Peter Gabriel's "Passion" Reissued at 45rpm, Half-Speed Mastered

Silly me! I thought all Hans Zimmer lifted for The Gladiator soundtrack were bits and pieces of Holst's "The Planets". Everyone does that so no offense, but after playing this reissue I heard from where came the best parts of The Gladiator soundtrack. Surely this was on the CD player when Zimmer created his track. Don't get me wrong, it's still a masterful soundtrack and filled with sonic and musical jolts, but here's from where it originated.

Passion is described on the jacket as "Music for The Last Temptation of Christ a Film by Martin Scorsese" because it's not exactly a soundtrack album. Rather, it was released way back in 1989 months after the movie premiered because Gabriel wanted the record to stand on its own and there were completed pieces that were not included in the film and others that hadn't been finished in time for inclusion.

Gabriel steered clear of the usual religious glorified music found in biblical films and instead opted to explore music that reflected the story's geographical location. So the music is heavily influenced by Arabic and Middle Eastern folk music even though as we all know from the artistic renderings, Jesus was a blue eyed, blond haired white fellow.

Gabriel recorded at his Real World studios using musicians from Pakistan,Turkey, India, Morocco and Senegal among other countries including the United States, anchored using traditional North African rhythms. There are synthesizers as well, including the then revolutionary Fairlight from Australia that could sample and play them back using a keyboard—commonplace now but exotic then. The combination of familiar western and exotic instruments (including the Armenian Doudouk that coincidentally does the same mournful thing on "The Gladiator" soundtrack) plus sonic treatments and a superb recording overall produce a spellbinding recorded experience.

I have to admit it sat on my shelf unappreciated for decades, yet now it's easy to write that it's among Peter Gabriel's most significant musical accomplishments and a record that will shine on for years to come. It would make a damn good audiophile demo disc at a show if anyone at these shows had a shred of creativity.

The sonic pictures are vast: deep, wide and spectacularly dynamic. Add the exotic instrumentation and rhythmic excitement and you have a record that brings pleasure with every play. I made up for the "benign neglect" by playing this reissue often, much to my wife's displeasure as she sat upstairs binge watching "Big Bang Theory", which she does almost every night (don't get me started).

In any case, this was originally issued on a double vinyl Geffen Records set mastered DMM at Precision Mastering. I don't think it saw a CD release then because the promo kit says "two record album". For this reissue 1/2 speed mastered at 45rpm, the set's been expanded to 5 sides of a 3 record set with nice gatefold packaging and a card for a high resolution download.

There's no comparison between the original and the reissue. The reissue smokes the original in every meaningful audio check list, especially dynamics, bass extension and transparency. No doubt it was cut from a digital source but so probably was the original, here using far superior converters and of course spread to three sides and cut to lacquer. My copy was very well pressed though side one was eccentrically pressed beyond acceptable tolerances.

I was sent this and two other soundtracks so I can't comment on the sonics of the Gabriel vocal albums that have also been similarly reissued, so I won't, other than to say those reissues from Classic Records cut from tape by Bernie Grundman (including So) probably can't be bettered. That said, If you want to go on a satisfying sonic world music adventure, get this sonically spectacular, musically eclectic reissue .

vinyl listener's picture

moreso than the scorsese film.
it will be interesting to compare this new re-issue with my original uk non-dmm townhouse copy.


Michael Fremer's picture
Let us know!
allvinyl's picture

Yes, I am awaiting your comments on that comparison as my reference for this issues is the original UK Townhouse pressing as well. It is so much better in every respect than the US Geffen that followed, IMHO.

johntoste's picture

There was a concurrent cd release. My original LP surpasses the cd in all the ways you describe the 45 being superior.
I completely agree on the quality of the music.

ravenacustic's picture

Because I don’t recall “The Planets” being the basis of any section but I do recall a brief quote of Wagner’s Das Rheingold being used.

louv610's picture

…these reviews are always great. Regarding the card for a high resolution download that you mentioned, I’m wondering if it’s the same one that I got from Society of Sound. When I purchased my B&W speakers, they included a free trial subscription. The selections are supposedly curated by Peter Gabriel and his Real World Records, so I wasn’t surprised to find Passion. Anyway, the lossless FLAC (24/96 I think) sounds fantastic, but I’d really love to hear this vinyl reissue.

Steelhead's picture

Good God and good luck Mikey, I cannot get the channel changed quick enough when that pap comes on.

For your wife's sake please get her hooked on a good Netflix series like Ozark or Black Mirror. Hell, ANYTHING.

Yours for better viewing.

spun So on vinyl couple of months ago. Great Spin. Gabriel rocks!

jimhb's picture

This is my favorite soundtrack of all time. I have the Classic. I would love to know if this bests it.

matt2k's picture

...and will pick this one up to do a comparison (and because this is an amazing soundtrack).

matt2k's picture

Three tracks far, so good. Very nice detail and separation.

Analogico's picture

This is the first time I've owned/listened to this album and it seems PG put a lot of work to get the music right (6 additional months of recording after the film was released!), he's always been a very thorough artist but this one feels like a rounder effort aiming to go deeper into the emotions it explores and the (espiritual) tale it tells.

Hope PG gets to give the same treatment to "Plays Live" sometime in the future. BTW, the hi-res download voucher is a great addition that saved me the $17+ I'd have spent on the digital versions anyway, wish more artists did this as well.

audiotom's picture

Thanks Michael for a great review of a fabulous record.
Peter Gabriel is one of my favorite artists so I have US,UK originals, the Classics and 45 & 33 1/3 reissues including 3 of the $$$ Classics one sided 45 rpm pressings

Starting with iv Peter recorded in digital and his vocals in analog

The Real World i-iv 45 rom are terrible - tonality way off
The 45 rpm So Us and Up much better - worthy lps - but don't reach the Classic releases in openess and presence

Will have to listen to this one but the 45 format will break the mood changing sides

Something I hate with great sequenced records like PG and the new Eno 45rpm mastered at Abbey Road

allvinyl's picture

Being on the poor side of this insane hobby, I am still waiting for someone to contribute an opinion on the comparison between the 45 copy and the original UK Townhouse pressing. I have just listened to the UK again and it's darn good. But, I'd like to read a critique from someone who has both copies and has directly compared them.

AAA's picture

I have both the original UK Townhouse & Classic Records 33 rpm pressings but I'm glad I finally bought the Half Speed 45 rpm 2.5-LP set. I don't think I'll waste time playing the older 33 rpm versions anymore.
Never mind the HiFi, subjective, sonic aspects; just the INFORMATION details of instruments and voices as embedded in the 45s is mind boggling. Do yourself a favor to get the 45s if you like the music. You'll love PG and the soundtrack even more!

allvinyl's picture

Hi AAA - thanks for comparing and reporting your findings. I will spring for it now. I don't know why I continue to keep extra copies of some titles. I will likely sell the US press and keep the Townhouse, though. Why? I still don't know. Part of the sick-side of this hobby that infected me over 50 years ago...

AAA's picture

Let us know your verdict too!
FYI: there is an ebay reseller in Kentucky called "importcds" who still has new factory sealed copies and offers free shipping.