Various Artists

Dream in Red: The Music of Peter Gabriel

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While the words "tribute album" may run the risk of emitting the same pre-emanated disheveled shriek that befall many movie sequels, Dream in Red is a wonderfully crafted salute to the strange and magical world of Peter Gabriel. The album is a dreamy collection of beautifully rendered tracks performed by the American Rock Orchestra, featuring the heavenly vocals of the Los Angeles African Choir and vocalist Alfreda Gerald. Gabriel was always open to experimentation, and as this album takes his work to even further levels of interpretation, it is sure to be something that the former Genesis frontman and progressive rock innovator would surely appreciate. Of the 11 songs on the album, the most striking is the cherubic track "Washing of the Water." The passionately restrained vocals hint at some kind of deeply embedded pain as they soar high above the perfectly timed music; this sort of emotional perfection is similar to the styles of Irish songstress Enya, yet in this version, that sound is delicately mixed with a pinch of gospel influence. The energetic track "Red Rain" races with adrenaline as if it were being pumped through excited veins and crashes through the speakers like the pleasant surprise of a brief but blustery summer thunderstorm. Another emotional stalwart is "Engu Biko," a traditional African folk song that serves as kin to Gabriel's protest song "Biko" about the murdered anti-apartheid activist of the same name. The jazzy "Mercy Street" features a Pink Panther-ish, suave saxophone that, combined with similarly gritty vocals, forms a sexy version of Gabriel's original tune. The musicians and creators of Dream in Red take a more organic approach to the popular, radio-friendly Gabriel hit "Games Without Frontiers," but this naturalistic style pays off. The vocals reverberate as if flowers themselves are singing and whistling, and the raindrops hitting the petals serve as drums. "Here Comes the Flood" is an orchestral composition, with violins so stunning you'll begin to believe that the only flood will be what comes from your eyes as your heart melts and dies, giving its soul up to the mercy of the music -- which is what at some point may have happened to Gabriel, that made him the musical maverick that inspired this album.

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