Peter Gabriel - Hit

With a fine body of work spanning decades a retrospective of Peter Gabriel's best material is long overdue. Completist's should note that this two CD set is from his solo years so those of you seeking out obscure tracks from Peter's Genesis career should look elsewhere.

The reclusive, experimental innovator has constantly reinvented himself over the years, changing direction and has now immersed himself in collaborations for world music. This album is divided into two separate categories. The first CD is "Hit" and you'll recognize every single song on it. From the magical "Salisbury Hill" (recently give a new lease of life from Erasure's interpretation), this disc reintroduces you to some of Peter Gabriel's finest singles. Who can forget the marvellously frenetic funk finery of "Sledgehammer" and it's unforgettable video. His haunting ballad "Don't' Give Up" with the equally publicity shy Kate Bush is still as emotionally resonant with lyrics everyone can relate to, sung so passionately to an underplayed minimalist musical backing. The political "Biko" still has the power to evoke debate about the despicable treatment people have suffered under apartheid and the murder of the black South African Stephen Biko who was a civil rights leader and founder of the South African Students Organization.

CD2, entitled "Miss", features less well known but equally as good tracks. "Cloudless" is recorded using the musicians and traditional language of South Africa. It feels authentic and is very moving. The vocals, melody and string laden production are powerful, but never too overwhelming. "I Grieve" is atmospheric with a low key vocal from Gabriel. The lyrics describe the pain and suffering when you lose somebody you love. The traditional instrumentation is perfectly suited to the mood of the song. An encouraging mantra of "Life Carries On" towards the end confirms that time is a great healer. "A Different Drum" is very tribal and primal and at feels very cinematic. A track which has much in common with the intense impact of Yossou N'Dour "Lovetrain" and has a more conventional bluesy, live edge with intelligent thought provoking lyrics produced with cohesive clarity by Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel.

"Hit" is a satisfying compilation which displays the strength and passion of Peter Gabriel's performances. With this double CD you can hear all the familiar songs and discover some hidden treasures along the way, giving value for money and quality listening.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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