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Peter Gabriel Solo Career Captured on Two-CD Set

Peter Gabriel began his solo career with the terrific song “Solsbury Hill,” from the first of several solo albums that were all self-titled. The results are now on a mesmerizing two CD set called New Blood Live in London from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The music for his CD set was recorded live at London’s iconic Hammersmith Apollo on March 23 last year, and several of the songs are now legendary, among them “Sledgehammer,” “Don’t Give Up” and “Red Rain.”

Others, like Paul Simon’s “Boy In The Bubble” and Lou Reed’s “The Power of the Heart” were part of his set list when he toured last year with a 46-piece orchestra, performing the songs, obviously with new arrangements.

I first met visionary artist in the late ’80s. An artist I was working with was playing the Prince’s Trust Concert in England, as was Gabriel.

We actually shared a dressing room, and as we walked in, he was in an intense conversation with the actress Roseanna Arquette, with whom he was involved at the time.

It wasn’t long before we all began talking and I was immediately captivated by his intelligence. He seemed light years ahead of all of us. My memory is that he didn’t say a whole lot, but you had to hang on and listen to each and every word.

When they played in New York, I couldn’t attend the show (though I did see his great appearance on David Letterman).

On the Eagle Rock set, the song that literally jumped out at me was his version of Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble.” “We stripped away all of the African themes,.” Gabriel said of the arrangement. The results are spectacular; he’s turned the song now into a sad, cautionary ode.

As terrific as the original version was, it now takes on a whole other character. Utterly brilliant! The versions of his own songs are rather terrific too; especially his take on his on “Don’t Give Up” and “Red Rain.”

It’s funny, but I really do miss the older arrangements, as well as the terrific guitar work by David Rhodes and bass by Tony Levin. But you really hear more than ever what a beautiful instrument his voice is.

His ground-breaking work with the group Genesis in the ’70s, is still evident here. That group’s landmark album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (1974), still ranks as one of the best progressive albums ever.

In 2007, he was honored as a BMI Icon at the 57th annual event in London for “his continuing influence on generations of music makers.” He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010. Peter Gabriel continues to amaze.

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