Peter Gabriel: Play

Welcome reissue of Gabriel’s extraordinary music videos.

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But then, the term ‘music video’ doesn’t quite do justice to Peter Gabriel’s meticulously crafted slices of visual art.

By design, this most acutely multimedia-minded artist has allied his extraordinary music over the years with truly memorable, often state-of-the-art images. To paraphrase his comment in one of the brief introductions to the 23-plus clips here – filmmakers have always known that music can enhance pictures, and it’s down to the musician to invert this wisdom. His own commitment is apparent in his choice of artistic collaborators/directors here. Some are instantly recognisable: Sledgehammer’s nascent Aardman Films (it took a month, the fish stank, he did his back in); Sean Penn, lensing bloody Jerry Springer satire The Barry Williams Show. Frustratingly others are less clearly credited and need Googling (Growing Up’s François Vogel among them). All the classic tunes are here: Shock The Monkey, Biko, brilliantly cartoony Big Time, Blood Of Eden (with its painstaking paper animals and an exquisite Sinead O’Connor acting in ornate costume). Don’t Give Up is light years away from such artsy fripperies – Gabriel and Kate Bush entwined in each other’s arms, conveying the song eloquently, their star quality doing the work. A lot of the background footage here you will have seen before – Gabriel showing off his now antediluvian sampling rig; sitting cross-legged on a lawn recording an African rhythm trio – but still, all very entertaining and all very him. This DVD was originally released back in 2004, and some of the extras that were new then are dated now, notably trailers for Growing Up Live and daughter Anna’s Family Portrait tour film. But then you get a live Games Without Frontiers (Peter on a Segway) and a 1977 video for Modern Love (Peter on a travelator) – so, bluntly, plenty of cultural bang for your tenner.

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.