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Peter Gabriel - Up CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

4.00 | 573 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars It is somewhat difficult to believe that this, the last true Peter Gabriel traditional solo album is now seven years old - talking about walking at a snail's pace!

This is a natural follow up to Us, and as rewarding with several listenings. As with all of the great man's LP's, the mood is as important as the quality of the songwriting and the musicianship.

Darkness, the opening track, is a good example. An almost silent opening is broken by a frenetic burst of noise, reprised throughout the track, and is a very introspective reflection on childhood nightmares and feelings. Gabriel's voice is quite remarkable.

Growing Up is the track from which the subsequent tour, and its follow up Again, took its name. My wife and I and some friends saw the tour in Birmingham, and we all agreed that we had seen genius. I, having seen him with both Genesis, and virtually every solo tour, was especially pleased. Again, the track plays on moods, and I think that the instrumentals are more advanced than they were on Us. I would not pretend that it is classic Gabriel, but it certainly does make your foot tap incessantly through the ghost section. Not in any way commercial, just very catchy and clever with a strong bass and percussion lead. My ghost likes to travel, and then the wholesome piano and chant, followed by a huge noise before calming down to a reflective period again. The mark of a confident and clever man, to be sure.

Sky Blue is one of those songs which makes you glad to be alive. An incredibly beautiful piece of music, with David Rhodes very much at the fore, sees Gabriel reflecting on the incredible power of our planet. The track moves along from the start at a deliberate pace, as if commentating on Gabriel's travels. Then, we hear the most incredible Gabriel chants and vocals, crying and letting it out, before the remarkable Blind Boys of Alabama (who accompanied Gabriel on the subsequent tour) come in to remarkably chant and lead the track to its denouement. An amazing piece of work.

No Way Out follows, and represents another huge change of mood. Not an exceptional piece of work, but it does, again, feature some articulate harmonies of voice, bass (Levin is a genius), piano, guitars, and keyboards, with thoughtful percussion. I do also think that Gabriel again is so passionate and makes your hairs on the back of your neck stand up when he moves to the don't leave section of the song.

I Grieve is, to my mind, the most important Gabriel work since the '70's. It encapsulates everything that I love about him, this ability to sing and lead a band to capture a certain mood. I recently had my old companion cat put to sleep. Silly, really, but I put this on immediately afterwards in tears as a bitter kind of tribute to an old friend and member of my family. Because, as he says, the love that we feel carries on and on and on, and when that love is expressed in such a perfect set of world and prog influences, it really does not get much more perfect. Life Carries On (and on) - a gloriously uplifting song which affirms the true love of life and the grief we feel when a loved one (of whatever species) dies.

The Barry Williams Show follows, and this is basically a send up of the American (and now, sadly, British) chat show Kings such as Jerry Springer. It's a catchy song, but easily the weakest on the album, simply because it really doesn't fit into the album as a whole.

My Head Sounds Like This follows. Very similar at the start, certainly with the brass, to tracks from Ovo, the Millennium Show album, it is, again very moody and dark. However, one listens with fascination to the most incredible Gabriel vocal. I love this man's voice - I have done since listening to Trespass, Nursery Cryme, and the rest in the '70's, and I think that his voice has really matured in the long intervening years. The feeling and the passion.

More Than This is a more upbeat track, with lots of sampled noises thrown in to a funky beat and vocal. Gabriel also, again, employs his trick of using simple piano notes to accompany very complicated bass, drum, keyboard, and guitar backdrops. A fun track, which clearly took many years and takes before getting to the finished article. An uplifting track which dispels much of the darker material that preceded it.

Signal to Noise is the track which, more than any other, uses the exceptionally rich world music influences that Gabriel has amassed over the years to such rich effect. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan supplies such incredible and powerful vocals to accompany the main instrumental. He died before the album was released, a testament to the fact that it was actually a gap of ten years between Us and this album being released. A remarkable piece of music, it has everything, including a thundrous drum and bass backdrop to a keyboard and string orchestration symphonic closure to Gabriel's vocals. Wonderful, this track closed the live show in such a powerful way. Essential listening to all Gabriel and symphonic prog lovers alike.

The Drop closes the album. Beginning with the kind of quite, single key, piano that Gabriel has made his own, it features a thoughtful vocal. It is a nice way to come down after the intensity of what went on before.

Without The Barry Williams Show, I would award this an easy five stars. However, that track, and a filler track such as No Way Out and the closer prevent it from being essential. It is, however, excellent, thoughtful, mood driven, and a perfect addition to any collection. Regrettably, it looks as if the long wait for a successor will continue for the time being.

lazland | 4/5 |


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