Certain artists are happy to simply compile a collection of their best loved songs add a sprinkling of changes and sit and watch the money roll in, not Peter Gabriel.
Following the success of “Scratch My Back” where he gave a orchestral treatment to his songs with the help of a few other well known artists and then also preceded to cover other artists. Gabriel is back with his orchestra. This time he dips into his comprehensive back catalogue and digs out some gems before giving them a sprinkling of bombastic grand orchestra.
The album starts off with “Rhythm of The Heat.” Now the original is a skin crawling, cold sweat inducing, sinister foot stomper and Gabriel could have made a few minor tweaks and expected to get away with it. Instead he takes the most significant component of the original the drumming climax and replaces it with the string arrangements that gives a song that doesn’t need extra life, extra life.
Ever the pioneer, Gabriel stays away from some of his well known hits such as “Sledgehammer” but instead he plucks less well known but still brilliant numbers from his back catalogue. Despite the delicate nature of “Mercy Street” and “Red Rain” he manages to utilise the wind and string orchestrations and make them work.
There are a couple of times of when the album struggles to find its gear. Such as “Intruder” the opening loses that mad, stalking darkness. “Solsbury Hill” feels like it’s on the daily commute, in that it doesn’t go in any different direction from the original. Then there is “Don’t Give Up” on which Ane Brun makes a good fist of trying to fill the infinite sized red shoes that are of Kate Bush. But a message to Mr Gabriel, we don’t want you to replace Bush we want one more duet please, pretty please.
Other than that this is a sterling effort, one which you can envisage yourself skipping down a snow covered road in the bitter midst of winter.