Sunday, January 11, 2009


One of my very favorite albums of 2008 is also (probably) the easiest to overlook. By looking at the cover, you'd have no idea what it was. If you looked at the CD's spine, you'd notice the rainbow colors and (maybe) realize that it's a release on Peter Gabriel's RealWorld Records. And if you looked on the back, you'd notice Peter Gabriel's name as a producer.

So what is Big Blue Ball? Well, in the summers of 1991, 1992 and 1995, Peter Gabriel hosted week-long recording camps at his RealWorld studios, inviting poets, songwriters, musicians, etc. and allowing them to record all different kinds of collaborations. Peter's main partner in this was Karl Wallinger (of The Waterboys and World Party), but other participants over the summers included Tim Finn, Joseph Arthur, Vernon Reid of Living Colour, and lots of what you might call "world" musicians. Peter Gabriel mixed and produced the sessions at his usual glacial speed, and finally the album came out (with very little hype) this year. It is a WONDERFUL album, and I can't recommend it more highly. But it isn't a Peter Gabriel album, although he is on many of the tracks, he isn't on all of them. Which is fine, the album works so well on its own merits. But hopefully if Peter ever tours again, he'll have "Whole Thing" and "Burn You Up, Burn You Down" in his set.

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