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The genius of Peter Gabriel...
on 27 April 2017
The genius of Peter Gabriel could only be summed up in this album, so it is important to have rediscovered ethnic music at all but not only because of the beauty of music that goes beyond anything.
Some are mistakenly considered only the soundtrack of 1988's Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ", but Gabriel himself makes us realize that this is not the case already from the cover of the album, which does not include the classic matching lyrics to the film, only inside the booklet is cited the movie as a subtitle (Music for ...), it is about the project discussed with Scorsese since 1983 and some pictures are shown.
Like the great music of Bernard Herrmann, who can also live without the images of Hitchcock, Welles, Truffaut or Scorsese itself, although they inevitably make them remember, these beautiful music can be heard with great pleasure even without the help of the pictures of the film, which is now rare also seen the crisis of the record market which almost exclusively allows for the theme music. The soundtrack must first be functional to the images and the narrative imaging of the film itself and surely it can be said that the music of Peter Gabriel in Scorsese's movie has been very successful and Gabriel's big bet is here: making those music which can also be used without the film itself, undoubtedly difficult but also largely successful.
It should be remembered that "Passion" was recorded entirely the year after the release of Scorsese's movie, not using all the original recordings made for the movie, but widening part of those recordings and resounding in many songs, In fact, just listen "With This Love" which is played with the synthesizer with respect to the soundtrack, but there are two versions in the album where the first one is an oboe and the second is singled out by a chorus of white voices and the result is even emotional.
For the achievement, Gabriel took advantage of the collaboration of great ethnic music artists such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Youssou N'Dour, Baba Maal, Hossam Ramzy, Ravi Shankar, in practice the best of what was at that time the record market for Middle Eastern and African countries but which at that time was virtually unknown to the majority of the Western public.
The first time I bought this record (just came out in 1989) I had not seen Scorsese's movie yet and I did not realize right away that it was also the soundtrack, I was very surprised by these sounds, from these rhythms then a few years later they would be classified as world music (now they tend to call it folk music).
Peter Gabriel is certainly not the discoverer of ethnic music and the inventor of the genre "World music" (If anything could be attributed to the Italian songwriter Fabrizio De Andrè with his album "Creuza de mà" in 1984 that he also used to sing one ancient language such as the Genoese used by sailors and merchants from far away) but surely he is the one who made this genre familiar to him (together with Paul Simon) and then used it with great mastery in all his subsequent albums and this also makes sense of how important this record was for him.
Certainly Gabriel has made other great albums (with at least 3 masterpieces), but "Passion" is an album that breaks apart from everyone else and besides it was a real commercial bet as the producer was he, indeed with this album he also started (Real World Records), believing a lot in ethnic music by investing their money in this genre, promoting musicians who would otherwise have been unknown to the general public and today it can be said that they have won this bet.
"Passion", according to me, is therefore to be appreciated and listened to as a great piece of contemporary music that goes beyond the images of the Scorsese movie but is completely out of the pop/rock genre or prog from where Gabriel came from (we know all that he was "tight" since the beginning of his career), but now almost 30 years after his release, he goes beyond the world music he had certainly helped launch, is simply one of the masterpieces of the music of '900 to move to that of the great composers of the last century.