Posts Tagged ‘ Peter Gabriel ’

Album of the Week 10-2016: Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 3

After two albums of progressive, yet still pretty conventional music – just how conventional an album that involves Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp can really be is open for debate – Gabriel really immersed himself into synthesizers, African rhythms, drums without cymbals and proto-electronic music on his third self-titled record, nicknamed ‘Melt’ for its album cover. It says enough about how ahead of his time Gabriel was that this album – released in 1980 – sounds like it’s from the mid to late eighties. But even disregarding the album’s progressive nature, the song material itself is among the best Gabriel has ever recorded.

Gabriel has always danced on the line between progressive and accessible and though ‘So’ – an amazing album in its own right – was his mainstream breakthrough, not one other album of Gabriel’s balances out those extremes so perfectly. There’s a lot of darkness in the lyrics on the album, but Gabriel and his producer Steve Lillywhite always find a way to give the songs a hook. That’s probably how the cynical ‘Games Without Frontiers’, which spots a distinct guest performance by Kate Bush, became this album’s unlikely hit song. In fact, it was his most successful single at the time.

There’s not really anything like a common sound throughout the album. Though apart from the somewhat upbeat ‘And Through The Wire’, most of the songs are dark and rhythmical. The maniacal ‘I Don’t Remember’ with its fantastic Chapman stick work courtesy of Tony Levin and ‘Not One Of Us’ bring sound like they’re built from the same artistic ideas as what the Talking Heads were doing at the time, whereas the tuned ideophones of the brilliantly structured ‘No Self Control’ seem to prelude his later forays into African-inspired music. Speaking of the African inspiration: there’s ‘Biko’, Gabriel’s stately, brooding tribute to the anti-apartheid activist.

My personal favorite of the record is the bleak, dark opening track ‘Intruder’. With it’s pronounced drum pattern – Gabriel’s former Genesis mate Phil Collins and his first experiment with gated drum sounds – and dissonant main riff, as well as the subdued danger in Gabriel’s voice make this song amazingly atmospheric. Nightmare fuel maybe, but it’s a great mood-setter for an album that isn’t all that cheerful anyway. The somewhat more conventional sounding ‘Family Snapshot’ is another highlight. It builds from a piano ballad to several fantastic climaxes and as a result, it has a sense of drama that is rare in progressive music.

Of course, Peter Gabriel would become more famous with subsequent albums, but while his first two self-titled albums had a couple of amazing moments, this is the first album to fully capture his unique and as of yet unequaled artistic vision. While not without hooks, this masterpiece is rather an album that slowly reveals its secrets to the listener through multiple spins and in a way, those are usually the albums with the largest replay value. Highly recommended to everyone who likes profound, truly progressive music and doesn’t mind a cynical, gloomy observation every now and then.

Recommended tracks: ‘Intruder’, ‘Family Snapshot’, ‘I Don’t Remember’

The Shorties: this month’s new DVD’s

So many new high profile music DVD’s these last few weeks. It’s quite obvious that holiday season is coming up. To help you decide which ones to buy and which ones to avoid, I’ll try and serve you with a few short reviews.

Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers Live

‘Perfect Strangers’ was the very decent comeback of Deep Purple’s famous Mark II lineup, with Ian Gillan singing and Ritchie Blackmore playing guitar. This recording from the tour to promote that album proves that this lineup still had its chops back then. This was before Gillan’s vocal deterioration and all of the ‘Perfect Strangers’ highlights are on here. Except for ‘Wasted Sunsets’. Classic work like ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’ and ‘Speed King’ sounds very good too. It looks like not much has been done to upgrade the picture quality, but the music and the audio is just fine.

Peter Gabriel – Live In Athens 1987

‘So’ catapulted Peter Gabriel from underground favorite to mainstream hero. This enabled him to take his music to bigger audiences and have more opportunities to film gigs. It may be caused by Gabriel’s fascination with modern technique, but the picture quality on ‘Live In Athens’ is ridiculously good for a 1987 concert. In addition, he is backed by his best band yet, playing fantastic versions of songs like ‘Intruder’, ‘The Family And The Fishing Net’, ‘No Self Control’ and basically all the ‘So’ highlights. Obligatory counterpiece to ‘So’.

Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited: Live At Hammersmith

Another former Genesis musician who became a hero of his own field. Steve Hackett is easily one of my favorite guitarists. I love his beautiful tone and tasteful melodies. His second collection of Genesis reworkings was a success and the tour that followed had him and his fantastic backing band (including Gabriel and Collins soundalike Nad Sylvan on vocals) playing Genesis songs only. Fantastic renditions of the best Genesis songs are a result, on this best looking DVD Steve Hackett has done so far. Highlight: Hackett doing a non-competitive and utterly beautiful solo duel with Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery on ‘The Lamia’.

Marillion – Brave Live 2013

It’s one of my favorite Prog albums – and certainly the finest Prog record released in the nineties – performed in it’s entirity. What can go wrong? Especially with this crisp and clear image and sound quality even if you purchase “only” the DVD instead of the BluRay. The band is in fantastic shape, the encores contain some incredible performances of non-‘Brave’ songs, Steve Hogarth sings the material surprisingly well despite the passing of almost two decades. A must for anyone into Progressive Rock.

Megadeth – Countdown To Extinction: Live

Another album performed in its entirity. This one should be approached with a little more caution though; Megadeth lowered all the songs to a D-tuning, apparently to better facilitate Dave Mustaine’s voice. I don’t think anyone listens to Megadeth for his voice. Rather for his riffs. And it’s those riffs that get a whole different vibe because of the different tunings. Some of the songs are almost unrecognizable until the lyrics start, ‘Public Enemy No. 1’ in particular. The lighting is a bit dark too. However, the band plays extremely well. Like they always do.

Ted Nugent – Ultralive Ballistirock

Ladies and gentlemen, Derek St. Holmes is back! And his voice still is fantastic, which is somewhat remarkable as he is 60 years of age. This – along Uncle Ted’s fantastic backing band – accounts for some of the most incredible renditions of ‘Just What The Doctor Ordered’, ‘Turn It Up’, ‘Dog Eat Dog’, ‘Stormtroopin” and of course the legendary ‘Stranglehold’ we’ve heard in a long time. What can go wrong? Oh right, if Nugent’s right-wing pro-gun rants annoy you, avoid this like the plague. If you either agree with him or – like me – are able to see past this, this is a very worthy addition to your Bluesrock collection.

Testament – Dark Roots Of Thrash

Despite opening this show with the atrocious ‘Rise Up’, the song that strives for any worst lyrics award, ‘Dark Roots Of Thrash’ is a pretty entertaining DVD. Most of the rest is positive. The picture quality and editing is fantastic, Gene Hoglan is behind the drum kit, the band finally remembers they did an incredible album called ‘The Gathering’ about a decade and a half ago by playing four songs off of the album and Chuck Billy delivers a surprisingly great vocal performance. ‘Burnt Offerings’ alone would be worth the buy.

Devin Townsend – The Retinal Circus

‘By A Thread’ would be a better buy than this one. Townsend took things too far over the top here. The CD version is a little easier to digest, because it doesn’t have all the extremely long narrative parts that really disrupt the flow of the show. It doesn’t show the overblown stage show either. Having said that, this is still Devin Townsend, which means there’s a bunch of weirdly brilliant songs executed by a group of very capable musicians. It’s just that I’ve heard and seen them better.

Album of the Week 45-2012: Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited II

Sales numbers don’t quite back me up here, but Genesis was best when they were still a folky Progrock band fronted by Peter Gabriel. However, it wasn’t his departure that irreparably damaged the band, it was guitarist Steve Hackett’s in 1977. And though Hackett has made fine albums on his own – especially ‘Spectral Mornings’ is nothing short of amazing – he never made a secret of his persistent fondness of the Genesis material he played on. He’s even less subtle this time: for the second time, Hackett has released an album (a double album this time!) with him and a large arsenal of guest stars reinterpreting his former band’s best tunes. And unlike its 1996 predecessor, ‘Genesis Revisited II’ is a success almost all the way through.

Most of the songs don’t stray from the originals too much, apart from the occasional extra intro or guitar solo, but that’s not really a problem, figuring how much of an obvious labor of love this album is. The fact that the production and mixes are alike for all of the tracks makes for an incredibly pleasant listen. These productions are somewhat more friendly towards Hackett’s amazing guitar abilities, but he has no problem stepping back and allowing Roger King’s keyboards a little more space, just like he did with Tony Banks on the source material.

The choice of singers is always vital for a release like this one. With half of the singers sounding a lot like Peter Gabriel, there’s not much to be desired here. Francis Dunnery even sounds eerily like Gabriel, which makes his rendition of ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’ one of the albums absolute highlights. Nad Sylvan does an impressive Gabriel on ‘The Musical Box’ (possibly Genesis’ best song ever), ‘Eleventh Earl Of Mar’ and opening track ‘The Camber Of 32 Doors’. The least obvious choice would be Nik Kershaw, who does a commendable job at ‘The Lamia’, but misses out on the absurdity of Gabriel’s original. Other highlights include Gary O’Toole, Hackett’s touring drummer, whose warm vocals especially shine on a goosebumps inducing version of ‘Blood On The Rooftops’, Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson seems like a fish in the water on ‘Can-Utility And The Coastliners’, proving once more that Porcupine Tree and Genesis aren’t all that far apart, and Neal Morse, who lends a slightly agressive edge to ‘Return Of The Giant Hogweed’, which – also aided by the production and a killer guitar solo by Hackett – possibly even exceeds the original.

Eternal Prog classic ‘Supper’s Ready’ even contains a grand total of five singers. Opeth singer Mikael Ã…kerfeldt really shines with his warm delivery in the sections ‘Lover’s Leap’ and ‘How Dare I Be So Beautiful?’, Phil Collins’ son Simon does a more than decent job, but most remarkable is Hackett’s over the top performance of the clownesque ‘Willow Farm’. I still think Gabriel did that better, but it’s a fun interpretation. In fact, the only interpretation I consider failed is Amanda Lehmann’s somewhat latter-day Marianne Faithful rendition of ‘Ripples’, although her interpretation of ‘Shadow Of The Hierophant’ – yes, Hackett took the liberty of including solo stuff that sprung during his Genesis days – is just great. The instrumental stuff is maybe even better.

Those of you who only know Genesis from the giant Pop hits they had in the eighties and would like a representative introduction to Genesis’ seventies work, this would actually not be a bad choice. It’s only one ‘Dance On A Volcano’ and one ‘Get ‘Em Out By Friday’ short of being a best of collection. And Steve Hackett did this with all the love he has for the material. The criticism may be that Hackett is stuck in his own past, but the fact of the matter is that ‘Genesis Revisited II’ gets repeated spins in my house.

Recommended Tracks: ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’, ‘Return Of The Giant Hogweed’, ‘Blood On The Rooftops’, ‘The Musical Box’, ‘…In That Quiet Earth’