The last nine albums I added to my iTunes library are: Peter Gabriel’s OVO (Millennium Show), Long Walk Home (the soundtrack from Rabbit-Proof Fence), Scratch My Back, and New Blood; Tori Amos’s Abnormally Attracted to Sin, Midwinter Graces, and Night of Hunters; and Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut and 50 Words for Snow. Number of songs: 127, range of duration: 0:59-13:32, average duration: 5:00, number of songs without guitars, drums, or synthesizers (i.e., with orchestra, piano, and/or choir): 61 (48%). Three minutes, three chords, three verses, three choruses …… not so much. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
Peter Gabriel’s New Blood (2011) is a fascinating album, comprising orchestral arrangements (by John Metcalfe) of some of Gabriel’s best album tracks from 1977 to 2002: such as, “The Rhythm of the Heat,” “San Jacinto,” “The Intruder,” “Wallflower,” “Digging in the Dirt,” and “Darkness.” Disc 1 has vocal versions, and the Special Edition’s Disc 2 mostly has instrumental versions that don’t include approximations of the vocals. Those renditions are thus “karaoke” songs (the “empty orchestra” being literally orchestra, in this case), presumably for people–like me–who know most of these songs really well.
There are NO versions of such more obvious Gabriel hits as “Games without Frontiers,” “Biko,” “Shock the Monkey,” “Sledgehammer,” “Big Time,” “Steam,” or “Come Talk to Me,” but it does include four songs from the 1986 hit album So: “Red Rain,” “In Your Eyes, “Mercy Street,” and “Don’t Give Up”–the vocal version featuring Norwegian musician Ane Brun providing a guest vocal quite unlike Kate Bush’s original. It also has two songs from the 2000 soundtrack OVO – The Millennium Show (“Downside Up,” featuring his daughter Melanie Gabriel, and “The Nest That Sailed the Sky”), plus (after a five-minute ambient noise track) a “bonus track” of “Solsbury Hill.”
The Special Edition disc also has “Blood of Eden” (in a vocal version) and there were two additional digital-download-only songs. I think “Here Comes the Flood” would also have worked pretty well, but I suppose there are already quite a few alternate versions of that song.