Peter Gabriel – [Album]

Saturday, 22 October 2011

On listening to the first few tracks of Peter Gabriel’s new album, New Blood, my knee-jerk reaction was, “Oh no, Peter’s gotten old, really old, and has resorted to the "symphonic background" method of music making to popularize his old hits.” It was a chilling thought which didn't thrill me in the slightest but, happily, by the time I heard the fourth and fifth tracks on the album, I knew I was wrong in my assumption.

I suspect that the genius of Peter Gabriel may never grow old. For one thing, this is not a greatest hits album but rather a collection of songs that would be more favored and appreciated by authentic fans who have listened more deeply to his albums over the years, and it is those more seasoned listeners who will sense the newness that is breathed into these revisions. It’s almost like these are brand new songs the way they are re-orchestrated, and the way that his sixty-one year old voice sings them today furthers that fascinating impression.

New accompanying voices are brought in to sing along with Gabriel where Kate Bush and Sinead O’Connor wowed us before; his daughter Melanie and Ane Brun. This is not the London Symphonic Orchestra (or some other such group that has quickly learned how to play Peter’s music). Peter worked with John Metcalfe to compose the orchestrations for a “no guitar, no drum-machine” group called the New Blood Orchestra. John Metcalfe, from Gabriel’s previous release, Scratch Your Back, returns to conduct.

A new vitality, new understanding and new conviction all ring through with vibrancy on New Blood. Even if you are someone who has never heard of Peter Gabriel before, listen to these songs and discover a voice from the wilderness which will guide you to new safe havens. Old fans, turn down the lights and play this loud. I assure you, you will shake in your boots.

Such praise may be glowing, I'll make one caveat to this recommendation. If you are a twenty-something radical hipster totally into the indie music scene, do not listen to this album but buy it for your parents. Younger hipster indie kids should listen to the original albums instead. They are pure and convicting. For these orchestrated versions to be a young person's first exposure to Gabriel's music, well it might be an unfortunate turn-off. Orchestrated remakes are, after all, a sign of rock stars getting old, it's just that some of them do it better than others.



New Blood
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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