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That Up exists at all is faintly miraculous. Over the past seven years, with guests including Youssou N'Dour, Peter Green, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Peter Gabriel has held recording sessions in Senegal, Atlanta, Singapore, the French Alps, and on a boat on the Amazon River, as well as at his own RealWorld studios. Having written and prepared over 150 songs, he's managed to cut this huge body of work down to just 10 tracks. There's a remarkable consistency and contemporary feel here that springs from a thoughtful layering process, with Gabriel combining tribal rhythms with complex backing vocals, samples, rock guitar, piano and--crucially--electronic effects. Indeed, the opener, "Darkness," begins with an aggressiveness that recalls the Prodigy, before hints of vulnerability and fear surface. Elsewhere, there is the dreamy "The Drop" and the orchestral heights of "Signal to Noise." Throughout, Gabriel uses water metaphors to put forward his positivist message. And it's all brilliant, sophisticated, and soulful. The man's a marvel and Up is a masterwork. --Dominic Wills
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When you listen to this SACD, be prepared for the heavenly gates that will quickly open. You'll feel a gust of wind , taken up by the energy unleashed by the amazing sonics accomplished with this wonder of engineering.
Growing Up just jumps out at you and unleashes a dynamic punch that takes you on that magic carpet ride. It's expensive now - around $100 if you can find a new one from a reputable seller. But it's a money no object consideration. Worth every penny at $105. I have one of the finest DACS on the market and often times the 2.0 stereo I've ripped to my Mac to run through my DAC will sound better than the SACD on a dual layer. But man, not here! This SACD is the BOMB. Get it if you can.
Other things that I learned is that Gabriel made as many as a hundred and fifty songs in which a mere ten songs made the cut for this release! Dang! he has enough material to put out a bunch more stuff, and if what is on this album is any indication then keep it coming! To me Peter Gabriel does his best when he does the dark and haunting songs.
As many reviewers who really loved "UP", I cannot say much more in praise of this work that has already been said. Now as for "Barry Williams Show", this song is the least favorite one here, not because of the offensive lyrics, but it - like Sledgehammer of Big Time did in "SO" - tends to disrupt the flow of the material it follows. Much like Sledgehammer followed Red Rain, or (especially) Big Time following Mercy Street, OUCH!!! While BWS is a dark song it is dark in a different way. Now, without reading these reviews first, I immediately thought of the Jerry Springer Show when I heard this, and me not being a TV watcher, I did not know that the JSS's heyday was over by the time this song came out and so it seemed relavant to me. Now in retrospect, and now learning that this album took ten years to make, it would have been a great commentary song to have been released in 1999 or 2000 when Jerry Springer was going strong, even though there would not be a full album for another two years it would serve as a taste of what was to come much like "I Grieve" did when it came out on the "City Of Angles" soundtrack - incidently, that version is longer than the one on UP but it is pretty much the same, it is a different mix but not substancially.
Something I would like to mention in regard to UP, there are a few songs that received some pretty good remixes. The first one was "Growing Up" which got treated to NIN's Trent Reznor remixing. Now I have heard comparisons to NIN with the song "Darkness" which is a great song but I do agree that there is a bit of NIN in it and it works great and TR's remix works great for "Growing Up" adding a big of harder edge while not overhauling the song into some unrecognizable dance or rock mix. Another song that got some interesting remixes was "More Than This". The band Elbow did a ballad mix for this song, it seems like Gabriel re-recorded this song with Elbow playing the music, one drawback here was that it is missing some lyrics. The other remix was by Polyphonic Spree - a highly interesting version indeed as the verses are backed with hillbilly country flair which suddenly burst into something that would be fitting for The Yellow Brick Road. Again, there is a drawback, part of the second verse is missing.
I would be hard-pressed to name a favorite song on this album but "No Way Out" would probally come in by a hair ahead of the others while "The Drop" would be nearly side by side with it. I absolutely enjoy this album and it did not take several listens to "get it".
Gabriel has always had a knack for releasing not just albums but full-fledged Events, and this is no exception. As others have pointed out, _Up_ is to some extent a return to the sounds and themes that Gabriel explored before _So_ made him a star -- but coupled with everything he's learned since then about how to use a very well-equipped studio to get his messages across. He reportedly recorded something like one hundred songs before settling on the final track list for this album, and it shows: only one ("My Head Sounds Like That") strikes me as anything even remotely close to filler.
_Up_ really does live up to its title, even if you may need a 12-volt flashlight and a pickaxe to figure out how. If you find that it needs some sweetening, then try this: get a hold of "Burn You Up, Burn You Down" (this album's catchy, funky B-side that sounds kinda like "Big Time," only much better) and the extended remix of "The Tower That Ate People" (the track from _Ovo_ and the _Red Planet_ soundtrack that brought the house down on the second leg of the "Growing Up" tour), insert them after let's say "The Barry Williams Show," and burn yourself a dangerously good 78-minute disc that will take you through pretty much every emotion that you've got to spare, leaving you exhausted but strangely exhilarated.
Someday, someone from my own generation may come along to equal what Gabriel has done within his career, and with _Up_ especially. But I'm not holding my breath.