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Rock - Released November 15, 2019 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Rock - Released April 26, 2019 | Real World Productions Ltd.

Rated PG is a clever title for a compilation of songs Peter Gabriel gave to films over the course of his career. Gabriel has been intimately involved with the world of cinema since the start of his career -- during the waning days of Genesis, he collaborated with Exorcist director William Friedkin on a film that never left the development stage -- and provided scores for Birdy, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Rabbit-Proof Fence, but Rated PG focuses on the stray songs he contributed to movies between the years of 1984 and 2017. As this is a comp designed with Record Store Day in mind, it consists of ten songs running at a tight 50 minutes. This means there are several songs left stranded on soundtracks -- most egregiously, this doesn't have "Out Out," his paranoid gift to Joe Dante's 1984 monster movie Gremlins -- but what's here emphasizes Gabriel's moodiness, his bent for collaboration, and his passion for non-Western music. There are exceptions to the rule, usually arriving through his contributions to blockbusters -- there is the buoyant "Down to Earth" from WALL-E and "That'll Do," a Randy Newman composition written for Babe: Pig in the City also featuring Paddy Maloney on vocals -- but most of Rated PG simmers at a low-key atmospheric setting before "In Your Eyes," the 1986 single that was made into a romantic standard via its inclusion in Cameron Crowe's 1989 comedy drama Say Anything, brings it to a rousing conclusion. "In Your Eyes" isn't quite tonally of piece with the rest of Rated PG but as it's one of Gabriel's most famous songs, it belongs here and helps put into perspective how so much of Gabriel's film work leans toward the artier side of the spectrum. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 8, 2019 | Real World Productions Ltd.

Recorded in May 2003 at a single show in the Round in Milan, Italy, this documents Peter Gabriel's worldwide tour following his Up release. As such, it not surprisingly relies heavily on that disc, with seven of the 17 tracks originating from the album. Only about five tunes in this show can be considered "hits" (conspicuously absent is anything from his second and third albums) but most won't miss the many omissions since the performance is so consistently breathtaking. Gabriel is known for his elaborate, high-tech presentations and this certainly has its share of surprises. To reveal them would be unfair, since much of the excitement in watching a Gabriel show is seeing how his stage act -- here modernized for an in-the-round setting -- unfurls and reflects the songs. But suffice it to say, that unless you were there -- and even then -- Gabriel has plenty of tricks up his baggy black sleeves. Although he begins modestly, playing stark piano alone on an empty stage for a moving "Here Comes the Flood," the ever-present and very visible orange-suited crew, which appears and disappears though trap doors in the fake floor, quickly adds the full band. Split screens display these techs looking bored under the stage, preparing for the next song, a video technique that is overused throughout the concert's 2 1/4 hour running time. Otherwise, the camera work is excellent, if a bit hyperactive at times. Vocal overdubs are kept to a minimum and the 5.1 surround mix is astonishingly vibrant and detailed. One new song, "Animal Nation," is played, but it is not one of Gabriel's best and at nearly 15 minutes overstays its welcome. Also, the band introductions, which are chanted by the audience after the tune, might have been fun if you were there, but wear thin quickly. Still, this is a beautifully and imaginatively shot production caught in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Gabriel sounds great, as do the bandmembers, many of whom, like bassist Tony Levin and guitarist David Rhodes, are longtime associates. It's a must for any fan of the British star and a riveting performance even for those unfamiliar with his work. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 9, 2016 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Rock - Released June 17, 2016 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Real World Productions Ltd.

This two-fer from Peter Gabriel includes the 2010 covers album Scratch My Back, which featured the pop icon taking on material from the likes of David Bowie ("Heroes"), Arcade Fire ("My Body Is a Cage"), and Randy Newman ("I Think It's Going to Rain Today"), and its 2013 companion piece I'll Scratch Yours, which saw some of those artists offering up their interpretations of Gabriel cuts like "Biko" (Paul Simon), "I Don’t Remember" (David Byrne), and "Games Without Frontiers" (Arcade Fire). © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Real World Productions Ltd.

Three years in gestation -- which, in Peter Gabriel time, is a mere handful of months -- And I'll Scratch Yours, the companion piece to the 2010 covers album Scratch My Back, finds most (but certainly not all) of the artists who were interpreted on Gabriel's album returning the favor by tackling the progressive singer/songwriter's back catalog. Not every artist chose to scratch Gabriel's back. Radiohead reportedly were irked by his version of "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" and Neil Young followed his own path away from Gabriel, so Joseph Arthur was drafted to contribute an entirely too moody version of "Shock the Monkey" and, better, Brian Eno dug into the dark, unsettling corners of "Mother of Violence." Eno is a contemporary of Gabriel's -- he contributed to Genesis' masterwork The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway -- and, like on Scratch My Back, the veteran artists provide a better, riskier experience than the younger acts. Generally, the newer artists here -- Bon Iver, Regina Spektor, Arcade Fire, Elbow, Feist; Stephin Merritt is a grand exception with his nervy reading of "Not One of Us" -- favor the moody, foreboding side of Gabriel while his peers prefer to play around. Lou Reed turns the celebratory "Solsbury Hill" into a dirge befitting Magic and Loss (and changes the lyrics to read "my friends would think I was a slut" because, you know, sexual danger), David Byrne seizes upon the new wave disco menace of "I Don't Remember," Randy Newman spins "Big Time" into vaudeville, and, best of all, Paul Simon turns "Biko" into the folk protest anthem it always longed to be. And there are moments scattered among the younger acts worth hearing, too: Arcade Fire retain the ominous, dangerous air of "Games Without Frontiers," Spektor lends a gorgeous shimmer to "Blood of Eden," and Feist retains the delicacy of "Don't Give Up." This doesn't amount to a cohesive record -- although it favors the contemplative, there are too many shifts in mood here from track to track -- but it is without question a worthwhile record, as its best moments are strong, substantive reinterpretations that illustrate just how good a songwriter Peter Gabriel is. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 10, 2011 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Rock - Released October 10, 2011 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Rock - Released October 10, 2011 | Real World Productions Ltd.

Almost every one of Peter Gabriel’s best-laid plans winds up going awry, and so it was with Scratch My Back, his 2010 collection of orchestral covers of some of his favorite songs. He had hoped to have the artists he covered return the favor by interpreting his songs but that project never got off the ground, so he pursued New Blood, an album where he turned that orchestra upon his own songs. New Blood is in every way a companion piece to Scratch My Back; it’s cut from the same aesthetic cloth, it's austere and cerebral without being chilly, it finds emotion within intellect. Some songs aren’t considerably different tonally than the original versions -- this is particularly true of the So material, with “Mercy Street” and “Red Rain” seeming no different in their transition from Synclavier to symphony -- but the ones that are heavily reworked, such as “San Jacinto” and “Intruder,” are startling, rearrangements that seem to give the songs a new set of bones. New Blood isn’t always as astonishing but that’s fine: the faithful adherence to melody on “Don’t Give Up” and “In Your Eyes” functions as something of a palate cleanser, and even when the album isn’t risky it’s always quietly absorbing. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 10, 2011 | Real World Productions Ltd.

Almost every one of Peter Gabriel’s best-laid plans winds up going awry, and so it was with Scratch My Back, his 2010 collection of orchestral covers of some of his favorite songs. He had hoped to have the artists he covered return the favor by interpreting his songs but that project never got off the ground, so he pursued New Blood, an album where he turned that orchestra upon his own songs. New Blood is in every way a companion piece to Scratch My Back; it’s cut from the same aesthetic cloth, it's austere and cerebral without being chilly, it finds emotion within intellect. Some songs aren’t considerably different tonally than the original versions -- this is particularly true of the So material, with “Mercy Street” and “Red Rain” seeming no different in their transition from Synclavier to symphony -- but the ones that are heavily reworked, such as “San Jacinto” and “Intruder,” are startling, rearrangements that seem to give the songs a new set of bones. New Blood isn’t always as astonishing but that’s fine: the faithful adherence to melody on “Don’t Give Up” and “In Your Eyes” functions as something of a palate cleanser, and even when the album isn’t risky it’s always quietly absorbing. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Real World Productions Ltd.

Peter Gabriel tells why he left Genesis in "Solsbury Hill," the key track on his 1977 solo debut. Majestically opening with an acoustic guitar, the song finds Gabriel's talents gelling, as the words and music feed off each other, turning into true poetry. It stands out dramatically on this record, not because the music doesn't work, but because it brilliantly illustrates why Gabriel had to fly on his own. Though this is undeniably the work of the same man behind The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, he's turned his artiness inward, making his music coiled, dense, vibrant. There is still some excess, naturally, yet it's the sound of a musician unleashed, finally able to bend the rules as he wishes. That means there are less atmospheric instrumental sections than there were on his last few records with Genesis, as the unhinged bizarreness in the arrangements, compositions, and productions, in tracks such as the opener "Moribund the Burgermeister" vividly illustrate. He also has turned sleeker, sexier, capable of turning out a surging rocker like "Modern Love." If there is any problem with Peter Gabriel, it's that Gabriel is trying too hard to show the range of his talents, thereby stumbling occasionally with the doo wop-to-cabaret "Excuse Me" or the cocktail jazz of "Waiting for the Big One" (or, the lyric "you've got me cookin'/I'm a hard-boiled egg" on "Humdrum"). Still, much of the record teems with invigorating energy (as on "Slowburn," or the orchestral-disco pulse of "Down the Dolce Vita"), and the closer "Here Comes the Flood" burns with an anthemic intensity that would later become his signature in the '80s. Yes, it's an imperfect album, but that's a byproduct of Gabriel's welcome risk-taking -- the very thing that makes the album work, overall. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | Real World Productions Ltd.

Although he had thrived on live performance as a member of Genesis, Peter Gabriel waited until he was four albums and six years deep into his solo career -- with the hit album Security and the Top 40 "Shock the Monkey" chalked up to his credit -- before he took the plunge into concert recording with this album. Released as a double-LP and two-CD set (but also later in a single CD "highlights" edition, missing four songs), this is a fine summing up of the artist's early solo years. Most of his biggest hits and key album tracks are represented in tight, inspired performances -- the notes concede that some of what is here was sweetened after the fact in the studio, but the immediacy of the stage performances wasn't lost in the process, and that emotional edge and intimacy give songs such as "Solsbury Hill," "I Don't Remember," and "Shock the Monkey" a sharper, deeper resonance than their studio renditions, fine as those are. It's that side of the performance that makes this release well worth owning, for anyone enamored of Gabriel's voice or songs, even if nothing here wholly supplants the studio originals. And the band -- Tony Levin (bass, stick, backing vocals), Jerry Marotta (drums, vocals), David Rhodes (guitar, vocals), and Larry Fast (keyboards) -- is in excellent form as well. What is lacking is the cohesiveness that one might have gotten from a live album assembled from a single concert; derived from a multitude of shows, the individual songs are excellent unto themselves, but there's little sense (or even the illusion) from song to song of any forward momentum across the album, and that might be the one major flaw here. But this is a suitable capstone to the first phase of Gabriel's solo career, and also a peculiar one in certain respects -- given the effort that obviously went into assembling the album, the packaging is almost minimalist by the standards of live albums and double albums of the era (the LP version even put both platters into a single sleeve). © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Hit

Rock - Released November 3, 2003 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Rock - Released November 3, 2003 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Up

Rock - Released September 23, 2002 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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Up

Rock - Released September 23, 2002 | Real World Productions Ltd.

Ten years is a long time, especially in pop music, but waiting ten years to deliver an album is a clear sign that you're not all that interested in the pop game anyway. Such is the case with Peter Gabriel, who delivered Up in 2002, a decade after Us and four years after he announced its title. Perhaps appropriately, Up sounds like an album that was ten years in the making, revealing not just its pleasures but its intent very, very slowly. This is not an accessible record, nor is it easy to warm up to, which means that many may dismiss it upon a single listen or two, never giving it the time it demands in order to be understood (it does not help matters that the one attempt at a single is the ham-fisted, wrong-headed trash-TV "satire" "The Barry Williams Show," which feels utterly forced and out of place here, as if Geffen was pleading for anything resembling a single to add to the album). Really, there is no other choice for an artist as somber and ambitious as Gabriel to craft an album as dense as Up; those who have waited diligently for ten years would be disappointed with anything less and, frankly, they're the only audience that matters after a decade. And they're not likely to be disappointed, since this album grows stronger, revealing more with each listen. Initially, it seems to simply carry on the calmer, darker recesses of Us, but this is an uncompromising affair, which is to its advantage, since Gabriel delves deeper into darkness, grief, and meditation. It may take a while for him to emerge from the darkness -- there is little of the comfort of a "Come Talk to Me" or "Blood of Eden," which are immediately soothing on Us -- but there are glimmers of hope throughout the album, even in its darkest moments. Again, it takes awhile to sort all this out -- to unlock the form of the songs, then their meanings -- and it's such a somber, hushed, insular affair that some dedicated listeners may not bother to spin it the appropriate number of times. But those serious fans who want to spend time with this will find that it does pay back many rewards. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released June 17, 2002 | Real World Productions Ltd.

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OVO

Rock - Released August 8, 2000 | Real World Productions Ltd.