DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Peter Gabriel – Play The Videos

18+ highly individualistic music videos with new DTS 96K 5.1 re-mixes

Published on July 18, 2005

Peter Gabriel – Play The Videos
Peter Gabriel – Play The Videos

18 music videos of past 25 years with new surround mixes by Daniel Lanois & Richard Chappell
Studio: Real World Productions/Warner Music Group
Video: Some 4:3, some 16:9
Audio: DTS 96K 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo
Extras: Programmable 18-track jukebox, “Games Without Frontiers” Live,
Video introductions, Trailer for Growing Up Tour, Trailer for Growing
Up Live, “A Family Portrait,” “The Next That Sailed the Sky,” “Modern
Love” 1977 music video, Trailer for “Secret World Live,”  Separate
DVD single of “Father, Son”
Length: 141 minutes
Rating: *****:

While I had seen a video of Genesis I had never seen a Peter Gabriel
music video before receiving this DVD.  I was immediately struck
by his totally original videos – at the opposite pole from most of the
formulaic MTV stuff.  He began doing videos very early in the game
and worked with people who were, as he said, “more interested in
innovation than churning out more of the same.” Among the directors
with whom he worked have been Sean Penn, Stephen Johnson, Matt Mahurin
and John Downer. Gabriel also reveals in his note booklet that he has
been a longtime fan of surround sound and loves “being able to listen
from inside the music rather than observing from the outside, which is
more often the case with stereo.”

The remix work by Lanois and Chappell, using Gabriel’s original
multitrack tapes, is one of the first to employ DTS’ new 96K/24bit
encoder which came to them straight from the developers. There is
creative use of the surrounds and center channel as well as LFE, and
although the mix gets pretty loud on some videos there is usually
little difficult understanding the lyrics.  Which is good since
they are not reprinted in the booklet; but there are complete credits
on each video along with stills from them. The variety of techniques
used for the videos is staggering – animation, pixilation, puppets,
costumes, speeded-up film, multi-images, computer distortion of live
images, time-lapse, bizarre sets, archival film footage – the
creativity here seems endless.

 
I think my
favorite of the 18 videos is the second one, Sledgehammer, which
features Gabriel in l986 (looking something like David Byrne) in
pixilated animation created by Nick Park of Aardman Animation and The
(very odd) Brothers Quay. In the extras we see some clips from the
creation of this video, showing that the tiny train running on a track
around Gabriel’s head really is a toy train on a circular track being
installed around his head. The first video on the DVD, “Father, Son,”
was directed in 2000 by Gabriel’s wife Anna and features B&W family
footage of Gabriel as a child with his father. It returns to the
circular tracks of 1986, but here a bit larger to enable the cameraman
to do a 360-degree tracking shot totally around Gabriel playing and
singing at the grand piano.  A longer version of it is provided on
a separately-packaged DVD that comes with Play The Videos. The biggest
production of all 18 is probably the Sean Penn-directed The Barry
Williams Show.  This biting fantasy concerns the overblown host of
a TV show similar to Jerry Springer, and is a hard-hitting operatic
sort of mini-drama. 

Gabriel’s unique DVD could be a valuable sales tool at home theater
dealers, demonstrating the advantages of hi-res surround sound to music
reproduction, and with some attention-getting widescreen images to go
with them if you must have that too.

Videos: Father/Son, Sledgehammer, Blood of Eden, Games Without
Frontiers (1980), I Don’t Remember, Big Time, Lovetown, Red Rain, In
Your Eyes, Don’t Give Up, The Barry Williams Show, Washing of the
Water, Biko, Kiss That Frog, Mercy Street, Growing Up, Shaking the
Tree, Shock the Monkey, Steam, The Drop, Zaar, Solsbury Hill, Digging
in the Dirt. [In Extras: Games Without Frontiers (2004), Modern Love,
The Nest That Sailed the Sky.

- John Sunier




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