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1994's double live album...
on 14 December 2003
Secret World Live stems from the Us-tour of 1993 and is in many ways a companion to 'Peter Gabriel Plays Live' released a decade previously. Where that live album (which was tinkered with by Peters Gabriel & Walsh) focused on the material up to PG4, this focuses on the material since then (the only exception being Solsbury Hill, which is far superior to the 83-take). Note that Irridium's review below is actually of the album Us (1992) & not this live album- this does not feature Brian Eno or the track Love to be Loved. Wonder why he posted the wrong review- was it just the usual desperation to get as many reviews as possible on here, regardless of whether he's actually reviewing the right album or not?
This is the 15-song set from the Us-tour featuring Paula Cole (vocals), Shankar (violin, vocals), Manu Katche (drums), Jean Claude Naimro (keyboards), Levon Minassian (doudouk)& long-time Gabriel-associates Tony Levin (bass) & David Rhodes (guitar). Pity this reissue didn't include the take of San Jacinto, which is found on the DVD/VHS- though that version wasn't hugely different to the one on PG Live.
Disc One opens with a pair of tracks from Us- the bagpipe-sampling Come Talk to Me, which builds up to a suitably epic sound & a seven-minute take on hit single Steam, which is much better than the single-take & features a wonderfully atmospheric keyboard intro. Gabriel & co then travel back to the past, Womad-instrumental Across the River (found on the b-side of No Self Control & written by Gabriel with Rhodes, Shankar & Stewart Copeland)from the early 80s is performed, prior to an interlude of Slow Marimbas (from the Birdy soundtrack). This leads into a lovely nine-minute take on the Gabriel/Youssou N'Dour single Shaking the Tree (originally from 1989 & the title track of Gabriel's 1990 best of)- which has vocal turns from the whole band- including a great vocal from Cole (most famous for Where Have All the Cowboys Gone & the theme to Dawson's Creek!).
The music after the celebration of Shaking the Tree turns darker with the duo of Red Rain (from So) & the sublime Blood of Eden- which memorably featured in the film Until the End of the World. The band stay with Us for a few more tracks- silly pop funk Kiss That Frog (a more diluted take on the avenue suggested by tracks like Shock the Monkey & Big Time)& the atmospheric Washing of the Water (which would have been perfectly followed by the absent San Jacinto!). Finally there is that great take of Solsbury Hill, with more gorgeous acoustics & world music inflections...
Disc Two is just five songs long- opening with bleak lead single from Us, Digging in the Dirt , which advanced on the sound of 1982's PG4, that dark seven-minutes (with great guitar from Rhodes) is countered by huge hit single Sledgehammer, which is brilliantly delivered. The set closer was Secret World, the final track from Us- a 9-minute track that veers close to prog-rock. If Radiohead did it now, it would be revered as futuristic or something...The encore is a great take on Don't Give Up (Cole as great as La Bush) with a brilliant chant at the end; Gabriel & co stay with So & with guests Papa Wemba, Reddy Mela Amissi & Styno Mubi Matadi perform a definitive/stunning take on In Your Eyes that pushes the 11-minute mark. This has a wonderful intro prior to the song proper, which along with Mercy Street & Red Rain was the highlight of So. Gabriel & co still perform it to this day- it was played at the Mandela-AIDS benefit a few weeks ago; a great end to a brilliant live album. A brilliant live album a rarity in itself!