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Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (1 -

PETER GABRIEL (1 - "CAR")

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

3.50 | 448 ratings

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LinusW
Special Collaborator
Italian Prog Specialist
3 stars Ah yes. Peter Gabriel fearlessly picks his favourite colours on the musical palette here on his first album without being a part of the Genesis behemoth, never thinking twice about the strange colouring on the resulting musical painting.

While reserved at first - not to say disappointed - the fact that Peter Gabriel 1, Car or whatever you want to call it totally lacks any coherence and direction makes it surprisingly refreshing and vibrant, given necessary time and patience. A wild collection of new ideas and influences in a post-Genesis freedom (or trauma) makes up the nine songs here. It's an album both impulsive and playing it safe, depending on your point of view. The sheer difference in style compared with much of Genesis is in itself enormously progressive, but when it comes to the expectations of a generalized prog fan, this is also a step back. In other words; it's a display of independence, but for me personally, slightly hit and miss.

All the different styles are neatly distributed over the album and the sometimes drastic changes are great for keeping you interested while waiting for your particular favourites. Unfortunately I think the album quality drops after the first three songs, all ranging from good to great. Moribund The Burgermeister's subdued percussion and spaced-out, alluring sounds next to the explosive bombast of the same song creates a nice dramatic effect, augmented by the ominous 'I will find out' and the playfully sinister effects. Subtle and soaring found in the same song and the streak of absurdist humour hits exactly right to fully perfect this opener.

But it was track number two that managed to reach out to most, Solsbury Hill being the hit of the album. And it is perfectly understandable. Even while remaining one of the more exposed songs in the Peter Gabriel discography it sounds just as good as ever. Light-hearted, clear melody that invites to both foot-stomping and smile, this is a song made to be enjoyed by most listeners, whatever their preferred genre might be. Moving from quite humble beginnings, with a simple repeating keyboard phrase and Gabriel's voice over the guitar textures, fragile percussion and a jumpy bass performance adds some depth and variation before the finale; fat guitar chords, vocal playfulness and a new, triumphant little phrase from the keys. All in all impossible to dislike, and strong in that it never ever feels repetitive despite the simple outline.

Modern Love is the first track of what I bulk together as the rock-pop section of the album. More a personal name-calling than any proper classification, it also includes Humdrum, Slowburn, Waiting For The Big One and Here Comes the Flood. Varying in quality, Modern Love is the clear favourite of these. Ballsy and in-your-face with a classic, infectious Hammond drive and powerful by-the-book rock guitar. Actually, it reminds me of Bruce Springsteen quite a bit. The grittier vocal performance is stellar and oozes emotion.

Humdrum has potential, but the soft piano and accompanying vocals fail to captivate me, and the odd break does nothing to help it. Producing something that sounds a bit like accordion, coupled with click-and-pop drumming, it just jars this piece. Redundant, and much of this song gives the same impressions. Joint outtakes, and even though I like the feeling of the last minutes, the synth sounds are laid on a little too thick. Slowburn, riddled with discreet delicacies such as trickling effects, nice piano work and fragile percussion, is another truly rocking piece, but compared to Modern Love it lacks some of the magic. A bit too clumsy when rocking, a bit too unoriginal when slowing down. Waiting For The Big One is a pointless, boring blues-rock thingy according to me (can and will be debated) and unfortunately Here Comes The Flood is dragged through the mud by the refrain. To think that subtlety and force can be used so good and so bad on the same record. Yes, to me the refrain is downright cheesy.

With only two songs left to cover, a trend might be visible here. There are the amazing songs, the good/fair ones, and there are the pointless ones. Excuse Me falls into the last category. No matter how funny it may be, it shows the backside of the absurd humour and freedom of this record. More a flamboyant personal excess than anything else, this curiosity features both a Barbershop quartet and a tuba.

Down The Dolce Vita. Wow. Back to category one - amazing. This one should have closed the album. After an orchestral explosion, one of the best introductions this piece could have been given, the pyrotechnics continue with an amazing rhythm work; slyly funky, extremely driven. It then continues down this path, seamlessly merging with orchestral breaks and a fabulous middle-section with strings and a dramatic vocal part from the band. Rising in energy, with marching drums and determined guitar trailblazing (all set to a background of charged and strangely suspended percussion) it gets back on track for the final return to the song's backbone. Glorious.

I'm going to award Peter Gabriel 1 three stars. And yet I have said and still can say a lot more about it. It's an album that stirs up emotions of all sorts, and one that still slightly eludes me even after too many listens. As such, it still comes recommended.

//LinusW

LinusW | 3/5 |

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