Secret World Live by Peter Gabriel (1994)


The gold standard of live albums, in my opinion. The only other live recordings that come anywhere close to this record are Nirvana’s Unplugged performance, and of course Johnny Cash live At Folsom Prison. Don’t get me wrong…there are plenty of other live recordings that kick ass, but I’m talking about listening to a concert album and really feeling like you’re there in the crowd taking it all in. I looked around online to see if others agree with me, and this album gets no love. In fact, there is another Peter Gabriel album (Plays Live) that folks seem to prefer. F that…Secret World Live gives you the ultimate concert experience, live from your car or living room.

You know that Peter Gabriel is gonna give you some hits…and we’ve got all the usual suspects here, from ‘Steam’ to ‘Sledgehammer’ to ‘In Your Eyes’. But “hits” are not what makes a concert special. Opener ‘Come Talk To Me’ puts you in the mood right from the jump. Title track ‘Secret World’ was a pleasant surprise for me, and sounds like it was probably one of the cooler songs at the show (the producers incorporated a lot of crowd noise into this recording). And by the time you get to ‘Shaking the Tree’, you’ll be feeling the bouncy beats and eclectic instrumentation of Gabriel’s world music, and will probably start singing along if nobody else is looking. Decorated solo artist Paula Cole provides solid background vocals and harmonies throughout, and the backing band is a musical all-star team. Paula’s contribution jumps out during ‘Don’t Give Up’, and you’ll really feel the impact of the band during ‘Red Rain’ where they sound like a throwback to Gabriel’s days in Genesis. Things get uber dramatic and beautiful during ‘Blood of Eden’, and again on ‘Washing of the Water’. My favorite Peter Gabriel song ‘Solsbury Hill’ gets a nice treatment here, and if you’re only gonna download 1 song from this set then that’s the pick (but don’t do that).

I particularly cracked up when reading through the reviews of this record on Amazon. It seems like the only criticism anybody can come up with is that they don’t like this version of ‘In Your Eyes’. Congratulations on your one-song-deep knowledge of Peter Gabriel, and keep the reviewing to those of us who actually listened to the rest! Don’t get me wrong, ‘In Your Eyes’ is a sacred song that should never be covered or performed poorly. But for someone to judge a whole live recording based on their opinion of one song is comical (not to mention that many other reviewers loved this recording of ‘In Your Eyes’). Perhaps those folks will read the reviews of the other 95% who loved Secret World Live. Anyway, I stand by this record as one of the best concert albums you can find. Even if you’re only a casual fan of Peter Gabriel (like I am), pick it up for a relaxing 90 minutes of music!

music turtle recommends: FIND A USED CD!

What do you think about this album? Comment below


One Response to “Secret World Live by Peter Gabriel (1994)”

  1. 1 awake

    actually ‘plays live’ IS better , cause it covers his first 4 albums which are terrific (especially 3rd/4th)

    but as you said , you are just a casual PG fan – so yeah


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