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Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (1 -

PETER GABRIEL (1 - "CAR")

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

3.51 | 471 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review 67 (really), Peter Gabriel (1), Peter Gabriel, 1976

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Peter Gabriel's solo career seems, from the range of stuff I've heard so far, to be the ultimate musical chameleon. Even the classic prog giants don't cover quite as much ground musically as I've heard from Gabriel, and I haven't actually heard all that much of him yet. This album, too, is musically very diverse, with subtle and obvious eclecticism pervading most of it. Despite the wide range of styles covered, I feel that Peter Gabriel (1 of 4) is a very successful album most of the time, and never slips so badly it causes a lot of annoyance. Down The Dolce Vita is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest pieces of (rock) music ever recorded, and the quality of the rest is hardly shabby either. Great stuff.

The highly eclectic Moribund The Burgermeister is a superb opener. Compelling quiet rhythm section work is supplemented with both Fripp guitar wailing and droning, water-drop effects and bursts of more standard strutting from guitar and synths. Gabriel's vocals acquit themselves brilliantly, with harmonies, the menacing 'I will find out' and some sarcastically used accents particularly standing out as both unusual and excellent. Lyrically, the song meddles in both entertaining and more serious ideas, without being too fixed to lose the mystery.

Solsbury Hill, probably Gabriel's second-most-known piece, is also fairly distinctive. Aside from the superb vocal (self-harmonising, if I'm not mistaken, with two different sounds that give a slight edge) and lyrical content, the upbeat banjo stands out. Tony Levin's jabbing and whumphing bass rhythm is quite compelling. As much as I feel the keyboard riff is a bit obnoxious, it does add some more options and layers to the music. However, the song really breaks out during the little mini-explosions on drums at the end of each verse and finally on the ending instrumental section, with a belting guitar and fun jabbering from Gabriel to boot.

The rocker, Modern Love, is a bit more conventional than the first two songs, but nonetheless very strong, with superb and fascinating swirly bass-work from Levin, the classic 70s high hammond chord, Andy 's drumming matches these with little crashes supplemented with tin-pot sounds and a solid beat. Gabriel is again a stand-out vocalist, albeit sounding virtually nothing like himself, much grainier than usual, and his innuendo-wrapped lyrics are at the same time amusing and quite compelling. The guitar chords are immaculate, even if a little upstaged by Levin.

The hilarious barber-shop quartet followed by unusual song that is Excuse Me also works in its own way, with a neat tuba provided by Levin, great vocals and fairly nice lyrics, solos and little melodies added by all things involved, including one particularly fine guitar burst and a weird little synth tone that sounds a bit piano-meets-tympani.

Humdrum is far more subdued, with a soulful vocal and sustained, soft piano contributing the opening verse, before a gorgeous recorder-guitar dominated break and a reiteration of the opening section with more contributions. A second, extremely pretty section features a gorgeous acoustic guitar part and lush keyboard parts. Not as memorable as the rest of the album, perhaps, but nonetheless I enjoy it every time

Slowburn is the second heavily rock-based piece of the album, and it too is very strong, with a completely different, but no less fascinating, bass part. Amusing 'aaa's punctuate some of the vocal sections, and the synths and programming are brilliant. The drumming and guitars are plain rock awesomeness, and the softer sections don't at all break the flow of the piece, but rather add slightly more emphasis to it. An odd soundscape thing with all sorts of synth ideas and glockenspiel leads down to the end.

Waiting For The Big One is a rather laid back song, with wonderful piano crawls, a light and cheery vocal, little guitar additions are the order of the day, and the rather larger guitar strut with large harmony feels a little out of place in the piece. Gabriel's vocal is, as always, tailored to the piece, with good range and sound, and a rather neat bluesy solo punctuates the middle.

The amazing Down The Dolce Vita is almost definitely one of my top twenty songs. Aside from the superb merge of the LSO with the rock band and utterly compelling rhythm guitar riff, Gabriel's vocal is again a stunner, with constant and effective flourishes, stark edges and amazing lyrics ("'So long', said four men to their families/be strong, 'til we get back home". Levin's bass jumps up at the high end, adding these little throbs of energy in between his more standard backing. The drums and percussion are forceful and have a great roll, and the orchestral jabs on the concluding verse. A final stark flute-based conclusion segues straight into Here Comes The Flood. This song alone would justify the album's price for me.

Here Comes The Flood is an amazingly emotional piece, with jaw-dropping vocals and lyrics ('stranded starfish have no place to hide') complimenting the soft piano, acoustics and backing organ, as well as the hollow percussion sound. The heavily harmonised chorus is effective and potent, as is the roaring guitar solo, and the piece gradually builds to its climax without losing any of its essence. The conclusion, I feel, is slightly too insubstantial, but that is the only gripe I have with the piece.

So, overall, a wonderfully diverse range of goodies here, and while it doesn't quite hit the masterpiece mark for me, it comes very close. Vital and enjoyable listening, and so far detached from Genesis that I don't think your opinion of one will have any bearing on your opinion of the other. Highly recommended. I look forward to hearing more of Gabriel's solo material soon.

Rating: Four Stars Favourite Track: Down The Dolce Vita

Edit: general harshlificasdhihing of ratings, again, (sorry to anyone who might be going through all my reviews to gather evidence to report me as a communist to the CIA...) and I felt there are some areas of reservation with this one that I didn't express in the review (most notably, the big chorus on Here Comes The Flood and a couple of the guitar tones), as well as it just not comparing as well to later Gabriel efforts. Some seminal stuff on here, but I think a three is more representative of its overall quality than a four.

TGM: Orb | 3/5 |

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