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.

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