel Aziz / arghul (3,5,20), percussion (19)
- Doudou N'Daiye Rose / percussion (7)

Releases information

OST to the Martin Scorsese film 'The Last Temptation of Christ', re-titled as a result of legal barriers.

The following tracks contain selections from existing recordings of traditional music:
Track 1 - The Doudouks are playing an Armenian melody 'The Wind Subsides', recorded for Ocora Records under the direction of Robert Ataian.
Track 4 - Incorporates a traditional melody from Kurdistan. Kurdish Duduks are from Unesco Collection - A Musical Anthology of the Orient, General Editor Alain Danielou for Musicaphon Records.
Track 8 - Written around a traditional Egyptian rhythm which is performed to fend off evil spirits.
Track 11 - The Ney Flute is playing a traditional Armenian melody.

Artwork: Julian Grater's "Drawing study for Self Image II" (1987)

2LP Geffen Records ‎- GHS 24206 (1989, US)

CD Geffen Records ‎- 9 24206-2 (1989, US)
CD Geffen Records ‎- 069 493 273-2 (2002, US) Remastered by Tony Cousins

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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PETER GABRIEL Passion - Music from The Last Temptation of Christ ratings distribution

(496 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

PETER GABRIEL Passion - Music from The Last Temptation of Christ reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is a perfect representation of traditional Middle Eastern and African music merged together through modern ambient textures. This album is absolutely not progressive rock nor pop rock oriented like some of the earlier Gabriel's albums: the repetitive rhythms based upon primitive acoustic percussions and drums take a major place on this long record. The exotic & primitive acoustic string, wind and percussive instruments + the musicians involved are SO NUMEROUS that the list would be almost longer than this review itself! The tracks also contain many SUBTLY floating modern atmospheric keyboards; many parts remind me some Brian Eno's ambient stuff, especially the "Fourth Worl Vol. 1 - Possible music" album, featuring Jon Hassell. The "Passion" album disturbs very much, since its mysterious, desolated and dramatic textures generate a certain amount of insecurity, tension and unease: this is amplified by many traditional moaning chants. This album is not very melodic: being definitely an acquired taste, it must be listened many many times on a HI-FI stereo before one can really appreciate all the grandeur that engender the slightly obscure textures!

The memorable oboe/English cor on the symphonic "With this love" is particularly POIGNANT: there is also on this album a beautiful version of it with a choir instead, reminding a bit the "Threnody for a duck" track on the "Peter & the Wolf" album, a prog fairytale. The 2 last tracks end the album on a more joyful and less disturbed note: the 21st (last) track even has the peaceful Enya's style, without the voice! No doubt: the talent and inspiration are there!!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dark,moody , brooding....a leap into another soundtrack effort from PG and a great leap too. At times not easy on the ear but there is no denying the complexities and sheer immersion of this artist creating music to this biblical event.
Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Who called this a masterpiece of progressive rock? Though I can laud this album in many ways, one has to stretch the characteristics of the genre pretty far to include this album. It is definitely a masterpiece- I'll agree to that wholeheartedly.

For me and many others, this album was an important gateway into world music. Before this I had heard only a few tantalizing examples of non-western ethnic artists- the Beatles and others had inspired me to check out Ravi Shankar, but that was about it. This album led me to the companion disc "Passion Sources" (much more authentic but less cohesive) and several other artists on Gabriel's Real World label. From then on, I was hooked; the same impulse that had fueled my interest in the outre sonic experiments of prog and psychedelia motivated my desire to discover exotic, authentic musical traditions.

As soundtracks go, this is one of the best; like Ry Cooder's "Paris, Texas" or Michael Nyman's "The Piano", it is a unique and rich musical statement on its own. Though I am very familiar with the film, listening to the soundtrack quite often delivers a separate experience- transcendant and immersive, with very little direct reference to the film's narrative. Iin fact, if you're as much a nerd as I am you will have noticed that the sequence of tracks on the album is different than in the film- an obvious artistic choice to make the album effective as a separate entity. The performances by the huge cast of talented musicians are flawless; from the first keening notes of Shankar's violin on "The Feeling Begins" to the subtle Eno-ish coda of "Bread and Wine", there are no low spots or filler (very uncommon on even the better OSTs!). As time passes, I find myself wishing there was a little more east and less west, but the choral version of "With This Love" is outstandingly beautiful and haunting and "It is Accomplished" is cathartically triumphant.

So once again, I am forced to drop a few stars for this album in a progressive rock context even though it deserves nothing but accolades in the wider musical spectrum. Don't let my rating dissuade you- anyone and everyone should have the chance to appreciate the wonderful sounds here.

Review by FloydWright
4 stars What Mr. Gabriel has done with Passion is truly amazing--although I have no interest in ever seeing the movie Passion was written for, I find this soundtrack no less mesmerising for it. Passion stands on its own as a richly-textured album, moodily evocative of the world of the Middle East and North Africa. In particular I must give credit for the intricate percussive rhythms--while in places this is an extremely melodic album, it is really the rhythm that most distinguishes it. This album, while I rank it a 4.5, is a masterful must-have for anyone with an interest in Peter Gabriel or traditional Middle Eastern music. I'm not the only one who thinks so...Richard Wright of Pink Floyd even named this album in his top 10 in a 1996 issue of Record Collector!

Equally important as the rhythm is the excellent vocals, particularly the Arab-styled ones. This is a very free, melodic, and very haunting mode of singing, particularly to the Western ear, which aside from perhaps a bit of exposure to blues and gospel, is generally not used to the freedoms taken with pitch in Middle Eastern singing. What may at first seem dissonant, jarring, or even undisciplined is in fact very precisely controlled--as it must be when one has more than 12 notes to choose from. Peter Gabriel himself is able to conform somewhat to this style, but easily the most impressive vocal performance belongs to the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. His aching, anguished, yet still melodic cries of pain dominate the title track "Passion". This track, I believe, is intended to evoke the passion--that is, the suffering--of Christ, and while I don't actually know its placement in the movie, that's what comes to mind. This is the sound of the deepest grief and isolation--"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" one might imagine. A boy soprano contrasts marvelously with Khan.

Some of the other highlights include "In Doubt"/"A Different Drum", "Of These, Hope", "Sandstorm", "Disturbed", and "With This Love (Choir)". Particularly clever about that first set is the sudden change of mood in "A Different Drum", which starts off dark and brooding, and then explodes into exultant joy. "Disturbed" offers some interesting rhythm work, aided by the (back then) top-of-the-line Fairlight. "Sandstorm" is a particularly dissonant, unnerving use of a group chant (neither term meant negatively, rather the opposite!). The choir version of "With This Love" is a more graceful, meditative piece also worthy of note.

However, speaking of "With This Love", this otherwise fantastic album does have two weak points that lose it half a star. The first is the steamy, overly Western-sounding first version of "With This Love". Even without the distasteful associations I imagine this likely came with in the movie, this track is in my opinion way out of step musically from the rest of the album. As the second version shows, it is actually a good tune--it's the arrangement I find offputting, hence my almost always skipping this track (I never award a full 5-star rating to any album where I must skip a whole track). My other criticism is the sound production, which despite it being a strong effort for its time period, does sound dry and dated in a few places (notably "Gethsemane", and the rather murkily mixed "Of These, Hope"). Certainly no track is at all rendered unlistenable by this, but it is in my opinion an issue.

Overall, Passion is well worth the listener's time, and if you don't have it, don't hesitate- -pick up a copy now! And if my recommendation isn't enough, listen to Rick Wright; I think he knows what he's talking about!

Review by Muzikman
5 stars "Passion" however is an amazing soundtrack. There was a sticky rights issue and they couldn't use the title of the film, so hence "Passion" seemed an appropriate title, as the music is entirely passionate and emotive. The Last Temptation Of Christ was a controversial and provocative film about Jesus. I tried to watch it but stopped early in the film because it was just too bizarre, that's all I remember about the film.

Look at the list of credits on this recording; it looks as though GABRIEL was intent on getting a true middle-eastern atmosphere in place on this album, he succeeded, and extraordinarily so. The percussion is what makes this entire album. Its eerie, eventful, and as attention grabbing as the film it supports. The host of other instruments played a huge role in making all this happen as well, although it's the percussive instruments that make their presence known in a big way throughout this evocative musical transcendence. This is debatably the best work that Peter GABRIEL has ever created. Those of you that are looking for his music with vocals are in for a big disappointment, both albums are entirely instrumental. If you do however appreciate the progressive nature of instrumental world rock music, you are in for a special treat.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a wonderful soundtrack of a marvelous movie by Martin Scorsese! I got my copy as a vinyl, which holds the music on 2 LP's, and it has big beautiful artwork included in it. I think this music is quite accessible to many kinds of people, as I have noticed this album in some record collections, that I couldn't believe should contain any interesting music. The music is very ancient by it's aestethics, but it is produced with modern recording technology, and there are also some synthesizers used in a tasteful manner here. If you like this record, I would also recommend you the album "Passion - Sources", where Peter compiled some authentic ethnic tracks he used as for inspiration sources when composing this one.
Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Passion, is an Original Soundtrack of The Last Temptetation of Christ, one of the most controversial films, i think its an excellent movie, and this album makes the movie more special, it is an excellent soundtrack.

It is not in the same style of Peter Gabriel´s works, if you are looking for something like Shaking the Tree, Biko, Red Rain , you wont find it here, this is something totally different. Ethnic music, african and middle east oriented style of music, you wont find lyrics here, in some songs, the beautiful Gabriel´s voice making some soft sounds , extraordinay african singers like Youssou N´Dour and Baaba Maal, collaborate here obviously with their great voices, there are a lot of guest musicians, the most of them associated with Real World and Peter Gabriel, the ambient , the mood, the landscape and environment are great, all the sequence of the album is perfect, and the music with a mix of lots of instruments such as violins, african percussions, synths, cymbals and all the guitars and bass makes this something reall beautiful.

I think this is one of that albums that you have to listen carefully and with a good humor, maybe it can makes you feel more relax and happy, i do, almost always when i listen to it i enjoy it and i get excited and relaxed at the same time, if you like ethnic music and that kind of african moody, this cold be perfect for you. Talking about progressive rock, this is not completely progressive rock, it is beacuse of its mood changes and the mix of instruments and great passages, maybe you might say it is some ambient art rock electronic album, i dont know, but im sure that it is not truly a progressive album.

But im sure you will enjoy it, because at least for me its a great album, absolutely beautiful in every way, lots of great arrangements and creativity, thats why i fell the need to recommend it to you, maybe the first time you will say "oh, good album", but listen to it several times and it will wrapping you until you love it. Great, 4 stars!! For me 5 stars, but it isnt a masterpiece of progressive rock.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is one of the best soundtrack albums I ever heard. Gabriel excels in his composing and performing. Very ambiental music but the one you cannot have enough of. Full of "passion" and mystical feel, with loads of middle eastern instruments, this album takes you to a magical journey. You don't need to watch the movie "The Last Temptation of Christ" so as to enjoy this music - it can stand on its own. Highly recommended to everyone!
Review by Chicapah
5 stars My definition of a progressive music enthusiast is a person who enjoys not only the past and ongoing work of their favorite prog groups and/or artists but also derives immense pleasure and satisfaction in listening to music that comes to them out of left field to challenge, intrigue and surprise the aural senses. While the typical model of music fan is more interested in obtaining the instant gratification to be found in a danceable beat or a catchy, buzzword hook line the progressive ear actively seeks out sounds and influences that are alien to their comfort zone. They crave music that takes them into realms where unusual instrumentation, strange surroundings and unexpected mental journeys (where other means of assimilation become necessary) are a source of joy rather than a reason for rejection. By that definition, this album epitomizes progressive music.

Peter Gabriel is not one whose nature is to play it safe. After his 1986 album "So" made him one of the most popular, respected and recognized musical artists on the planet he could have started cranking out pop hits and love ballads like a machine and cashed in on the riches that were there for the taking. Instead, he used his notoriety and fame to steer his admirers both old and new into the bountiful kingdom of world music by utilizing extremely talented but little-known musicians and their fascinating ethnic influences that the average citizen of the earth didn't even dream existed. He further confronted the status quo by associating this mostly instrumental project with a highly controversial film directed by none other than the gifted Martin Scorsese. It takes true courage and determination to lead the way down the path less traveled in an attempt to broaden musical horizons for the masses but that's what Peter boldly did with "Passion."

Rather than go track by track I will just tell you that there's a lot of incredible music to immerse yourself in here. Gabriel's use of many, many different types of drums and percussion is especially exciting on rhythmic tunes like the opener "The Feeling Begins," "Of These, Hope," "Before Night Falls" and "Disturbed." Particularly moving is "A Different Drum" and "Zaar" where huge, atmospheric walls of sound carry you along for the ride. A mysterious, experimental slant is to be found on numbers like "Gethsemane," "In Doubt," "Troubled," "Sandstorm," "Stigmata," "Wall of Breath," and "The Promise of Shadows." The best of this style comes in "Passion," where Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's unique singing makes as big an impression as he would some years later on the mesmerizing, spine-tingling "Signal to Noise" cut on PG's brilliant "Up" album. Certainly not the kind of thing you hear every day. There is also inspired, overwhelming beauty to be found in pieces like "Open," "It Is Accomplished," and the breathtaking ender, "Bread and Wine." Robin Canter's exemplary oboe and Coranglais performance on the transcendent "With This Love" is heavenly and when he is joined by the angelic choir that delivers the reprised version later on the song approaches having the ability to spiritually enlighten.

I saw recently where one obviously misguided guest reviewer, in criticizing another of Gabriel's albums, said that Peter was incapable of creating meaningful world music because he was born and raised in England's upper class. That's not only inane hogwash but is also ignorantly biased and prejudiced. It's equivalent to saying that Eric Clapton can't play decent blues because he wasn't born in the Mississippi Delta or that Bob Dylan can't write great folk or rock & roll songs because he's a Jewish man from Minnesota! The fact is that Peter Gabriel acquired his knowledge and ability through involved interaction and dedicated study of music from foreign lands and cultures over a long period of time. The ongoing impact of this landmark project is a revealing testimony to its quality and authenticity, not to mention Gabriel's status as a visionary artist. All who love an adventurous musical excursion outside one's familiar haunts will find this album amazing. 4.8 stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Great soundtrack to an amazing film.

"The Last Temptation of Christ" is one of the most beautiful pieces of cinema I've ever seen. It's unfortunate that many people have missed it because of falsehoods propagated by the religious right, many of whom spoke out against the film without even seeing enlightened. What they failed to balance in their hysteria was that the film was [A] a confessed work of fiction.and [B] a very pro-faith message made clear at the end. It is a fictional story about Christ experiencing some of the fears and temptations of mankind and overcoming them, beating them, and being a great example for mankind. It shows him rejecting Satan's offer to help him so that he could save mankind. All of these controversial "obscene" visions that people freak out about took place only within thought as he was dying on the cross and he never engaged in them. He rejects them outright in a very dramatic ending. But nope, because of the smear campaign typical of these religious/political forces, many followers refused to watch this very good movie. What a shame.

It is a drop-dead gorgeous film to watch, and Gabriel's "Passion" is what brings the movie to life. There are very few films I can think of where the music is such an integral part of the overall experience. An army of exotic instruments, painstaking attention to detail, and beautiful performances from musicians from all over the globe set against a backdrop of North African rhythms. The music is world music based and injected with some of the ambient elements that will make it appeal very much to fans of Popol Vuh, Third Ear Band, or Eno. The music is so very successful at transporting the listener to the film's location and making what you see believable-when you think about this is really the primary goal of the soundtrack-to make what you see plausible to your mind.

Peter Gabriel recalls "I was excited to be asked to work on the music. When I first discussed the project with Martin in '83 I wanted to find out how he was intending to film this controversial novel. He wanted to present the struggle between the humanity and divinity of Christ in a powerful and original way, and I was convinced by his commitment to the spiritual content and message...We recorded some of the finest singers and soloists in the field of world was a wonderful experience working with such different and idiosyncratic musicians."

Gabriel fans should note that the Criterion DVD of the film contains an interview with Peter, along with still photos of the unusual instruments used in the soundtrack.

If you have not heard the music or watched the film, do so and experience both at the same time. They are a perfect marriage and neither is as effective alone. Decide for yourself where the heart of this film resides. Recommended to all. A masterpiece for Gabriel and Scorsese.

Review by Matthew T
5 stars I originally came across this album listening to world music and not from a progressive viewpoint. The album is a who's who of international artists with Peter Gabriel the lead artist, composer and arranger. As you all know this is the Soundtrack to the Last Temptation of Christ. Never seen the movie but this soundtrack is a one off. There is not another production that I would say is similar in sound and this is what a Soundtrack should be and not a collection of songs from certain eras put together.

The International artists supporting Peter Gabriel are stunning. Youssou N'Dour who was singing professionally at 17 in Dakar for the great Senegalaise Star Band, Baaba Maal and his Tama Player Massamba Diop from his Band Daande Lenol, Bill Cobham the Jazz drummer, Manu Katche and Hossam Ramzy doing percussion on various tracks and the renowned Pakistani Qawwali singer Nusret Fateh Ali Khan who passed away a few years ago. During the recording of the one track that he performed it was mentioned that he spoke to Peter Gabriel concerning the text because it made no sense to him but after he had performed it he was supposed to have been quite happy with the outcome.

Peter Gabriel uses Synthesizers, Fairlight, Audio Frame, Loops and other electronic instrumentation or format; eg. loops but the album does not sound electronic at all as they are mainly kept at the back of the compositions. The album has a distinct middle eastern sound yet there is not one Arabic singer used in the production. He also does a lot of the vocals and has a go at any other instrument he seems to get his hands on bass, whistles, flute, percussion and any thing else I think he found around Real World studios.

I have a preference for West African music so I will give a desciption of the tracks where those artists particapated in and a one of the others as there is 21 tracks on the album. I am sure you breathed a sigh of relief with my last sentence.

The album starts off on track 1 with a the double violin being used and then the track slowly builds. On track 5 where Baaba Maal appears the double violin appears again the vocals are only a very small part of the commposition. When Youssou N'Dour sings on track 7 this is the highlight of the album for me with Peter Gabriel sharing vocals. The singing is basically a chant over a really good rythmn. The best track for me this one just listen to Youssou N'Dours voice One more quick track description which is 15. Nusret Fateh Ali khan opens proceedings and then a choirboy with a soprano voice enters. This is all over a slow rthymn Youssou N'Dour enters later. What sounds spectacular is when the choirboy and Youssou N' Dour's vocals are together.

This album would have to be my favourite Peter Gabriel Album and this really is something original and even though the music is a combination of modern electronics and traditional instruments it does sound 2,000 years old even as we know in that time that this type of complex music did not exist.


5 Stars because this really is a one off.

Review by Negoba
5 stars Ambient / World Masterpiece by the Master of Prog

Peter Gabriel's album Passion contains music that he composed for Martin Scorcese's 1988 movie The Last Temptation of Christ. However, the project expanded past the soundtrack and evolved to become a landmark in the popularization of world music, which was and continues to be a primary passion (see what I did there?) of Gabriel. Numerous world musicians were recruited for the project, including L. Shankar from India, Youssou N'dour from Senegal, Nusrat Ali Khan from Pakistan, and Billy Cobham from Panama. The resulting sound on the album was broader than anything Gabriel had done before, but still sounds like a Peter Gabriel work, with textures pointing back to previous work like Rhythm of the Heat or San Jacinto from Security.

Gabriel plays percussion, bass, keys, and adds vocalizations but his primary role is more as composer and conductor. Most of the lead sounds are provided by guest musicians, with Gabriel adding ambient textures over which the musicians play traditional melodies from across the Mideast. Exotic instruments, percussion (both contemporary and traditional), and numerous synthesized sounds combine to make an intense, dark journey that actually goes past Scorcese's alternate (and controversial) take on the life of Jesus. The variation from song to song is very wide from quirky wind instruments to 80's echo-y toms to eastern violins. Gabriel's reworking of this music from soundtrack to stand-alone album is very well done, with none of the problems of repetition or loss of interest that I've experienced listening to some movie music.

So the question becomes, does this ambitious project work? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. For the last 20 years, this has been the album I choose when I want to sit in a dark room, turn on the music, and get transported to another world. This is music to lose your self in, to swim in a flood of sound, to enjoy almost like an altered state. The images evoked are dark, intense, and frankly have little to do with the film (which I saw some years after getting this album). The film, which is dry and sandy, and visually very brown, pales compared to the music which brings up a palette of color, sensations of swimming underwater or floating in air, and emotions of sadness, contentment, fear, happiness.

This album is what made me a Peter Gabriel fanatic. Before I knew that pre-pop Genesis existed, this album was a comfort to me, a retreat that transported me to another place. It was and is a masterpiece, and is an essential part of recent musical history.

Review by lazland
5 stars Well, given that it is Easter, I thought that a review of an album representative of the season would be appropriate, and there is no prog LP more representative than this one.

I have enjoyed Gabriel's music for well over 32 years now, both with Genesis and as a solo artist. This LP is, by probably a long way, his worst selling album, but it is also, by an equally long way, his best. Written as the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's film The Last Temptation of Christ, a blistering account of a rather obscure novel wondering what Christ's life, and ours, would have been like had He succumbed to the temptation of Mary Magdalene and a normal life, before reverting to Christ redeeming him and us by climbing back on the Cross, the album was, typically for Gabriel, very much delayed whilst he perfected his work. I'm glad he did.

This is probably the first album by a major Western artist (which, of course, Gabriel was after his success with So) that fuses mainly third world musical influences and instruments with more mainstream progressive rock. The Senegalese singer, Youssou N'Dour, who guested on So, is the most recognisable singer on this and he absolutely shines. There are no lyrics as such, just a combination of deep and beautiful soundscapes with chants, with a magnificent choral With This Love thrown in, which takes us back to the very earliest musical influences of Gabriel as a child at Charterhouse School.

There are far too many tracks to review separately, and, anyway, this would rather lose the point of the LP. It demands to be heard as a single work, right from start to end. If you also are familiar with the film and the Passion itself, it all blends in and fuses together to make perfect sense.

Different Drum, with N'Dour's haunting screams, replays the thrashing of the Temple. Passion, so North African in both its feel and sympathies, replays Christ's passage towards the inevitable. And for those reading this who are either atheist, agnostic, or simply do not see the relationship between music, faith, and our basic humanity, there are the final two tracks, It is Accomplished and Bread And Wine, recounting, of course, the final crucifixtion, agony, and ultimate triumph of Christ. They are stunning pieces of music, with tribal chants, blending with Gabriel's unique keyboards, a simply stunning drum and bass line, before reverting to a simple eulogy to the risen Christ.

I am not a particularly religious person, although I regard myself as a Christian quietly. This is not a religious album, per se. It is a triumph of the human spirit, a perfect blend of Eastern, African, and Western musical themes and influences, which served as both a perfect backdrop to a great work of film art, and as a musical piece of wonder in its own right.

I award this album five stars. It is absolutely essential for any discerning prog fans collection. Quite wondrous.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars I am certain people will rail against me for this review, accusing me of not getting something or merely having terrible taste, but such criticisms would not be new to me, nor would I heed them any further than I have. I fail to see what sets this album apart from those CDs by the candles and greeting cards at stores like Target, which are meant for meditation and relaxation, and it all leads me to wonder how much the Peter Gabriel brand name factored into this soundtrack's reception. The music is excellent in terms of serving as a score for Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, but in the context of progressive rock, it completely wearies me. When it comes to cinematic soundtracks, I can think of several that surpass this (such as James Horner's score to Braveheart or Howard Shore's score for The Lord of the Rings). Even standing alone as an album, there are moments of genius, but these are oases in a vast desert of languid uniformity. What ultimately ruins the experience for me are the anachronistic drum sounds- 1980s electronic drums (sounds I generally don't like to begin with) just don't fit well with the rest of the atmosphere. The music by itself is bleak and tediously so, though fit for its purpose, as it does a fine job integrating an enormous variety of tones from throughout the Middle East and beyond, but the dry, repetitive nature of the music makes this entirely painful for me to endure, especially in one sitting. The only thing more monotonous than a track by track review of this album is, I'm afraid to say, the album itself.

"The Feeling Begins" A hazy Near Eastern overture begins the album, but that ancient feeling is suddenly dispelled by 1980s drum tones.

"Gethsemane" This terse piece consists of disharmonious lines on woodwinds, perhaps sounding a bit like Henry Cow.

"Of These, Hope" The ancient feel is brought back, having an almost Persian or Turkish flavor, but again, the percussion and cheesy electronic elements mar it.

"Lazarus Raised" This features light electronic shimmers coupled with a solo, that gradually become darker in feel.

"Of These, Hope- Reprise" Here is yet another blending of exotic instrumentation and overpowering electronic music.

"In Doubt" Ominous electronic tones pulsate, wail, and breathe during this two minute segment.

"A Different Drum" North African rhythms create the backbone for this piece, which features stellar vocals. In spite of my previously mentioned misgivings, this track is something of an exception- a moment I genuinely enjoy.

"Zaar" Dark and yet inviting, this piece has gorgeous strings and various textures throughout.

"Troubled" The electronic percussion, to me, makes this sound like a Phil Collins solo track. The ethnic backing only serves to annoy me.

"Open" Passionate and peaceful, this meditative track enchants the listener with stunning vocals and tranquil washes of synthesizer.

"Before Night Falls" The percussion and instrumentation here is very strong, full of flavor and vivacity.

"With This Love" This is a more classical-sounding piece, and while graceful, it does not impress me any more than most New Age music would.

"Sandstorm" This is a dark breathy piece, with percussion fading in gradually.

"Stigmata" Gorgeous strings and Gabriel's commanding voice make up this track.

"Passion" The lengthiest piece is, as expected, more of the same, with warbling Middle Eastern vocals, arid backing of synthetic textures, and exotic lead instruments.

"With This Love- Choir" While certainly beautiful, I cannot help but think of Christmas when I hear this charming choir.

"Wall of Breath" This ambient track has a static note hovering in the background, as mewling sounds play over it.

"The Promise of Shadows" This piece is more or less avant-garde drivel, with screeching and airy noises.

"Disturbed" Here is more Near Eastern music, with percussion filtered electronically. Eastern bagpipes drone on at the end.

"It Is Accomplished" Those droning pipes flow into this track, which unexpectedly turns into a 1980s synthesizer and piano-ridden piece, one that could have easily accommodated vocals and been turned into a pop hit.

"Bread and Wine" This Celtic-inspired piece is rather unexpected, featuring light synthesizer and a beautiful whistle, and sounding like Iona.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars This album is Peter Gabriel's soundtrack for Martin Scorcese's film The Last Temptation Of Christ (not Mel Gibson's reigious snuff film). So, as a soundtrack, this is less complete songs than atmospheric soundscapes and rhythms.

Gabriel does a decent job of combining Middle Eastern instruments and vocals with his own style. Occasionally, you can actually hear Gabriel's voice in some of the vocal pieces. At times, the pieces are eerie, and times, just introspective. Alll in all, this is not a bad album to put on when meditating or reading. Or perhaps just to have on when nailing things up on the wall. :)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Passion is Gabriel's second soundtrack after Birdy. It's a marvellous piece of work that got a huge recognition due to the commercial fame Gabriel had acquired in those years. But that didn't refrain from composing a very dense and frightening album. This is clearly the work from an artist at the peak of his powers.

Contrary to Birdy, Passion consists entirely of new material. With 20 pieces of which some are very short, the array of styles visited is huge: hypnotizing tribal music on The Feeling Begins, trippy space-folk on Of These Hope, Middle-Eastern flavours on Lazarus Raised, ambient experiments with new sounds and world music all over the place and even a bit of romantic classicism on With This Love. One of the highpoints for me is the Middle-Eastern vocal improvisation on the desolate title track.

Despite the minimalist nature of most of the tracks, this soundtrack holds up very well without the picture. It's not a regular listen but it always makes for an impressive and moody experience, a suitable soundtrack for mourning and other solemn occasions.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Passion: Music For The Last Temptation Of Christ' - Peter Gabriel (8/10)

Yet again, I come across an album that isn't quite like any other in my collection. Having known and enjoyed the music of Peter Gabriel for years, I was quick to pick up any album with the former Genesis frontman's name on it. While much of his stuff is best described as 'artistically inclined pop,' 'Passion' came as a bit of a shock to me. Instead of the typical songwriting and performances we might come to expect from Gabriel, there is something entirely different; an ethnically diverse journey of ambient music that isn't afraid to get ambitious.

Made originally as a soundtrack to the Martin Scorcese film 'The Last Temptation Of Christ,' Gabriel spent the next months afterwards developing the music into something more fleshed out and impressive. After bringing the musical ideas to their full potential and hiring a vast lineup of different musicians and instruments to bring his music to life, the album has since been considered the release that brought 'world music' into the mainstream eye. It even won a Grammy in 1990 for the 'best new age album,' and while awards ceremonies certainly don't merit much in my eyes, it's clear why this album has met with such acclaim.

While I am not too interested to see the film that this scores, I can easily see 'Passion' as being a perfect musical counterpart to the story that Scorcese tells with the movie. I can admit that I wasn't quick to warm up to the music here; things felt a bit scattered and only as small 'snippets' of music, rather than a legitimate album. While the lack of flow is indeed still evident in 'Passion,' the beautifully orchestrated music makes up for it.

Peter Gabriel's fans may find themselves divided on this album; it certainly isn't typical of his work, and the listener can only really hear his presence in a few scarce sections. Irregardless however, there has been very little ambient music that has this level of artistic acheivement to it. Emotions here range across the spectrum, and while many of the ideas still feel like they could have been developed further, the effect of 'Passion' is indeed a profound one.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though the Middle Eastern-dominated music used for this soundtrack was a complete surprise to me, I think Martin Scorsese's bold decision to hire Peter Gabriel for this effort was a choice that was both brave and genius. The fact that Peter delivered one of the most unique and innovative soundtracks in history helps make this point.

1. "The Feeling Begins" (4:00) a shockingly haunting violin melody and percussive monster that evokes such strong feelings of the desert. (9.5/10)

2. "Gethsemane" (1:23) like something left off of Eno's Fourth World Possible Musics albums, computer-generated or enhanced elephantine noises dominate. (5/5)

3. "Of These, Hope" (4:05) opens with a cacophony of bizarre-like horns before hypnotic drum and bass line enter and transport the listener away. Amazing how this low end feast can draw one in. And then the synth, voice, and Shankar violin melody doubles the effect. Soundtrack music does not get any better than this. (10/10)

4. "Lazarus Raised" (0:36) like the horn raising the cobra out of its basket. (4.5/5)

5. "Of These, Hope (Reprise)" (1:06) (5/5)

6. "In Doubt" (2:07) a psychological mind warp (4.5/5)

7. "A Different Drum" (6:05) a computer keyboard and drum rhythmic sequence over which PG, Youssou N'Dour and David Sancious lend their vocals. Like a song. (8.75/10)

8. "Zaar" (4:44) more Garbriel-esque in its keyboard sequences and synthesizer palette, though still retaining the sounds and uniquities of Middle Eastern instruments. (8.75/10)

9. "Troubled" (2:46) great drums and percussion song, with quite a broad spectrum of percussion sounds coming from Billy Cobham and PG's computers. (9/10)

10. "Open" (3:18) deep sustained synth with Shankar's etheric violin and PG and Shankar's voices soloing above. So cool. (9/10)

11. "Before Night Falls" (2:16) awesome interplay between Armenian Ney flute, Shankar's cetaceous violin, and hand percussives. (5/5)

12. "With This Love" (3:36) solo, plaintive cor anglais over synthscape. Beautiful classical-sounding piece. (9.25/10)

13. "Sandstorm" (2:55) all kinds of North African and Middle Eastern sounds and instruments woven into this muddle of muckery. (4.5/5)

14. "Stigmata" (2:24) improvised kementché (acoustic bowed string instrument) and PG voice. (4.25/5)

15. "Passion" (7:36) the same soundscape as "Of These, Hope" before the drums join in, with Jon Hassell's distinctive breathy trumpet paired with the inimitable Qawwali voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Shankar joins in, trying to emulate Nusrat's vocal reaches with his violin. At 3:20 the angelic voice of child choirboy Julian Wilkins gets the spotlight. Shankar and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan meekly, humbly re-take the lead before low-end synthesized soundscape rises and dominates before the final crescendo of all voices that begins with about 90 seconds to go. The quiet that ensues is beautiful. (13.5/15)

16. "With This Love" [Choir version] (3:19) the cor anglais of Robin Canter rejoins us, but merely for the opening introduction as, this time, the song is presented by a boys choir singing wordlessly. (9.25/10)

17. "Wall of Breath" (2:25) Ney flute, violin, and arghul (Egyptian bamboo flute) solo gently over synth drone. (4.25/5)

18. "The Promise of Shadows" (2:12) a heap of heavily treated percussives and more. Eerie! (4.5/5)

19. "Disturbed (3:07) violin and Fairlight synth washes which are joined by broad spectrum of hand drummers working together or looped. Pretty amazing! (10/10)

20. "It Is Accomplished" (3:30) PG piano and tubular bells with Billy Cobham drums andmore--a real PG celebratory piece like "Kiss of Life" or "Biko." (8.5/10)

21. "Bread and Wine" (2:23) some Celtic sounds and themes in play here. (4.25/5)

Total Time: 65:53

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music delivered as a soundtrack of world-prog fusion.

Review by Warthur
4 stars When Peter Gabriel landed the task of scoring The Last Temptation of Christ, he assembled a vast team of musicians from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and a sprinkling of Europeans and Americans in order to produce a piece of true "world music". Seeing the potential in the material produced for the film, he worked on it further over the subsequent months until he was ready to bring out this classic album. Hovering in realms ranging from the ambient to traditional music to world fusion, in an odd way this album reminds be of Brian Eno and David Byrne's My Life In the Bush of Ghosts - but whereas that particular album focused on driving, pulsing, energetic rhythms, this is a gentler and more contemplative piece.

Regardless of your opinion of the film that spawned it, there's something genuinely moving and unique about this piece - certainly, it stands out amongst Gabriel's solo discography as something quite unlike anything he's done before or since.

Review by admireArt
5 stars The best way to get the most of this "crossover" gone backwards Peter Gabriel's project, is to testify it without prejudices, as if it is really prog or not, or any other excuse you can think of. So, I'm going to try to recommend it, without any kind of referentials, even about, the author himself. If something has to be told about this trip, is that your are tavelling to the mid-western part of the world (of course if you don't live down there already!) , somehow not only through space, but also in time (this you can choose). If somehow you think that only "serious" central-european music song-writing and concepts, were the only "borrowed" fruits of the Prog-Kingdom, well in 10 seconds, you will be enlightened with the truth and in 3 minutes, if you have the disposition, this music will do the rest. This project, needs no apologies nor justifications, it stands by its own, as such! Because it is flawless, masterful and a perfect retribution to all the "unknown" and anonymous sources, that gave, give and will give fountains of inspiration, not only to the Prog World, but music in general. Another important fact to know about ' Passion",is that there are no lyrics, just hints of them, some voices and choruses here and there , in an electrified and electro/acoustic "mid-western" mostly, environment with added touches of not so 'mid-western" compositions, without faking it, but with lots of respect for that culture's musical canons, adapted to our "western" ears and ways of listening. If you prefer "rawer" less produced mid-western music, this album has a twin sister, which holds all the "sources" that eventually led to this final PG song-written project. (aptly titled Peter Gabriel "Sources" , also highly recommendable.) This record blew, blows and probably will blow my mind. Therefore, yes quiet essential for me, and a masterpiece, if you like this kind of trips, of course. *****5 PA stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars LISTEN WITH YOUR SOUL!!! fantastic Ethnic Musical Work, deep and full of mystery.A great musical piece!! The album contains the soundtrack that Gabriel prepared for The Last Temptation of Christ, a film by Martin Scorsese based on a book by Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis that infuriated Christia ... (read more)

Report this review (#2649413) | Posted by von bathel | Saturday, December 4, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Even if the music from the album The Passion by Peter Gabriel cannot be labeled as prog, it's so stunningly revolutionary that it will easily rest among the pillars of prog music. This OST was conceived as a music of ancient times and modern times. Of far away and somehow near. The secret of ho ... (read more)

Report this review (#1868680) | Posted by SteveG | Monday, January 22, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 5/10 Passion is an album that is actually the soundtrack of the controversial and controversial The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorcese. As I not watched the movie, I will limit myself to the album. Here the influences of world music that had already been present in the career of ... (read more)

Report this review (#525597) | Posted by voliveira | Saturday, September 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It is very curious that this album is a sound track. The album has in fact some additions. The album is a concept album and it is full of details. Every time one listen to this album one can pay attention to a new details. The music has the capability of relaxing and it is dangerous to put when ... (read more)

Report this review (#236522) | Posted by amontes | Wednesday, September 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Amazing album. Realy i don't like very much solo albuns of Peter Gabriel but this is different. Most instrumental albun with some voices, that remember African voices and Peter Gabriel just appears in one act I think, and not with English lyrics but just in voice. Very electronic and percussion ... (read more)

Report this review (#211928) | Posted by João Paulo | Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "The Last Temptation of Christ" is my favorite movie, and its original soundtrack is one my favorites as well. I've been listening to it for 10 years and it never gets old. It might be more "world music" than "progressive music", but I can't find a better example of mixing ethnic influences into ... (read more)

Report this review (#138736) | Posted by Nao/Gilles | Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars fantastic album. even here is used synthesizer and moder tecnology the feeling is pretty geniun and authentic wich for me is very imported exspecialy in this kind of ethnic-style music. I mean it can't sound like it has made in some cheap model casio from corner store. well clearly this is not ... (read more)

Report this review (#106718) | Posted by Siddhartha | Tuesday, January 9, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album somehow defies its genre and style. It's synth- and percussion-based, lacks lyrics and song normal structures. New age-ish and drawn out. In theory, I don't like it. However, Peter Gabriel manages to fill the form with content. It's actually one of his best solo albums. Flowing, ric ... (read more)

Report this review (#85108) | Posted by Stjarnblom | Saturday, July 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is not a prog rock album, however this is a great one - Peter Gabriel shew himself both as a world music fan and an experimentator, interested in high-tech. This clash gave an album which can be listened to without watching the film (for example - I've never watched it, ) and still amazes th ... (read more)

Report this review (#80862) | Posted by | Saturday, June 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This record marks a change of the expression in almaost every way of Peter Gabriel, perhpas a little known record until today, this magnificent piece of world music defines the feeling of a great movie, and a blend of nations of the middle east and africa. Almost all the pieces in here has a taste o ... (read more)

Report this review (#24056) | Posted by | Friday, April 9, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Shimmering, magical, percussive, eastern - Peter Gabriel moves in a World music direction, and produces the best work of his career, with some fabulous contributions from Yossou D'Nour, Babaa Maal, Nusrat Ali Fateh Kahn and more. ... (read more)

Report this review (#24054) | Posted by | Wednesday, November 5, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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