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Anthony Phillips Recording Compendium
The Last Domino? Tour
Brand X Special: An Urorthodox History


The autumn of 2004 brings us a true flood of releases from the Genesis camp. The DVD media play a big role in that and there are no indications that this could change in the near future. There is lots of material that could be published on DVD in brilliant sound and video quality in the future.

Peter does not do things halfway. His new DVD, Play, is therefore not advertised as a collection of his videos but as a production that will set a new standard. And it does, mainly in the sound department.

Not only Peter Gabriel but also his fans have little choice but to enter the 21st century. Play is an onion that wants to be peeled. Without a dts surround sound system one can hardly remove the outer layer.

leiste The DVD comes in a cute digipak with a play-doh design and a multi-page coloured booklet.

Play compiles 23 music videos from Peter’s career. The legendary (and notoriously embarrassing) Modern Love video has been relegated to the bonus material, though. This makes Play a compilation that is complete – in principle.

There are the well-known videos, legendary works such as Sledgehammer, Digging In The Dirt, Big Time and The Barry Williams Show, and there are a couple of rarities such as the videos for Lovetown and Zaar. The latter video has already been published on the video sampler All About Us.

There are, surprisingly, a couple of new videos. Father, Son has touching images of Peter, his father and his little son. This video must be very new. A video for The Drop was included, too. About  a year ago there were rumours that there was a video for The Drop. The video itself is very simple, similar to the Washing Of The Water video for which a new version of the song was used. It now sounds very jazzy and proves the old adage that not only wine gets better with age. The new version was recorded in 2003 during a Jools Holland project.

The video for My Head Sounds Like That was not included, but it can be found on Anna’s tour DVD.

Many videos have a brief intro.These are usually not the making-ofs Peter once announced but short introductions with statements from the time the song was written in or some new insights. Parts of the legendary Southbank show (aka the Making Of The Security album) can be seen here. Why these are used to introduce I Don’t Remember does not become clear. Songs like The Barry Williams Show do not have a making of, though it would definitely been available.

Sounds and images

All videos are very good quality, though the video of more recent productions is naturally superior to older material. The stereo mixes are excellent, but they fall way short of the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix or the rich 96kHz / 24 bit dts sound. For the first time they used a new dts decoder that carries the higher frequencies for perfect audiophile sound. All the music was remastered especially for the DVD, mostly by Daniel Lanois. Many videos sound slightly, some even radically different from the original. Songs like Big Time open up new worlds of sound. Steam, too, has elements that never before were heard on the album. Add to that further effects like the vocals coming from the rear speakers for Digging In The Dirt or the 4.1 effect in Solsbury Hill where the centre speaker remains mute. The surround sound is a real treat, and as on the Growing Up Live DVD Peter uses the technology to achieve an effect that is occasionally over the top. In the new 5.1 dts mix the songs mentioned above together with the Mindblender mix of Kiss That Frog, the minimalistic new version of Washing Of The Water and Lovetown are the pinnacle.

The Extras

No DVD can do without bonus material, and that is a good thing. Back in the age of the VHS video background reports, interesting as they might have been, often had to be cut out for tape length reasons. Gabriel’s Play extras do not tell any stories, but they are literal boni. And there it really is: Peter on the escalators for his embarrassing Modern Love video in lush 5.1 sound. The only problem that remains is the thing that the audio is not in synch with the images. This is fortunately not the cause with the video for The Nest That Sailed The Sky from Ovo, which is also included as an extra.

The viewer also gets a glimpse at the upcoming festival show live DVD: Games Without Frontiers, directed by Hamish Hamilton, with images from the Kaiserslautern, Paleo, Brussels (and other) shows.

Apart from that there are trailers for Anna Gabriel’s DVD, for Secret World Live, Growing Up Live and extensive credits.

Play offers another bonus: One can build a personal playlist from the tracks of the DVD. It is also possible to turn off the song intros.

Play is another groundbreaking Peter Gabriel release. While previous releases such as the
Secret World LiveDVD had some flaws, e.g. video quality or incompleteness, Play has the complete works of Peter Gabriel the visual artist. What’s more, the new dts sounds offer a thrilling experience. Okay, one could argue about the 5.1 mixes – whether changing the originals this much was justified, for example. But you still have the stereo mix. The only real point of criticism is the out-of-synch audio/video track in the Modern Love video. Highlights are the new version of Washing Of The Water, the 5.1 mixes of Big Time, Digging In The Dirt, Kiss That Frog, Steam and the live video for Games Without Frontiers that whets our appetite for Peter’s next DVD. Which September will he release that?

coverTechnical data

Language: English
Audio formats: dts (96kHz / 24bit), DD5.1, DD Stereo
Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
Video formats: 16:9 and 4:3
Disc type: DVD-9
Region codes: RC 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Test environment

Technics AV receiver SA-DA10 (6x100W sinus, integrated dts decoder)
Infinity speakers
Canton XL center / XL rear speakers
Pioneer DV 656A DVD/SACD/DVD-A-Player

by John Doe
translated by Martin Klinkhardt