After a long wait for Peter Gabriel fans thinking that after Big Blue Ball and then Scratch My Back that the rumoured follow up to 2002’s UP would materialise in the form of I/O. Instead Peter surprised or frustrated his followers by releasing New Blood.
What does it offer? Is this symphonic retelling of his catalogue one of the better offerings from the whole ‘symphonic version’ concept? Peter has chosen a path not often treaded by artists reinventing their back catalogue by choosing mostly non hits for a reworking. Of course, Peter being Peter he has mustered people to his project that really do know their craft. John Metcalfe, composer of the orchestral interpretations, aimed to bring the strip down versions to life. How successfully? Well…
Some songs become more menacing like Intruder, others become more moving and emotional such as Solsbury Hill others become more unique than they were originally.
Make no mistake I made sure I got the Double Disc version of this album. Whilst I can’t cover every song, here are some highlights and low points.
‘Intruder’ sounds strange at first without the familar drum sound of Phil Collins but, on reflection the orchestra were able to make the song far more chilling and creepy than the original.
From the 2002 release UP, ‘Darkness’, it takes on a more open feel without a multitude of electric guitar the vocals are more clearer and still they stroke emotions. The staccato strums during the chorus really emphasise the evil of the track.
‘Don’t Give Up’ it still is as poignant as ever but one has to ask, was Kate Bush busy? Peter has managed to find another female singer in the form of Ane Brun who adds her own identity to the song which reinvents it again. As a complete reworking it adds a Celtic lilt.
‘Digging In The Dirt’ from Peter’s 1992 album US, which was a surprise here as he could have chosen so many others. The Brass element of the Orchestra really adds to the tension of the song where the underpinning strings seems to ratchet up the tension further.
‘A Quiet Moment’ was recorded up on literally Solsbury Hill. You can hear nature and the elements I believe but also what sounds like Farming machinery harvesting somewhere in the background. It is a still a worthy addition to the album which is a brilliant starter before the next track. It acts of a precursor to…
It is hard to say something about ‘Solsbury Hill’ that has not been said, what with it being the most well known song of Peter’s right back from the genesis of Peter’s solo career. Here the song is given a new and tasteful lease of life with a piano and then the strings which seem to be the right thing to do this song has always stirred the emotions and this version does not fail on that count! It is quite opposing to the rest of the album, something that Peter was aware. It is quite vibrant in contrast to the rest of the album which is fairly maudlin or creepy.
I found the album sort of made me think of Peter more positively than it did when I first heard Scratch My Back. It was more successful in making it feel like a reinvention rather than simple cover versions or retelling. These aren’t copy cat versions, lifted note for note without any change. They have the heart of the original with an entirely new pulse. This album is true to its name, New Blood.
- Rhythm of The Heat
- Downside Up
- San Jacinto
- In Your Eyes
- Mercy Street
- Red Rain
- Dont Give Up
- Digging In The Dirt
- The Nest That Sailed The Sky (Instrumental)
- A Quiet Moment
- Solsbury Hill
- Rhythm of The Heat (Instrumental)
- Downside Up (Instrumental)
- San Jacinto (Instrumental)
- Intruder (Instrumental)
- Wallflower (Instrumental)
- In Your Eyes (Instrumental)
- Mercy Street (Instrumental)
- Red Rain (Instrumental)
- Darkness (Instrumental)
- Dont Give Up (Instrumental)
- Digging In The Dirt (Instrumental)
- Blood Of Eden (Instrumental)
- Solsbury Hill
I am certain that Peter Gabriel fans old and new will be able to appreciate this wonderful album. You can buy it from either Amazon UK via our Store or from Peter Gabriel’s Official website.