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Peter Gabriel - Us CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

3.64 | 430 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
2 stars The trouble with upper middle class British boys wanting to do convincing "world music" is that they are so far removed temporally, spatially, and economically from it that they cannot do a convincing job no matter how much they strive to be authentic. An alternative is to be half-baked about it and pay lip service, which is largely what Paul Simon did on "Graceland." Yet another approach, as practiced on "Us", is to include just enough of the exotic to make the listener feel educated, while producing an AOR album.

This is a hodgepodge of neither here nor there, with neither the ethnic charm of one nor the potency of the other. You can't just throw more repetition or jubilant female voices at it either a la "Kiss that Frog", or substitute lazy laid-back-ness for sincerity, as in the beyond boring "Blood of Eden" and "Only Us", or add some hip drumming like in "Come Talk to Me". None of it masks the fact that Gabriel really doesn't have much of a clue, and that his greatest service is simply that of bringing attention to some of the genre's greats, rather than his own output. He does manage to transcend these problems with songs like "Love to be Loved" and "Secret World"

Peter Gabriel may have embraced world music big time, but he should leave its interpretation to those who know best, including some of the people who support him here. OK, so I have criticized, and it's only fair I provide an example of an approach that worked. You might try the works of White South African Johnny Clegg, especially with the band Juluka, who fused the English folk from his ethnic background to Zulu sounds in a convincing way that bolstered rather than diminished both parts. And it is just as progressive as "Us", even if it is not to be found in these pages. It's also a lot more subversive.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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