Across a series of highly creditable solo albums, Peter Gabriel has written many good songs. But it’s his treatment of them, the way he records them – arrangements, instrumentation – that has converted many of those good songs into great tracks.
Take, for example, the ominous percussion and stabbing guitars of Intruder; the widescreen synthscapes of San Jacinto; the big, bubbling bass groove of I Don’t Remember; the delicate, sparse piano of the gorgeous Here Comes The Flood…
After enjoying the process and results of covering other artists’ songs for last year’s Scratch My Back album, with New Blood he revisits a collection of his own songs from previous albums and reinterprets them with just a full orchestra (and vocals); no ‘rock’ instrumentation. But while they have a curiosity value for fans that makes them worth a listen, it’s difficult to see them having much lasting appeal.
Some people say a good song is a good song, no matter how it’s interpreted. A reacquaintance with such 70s horrors as The London Philharmonic Plays Jimi Hendrix or Symphonic Led Zeppelin (or whatever those albums were called) is solid proof that that isn’t always the case.