Friday, 27 August 2010

Free Download Friday #67: Peter Gabriel

Following on from the review of the Full Moon Club iPhone app, it seemed appropriate to link to a free download from Mr Gabriel.

You can Download 'Here Comes The Flood' from Peter Gabriel's Guitar Center Session. Here Comes The Flood is a song from his first solo album: Peter Gabriel Vol.1 and was always one of my favourites. Recently he has been doing a stripped back version of it that, like much of Gabriel's work, has grown on me with repeated listens.

If you are a fan of Mr Gabriel, you might also be interested in The Voice Project that one of his daughters is involved with. The project is working with women in and around Northern Uganda. There are opportunities to make a donation and support the work they are doing but they see the project as doing more than just charity work.

One of the most prominent aspects of the website is the cover chains. One artist records a cover song and the artist covered has to record another cover to pass on the challenge. For example, the Gulu Women's Choir in Northern Uganda were videoed singing a Joe Purdy song, he recorded something by REM, Mike Mills (from REM) then recorded a Billy Brag song and Billy recorded something from Joanna Newsom.

Peter Gabriel is currently featuring at the end of a chain with his cover of a Tom Waits song:

Peter Gabriel » Tom Waits from The Voice Project on Vimeo.

I hope Mr Waits picks up the challenge!

What are your favourites from the chains on display so far?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Band iPhone Apps #1: Peter Gabriel

When I started this post, I intended to write a review of the Rush iPhone App. However, I thought I'd start by describing a couple of other band Apps first to set the scene and show what other artists are doing with their music Apps. Unfortunately, my brief reviews got longer and longer... so I decided to split this post over a few days and build up to the Rush review!

Screenshot from Peter Gabriel's iPhone AppI'll start with Peter Gabriel's iPhone App. I am a huge fan of Gabriel era Genesis and have loved pretty much everything he has done since he went solo. I have also been lucky enough to see him live a couple of times and his most recent gig in Glasgow is one of my favourite concert experiences ever.

One of his latest ideas is the Scratch My Back project, where he has recorded covers of other artist's songs. A fairly standard idea except that he has invited these artists to cover one of his songs in return. Of course, being the type of musician he is, he had to make it more difficult for himself, so his recordings are arranged without drums or guitar! The resultant recordings are fascinating: some grabbed me straight away; some have grown on me; a few I'm still working on. But all of them are interesting.

What has that got do do with iPhone Apps though? Well having released his album of covers, he is now releasing the covers of his songs that others have done and has produced an App that gives details of each pair of songs; a video of Peter talking about the track and artist he covered; and a short snippet of the other artist's cover. His fan/website is called the Full Moon Club, so the App is also called Full Moon Club. A new cover is released every month, on the night of the full moon, and when it is released, information, videos and a short sample of each track appears in the App.

It is a straightforward App that doesn't do anything particularly fancy but does what it does, very well. The video introductions are fascinating and give a real insight into the process of producing the covers. You can probably find most of the information on Gabriel's website, but having it collected together in an App makes it much easier to navigate on your phone. Very useful!

The App is not without its problems. For instance, you can't access David Byrne's cover of I Can't Remember from June because of a problem with scrolling (although you can hear it in full on Peter's site or preview it on iTunes). Also, there hasn't been an update since June... but perhaps he's too busy with the tour because there hasn't been an ...And I'll Scratch Yours release since June either.

Despite these two niggles, I would not hesitate to recommend this free App to fans and non fans alike. Gabriel is never less than interesting and this App lets you glimpse some of the creative processes behind his work. He has always pushed at musical and technological boundaries and it is great to see the use of new technology from an established artist.

Picture credit: Screendump from iPhone App.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Free Download Friday #66: Back after a long holiday...

It's been a long time since Free Download Friday #65 so I'll through in a few from Classic Rock Tracks of the Day that I didn't pick up because I was on holiday, and then one from Planet Rock... just because I like it! So without further ado:

Seraphina from GUN. I've featured GUN before (Free Download... er... Tuesday?) when they were showcasing their new singer, Toby Jepson. Well they have another new singer (to lose one singer is unfortunate but to lose two...) and another free download to let people hear what he's like. I would say that the new vocalist, Dante Gizzi (previously the bass player - so is that promotion?), acquits himself admirably. The track is let down a bit by poor lyrics, especially the oft repeated chorus, but otherwise it sounds great and rewards repeated listens.

Portrait Of Red by The Virginmarys. This caught my eye initially because I saw the name and got confused. I thought it was Electric Mary, a band that I had heard a bit and liked. However, I discovered I liked this track from The Virginmarys and I will need to see what else I can find by them. (Note to self: are their other bands with "Mary" in there name that are worth checking out? See Paint it Black for similar phenomenon with "Black".) The band are a relatively new three-piece and all three of them seem to be going flat out. The is a snarl in the vocals and power and energy in the music. Well worth checking out if you like your rock raw and raucous! Final note: in a bizarre bit of synchronicity, the track offered for download is produced by Toby Jepson!

One Last Soul by Black Country Communion. If you've not been paying attention to the recent rash of supergroups, the name Black Country Communion might not mean much to you, but if I say Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian, and Joe Bonamassa, maybe I can change your "Who?" to a "Whoo!". I've been wanting to here this group since I heard Joe Bonamassa was involved. As I've mentioned before (see other Joe Bonamassa posts) I am a huge fan of Mr Bonamassa, so I was pleased to see some output from this group available as a free download. On first listen, I was disappointed that Joe's guitar didn't feature more strongly, however, on reflection, that's probably right for a group setting - it's not a solo project. And as a group project, it works. Perhaps the keyboards could feature more strongly but otherwise, everyone gets a chance to show what they can do (including a great solo, or two, from Joe). On the strength of this track, I'd say we have a group worthy of the adjective "super".

Cheat The Gallows by Bigelf. Bigelf have featured here before (Free Download Friday #49: Metal!). I was so impressed with the few bits of Bigelf I'd hear, so I got their album (Cheat The Gallows is available on eMusic). I detect hints of Pink Floyd in this track but heavier and meatier than Floyd.

Last but by no means least, Planet Rock featured The Union (see Free Download Friday #54: Two old hands). Planet Rock were offering a chance to win a concert in your living room from The Union (which you are probably too late to enter) and a free download of Watch The River Flow (which is hopefully still available).

{Sorry. first Friday after the holidays, and I'm a day late. I'd say I'd do better in future but past experience suggests that Free Download Saturdays will still feature on a semi-regular basis!}