February 2005

Peter Gabriel - Play: The Videos
Warner 603497039623
Format: DVD-V
Released: 2004

by Roger Kanno

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****1/2
Image Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

Play: The Videos is much more than a collection of music videos. It might just be the definitive way to experience the music of Peter Gabriel. Each of the 23 cuts was remixed in 5.1 surround sound, primarily by Daniel Lanois and Richard Chappell. Both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks are included, but the DTS 96/24 tracks are spectacular and rival or surpass the sound quality of the multichannel SACD version of Up and the re-mastered stereo SACDs of Gabriel's other albums.

A few of the songs, such as "Washing of the Water" and "Shaking the Tree," have totally new arrangements, but most have just been subtly reworked for surround. Although it sounds similar to the album version, "Games Without Frontiers," with its expanded and more clearly delineated soundstage, is a revelation. Even relatively recent releases such as "Red Rain" and "Digging In the Dirt" have more clearly defined images and benefit from greater dynamics and extremely tight, responsive bass.

The video quality is decent considering that some of the source material is over 25 years old, but it varies considerably from track to track. The extras consist of video introductions for each song, three additional videos, including a terrific live version of "Games Without Frontiers," and trailers for other Peter Gabriel DVDs. There is also a programming feature that allows the user to play back up to 18 of the songs in any order. With its extensive breadth of material that spans Gabriel’s entire career, great music and visuals, and a state-of-the-art DTS soundtrack, Play: The Videos comes close to realizing the full potential of the DVD-V music video format.