Review: “Big Blue Ball,” Peter Gabriel & Friends
Big Blue Ball is a project dating back to the early 1990s, when Peter Gabriel had the idea to bring together artists from different genres and different parts of the world to create music. So finally, after 15 years in production, Big Blue Ball emerges as a mix of pop and world music with a few African, Asian and Caribbean touches thrown in. Too bad it’s not more interesting. Gabriel’s singular voice emerges on “Whole Thing” and the album kicks off with a reassuring reminder of the man’s immense talent. But his supporting cast isn’t as good: Karl Wallinger (World Party, the Waterboys), songwriter Joseph Arthur and guitarist Vernon Reid (Living Colour) just don’t make a strong enough impression to match Gabriel. “Exit Through You,” featuring Arthur with Gabriel and Wallinger, gives off a nice 1980s-style vibe and “Burn You Up, Burn You Down” recalls Gabriel’s hits from that era. Late in the album, “Jijy” breaks out the hot dance groove and horns and lays them over an exotic vocal track by Arona N’Diaye. It’s a nice shot of energy to an album that could use a few more of these. Big Blue Ball has been long awaited by Gabriel fans so the question remains: why can’t we have a new Peter Gabriel album? In the meantime, this small sample of the man’s music will have to do.
MP3: “Big Blue Ball” (instrumental) (Blogkeeper’s note: This was the track we posted a few months ago that Rykodisc erroneously labeled as “Burn You Up, Burn You Down” on a BBB sampler we obtained at SXSW 2008. It is not on the album.)