Big Blue Ball is more of a collective than a band, with the final project being completed well over a decade after the majority of the sessions. Back in the '90s (1991, 1992, and 1995 to be exact), Peter Gabriel and Karl Wallinger invited friends and musicians from around the world to participate in weeklong collaborative writing and recording sessions at Real World Studios. The results were then crafted into this album. Overall, the album crosses the globe-trotting multiculturalism of Music and Rhythm (the first WOMAD compilation) with the slick production of Gabriel's Us (released about the same time these sessions took place). Couple the fact that Gabriel's solo work has been increasingly infused with world music beginning with Security and the fact that he's got one of the more recognizable voices in music, and Big Blue Ball almost plays like a lost Peter Gabriel album. This is not meant to diminish the strong contributions of others. Hossam Ramzy and Natacha Atlas take the lead on "Habibe" and Márta Sebestyén, Sinéad O'Connor, Rossy, and Papa Wemba all turn in great vocal performances. Joseph Arthur and Iarla Ó Lionáird's "Altus Silva" actually sounds a bit like Gabriel, and when Arthur joins Gabriel on "Exit Through You," the result could easily be a So outtake. The sound changes a bit at the end of the album, moving from the Peter Gabriel '90s sound to something a bit more 21st century with the Malagasy rap of "Jijy" and the sampled horns of the title track. It's a bit odd that Big Blue Ball was so long in coming, but Peter Gabriel fans will find it was worth the wait.
AllMusic Review by Sean Westergaard