"Up and Away" - a review of Peter Gabriel's new album. Review by David Matthews.After a ten year wait, the much-talked about follow up to "Us" has finally arrived in the shops. The question is, has it been worth the wait? Alas for me, the simple answer has to be no. Don't get me wrong, having been a fan of Peter's since 1973, I really wanted to like this album. Ten tracks in ten years? Each one should have been a classic.
Darkness: A slow start to the album explodes into histrionic chords. Have I picked up the wrong album by mistake? No, there is the unmistakable sound of Peter's voice, as dark and grainy as we have come to expect. This could have been a very good track if Peter had not added all of this unnecessary padding.
Growing Up: A much better, more mature and up tempo track; strong vocals and rhythms make for a much better track. However, as you listen on, you are left wondering what was so new about this piece?
Sky Blue: I liked this track from the first moment I heard it. The melody sounded pleasantly familiar and the haunting vocals made for a beautiful piece of music. Then I put on "Long Walk Home" and then realised why it sounded familiar; it was on this album too!
No Way Out: A great bass line leading into a latino/salsa rhythm intertwined with Peter 's distinctive vocals make for another good track. Parts of the track remind me of the "So" era material, such as red Rain.
I Grieve: For me the best track on the album and almost worth the money in itself. His vocals and the melody build to a crescendo then after five minutes the track explodes; changes direction becoming a much more up tempo number. Classic Gabriel!
The Barry Williams Show: Clever lyrics and middle of the road melody make for a strange choice as a single to promote the album. This track is a bit of a whinge about reality TV shows. Strange coming from a man who made his name wearing a red dress and a fox's head mask!
My Head Sounds Like That: Another dark and almost sinister track which blends brass and modern instruments into a very clever track. Peter seems intent on revisiting his past, and this track does sound like a modern update of "Home Sweet Home".
More Than This: Great guitars, strong rhythm and melody make for one of the best tracks on the album. Surely this must be the next single?
Signal To Noise: Another dark but none the less good track, where Peter mixes African chants and ethnic melodies with strong string arrangements. This has been done before though on "A Sense Of Home" from the "Long Walk Home" album.
The Drop: A low-key ending to a somewhat low-key album.
So, there we have it, after ten years of waiting you wonder what all the fuss was about? Peter has returned with what could be his weakest album since "Peter Gabriel 2". He is clearly undecided about the direction he should take in the new millennium, his soundtrack work has clearly distracted him from the path laid down so firmly with "So" and "Us".
This album, although titled "Up", has very few highs, and has a dark and sombre feel to it. The sleeve is made up of obscure black and white photographs and contains no lyrics. There is not even a photo of the man himself! [I count at least five on the cover alone - Picky TWR Ed.] Many years ago, genesis wrote a song about a woman who sought fortune and fame; found it and then fell from grace ("Duchess"). Perhaps Peter would do well to listen to this track.
I can only give this album 5/10 and suggest that there are far more worthy albums to buy at present; such as "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" by Coldplay, where all the darkness of the vocals is broken up by a well crafted and beautifully played guitar based melodies.