PLAY: THE VIDEOS
This DVD collects 23 videos from the solo career of Peter Gabriel. The track line-up begins with “Father, Son” a song that appeared as part of the music for the Millennium Dome in London. The video combines scenes of Peter singing at his piano with achingly poignant, black and white footage of him with an old man and with a young child.
While the video was evocative, it might seem like an odd choice to open with because the look is visually simple for an artist who is well known for having videos that push the boundaries of visual effects; however, Peter wants to remind us that while he enjoys the potentials of what video has to offer, he is first and foremost a musician. It is the music that is the most important element.
The next video is the one that made him a household name. The stop-motion of “Sledgehammer” was all the rage in 1986. It was the one video you had to see. Twenty years later, the effects are still impressive, but the quality of the video looked old and faded. Daniel Lanois and Richard Chappell created new surround sound mixes for the videos with options of Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, and DTS 5.1 Surround, so it’s a disappointment that new prints weren’t created from the negatives. “Sledgehammer” deserves to explode off the screen, but it unfortunately looks flat.
Most of the videos are intact except for “Game without Frontiers,” which they tried some new ideas with the help of visual artist Michal Rovner. New videos were created for “In Your Eyes,” “Washing of the Water” and “Solsbuy Hill.” The music is not always the original material as well. “I Don’t Remember” is from Plays Live. “Washing of the Water” is from the album Jock O The Green - Small World Big Band Friends 3 by Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. “Kiss That Frog” is from the Secret World Live album.
Almost all the videos have introductions that use new and archival footage, providing information about the songs or the video. It is fascinating to see Peter smashing up a junkyard to create sounds and the old studio equipment from the early ‘80s like the giant 5 ¼” floppy disks that held a whopping 1,200 KB of memory.
Other extras include trailers for concert DVDs by Peter such as Secret World Live or Growing Up Live, “Games Without Frontiers” is captured live in 2004 and the 1977 music video for “Modern Love.”
Play is an amazing body of work and you can choose the order you watch them by using the fantastic jukebox feature that allows you to select 18 songs and the order they will be played. Even if there’s the remote possibility that you don’t like Peter’s music, the visuals alone make the DVD worth buying.