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4.2 out of 5 stars59
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 25 October 2011
Watching Peter Gabriel's stunning performance with the New Blood Orchestra on Jools Holland's Later the other evening proved inspirational. OK, so the luxury of being a multi-millionaire can unburden you of the restraint of record company executives waiting their next fix of "...where's the next hit single" but trust me, an indulgence this album is not. From a listener's point of view in many ways you wind up willing that each track will surpass itself and that the recording will never end. I know I did and the sumptuous banquet spread out before me like an episode of a Heston Blumenthal TV show proves that the adage "...there's life in the old dog yet" certainly has legs. It's with this expectation and hope that Gabriel rises to the challenge making you feel justified that you have faith in his outpourings are met with a sigh of relief when he easily achieves each goal. The songs included here are a snapshot of his career to date including the powerful horns/strings led "Rhythm Of The Heat", the exquisite "Downside Up" (with additional vocals from his daughter Melanie) and the energising pulse of "Solsbury Hill" with its gloriously majestic trumpet counter melody as a finale. To my knowledge Peter Gabriel has never recorded an `Unplugged' session for MTV and, if that is the case this CD could well be his homage to the genre. As long as we are blessed by performers of this calibre I can't think of a finer way to celebrate Britain's musical heritage. Unquestionably my album of the year!

Pete Fyfe
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on 18 October 2011
Peter Gabriel is possibly one of the most exciting artists in popular music history. He has always been driven to explore new sounds and create new concepts whilst maintaining a very high standard on each of his releases. "New Blood" does not disappoint and Peter delivers very convincing reinventions of some of his best known tracks as well as some less obvious songs.

"The Rhythm Of The Heat" is my personal favourite here and has a wonderful and captivating orchestral arrangement which brings this particular song to life. "Downside Up" has very beautiful and soft string arrangements which bring added beauty to the melody. "San Jacinto" has that grandiose feeling to it which classical arrangements are so renown for whilst the brilliant "Intruder" is interpreted in a much more dramatic way, portraying the original songs delighting angst and cruelty. "Wallflower" is effectively melancholic and bold with piano and strings accompanying Peter's deep emotive voice. "In Your Eyes" and "Red Rain" sound just as powerful and majestic as their original versions and the melancholy of "Mercy Street" is just as apparent if not enhanced by the subtle and mesmerising arrangements. Although not as good as all of the aforementioned songs, "Darkness" is good but loses a little bit of it's rawness and intensity and "Don't Give Up" is nearly identical to the version with Kate Bush, but I do prefer her vocal to her female replacement Ane Brun. "Diggin In The Dirt" is quite interesting, but the final section of the chorus sounds a little flat where the melody is lost for a brief moment. "The Nest That Sailed The Sky" is a touching and pleasant instrumental and, although it does not add to the release in any way, "A Quiet Moment" is 5 minutes of tranquillity with sounds of birds chirping and running water. The bonus track "Solsbury Hill" is uplifting and is still a very magical track.

The album is a true delight and success. Peter Gabriel has not only managed to reinvent some of his all time classics, but he has also shown us how a talented artist can think outside the box and bring us new music through the method of rediscovery.
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on 6 December 2011
This is a review of the Double Vinyl version of PG's New Blood LP. The music itself I find quite stunning with a number of new nuances being fed into very familiar songs. I especially like the end of Rhythmn of the Heat with it's new orchestral working of the legendary drum section. PG himself is on stunning vocal form with some real feeling being imparted into the well known lyrics and the whispered end to Intruder is even more creepy than the 1980 original and the vocals on Darkness far more menacing and tender than on Up. These versions are not necessarily better than the originals, but are a different flavour of the songs and I personally feel that they are very worthwhile even though I was very sceptical prior to listening, thinking that I would just rather listen to the originals, but that is not the case.

So onto the vinyl itself, well in a word it's stunning, it feels like 180g (i've not weighed them) and very sounds like the Classic Records 200g pressings (of which I have Up), very quiet with tremendous bandwidth giving the orchestra a lush warm and detailed sound with PG's vocals razor sharp on top of the mix....quite breathtaking and a joy compared to some modern pressings covered in pops and clicks from new (I won't name these, but you know who you are!!).

My only critism of the the whole thing is the weakish female backing vocals on some tracks (but I actually like the vocal on Don't give up....it's not Kate, but it's different and a new interpretation).

Packaging is also excellent, with a fairly heavyweight gatefold sleeve, plain black inners and a bonus 7" picture disc, which in itself is heavyweight (I've not spun this yet, but it feels and looks fab in it's own printed card sleeve). There is also a download code for both 320mbps MP3 and 24bit wav versions of the album (all 14 tracks incl. those on the 7") which is a nice touch for portable listening, but to be honest, this recording was made for vinyl and it really excels in this version - highly recommended.

I look forward to some new material from Peter in which he hopefully pulls in some orchestral influences from both this and Scratch my Back.
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on 17 October 2011
Old standards, maybe, but this new set of renditions raises Peter Gabriel's oeuvre to a new level. Fantastic orchestrations by John Metcalfe (just listening to the last minuet of 'Don't Give Up' gave me serious tingles down my spine) delivered by him and the New Blood Orchestra, brilliant reinterpretations by one of our Greatest Living Englishmen, together with some top-notch backing vocals by Melanie Gabriel, Ane Brun (haunting on 'Don't Give Up' - and what a fantastic voice) and Tom Cowley add up to this being a really valued addition to any PG collection. This is the icing on the cake! Can't wait for 'and I'll scratch yours'.... Incidentally there's free 24-bit download link included (until 10/10/12 in the Deluxe 2-disk version - not certain about any others). Seriously recommended.
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on 9 November 2011
I have been listening to Peter Gabriel for nearly 40 years and to this album for a couple of weeks, and it really grows on you.
I saw Scratch My Back at the O2 and frankly was not impressed with the cover versions, the album is even worse, but the second half of the concert livened up and became a good night out, including a great rendition of Solsbury Hill.
Then this CD came out and I was unsure whether Peter had done the right thing. His vocals strain on some tracks (as usual), so occasionally I actually prefer the instrumental versions. But whichever you are listening to, the orchestrations are beautiful, they bring a new dimension to these songs; this is no musak re-working of old favourites, it's a genuine re-interpretation. I can listen to the album repeatedly all day as I work.
Disappointments? Solsbury Hill is always a triumph live, but this version just fails to capture the sparkle of the song, it falls a bit flat. And 'A Quiet Moment'? If I wanted that I could always switch the CD off and I still haven't worked out why there are 2 versions of 'The Nest That Sailed The Sky', perhaps I'm not listening hard enough. But how often do you buy a double CD where every track is brilliant? I can forgive the occasional lapses for the quality of the whole. Beautiful orchestrations, beautiful playing, crisp recording and superb song writing, what more could you ask for?
Successes? Darkness and Intruder are really atmospheric - the orchestra makes them feel even more threatening; San Jacinto is possibly even better than the original, while Red Rain is just astonishing.
Whatever you do don't buy this and listen once, give it a chance to work into your soul and demonstrate that all those old hit songs can have a secret second life as orchestral pieces. Unlike many albums, this just gets better with every listening.
Now Peter, about an album of new songs .......
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on 5 November 2011
This is like a personal best of for me... all the favorites "in new clothes". When songs are re-released I always find them most interesting when the differences are more obvious than the similarities. Why buy the same songs again otherwise? On the regular edition you get this orchetral rendition of the songs. Gabriels voice is the most recognisable part, so I prefer disc 2 of the Special Edition, when you can really hear the different treatment these songs has been given. Plus a bonus vocal track. Besides you get the possibility to download the tracks of both CDs as well in high quality. The nice surprice here was another track not on the other CD's :-)
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on 22 October 2011
Any Gabriel working of material from his wide ranging back catalogue is not guaranteed a success - the Shaking The Tree Best Of showed how the individual songs, while brilliant individually, simply don't work taken out of context. This recording of some of the more obscure past tracks with orchestra works very well, however. The sound atmosphere generated is similar to PG4, with San Jacinto a stand-out track, and Gabriel's voice continues to have that quite beautiful raggedyness, especially on Red rain, which sounds more powerful than it ever has before. There's a space at the end before Solsbury Hill; the reason given is to set up the atmosphere as it is so different to the rest of the album, but lets be honest, sales will be primarily driven by this track, but a lot of the fans who have followed him from day one are a bit fed up with it by now and I think its an acknowledgment some of us will stop before it gets to it, which is a shame as it's a good version. Recommended.
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I've been a fan of Gabriel for years ever since I saw him in Genesis in support of Johnny Winter at Hull City Hall!!
I've seen most of the tours including a trek to Bochum in Germany to watch him mainly because my recently separated wife had grown a pointy nose, started cackling and riding a broomstick and would be taking her cuckolding partner with her to the UK shows.

I've lived 'So' first hand through a traumatic time.... but

Of late the man has seemed to have lost his muse..

So I waited and waited and finally got the CD in the sales for 4.99 Great British Pounds that I knew it would soon sink to after a couple of months only to see it fall to 2.99 a week later.
I bought the CD after seeing the man on Jools Holland's show where he was brilliant.

I did not want to enjoy this music simple because I loved the original so much.
BUT I have to say this is an enjoyable collection.

I am enjoying it much much better than I ever thought.

I came to conclusion that I loved the originals BUT in the past have paid to see and hear them be sung live in Peter's concerts in variety of styles with a variety of different guest backing or joint vocalist.
(I'm thinking of Youssou N'Dour's soaring vocals on In your Eyes to name just one here.)
So this is just another extension of that.

But this has a slightly bitter twist.
Peter has aged.. So have we all and at the same rate.
I believe he has reached a point in his life and career where he can look back.
Relive his triumphs and failures and how each has tempered and forged his music and songs over these decades. He is coasting but he has every right to. He has been a pioneer an innovative genius who has brought great joy to me and millions of people.
This is too small a place to list his achievements here of course.

I believe this is a collection of songs that have grown up with the man just like children. Gabriel songs are like his daughters now full grown and starting families of their own.
This is a look back by a great man.
The album is a treasury of wonderful lovingly treated songs. Imagine an old suitcase full of photographs. The box opened and each gem is taken out one by one to be examined, the memories fllod back, loved and relived.

A niggle but to me the one track I simply cannot stand is Don't give up.
The reason Ane Brun's voice.
It really really must be me because so many say they adore the voice. I believe it's the Emperor's new clothes because each time I hear it annoys the heck out of me it simply makes me grind my teeth! I've tried believe me I have but now I fast forward it each and every time!
I simply cannot imagine why he did not let Melanie do the duties as she did I believe on the tours.
Still each to his own.

A plea.
If you liked this review but because of what I say about Ane Brun's voice wish to put a vote as unhelpful please don't.
Rather just add a comment that you think her voice is wonderful or vice versa.
I will revisit the review and add a suitable apology if one is required of a suitable comment if not.
Just a thought....

I wonder if Peter would ever consider doing a similar treatment of old Genesis songs.....
Watch this space!
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on 16 October 2011
Scratch My Back split opinion: it was very slow - monotonous even, and very sad. But it also stripped back the songs to their melodic roots, and then surrounded Gabriel's voice with judicious arrangements which served to support, rather than combat, his voice.

New Blood sounds a similar project, an album of orchestral versions, but this time of Gabriel's own songs. I like it, and some songs are brilliantly done. But there is much less of a sense of reinterpretation. Why keep the bass-line from Don't Give Up? Or the tinkling from Mercy Street? Or the twinkling spashy opening to Red Rain? Sometimes it feels like the score has just been handed round, but with the parts changed from electric to acoustic instruments. So the strings are taking the hi-hat rhythm, the bass is doing the drums, the wind the synth section. If you listen online to his version of Secret World on the New Blood tour, you can see this evidently. If it had been someone else's song, and he'd covered it on Scratch My Back, you can be sure they rhythm would have been jettisoned in favour of a more simple bash at the melody. Instead, a whimsical piano and percussion riff runs through the whole thing, in exactly the same way as the synth and drum riff did in the original.

Perversely then, I feel like some of the versions make unnecessary changes to the fabric of the originals. Why cut the last minutes, the climax of Downside Up, when you have a minute-and-a-half long instrumental opening? Why change and simplify the slow chorus of Digging in the Dirt? Why does Ane Brun not pronounce the 'p's in Don't Give Up? Or Don't Give U' as it might now be titled. On the tour, Solsbury Hill had rather a fun ending, interpolating Beethoven's 9th and other classical tunes - not here.

In a further twist, the songs which didn't make it onto the album are really rather better than some which did. Father, Son, Blood of Eden and Signal to Noise are all worthy versions, and I'd sooner have had those than Mercy Street or In Your Eyes. Though extremely close to the originals, they soothe and build much more effectively than their synthy originals. Signal to Noise is the best track in the whole project, but only available on iTunes.

Put simply, this album sounds too much like 'acoustic versions' of the songs. If you knew nothing about it and came to it, I'm sure that would be fine. But I'm really disappointed in some ways. I do like the album, I like the songs too much not to, and some of the songs I didn't know in the original are excellent: Darkness, Wallflower, The Rhythm of the Heat. But it's telling that the songs I did know in the original are easily my least favourites, and I wonder, when I've gone back and listened to all the original versions, whether I'll have much use for New Blood.
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on 16 December 2011
I came to New Blood with a lot of the crisism of the album on these pages in my mind. In many ways I tend to pay more attention to negative reviews than positive - what people don't like tends to be more interesting than what they do!

I say this because when I came to listen to New Blood I thought it was very good. From some (and only some) of the negative reviews I got the impression that this was an exercise in futility - ruining classic songs; just stripping back the backing track... Far from it say I. There are certainly tracks that work better than others and as music is subjective it is up to every indivdual which they enjoy more or indeed whether they don't enjoy any(!) but there is to my mind enough difference in style and textures to the music to warrent it's creation.

Like most of people who enjoy Mr Gabriels' music I would in all honesty rather he wrote some new songs; but as an artist it is for him, not you or I to decide what he feels like doing and I'll take this (to my mind interesting) reworking of old tracks over nothing.

Should you buy it? Well, I've said I liked it but then I also said music is subjective... I guess it comes down to whether you feel you want to take the plunge and find whether you are one of those who like this or not. I think coming to it with an open mind there is something to be enjoyed here irrespective of whether you feel any of the songs surpass the originals (or even come close). Is the asking price worth it...
... it's over to you

Hope this helps - any questions feel free to pop them in the comments area and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

All the best

Lee
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