Judge Brett Cullum wants to be your sledgehammer in your eyes while playing games without frontiers in the red rain.
Shock the monkey tonight!
Peter Gabriel was a founding member of the band Genesis, but broke off on his own for a solo career. It's hard to define his music, since he plays with multiple genres, textures, and themes, often within the same song. The best approximation I could come up with off the cuff is this: he's British art rock infused with industrial samples, Motown, classical, and Middle Eastern traditions working in a pop idiom. Don't worry about defining it, because Gabriel's music is all about emotions and a slick pop context that makes them immediately listenable no matter what your taste. He can crank out an anthemic ballad like "In Your Eyes" as easily as he can do an arch synth-pop symphony or a big riff guitar-based song. More than just his music, his videos are hallucinogenic masterpieces that rival the best works of David Lynch or David Cronenberg with their powerful dreamlike images and often disturbing narratives. His videos fuse animation, computer graphics, and clay effects with revolutionary editing and first-rate make-up effects. Who could forget the effects of videos like "Sledgehammer" or "Big Time," where Peter Gabriel dared to make the music video a legitimate art form? To paraphrase the man himself, Peter Gabriel says he appreciated how much filmmakers have used music to make their own images more powerful, so he has set out to use images to make his own music more powerful and create something completely new. Apparently for Peter Gabriel, the revolution will be televised.
Run. I'm serious, run out and buy Peter Gabriel—Play: The Videos, even if you only "sort of" like Peter Gabriel. The man reinvented videos when MTV was in its earliest days, and now he's pretty much set the standard for music video collections on DVD that make all the others look lazy and obsolete. For less than the price of his greatest hits collection on CD you get twenty-three ground breaking genre defining music videos with completely remastered speaker melting 5.1 sound, and enough extras to make you watch the damn thing for weeks on end.
The videos on Peter Gabriel—Play: The Videos include:
You have the option to watch the videos with or without introductions. In these introductions, Peter or the crew explain the video via vintage on-the-set interviews mixed with current footage of Mr. Gabriel looking back over his career. The videos are not in chronological order, but seem to be placed together to make a strong mix of songs that work together in timbre and tempo. Don't like that idea? Well, just program the order you'd like with the "jukebox" feature, which allows you to rearrange the order of up to 18 songs. You can even repeat the same ones over and over ad nauseum. There's also a feature where you can tell the disc to loop the videos, so they play for hours on end without ever stopping. In addition to the videos, and all the extras around them, there is additional footage included as an extra, including a vintage video from 1977 for "Modern Love" and a concert performance of "Games Without Frontiers" from a 2004 tour. And tons of trailers for his other releases on DVD.
The transfers on Peter Gabriel—Play: The Videos are visually quite impressive. Old videos have been cleaned up, and in the case of "Games Without Frontiers" new footage has been mixed with old to make it even more powerful than it was originally. The aspect ratio shifts several times depending on the format of the music video, but they all look near-pristine. Then there is the sound mix. Every song on this collection has been remixed into a stunning 5.1 mix, with Daniel Lanois and Richard Chappell supervising the process. The result is an amazing reinvention of each song—it dominates your sound system unlike anything you've heard. All five speakers get a workout. It's a demo-worthy disc that could be used to show off any home theatre sound system. I never even knew how awesome 5.1 music could be until I heard this, and my private collection includes Criterion treatments of The Beastie Boys and David Bowie video collections. Half my library is music video DVDs, and this one blew them all away in the sound department. Easily. You won't find a movie that comes close, either.
If you're at all a fan of music, Peter Gabriel—Play: The Videos is the DVD to put front and center in your collection. Not only do you get a retrospective of an artist who revolutionized the way videos were made and who cranked out some great songs, but you get a DVD that illustrates what "state of the art" means. This is DVD reinvented; it sets the bar for all future releases by artists looking to put their back catalogs out there. Peter Gabriel—Play: The Videos is easily the most impressive package of videos I've seen.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Programmable 18-Track "Jukebox"
Review content copyright © 2005 Brett Cullum; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.