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Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 3 [Aka: Melt] CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel

Crossover Prog

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5 stars gabriel's best solo work, he really got he's act together in this one,a new sound ,and a much more consistent style,and off-course -better songwriting. "family snapshot" is my personal favorite,but there are lots of great moments in here, such as : games without frontiers and the atmospheric "lead a normal life" the diverse "no self control" and more. warning:this is not a prog rock album! if you're expecting the old genesis tricks then beware(or just buy the first album) this is gabriel following the footsteps of bowie and eno,and creating some new footprints on the way.
Report this review (#23941)
Posted Thursday, November 20, 2003 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is in my mind GABRIEL's finest and most complete work to date. Each song is very well written and performed in the tradition of this great artist. Although the first 3 albums have a similar feel to them, this seems to bring the best of them all into this recording. Peter continues to explore the deep and dark aspects of human nature in this recording and is helped by the presence of Phil COLLINS and Kate BUSH. All time classic tales like "Biko" and "Games without frontiers" adorn this recording.
Report this review (#23948)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of my favourite albums of all time. I have heard all genres of rock, Rolling Stones to The Clash etc. This is great. The thing different between Gabriel and others isthat he has songs that challenge peopl's psychological desires like Intruder does, but then he can match that with really good natured songs like Not One Of Us which is a thoughtful piece about racial equality "a foriegn body, and a foriegn mind, never welcome in the land of the blind"- land of the blind meaning England of course. This may be a slightly harsh comment, but very true to an extent. This song has a strong drum beat, with Gabriel putting his Genesis pitch voice on, instead of the slightly lower pitch for songs like No Self Control and Family Snapshot. Games Without Frontiers is my favourite song. Great Album!
Report this review (#23949)
Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars You know the name, look up this number. Peter GABRIEL's third untitled release is as unconventional as his last was conventional. Exotic instruments, inventive arrangements (e.g., prohibiting the use of cymbals) and compelling character studies combine to create something unlike anything else from 1980. GABRIEL throws down the avant garde gauntlet with the opening "Intruder", a nightmarish song that sets the stage for a side-long study of psychoses. No sooner has GABRIEL declared "I am the intruder" than we find the felon has already gone over the line in "No Self Control" only to writhe under examination in "I Don't Remember". An Oswaldian allegory follows on "Family Snapshots" (beating Godley & Creme's "Lonnie" to the punch) and closes almost in a celebration of strangeness with ".And Through The Wire" (a precursor to "I Have The Touch").

Side two flips the perspective from the individual against society to society against the individual, "world music" in every sense of the words. "Games Without Frontiers" is a cleverly crafted pop shot at global fighting, the ugly head of prejudice roars on "Not One of Us" and the muted "Lead A Normal Life" rattles in its prison. It's all leading up to the closing "Biko" (or so it would seem): a larger-than-life ode to Stephen Biko that somehow turns social injustice into a sublime song of martyrdom. For the first time since "Lamb...", Peter GABRIEL was back to pushing envelopes. The album re-affirmed the singer as one of rock's leading visionaries and ranked among the year's best efforts (alongside Remain In Light, Scary Monsters and Vienna). More important, it established a workable idiom for Peter GABRIEL the solo artist, one he would fine tune over the years but never really abandon.

Report this review (#23950)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Peter's third album is probably his most experimental release and one of the most inventive albums of the early 80's "new wave" (along with IMHO KC's Discipline and Talking Heads' Remain In Light). Vocal melodies are 100% Gabriel style (pretty timeless by the way), but instrumental parts are so unusual that it's required to hear album several times before various elements of Peter's strange musical world become to stick together tight. My favorite tracks: Intruder (simple but inspiring drumming provided by Phil Collins), No Self- Control (Robert Fripp's guitar work, great progression), Games Without Frontiers (marvelous in every aspect, I really like the ending that sounds like early 80's version of techno) and Biko (comments unneccesery here). To sum up: Maybe not his best, at least for my ears, but I appreciate it a lot and I hope most prog-fans will too.
Report this review (#23951)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Peter Gabriel released his third solo album, also called "Peter Gabriel," in 1980. And with that third nod to eponymity, he finally hit his stride as a solo artist. Album "3" (sometimes called "Melting Face" due to the cover art) is the first truly great PG platter, a much more coherent set, with substantially improved, consistently intriguing songwriting and compelling instrumental arrangements. Throughout, the tunes are both artistically resonant and memorably melodic; highlight cuts include the energetically off-kilter rockers "No Self Control" and "I Don't Remember," the heartbreakingly poignant ballad "Family Snapshot," the percussive, politically charged "Biko," and the unforgettable, superbly artsy prog-pop hit "Games Without Frontiers."

Like all ten of the deluxe remasters in the recent Peter Gabriel reissue series, "PG3" is disappointingly without bonus tracks and substantial liner note essays. The improved sonics are truly excellent, however, and the nuanced performances of Gabriel's band sound rich and clear; subtle vocal harmonies and bass tones, for instance, have a significantly enhanced impact. Furthermore, the package features evocative artwork and, more importantly, lyrics. (For those who didn't know: They're singing "Jeux sans frontieres" -- French for "Games without frontiers"). Such improvements in sonics and packaging may not make it worthwhile for casual fans to upgrade their old CD copy, but for fans of artsy pop who haven't discovered this timeless masterwork --it still packs a powerful punch, even twenty years later-- this new remaster is the best way yet to get the full experience.

Report this review (#23952)
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars There is very little to add to PG3 other than the fact that Peter Gabriel came of age with this album. Surrounded by sheer class in terms musicians he delivered the genuine epic album. Intruder is menacing and basically violates your psyche from the first note. Phil Colllins adding drumming second to none. No self Control probably the most accessible single on the record. John Giblin on bass, well who can fault such a diverse versatile bassist whose biggest claim to fame IMHO was his contribution on Simple Minds, the Verona tour and Street Fighting years era.Biko hit home when world guilt was truly at it's most aware, thank you PG for reminding the world of how dire oppression was in South Africa at the time. A politician deluxe and Real World began to flourish. For me the album is strong from beginning to end but No Self Control, Intruder and I don't remember are the best of a classic offering. Yes he went on from here with ' Security', ' So' and much more but never would he scale the heights of completeness with PG3.
Report this review (#23953)
Posted Friday, July 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars With his third album, Gabriel started to use African drums, and did some experiments which are very good in this album. Some things are weird, of course! Several songs are like the soundtrack of an horror movie, with processed guitars, saxes and synths sound effects, drum kits played without cymbals, paranoid lyrics, social-political songs, etc.My favourite songs from this album are: "Intruder", "Not self-control", "I don`t remember", "Family Snapshot", "Games without frontiers" (the best of all) and "Biko". This is not an album for daily listening, really, but as an experimental album, it has a lot of creativity.
Report this review (#23954)
Posted Saturday, October 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars After a successful debut and a disappointing follow up, Peter GABRIEL put it all together for his quintessential masterpiece on his third self-titled album. This recording is full of great songs with panoramic views of the GABRIEL musical vision. The dark, chilling, and right to the heart of the matter moods are what made his songs so prolific and memorable. The music is just as fantastic, and that's what made the lyrics carry that much more impact.

"Games Without Frontiers" became one of his most popular songs and it quickly became a radio favorite, and it remains one today. "Biko" was a loud protest for an African prisoner of political injustice, and also a great song in its entirety. Peter knew how to use his music to carry a message, and that particular message was heard around the world and gave him more than just attention to his music. He reached his goal by bringing notice to a subject matter he believed in. "And Through The Wire" was another catchy tune that became popular on the airwaves. Progressive rock once was again the bedrock of all the GABRIEL tunes, with just enough pop injected to make the songs favorable to a large cross section of listeners and radio stations.

Per usual, an immensely talented roster of talent was at Peter's disposal for these sessions. Peter GABRIEL had arrived as a permanent fixture on the music scene and was a bonafide solo star without exception.

Report this review (#23956)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Incredible. I mean, the guy could have been stuck with Genesis stuff, and sink in the sea of boredom, instead he was ahead of the time, releasing an album that mixes up new wave, dark music, art rock, even ambient ..... and man, I'm not the guy that goes crazy with rock-n-roll political songs ( hate Springsteen and all the fuccking hipocrat crapp he produces) , but Biko almost brought me to tears FROM THE FIRST TIME I heard it ( probably because I knew the story too).Simple and effective. Anyway, put Gabriel, Fripp, Levin, Collins toghether , and you can't go wrong... go buy it!
Report this review (#23958)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A bit overrated sometimes, but it's not bad at all. There are some good moments: the first side has all those "psychological songs" that more or less "work", even if they are not strong on melodies. I don't like "Intruder" as I love "No Self Control", with it's insane xylophones and darkness ("i don't know how to stop!..."). "Family Snapshot" is also good but the best thing about it is it's amazing lyrics that put you in the character's situation on a very detailed way. "And Through The Wire" and "Not One Of Us" could be good emotional and anthemic rockers but Gabriel is not a great melodies' creator, and it shows on both of this songs which have lots of potential but lack "something" (like a perfect chorus). "Biko" includes some "world music" and good socially-conscious lyrics, but it's a bit too long. The rest is ok, but not amazing, and can get annoying sometimes.
Report this review (#23960)
Posted Saturday, May 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an excellent album from the genious behind Genesis. In his third solo album, he has succeeded in creating a disc full of experimentations, unique music, and amazing creativity. The musicians that joined are of first class (Phil Collins, Robert Fripp, Tony Levin) and combined with the musical genious of Peter Gabriel, this album was done. This is Peter Gabriel's Darkest album, and beware .. this is not like Genesis. It is more like Pop with experimentations.

The album begins with the scary and menacing INTRUDER, in which its sound effects help create that mood. After feeling fear, the next feeling is paranoia in the powerful NO SELF CONTROL which includes a breathtaking musical explosion in the middle. START is a soft symphonic piece that leads to the poppy I DON'T REMEMBER. FAMILY SNAPSHOT is a sad ballad about an assassin, and for me contains the best lyrics to ever been put in a song. AND THROUGH THE WIRE is a good rocker. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS is a danceable pop song with nice vocal hooks about competition I think. NOT ONE OF US is a good pop with good bass playing. LEAD A NORMAL LIFE is an experimental melodic song and finally BIKO is a anthemic protest song which uses repetition to its advantage.

This is a very enjoyable Experimental Rock album. You do not have to like Genesis to like this since ... they have nothing in common! If you are interested in a unique writing style of pop, I would recommend this album. It is very enjoyable.

My Grade : B+

Report this review (#41942)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Also refferred as "melt" (as the first four album had no titles at all - or numbers either), this album is the real start of Peter Gabriel's commercial success. I remember Michael Rutherford being quoted in the press as the album that finally justified his leaving Genesis. Since this album is hardly my favorite , I will leave Mr. Rutherford up to his judgment.

The first album where The Gabe actually really shows his interests in World Music. He will create Womad , that will quickly become bankrupt and have his old Genesis pals reform just for one concert. outside of the two megahits I Don't Remember and Games Without Frontier , obvious atempts at commercial success, the rest of this album is relatively easily accessible especially compared to his somber second solo adventure.

I found this album relatively uninteresting on a progressive note as from the opening track Intruder (maybe my fave on this album ) until the secondlast track Normal life , we deal with a sophisticated pop with many interesting twists , but nothing exhilarating for the average prohead unless he is an unconditional fan. The last track Biko (which I find rather over-long) is a poignant cry of freedom to Stephen Biko a martyr in his fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Hardly his most essential album as far as progheads are concerned.

Report this review (#46387)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Great album, this is the first Peter Gabriel album i have bought, since this one is the one i have heard most good things about it seems too be hes finest record and yeah its an fantastic album, yust by hearing the fantastic drumm beat in the opening song "Intruder" you can feel that this album is something speical. there are many good songs allmost all are great, but my favorites are: "Intruder" great opener, "No self control" allso is simply fantastic i love it, but my favorite on the album have to be "I dont remember" a killer riff and melody makes this song a winner. Well thos are yust soem examples all songs are very good, and the closing "Biko" is very powerfull. all in all a great album that everybody shuld give a try.
Report this review (#50175)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Peter Gabriel is reviewed surprisingly rarely! # 3 is my favourite - I enjoy most songs of 'So' even more, but this one's amazingly impressive on a thematic and narrative level too. If there's an album which could be a source of inspiration for a fantastic short story -or art comics- collection, this is it. (Who would be the writer? Hmm, some psychologically oriented, modern, dark-toned... J. G. Ballard, Ian McEwan, Patrick McGrath for instance.) The main theme is MENTAL SICKNESS (and global: wars, nationalism, racism). But there's a perfect balance, avoiding the album to be painfully depressive.

'Intruder', famous for its drum playing by Phil Collins, tells of a pervert who sneaks in homes of strangers. "The sense of isolation inspires... inspires me..." Basically a very monotonous percussion-based track, but strong as hell. Also 'No Self Control' deals with some sort of mania, and again the music reflects that perfectly. (PLAYS LIVE version sounds better but loses some of the tension.) What is the instrumental 'Start' (featuring sax, unusual in Gabriel's music) exactly about, I don't know but I like it.

'I Don't Remember' reminds a bit of 'Shock the Monkey' (on # 4) and lyrically I think it is as crucial to the whole as everything else: self-denial of having done anything bad. And then one of my favourite PG songs, 'Family Snapshot'. It narrates the assassination of some leader from the assassin's point of view. The song ends with a flashback of his childhood. "Friends have all gone home/ there's my toy gun on the floor/ Come back, mum and dad/ You're growing apart/ You know that I'm growing up sad/ I need some attention/ I shoot into the light". It gives me goosepimples. Only I wish the ending section wasn't mixed so quiet; PLAYS LIVE version is therefore better.

'And Through the Wire' I haven't got so deep into, and the chorus makes me bored, otherwise not bad. - SIDE TWO: 'Games Without Frontiers' gives some loose analysis on wars. A good single hit song, though KATE BUSH has quite a boring role of repeating "jeux sans frontiéres". Then comes 'Not One Of Us' about foreigner hatred - sadly still all too existent in the world. Apart from 'Lead a Normal Life' ("It's nice here with a view of the trees/ eating with a spoon/ they don't give you knives?") Side Two has a wider, sociopolitical point of view whereas Side One concentrates on individual psychology and mental issues. 'Biko' ends the album gorgeously; one of the first anti-racism songs and a definite classic. PG3 is a masterpiece of popular music with a meaning.

Report this review (#69412)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As other reviewers have already pointed out, you shouldn't expect anything like Genesis on this album. After two competent, though hardly earth-shaking, solo efforts, in 1980 Peter Gabriel released his third album, considered by many his finest (though I have a slight preference for its follow-up, commonly known as "Security"). A dark, sometimes disturbing, passionate record, PG's third features such luminaries as Phil Collins (a great drummer, let's not forget it!), electronic keyboard wizard Larry Fast, Robert Fripp and Kate Bush - not to mention the inimitable Tony Levin and his legendary Chapman stick. The lyrics touch upon such subjects as madness, violence and racism, making for often uncomfortable (though always intellectually rewarding) listening. Peter's distinctive vocals range from the brooding lower pitch of "Intruder" and "Family Snapshot" to the higher, heart-wrenching lament that is "Biko".

The best-known track on the album, the rather successful single "Games Without Frontiers", is also the most optimistic, a paean to interracial friendship and understanding enhanced by Kate Bush's backing vocals. She also provides a more than adequate foil for Peter's voice in the intense "No Self-Control", also featuring the beautiful yet eerie sound of xylophones. "Family Snapshot" , with its deceptively quiet ending, deals with issues of political murder; while "Biko", its heavy, tribal drumbeat reminiscent of the tolling of a funeral bell, is dedicated to the eponymous South African civil rights activist, murdered in prison by the police."I Don't Remember", introduced by a short sax section titled "Start", is driving and obsessive, with Peter's vocals almost sounding like howls. My favourite track, however, is the opening "Intruder", the tale of a stalker characterised by Phil Collins's, apparently simple, haunting drumming pattern (which, incidentally, inspired the very similar one on Blue Oyster Cult's magnificent "Veteran of the Psychic Wars"): "Intruder's happy in the dark/ Intruder come and leave its mark/ I am the intruder".

For many prog fans, this record (like its followers) may be too poppy or not intricate enough - which is a pity, seen as Peter Gabriel is one of the most original and inventive artists currently on the scene. In the long years of his solo career he has proved that you can write songs which are at the same time accessible and challenging, not to mention musically valid, and progressive in the true sense of the word.

Report this review (#76890)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I see this album as the one where Peter's studio technique caught up with his adventurous creativity. The sound is a quantum leap from the flatter tones of his first two solo offerings and it makes for an incredible listening experience. The true highlights are "Biko" (brilliant and timeless), "I Don't Remember" (Tony Levin's stick work is incredible and the rhythm is undeniable), "Games Without Frontiers" (a bonafide classic song) and "Family Snapshot" (an understated masterpiece). The other songs are excellent, as well. Mr. Gabriel was finding the narrow balance between originality and mass acceptance this go- round and the result is an album that has not become hopelessly passe'. In essence, the man just can't make a bad album.
Report this review (#77514)
Posted Monday, May 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Peter Gabriel left Genesis following the massive album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway to pursue a solo career. His first two solo albums were a mixture of pop and moderately progressive rock. His third one was his first album to be released in the 80s, and it's one of his darkest albums ever. Featuring a wide array of all-star musicians, from Phil Collins to Robert Fripp, this album is a stunning timepiece that really could have only been done by Peter Gabriel at that time. The musicianship on this album varies from dissonant chords to melodic saxophone solos. One word can be derived from this album, breathtaking.

Beginning with the unsettling chords of Intruder (which really has the Fripp vibe circa Larks Tongue in Aspic), the steady drumming and the amalgamation of the surrounding voices and instruments (especially this shrieking guitar noise in the background) gives this song a very uneasy feeling. Gabriel's vocal is very sullen and quiet, but in moments he really shines with an unsettling cry (and some whistling at the end). No Self Control follows with very groovy vibes and tuned percussion, as well as a very sparse and claustrophobic guitar in the background. Gabriel's vocal here is bitter and sullen. The chorus is where the song becomes more involving. The guitar is a real treat here with some meaty chords. The drumming on this track is also superb.

Start is a short instrumental with a nice saxophone solo from Dick Morrissey, and some nice synthesizers from Gabriel and Larry Fast. It's a nice little interlude between No Self Control and I Don't Remember. This song has some strong synthesizers and a nice beat to it. Tony Levin is a star on this track with a great stick line that gives the song a great groove. Family Snapshot begins with some somber piano and some emotional vocals from Gabriel. The background saxophone creates a more intense atmosphere as Gabriel whales and sings his heart out as the song becomes progressively more intense. Add a great bass line and some great guitars and you have one of the best songs on the album.

And Through the Wire has some nice crying from Gabriel and some very steady drumming and bass guitars. The lyrics for this song are also among the best of the album. Peter really knows how to arrange songs as this song has brilliant quiet sections and uplifting loud sections. Games without Frontiers was the hit single from this album, and I can see why. Some great percussion and guitar lines mold nicely with the restrained drums and the very consistent bass line. The whistling ushers in the chorus, which has a menacing feel to it. Gabriel's vocals on this track are also very strong. Not One of Us begins with some great chord progressions from the guitars, and then the snare drum brings in the rest of the band. Once again Levin provides a groovy stick line that takes the song into many different avenues.

Lead a Normal Life begins with some nice percussion and a melodic piano theme, but once the synthesizers and guitars kick in, the song takes a more disturbing turn. The alternating musical themes in the song really make it a unique one on the album. This mostly instrumental track is one of my favorites on the album. And finally, Biko ends the album with an inspiring Gabriel vocal. His rough vocal on this track is complimented by a nice choir and some tribal percussion. The dissonant guitar in the background helps create a tense atmosphere and it really ends the album well.

Overall, 3 is one of Peter Gabriel's most experimental albums. The "no cymbal" idea works well and allows the other instruments to breathe in the more hectic sections. This album is also great because of its quirky instrumentation and the song arrangements give it a very Talking Heads "new wave" feel. It may be one of the best Peter Gabriel albums to date, and he only went back to this type of sound for his next album, Security. All of the songs are strong and I can find no weakness on this album. Masterpiece. 5/5.

Report this review (#81648)
Posted Wednesday, June 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars This was the first Peter Gabriel album I bought. I heard a cut on the radio when it was released, and went straight to my local record store. (For you young people, that is what music stores used to be called. Though, the discs were much bigger). It got me from the first note of "Intruder," and has never diminished in its force. What an incredible piece of work.

I love all of his studio output, but he never topped this. Every song is a masterpiece, and fits together in an almost organic fashion. He had mastered his incorporation of world sounds, and gathered an amazing group of musicians to make it happen. It is a moody thing, complex, dark, and in the end, hopeful. There are grooves that can make the tightest booty sake, and poignancy that can bring a tear to the most macho eye. The closer is an anthem that I dare you not to feel the urge and chant along to.

The musicians are ultra-talented (a few being Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Phil Collins, Robert Fripp, Kate Bush, and even The Jam's Paul Weller), and play like it is their last performance. This is actually some of Mr. Collins' best work. How can you lose?

I could do a song by song analysis, but I wouldn't do the album justice as a whole.

Not only do I recommend this for all prog fans, I think all rock fans (and probably fans of any music) should have this album.

H.T. Riekels

Report this review (#88071)
Posted Wednesday, August 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Percussive melodics and very condensed songwriting. The direction Gabriel takes on this album is clearly developed and this is one of his more coherent albums, not all is actually beautifull, but also the not so good songs have a place on this album, without detracting from the musical experience. at times the pop-focus becomes a bit too far upfront, but overall the music is highly enjoyable, and I love listening to this.

Highlights are the Xylophone melodics of No Self Control, with great vocals from gabriel, the slow builder but very energetic Family Snapshot, and of course the fabulous Biko, with it's intense percussive final.

A great improvement compared to his previous album, and one of the more enjoyable albums Gabriel created. Worth a spin, maybe you will like it.

Report this review (#94016)
Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Just when you think Peter's going in a certain direction, he puts on the brake and starts running in another. He leaves the great style he built over his first two albums and just came back with something remarkable. This album is as great as everyone says. World music is an obvious influence. This is the first of his albums to feature this. My favorites here are "Intruder", "No Self-Control", "Family Snapshot", and "Biko". The last on that list is sometimes my favorite song of his. It gives me chills every time. Every song here is amazing though. Definitely a masterpiece.
Report this review (#99739)
Posted Monday, November 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now this is the real business. Finally PETER GABRIEL delivers what we knew he had in him, and it chills, challenges, sears and uplifts us. This is because, unlike his first two albums, he meets us halfway, writing powerful songs with meaningful lyrics, while still holding on to his core assets: his eccentricity, humour and passion.

Dave Connolly's review has it exactly right. This album is an exploration of individual and social psychosis - a concept album if I ever saw one. The listener gets the sense that s/he is being taken somewhere, and the destination won't exactly be pretty. From the simple-minded intruder, through loss of control and memory, fantasies of revenge, side 1 takes us to the end of ourselves. Side 2 applies the same technique to Us as side 1 did to Me: foolish playground fighters, abnormal exclusionists who, GABRIEL argues, are responsible for what happens to people like Steve Biko. There is very little in the rock world that carries more power than this.

So, then. Is this not a masterpiece? No, not quite: GABRIEL is not yet at his peak musically. A couple of the tracks remain underdeveloped (And Through The Wire, Lead a Normal Life) and so the flow necessary for a concept album as momentous as this one is interrupted. And I'm afraid I find the destination (Biko) just a little too trite for someone with the lyrical breadth of PETER GABRIEL. I know its a landmark in political pop, but I'm not convinced that his songwriting, lyrics or performance delivers the killing punch (as it were) this album required.

So, as close as can be to a masterpiece. This is perhaps PETER GABRIEL'S most important album, positioning him politically for all that was to come, including WOMAD. But musically, his best is still to come.

Report this review (#115809)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The third Gabriel album appeared during New Wave era, and it was really an influential effort to the legions of post-punk/alternative rock bands. It was also an avant-garde work drawing more connection to the groundbreaking works of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, plus the instrumental rhythm section (Jerry Marotta-cymballess drum kit/Tony Levin-bass and stick) created a blueprint of ethno-tribal percussive beats that along with Gabriel himself, was to be copied in the decade to come.

The crimsonesque, dark metallic opener "Intruder" and the closing World Music/Afro beat of "Biko" encapsulate an excellent album, which also launched Steve Lillywhite as the one of the best producers of the 1980s (U2, Simple Minds, Talking Heads, the Pogues...). Amidst the entire electronic and ambient picture lies an unexpected hit single "Games Without Frontiers", a song that was the first Gabriel song that I heard, so I cherish pleasant memories on this. Kate Bush sings backing "jeux sans frontieres" during the chorus, which is French translation of the title. But, it also happens to be the name of a competition TV show, which was quite popular even in SFR Yugoslavia in the late 1970s/early 1980s. There were dozen or so national teams, mainly from continental West Europe, while Yugoslavia also took part in several annual occasions, "playing silly games" in historic locations (fortresses, seaside resorts) across these countries. It was some sort of teenage mini-Olympiad or something... English name of the game was "It's a Knock Out", which Gabriel sings just before the chorus. So, obviously, Adolf, Enrique, Sasha, Hans, Jane and Andre were very inspirational to Peter.

"Family Snapshot", "And Through the Wire" and "Not One of Us" are for me sub-standard songs and in retrospect they sound quite boring too. Overall, "Peter Gabriel III" is very good album and surely ranks among the best works of 1980. Highly recommended to prog fans especially those in favour of art/experimental pop music.

Report this review (#117012)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was listening to this album in the car on the way to work today so I thought I'd better give it a rating here.

Keeping things short and sweet, this is a classic album. I was blown away when I heard "Games Without Frontiers" on the UK chart run down one Sunday way back when. As soon as I could afford it I bought the cassette. Then the LP. And then the CD.

Every track on this album is a classic and as PG was busy pushing what was possible musically at the time the album still sounds remarkably fresh today. If you haven't got a copy of this album then you should get one immediately, Peter Gabriel is one of the true pioneers of prog/art rock and so this is essential fare.

Report this review (#123927)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars It seems like PG has found his sound and style in this one, or maybe he was still looking for it but while doing so he just delivered some of the best songs in his career :p Anyway "3" is a HUGE improvement from the 2 previous releases. The album has a sense of unity and the musical style is dark, sophisticated, delicate and accesible all at the same time, while maintaining the theatrical style that is one of PG's trademarks.

Intruder is really dark and hipnotic, and I think it was a ballsy choice to put this as the opener since is clearly not one of the catchiest, but of course is one of those songs that gets better and better with each listen and a good representation of the spirit of this record.

No Self-Control is another hipnotic song, with a really dramatic performance by the man, since this haunting track leaves a lot of space to show his theatrical style. Also a great live song.

Starts works really well as a an interlude, with beatiful use of the saxo bringing some light to what is (up to this point) a really dark piece of work

I Don't Remember imo is THE hit song of the first era Peter Gabriel. The chorus is memorable, and on its overall simplicity lies its beauty. The Chorus is memorable and addictive as hell.

Family Snapshot is one of the highlights of the album, and that is saying a lot, since this "3" is like one big highlight. Pure subtlety and emotion delivered by the man.

And Through The Fire has a straight emotive melody, and a chorus that's really hard to forget. 5 minutes of musical joy.

Games Without Frontiers is another strong song, with a dark feeling like the majority of this masterpiece. And this is also kind of a hit song at the same time, yes, it can be done.

Not One Of Us, wow what a song. Strong melody, strong message, catchy all the way, a great live song, timeless. Levin shines as usual and PG's performance is remarkable.

Lead A Normal Life is probably the least spectacular song of the album, a moody, pleasant song

Biko is the perfect closer to this album, probably the first strongly African-influenced piece of music from PG. I find this song hipnotic as well but in a different way than the others, in a more melodic way, not so claustrophobic as some previous tunes. That chorus is well, anthemic at least. This song has a life of its own when played live.

Wow, I said hipnotic a lot of times during this review so I think that word defines my opinion about this gem. There are no weak songs here. An amazing, unique experience from beginning to end.

Report this review (#129212)
Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars He knows something about opening windows and doors. He knows how to move quietly - to creep across creaky wooden floors, and where to find precious things in all your cupboards and drawers.

And he does, too, on this black and beautiful record. He is the Intruder, after all, and he'll get no argument from me. He also has No Self-Control, and no memory of anything at all, for that matter. It is music such as this that moved Peter Gabriel to leave Genesis, and it was worth it. Among other things, the album is known for featuring drums sans cymbals, as heard on the first two electrifying tracks. After the throwaway 'Start', 'I Don't Remember' reflects the Talking Heads nu-pop and 'Family Snapshot' foresees Gabriel's nostalgic side. 'Through the Wire' is a tepid AOR tune but 'Games Without Frontiers' is a sallow-faced look at social politics and livens things up, and screechy tech-rocker 'Not One of Us' is mediocre but sports a sound that would be much imitated in later years. The gossamer 'Lead a Normal Life' takes some twisted turns but resolves, and a salute to Steve Biko at the end. Impactful, influential and in 1980, the perfect pop record.

Report this review (#137043)
Posted Saturday, September 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The album opens with the eerie ominous brooding of Intruder. No Self Control flips between manic episodes and tempered reasoned passages backed by the constant rainfall of percussion. I don't remember continues with the intense almost manic feel. Family Snapshot stops the listener in his tracks. You are forced to sit up and visualise the scene. The media, the cavalcade, the police outriders coming round the corner ... you see it through the sniper's (Arthur Bremmer's? ) eyes. A scintillating and gripping track. Through the wire at the end of the side provides a decent catchy rocky number about a long distance relationship.

The Eurpoean version of 1970s "It's a Knockout" (jeux sans frontieres) with not a hint of Stuart Hall: but with a nod to the tv series. And there's sharon who's a legal secretary from hemel hempstead ... oh no she's fallen in the drink ... time for arthur to get his dipstick out. What ever happened to Genaro and Guido? Joking aside was such a successful single that I doubt anyone has not heard it. Excellent, dark satirical and successfully commercial ... just like the game show.

Not one of us is another track in a more commerical format. I alwys like this track but at the time I much preferred The Jam if I was in the mood for that type of track. Lead a Normal Life is once again a superbly crafted song. Percussion dominates the delicate melody.

Biko: a moving and inspiring track about the famous activst murdered by the South Arican police whilst in custody.

The music is firmly and typically 80s to the modern listener. Odd, when you think that this album is from 1980, pre-dating most of what we would term as the classic "80s" sound. There is also a great deal more experimentation, challenging passages and excellent musicianship. Morris Pert on percussion and Tony Levin on the Chapman stick are superb.

Report this review (#137391)
Posted Sunday, September 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars For me, this album is the highlight of Peter Gabriel's solo career. Other albums of his may sport even better tunes ("Solsbury Hill", "Here Comes the Flood", "The Rhythm of the Heat" and "San Jacinto" are possible contenders) but none contain as fine as sequence as the first five tracks of PG3. Besides, "Not one of us" and "Biko" are not to be despised either!

PG 3 opens with the kind of drum pattern that would give Phil Collins his first mega-hit when he started using it for his own purposes on "In the Air Tonight". While it's hard (or even impossible) to say which of the two is the better SONG, "In the Air Tonight" or "Intruder", (you could argue Phil Collins came up with a more attractive melody) it will be obvious that Peter G. (ominously muttering: 'I am the Intruder!') offers us, on this very album, a series of portraits of (usually obnoxious) individuals desperately trying to assert their individuality. We're actually talking about quite a long series, which may have its origin in the protagonists of "The Musical Box", "Can Utitility", "Back in New York City", "Moribund the Burgermeister" and "On the Air". On PG3 all of these are joined by the resolutely irresponsible anti- heroes of "No Self-Control" and "I Don't Remember", and by the assassin of "Family Snapshot".

As other reviewers have pointed out, all these new characters seem to express their emotions through music which sounds clearly inspired, and which seemed more-or-less "avant-garde" when this album came out. Only after the fifth track does the album start to lag. "And through the Wire" and "Games without Frontiers" never sounded totally convincing to me. The latter, however, clearly shows that Gabriel was developing a political conscience - as do "Not One of Us" (one of the album's most powerful tunes, thanks to Jerry Marotta's drumming) and the album's final track.

In "Biko" I find the choruses really powerful and deeply moving: both the African choir sampled, and PG's own refrain which runs 'The man is dead, the man is dead'. Surely it was a masterstroke to combine this song's stately rhythm with sampled bagpipes: the best possible dirge any artist could have devised. PG's lyrics occasionally sound pedestrian, though. 'When I try and sleep at night, / I can only dream in red. / The outside world is black and white / with only one colour dead'. Hmm... Couldn't our man find some more striking words? When I think of Dylan's 'The Lonely Death of Hattie Carroll", for example, I don't find PG's version of a protest song particularly eloquent... But others obviously disagree: Robert Wyatt, for example, was sufficiently moved to record a cover version of Gabriel's tune.

Report this review (#137411)
Posted Sunday, September 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Cymbolic

After the disappointment of his second album, Gabriel found his form again for his third. Once again simply titled "Peter Gabriel", the melting facial image on the cover led to this being dubbed "Melt" by the fans.

While not immediately apparent, Gabriel adopted a policy for the album of not allowing the drummers (mainly Jerry Marotta but also Phil Collins) to use cymbals. While Gabriel recognised that this would be challenging for them, he decided that cymbals were too much of a distraction when listening to the music.

The opening "Intruder" sets the tone for much of what is to follow, being a dark, menacing number, ironically with hints of the still to come "Mama" by Genesis. "No self control" is a wonderfully arranged song which harks back to Peter's first album, and once again finds him clearly energetic and inspired. Those who thought Kate Bush's first collaboration with him was on "Don't give up" might be surprised to hear her on backing vocals here. She also appears on "Games without frontiers", which was an obvious and hugely successful hit single, with satirical lyrics and infectious hooks.

"I don't remember" also features the pop basis of "Games..", with a catchy chorus supported by a pounding rhythm. It perhaps bears emphasising here that this album, in common with much of Gabriel's work, has only passing prog references, the songs being almost exclusively simplistic in composition and structure.

"And through the wire" is a fairly ordinary song, but is boosted by the presence of Paul Weller on guitar. The album finishes with a tribute to Steve Biko, who died in police custody in South Africa during the apartheid years. It's a haunting dirge, with biting lyrics and bagpipes combining in a deceptively simple structure. It contrasts perfectly with "Games without frontiers", and makes for a fine end to the album. The song also pointed the way towards his increasing involvement in "world music".

Gabriel's Genesis days were becoming a more and more distant memory with each solo album, and there's little here which would have made it onto a Genesis album. The music has little to do with prog, but it is nonetheless well presented and highly enjoyable.

Report this review (#141655)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "I don't remember, I don't recall. I have no memory, of anything at all" except for the memorable concert intro for this album's promo tour in 1981, when the arena's lights dimmed , "Intruder" blaring from the speakers and the avid fans waiting for the musicians to show up on stage. As usual with Gabriel, always expect the unexpected, especially in a theatrical live setting, where all seven musicians arrive each dressed in orange overalls, each with a portable Klieg light apparatus and each entering from a different entrance throughout the building, wildly sweeping beams of white light crisscrossing the cavernous hall's airspace. Visually spellbinding, as they meet in synchronized time, at the mixing console, seven columns of light create a pyramid like effect that has each spectator enthralled. Before a single live note is played, the accumulated fans are already hoarse from the exalted creativity of this much maligned artists. For those who incorrectly judge Gabriel as too pop for a once progressive icon, they have never attended one of his concerts! With that kind of context in proper perspective, this is undoubtedly Gabriel's solo career recording apex, a shimmering set of masterful songs, extremely progressive (the deliberate omission of any cymbals) in a percussive sense, thus giving Levin's Stick and Giblin's fretless a front and center showcase to blow the listener away (I consider this one of the finest displays of four string rumbling ever). The quality just keeps coming from "Intruder" on, with the genius simplicity of "I Don't Remember", the introspective "Family Snapshot", the imperial and apartheid critical "Biko", the Cold War sarcasm of "Games Without Frontiers" and the raging "Not One of Us". Just looking at the line up of musicians is enough to make one's head spin (Levin, Giblin, Marotta, Collins, Fast, Rhodes, Bush,.) and Peter surely delivers with some of his best vocal work ever. When music is this well slapped together, you got to give credit to his courage and his progressive attitude in creating such a milestone. Still welcome after all these years. 4 faded pics
Report this review (#144296)
Posted Saturday, October 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars A creative step forward for Gabriel sees him experimenting with darker tones and increased use of the new decade's technology, giving the listener lots of unique songs filled with his usual outstanding vocals and fine instrumental work from his guest artists. Tony Levin delivers some groovy stick work, while Fripp cranks out his usual eccentric cacophony of noise and guitar work on several songs.

The real attraction are the songs themselves though, some of which are better crafted and more imaginative than on his excellent debut; unfortunately, a little bit of '80's pop cheese sticks its ugly head out and knocks the overall quality down a notch or two. This however, is not nearly enough to prevent me from recommending "Melt" to most anyone though, especially since it contains myriad styles and sounds to please a large base of listeners.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#145159)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Conventional wisdom has it that after two mediocre albums Peter finally delivers his first great work with "Melt." Not really-he delivers a better work, but not a great one. While undeniably better than the first two, this is the third album in a row that will likely underwhelm many progressive music listeners.

Even without a real diamond in the rough such as Here Comes the Flood or Exposure, Gabriel 3 is more focused and accomplished than the first two. The tracks are mostly uptempo art-pop songs with good drumming by Collins and some backing vocals by Kate, both of which were good choices. "Start" and "Lead a Normal Life" are nice mostly instrumental interludes. The latter especially provides some fine dreamy moments of piano without vocal where one can lose themselves momentarily. "Family Snapshot" is a real standout track with a great vocal and interesting development. There are a handful of decent pop tracks like "No Self Control" and "And Through the Wire." The album's closer "Biko" is a real yawn. The album is more noteworthy for Collins excellent cymbal-free drumming than anything else. That is one thing that makes the sound progressive even though the songs really are not.

If you have only heard modern Pete and you wish to go back and discover his roots, this is clearly the album to get. It is the best of his early works. It's still of marginal interest to prog fans in the grand scope of things and 3 stars is a generous rating.

Report this review (#145446)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Everything comes together copacetically for the Gabe on his third solo album.

Everything you love about everything Peter has ever done shows up here. So why is it so succesful?

Firstly, Peter really gets a great group of musicians behind him. I can't stress that enough. A quick look at the credits should convince anybody that the musicianship behind the music comes from guys who have major chops.

Secondly, this album has a reliable and recognizable sound to it. The tracks just ooze a dark yet delicate, hypnotic atmosphere that Gabriel only aspired to in 2 and 4. This is an ALBUM, not a collection of songs like 1 was.

Also, Gabriel hits us with some of his best lyrical moments (as he was to do again in 4.) Who wasn't disturbed by "Family Snapshot" the first time he heard it? Who couldn't relate to the outcast theme in "Not One of Us"? Who didn't react to the menace of "Intruder" or the mourning tone of "Biko?" This is an album that has songs that SAY something. The power of that can't be easily ignored.

Gabriel finds his true sound here. The complicated rhythyms, the world music sounds, the stately procession of tones, and his concentration on his natural vocal range combine themselves into a wonderful melange that makes this album stand above the others.

I haven't even mentioned the songs here. Exquisitely crafted, they have a dark energy and deceptive simplicity that makes them memorable. Even the tracks that I find weaker ("And Through The Wire" and "I Don't Remember") are still solid contributions and would have been showcased on a weaker album.

So, if you have been searching for it, this is it. This is PeterGabriel's masterpiece. This is his gift to all of us who were listening to Drama and Dulke back in 1980. It's his gift to all of us who were trying to figure out where music had gone wrong.

5 stars.

Report this review (#154252)
Posted Wednesday, December 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
3 stars Peter Gabriel's third solo album (either called Peter Gabriel 3 or Melt) showed an improvement over Gabriel's preceding two efforts and an incorporation of new ideas and styles. Gabriel had acquired a recent interest in world music, particularly for percussion and this can clearly be heard on Games Without Frontiers and Biko. He brought in a new producer, Steve Lillywhite, and incorporated a lot of recording trickery and sound effects. One of the most notable changes was the used of the now-famous gated drum sound invented by Hugh Padgham and Phil Collins (who performs on this album). Gabriel also requested that his drummers not use any cymbals which helped give this album a more aggressive sound.

Lyrically and musically, Melt was much darker that Gabriel's earlier releases and many hailed it as the album they had all been waiting for him to make. To be honest, his previous two solo efforts could hardly compare to the great contributions he made during his Genesis era. To be even more honest, neither does this one. However, Melt is a significant improvement for Gabriel, who often seemed to be without direction. This album tied things together much more nicely and it shows in the performance, and especially his vocal delivery (which seemed a shadow of it's former self for quite some time). In the rock world, many consider Melt a groundbreaking effort, and maybe that is so, but try comparing this with Selling England by the Pound. See what I mean?

Melt is musically an aggressive form of pop/art rock. The pop song structures are still the same as before. Gabriel just incorporated some new sounds into it. Admittedly this is more progressive than his first two albums, albeit chiefly as tendencies rather than outright prog rock. If you're looking for any connection to early Genesis, you surely won't find it here. But if pop/art rock just bordering on progressive is your thing, this is probably one of the best to look for. It's also probably the best solo effort Gabriel ever released and I would recommend starting here. After listening to this, if you don't like it, you probably won't like any of Gabriel's other albums.

For me, I really enjoy this album. But I will be the first to admit that the progressiveness of this is far from what I wish Gabriel would have done. On a hypothetical Rock Archives site, this might be considered a masterpiece. In prog rock terms, three stars seems more suitable. Good, but not really essential.

Report this review (#164271)
Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Peter Gabriel's Melt is certainly the strongest in his series of four untitled albums. The first glimpse of World Music shines through here and while this is still clearly the work of the man behind the mic on The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway there is an increasing willingness to move further away from that. Games Without Frontiers, And Through The Wire, No Self Control and I Don't Remember are all unforgettable doses of Prog-Pop maintaining their experimental elements particularly in the percussion area. There are weaker pieces here, most obviously Lead A Normal Life but with the likes of anthem-for-peace Biko or the dark and brooding Family Snapsnot keeping the quality levels up they do little to pull the album as a whole down. While Melt is not ultimately a masterpiece it is a praiseworthy effort from an artist constantly pushing his own boat into uncharted waters.
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Posted Monday, April 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Peter Gabriel's third album is very atmospheric and his vocals really shine on this effort. Every track has a peculiar, dark ambience that reaches through and penetrates the subconscious. I have never been able to get the haunting 'Games Without Frontiers' out of my head since the first listen. The song has infamy for many reasons. It was the first breakthrough single for Gabriel worldwide since his days with Genesis. It cemented him as a solo performance with a distinctive style.

It also boasts some of the most potent lyrics of any song on the radio during 1980. And Kate Bush's beautiful enigmatic 'Jeux Sans Frontiers' that begins and ends the track is hypnotic. For years it was debatable what she was actually singing. I have heard many interpretations, some hilarious, worth quoting here. Was she singing 'She's so popular?' or 'She's a frumpy gay' or even 'Share some opium', 'Share soulful three tears' or 'She's not from the Earth.' see here for hundreds more!

'Jeux sans frontiers' is actually french for the song title. Kate Bush mispronounces the actual phrase and that's why it sounds like 'She's so popular.'

anyway, I digress... back to the album. There is so much to recommend it. Highlights include, 'And Through The Wire', 'Not One Of Us' and 'Lead A Normal Life' among others.

This one of Gabriel's best albums along with the outstanding 'Up' and 'So'. Treat your ears to it soon.

Report this review (#178144)
Posted Friday, July 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars The rumours are true. Peter's third album is where it all finally comes together. A defining moment in the shades of grey that constitutes the dividing line between prog and non-prog, it is an adventurous, uncompromising piece of artsy defiance and inclusive accessibility.

With the exception of a few tiny drops in quality, the craftsmanship behind the album is flawless. I admire the genius it takes to create such a cryptic, counter-current work as 3, Melt (or simply Masterpiece as I prefer to call it) and present it with such ease and confidence in the hands of an ever growing audience. That's the biggest illusion of them all; this is in fact a very, interesting, progressive and transcending work.

Stunningly rewarding when you dissect the songs patiently and carefully, trying to reveal all nuances and all the detail in the production I really can't choose any particular highlights. There are so many skilled musicians involved, such carefully applied judgement, boldness and drive in the production and micro-management that many of the individual songs create small worlds of feelings and imagery even while lasting for a maximum of about seven minutes. A combination of awe-inspiring drums (no cymbals!), percussion, bass and Chapman stick and an awakening interest in world music also manage to do something only rhythms of that calibre can; they not only convey the heavy emotionality and spirit of the music psychically, no, they manage to go beyond that and actually appeal to some primal, often forgotten chord within you that resonate with the purely physical part of sound.

A pounding, hollow drum beat, mischievous percussion and gnawing, mistreated guitar on The Intruder really is a kidnapping of the mind.

Suspended and vulnerable as the initial stripped-down xylophone may be on No Self Control, there's still a return to the pounding frustration and fractured fragments of sanity, efficiently portrayed by some menacing guitar and a veritable collapse out of control in the forms of brooding, powerful drums.

Family Snapshot. Melancholic, quiet beginnings, lyrically progressing with a saddening inevitability, but it's getting stronger and stronger musically, more and more charged with emotion as the discussion unfolds in the head of the assassin in the song.

Take the chance and judge the other songs for yourself. Even though it may seem to be a thoroughly dark album, there are rays of hope now and then, adding to the depth and total experience, and surprisingly there are quality rockers such as And Through The Wire and I Don't Remember to contrast to the 'heavy' stuff and give room for some air. You're going to need it in the otherwise compressed atmosphere and dense sound.

And over all this there's of course Peter Gabriel's voice. Screaming his heart out, lurking deep and restrained or painfully howling it is perfectly clear that the man is a singer of singers, with an amazing palette of emotions and sounds to his disposal. Gives me the chills.

A spectacular ride. 5 stars.


Report this review (#190710)
Posted Friday, November 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Peter Gabriel's third self titled solo album was a major break in his career. He finally found his own sound and the msuic is much more focused here than on all of his post Genesis effords. He found his voice and his style finally had come of age. It is a strange and beautiful soundscape combining the primitive (tribal percussion, punk guitars courtesy of Paul Welle of The Jam and Dave Gregory from XTC) with the modern (synths provided by the ingenious Larry Fast and Tony Levin's Chapman-Stick). The lyrics are disturbing, inteligent and inspired: he talks about racism, prejudice, war, psychopathology and general disajustments. Elaborated, complex and accessible at the same time A truly work of art.

The highlight of this very important and unique work is maybe Family Snapshot. I have never seen such deep and insightful look into a murder's life and crime in just 4 minutes and 27 seconds. The music sorounding those fantastic words matches perfectly the crime scene (and later the character's past in the last verse). Simply a unique little masterpiece. But there are really many other great moments in this CD (although none as powerful and brilliant as this particular track, but that would be asking for too much). Songs like the opener Intruder (with Phil Collins fantastic and dramatic drumming), Games Without Fronties, I Don't Remember, Biko and Not One Of Us are among his greatest ones ever.

Although Gabriel made excellent works before and after this one, this is surely his most satisfying, interesting and groundbreaking record in my opinion. Maybe his best as a whole. I don't have much more to say. Just listen and judge for yourselves. to me it is a masterpiece of prog music. An essential CD for any prog lover. 5 stars.

Report this review (#192889)
Posted Saturday, December 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
5 stars Peter Gabriel 3, 1980


There aren't many occasions where describing my reaction to the album is probably going to explain more than describing the music itself, but I think this is one of them. As soon as I first heard Intruder, I was hooked by Peter Gabriel 3, I ended up humming melodies and singing lines of it subconsciously after one listen, I took out another hour the next day to listen to it again. It completely reversed my opinion of Gabriel's career (including pieces I'd previously heard and been apathetic to) after Genesis, got me hooked enough to head off to pick up Gabriel 4 as soon as I could, and has since gone for countless spins on the various CD players around the house. It was instantly memorable, moving, interesting and stunning. There are so few albums like that out there. The album does have one slightly weaker patch (Not One Of Us), but even that's a damn strong piece in its own right, and the diversity, experimentation and arrangement prowess of the whole album makes it an essential buy for anyone.

The opening Intruder showcases all the album's merits. The arrangement is very complex and even challenging to follow, with all sorts of carefully masked synth tones and piano touches seeming fresh and unexpected as ever after what must be at least thirty or forty listens. The most obvious melodies come from the synths and a pretty much unique guitar tone, laid over the hammering Phil Collins drum part, though a couple of stretching, creaking dissonants take over from these without pause. The vocals are masterfully arranged and performed, with just the occasional hint of force between the psychopathic, rapacious, yet very controlled lead vocal, just occasionally daring to hold on a moment more to instill the sense of fear so crucial to the song. A short whistling melody leads us on without letting go of the emotion at all, before launching into the emotional resignation/certainty/need of 'I am the intruder'. The lyrics are brilliantly written, and perfectly convey the idea of Intruder with alliterative bursts, a building sense of need, of greed and even of addiction, as well as the clever metrical arrangement of 'creep across creaky wooden floor' indicating the unwanted creak of floorboards by itself. Anyway, an extremely impressive opener. Memorable from the very first listen, and yet building up more and more impact every listen. Not to mention the plain unusual nature of the lyrical content in the context of rock music (or indeed, any music). A confident and challenging opener, and one that shows that Gabriel is deadly serious about this album. Anyway, a clunky description on my part, but it's simply too complicated and multi-emotional to sum up in a few words, but too well focused to suit an enormous review.

No Self Control opens with a grabbing synth melody and launches straight into the deceptive glockenspiel part (something, and I'm not entirely sure what, makes it sound at first as if it's much faster and denser than it is... and breaking it down only provides a temporary insight. Take your attention away for just a second, and it suddenly seems very fast and dense again). A heavily treated sax part features, along with various percussion choices, adding a bit of clattering excess as well as hungry, forceful drive to the song. The amazing Kate Bush provides backing vocals (both subtly as an extra rhythm feature and harmonized to cut off Gabriel's manic 'chorus' vocals). Again, Gabriel manages to very briefly and effectively convey a complex emotion, with all sorts of ingenious flourishes, and even if it's probably not as complex as Intruder, it's equally challenging and bizarrely catchy. One of the very best songs of the 1980s, and Gabriel's vocals and lyrics are unique, interesting and very well used.

The brief Start is more of an introduction to I Don't Remember, and features a rather neat juxtaposition of the soulful clean jazzy saxophone and the occasional bass thrum with a synth undertone that becomes dissonant as the sax reaches the sort of height of its clean and rather neat solo. Very, very neat, especially as a lead-up to I Don't Remember.

I Don't Remember is the first of the album's two 'straight rockers', with a sterling performance from the unmistakable Tony Levin on a chapman stick, as well as quirky plain rocking melody underneath Robert Fripp's incredible guitar whirling and very controlled soundscape things. The vocals are simply brilliant, especially the wordless bits, and the brief electronic moments as well as the strange distorted vocal melodic lines are something that I can hear again (though not as neatly included) in quite a few of the standard radio-one things. The sort of cathartic cleansing of the gently thrumming end of the song again shows a grasp of melody, an appreciation of arrangement and an admirable neglect for genre borders. Anyway, fantastic, groundbreaking stuff and proof that people were still doing interesting and creative things in the 80s.

Family Snapshot is the album's focal point, even if it's not the only highlight, and is another really rather genreless thing, containing understated piano-and-voice parts, bursts of rock excess and even a rather big-band-esque synthesised brass part. The lack of cymbals here, in particular, calls for inventive percussion, and even makes it more effective. Despite the top notch nature of the music (particular kudos to the subtlety of the synth and bass), the emphasis is squarely on the vocals (self-harmonies and all) and the lyrics, which are simply brilliant. The sheer menace of 'I've been waiting for this' with Gabriel's gritty and emotive voice simply needs to be heard. Powerful, moving and personal.

The rocking And Through The Wire bursts out of the nothingness with its catchy, eclectic guitar riff and rather neat John Giblin bass part (and another unusual percussion performance. Sure, others at the time were fiddling around with cymbal-less percussion, but managing a straight rock piece with it is damned inventive). The lyrics and vocals are good fun, and at the same time are moving and meaningful. The gradual descent into 'we get so strange across the border' is fun, as is the reflecting piano-and-synth bookends (the latter almost always coming as a surprise... it pops in at the middle of the deceleration thing, but I'm never quite sure exactly what it's decelerating from or just exactly what paves the way for that synth to come in). Again, an extremely interesting piece.

Games Without Frontiers is probably the most openly 'pop' piece of the album, with an incredible catchiness, masses of melody, and, while the backing parts are always interesting and strong, the melodies and dynamic are so strong and well emphasised that they take most of the attention. The lyrics are typically quirky, although still classy and clever, and the vocals are a pretty weird sort of non-specific-nationality style. The synth sound is simply awe-inspiringly good, with a sharpness and edge about it, as is the synth-bass and the incredibly well-arranged little electronic section at the end of the song. Finally, a note for the performance of the album: Kate Bush's backing vocals on this one are simply amazing. Just so incredibly silky, soft and capable. I mean. Wow. Anyway, great tune, and evidence that pop can, in fact, be progressive, in case anyone's still in doubt about that.

Not One Of Us is certainly the weakest song of the album (at least, in my view), even if it remains an extremely interesting piece, and very well arranged (particularly the little bit of interplay between the bass and the vocals), it ends up being admirable for its intelligence rather than its emotion. The vocals are again, excellent, and the synth tones and general Frippery are definitely challenging, interesting, and creative stuff (three adjectives that really do sum up this album). The piece does pick up towards the end, with the sort of freakishly twisted worldy mass vocal + drums contrasting with Gabriel's main vocal. Still, a very strong piece, just not as moving as the rest of the album, perhaps due to the viewpoint that Gabriel takes.

The beautiful Lead A Normal Life is (at least, in my eyes) a sort of sequel to Family Snapshot, with brief, and rather haunting vocals in between two insrumental atmosphere creatures, with another deceptive glockenspiel part, ethereal piano, some very subdued drums and the occasional wail of force and straight-out-rebellion, as well as a bizarre treated sax part. Incredible stuff.

The grandiose Biko really takes on the world vibe that's been carried by a lot of the percussion throughout, with a very interesting synthesised bagpipe from Larry Fast. The arrangement is simple, the melodies obvious, the performances all sound relatively simple compared to the previous ones, but still it simply has effect, it has power. The momentum, the basic appeal, the universalism of the song is unstoppable. Gabriel's lyrics take on a bitter irony, while the vocals give a straight, one-dimensional answer. The whole feel of the piece is simply so strong it takes away any quibblings and leaves behind just one statement. The final sharp drum thu-thud echoes the initial sound of Intruder a bit, rounding off the album to good effect.

Don't think there's much more for me to say. Forgive the rather clunky description of Intruder, and go ahead and buy this album as soon as possible. Superb, superb stuff.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: Intruder, No Self Control, And Through The Wire and Games Without Frontiers are all favourites. No Self Control, if I had to choose.

Report this review (#196446)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After a very good debut album and an irregular (although still good) sophomore effort, Peter Gabriel found himself facing the arrival of the 80s within a changing musical scene with its corresponding changing avant-garde scene. This was the time in which he grew more interested in the textural use of modern musical technology and, most of all, the amalgamation of exotic (African, Asian and Arabic) rhythms and cadences within a pop-rock framework. His quest was one of music that could be attractive while tremendously innovative, cleverly conceived while retaining a strong emotional expression. You can really feel the tension within the intruder's mind on the great opener 'Intruder' through the distant, mysterious vibe that flood the song's melodic development and menacing rhythmic drive. Things become more explicit for the next one, 'No Self Control', an exciting tale of compulsion whose explosive density flows only on a subtle level until the frenzy interlude brings an orgy of drums and percussion in parallel with Gabriel's augmented chanting and guest Kate Bush's demented harmonies. Great, really great, so far so great. Next is the paring of the pairing of the brief ethereal instrumental 'Start' and the neurotic rocker 'I Don't Remember'. The latter sounds quite close to 80s King Crimson with an extra touch of stylish post-punk. The other rockers 'And Through the Wire' and 'Not One of Us' are also quite entertaining and cleverly structured, let alone bearers of a modern sound, but they are really a bit far from the compelling greatness of 'I Don't Remember': you might as well call this as the last great rock song by Peter Gabriel. In between these rockers are two great examples of Gabriel's signature style: 'Family Snapshot' is a slow piece with a mysterious vibe wrapped in an elegant dramatic mood; 'Games Without Frontiers' is a dynamic exercise on psychedelic pop-rock filled with sophisticated exotic rhythmic sources. However, the exotic thing will be properly highlighted in the last two tracks. 'Lead a Normal Life' brings a dreamy atmosphere dominated by ethnic percussions and eerie synth layers/effects, with Gabriel delivering a very short vocal section somewhere in the middle. 'Biko' is one of the most enduring political songs ever written by Gabriel: this hymn to the assassinated human rights' leader from South Africa has a very emotional commitment to the causes of life and freedom, with the syncopated pace serving as a provider of strength and consistency. A lovely tune that conveniently closes down this cornerstone album in Gabriel's career. Album no. 4 will enhance and complete the definitive Gabriel's signature sound a couple of years later, but that's a matter fro another review somewhere else.
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Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a stunning LP and one that absolutely justifies a 5 star rating. I still remember the thrill of buying it when released as a spotty 16 year old, and the feeling hasn't really left me.

Intruder is a strong opening with menacing drum work from Phil Collins that influenced a whole new generation of rock drummers.

No Self Control was a great single, and the first Kate Bush & PG collaboration. The live version was, for me, a little too slow, but fascinating with the menacing towers threatening Gabriel on stage. The original studio version, though, is far better with a rich cacaphony of sound.

Start is a nice keyboard solo which leads onto I Don't Remember, a rocking pop song which should be played after each & every drunken bender!

Family Snapshot, for me, is one of the finest songs ever written, by Gabriel or anyone else. A mournful ballad about an assassin, it does have a twist when the plaintive vocals at the end revert to a deeply sad child mourning the loss of his parents marriage. My parents divorced at about this time, and the song still has a deep resonance. It is backed by very strong woodwind and guitar samples.

And Through the Wire could be compared to a Northern Ireland scenario, or Gaza in modern times, and is the most rock orientated track on the LP with fine guitar backing, but also a lovely synth sample backing Gabriel in the middle section.

Games without Frontiers needs no deep analysis - it was the single which, I think, brought Gabriel to the attention of a new audience previously sceptical about his prog roots. The video was fun, and it is simply a class pop single. For those of you unfamiliar with Kate Bushs' referral to Jeux Sans Frontiers, look it up on YouTube (under It's a Knockout in English).

Not One of Us is probably the weakest track on the LP, but it is still a fine rock track that has you tapping your toes in appreciation.

Lead a Normal Life is the only really experimental track, and Gabriel evokes images of a political institution under a dictatorship with soulful vocals and plaintive synth and percussion backing.

And so.. to Biko. Quite simply the finest political song ever recorded and the reason why Gabriel was top of the UK National Union of Students polls for many years afterwards. This track starts stunningly with the actual recording of tribesmen at Biko's funeral - it also ends the track before a crashing drum rattle. The chorus has had me shouting myself horse every time I have seen him do it live, the drums by Collins are again incredible. This track really has it all, including a very simple, but effective, guitar chord by David Rhodes.

This is an essential purchase for all prog music fans - no hesitation in giving it top marks. A work of genius from the genius!

Report this review (#200721)
Posted Monday, January 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is my favorite solo effort from Peter Gabriel. It's a dark album filled with sparse minimalist compositions; the imagery this music conjures is like a bleak monochromatic painting of an industrial wasteland. Depressive but ultimately fascinating and strangely beautiful.

'Intruder' is my favorite song Gabriel has recorded post-Genesis. Creepy metallic scratching noises adorn an alienated bare-framed drum beat. The creepy vocal deliver paints a very surreal and nightmarish picture... it creates a feeling of paranoia and isolation in the listener. Very powerful... this is Peter Gabriel's dark masterpiece.

'I Don't Remember' is another favorite of mine. Like 'Intruder' this has an almost Industrial feel to it. The beat is robotic and disaffected. The relentless bass line seems to be the only organic element in the entire soundscape... which again paints desolate pictures of urban sprawl in ruins.

'Games Without Frontiers' is an absolute classic. It's a more lively composition than most on this album, but it still has an intangible feeling of distance and coldness. It features an excellent use of early drum machines and icy synthetic sounds.

Overall this is a very good and unclassifiable album that is very far removed from Symphonic Prog, but it is very progressive and challenging in it's own idiosyncratic way. 3.5 stars.

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Posted Saturday, February 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Games without frontiers...

Peter Gabriel's thrid studio album, and not a bad effort, I must say. Several of the melodies are memorable and catchy, while not delving too deep into pop. Although I would consider this an art pop album above any other genre terms. The progressiveness of some tracks are lacking, and the drumming/percussion while good at times, somewhat bored me.

The songs follow a sparse and slightly dark tone throughout. highlights including Games without Frontiers, and Biko. Everything else is slightly memorable pop with a dark tone, and good lyrics. Lacking in progressiveness, scope, and technicality, the record seems to stumble at times, and prevents itself from achieving what I feel t could have if given a bit of a formula change. Although I did enjoy this record, I can;t say it stuck out in my mind very much at all after a few listens.

At the end of the day, this is a solid art pop record, with some pessimistic undertones, and a few instances of unusual or eastern drumming. Three Stars.

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Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Best Bounceback of All Time

In 1980, Peter Gabriel released III / Melt, arguably the best album of his career. After the exploratory debut and extremely lackluster follow-up, PG finally discovered his solo identity. Discarding modern pop rock for electronic studio experimentation, Gabriel established the sound and style that would carry him for the rest of his career (though he would add world music increasingly into the formula over time). Never before had he used his voice so much as a sonic instrument, never before had he successfully recorded the full breadth of his vocal range, and certainly never before had he ventured so wide with keyboard textures.

Designing an almost completely new sound for himself, Gabriel adopted a "no-cymbals" credo for his rhythm parts, a move that turn long time drummer Jerry Marotta from a solid session player into one of the most interesting percussionists on record. Phil Collins also returns and this record marks his first recorded use of the reverse gated drum sound that he would later use in the most famous drumming of all time, on his huge hit "In the Air Tonight." A variety of bass sounds are used - from Tony Levin's Chapman stick, to John Giblin's fretless work, to bass synths by Gabriel and Larry Fast. Building the songs bit by bit up from very consciously composed rhythm parts rather than stock beats, Gabriel adopts a new way of constructing music, with all textures being part of a whole.

Interestingly, while going beyond a normal singer-songwriter format, Gabriel succeeds in producing some of his best lyrics and vocal performances. Despite numerous vocal effects and layers, the words come out more clearly than either of his first two albums, and he is able to convey sadness, menace, humor, desperation, and hope with his full conviction.

1. Intruder - The first sounds we hear are Phil Collins' colossal drum beats, which were a very novel sound at the time. Gabriel takes the most progressive track on Scratch (Exposure) and improves it in every aspect. A more elaborate lyric and a scary vocal announce that the last album is being left firmly behind. Armed with new energy, PG is jumping headfirst into an experimental realm, what most fans had hoped for from the beginning. The bone-chilling whistle at the end of the song reminds of moments from Genesis, but Gabriel's development as an artist, his increased command of his sonic palette, has gone far beyond anything he did with his former band.

2. No Self Control - Astoundingly, the music gets more intense and frankly better on the second song. Collins plays like a demon on this tune, his work certainly spurring the change in Marotta's style. A textural masterpiece, the bell sounds and creepy guitar sounds make me think Robert Fripp must have contributed significantly to this song. The fretless bass is monstrous, the dynamics incredible.

3. Start - A brief instrumental break with heavily reverbed sax, this serves mainly as a transition between two extremely intense songs.

4. I Don't Remember - This is the first song to have a pop sound on the record. Still, the lyric and tone are quite dark and Gabriel relies heavily on a distorted vocal sound that appears on numerous songs on the album. This time, it is Tony Levin on the Chapman stick that provides the phenomenal bass work that act as the primary accompaniment. Some of my favorite lyrics appear here like "Stop staring at me like a bird of prey," and the entire first verse.

5, Family Snapshot - This song is a triumph, a perfect example of how far Peter has come since Scratch. Some of the basic theme is similar to PG II's opener "On the Air," but here the sophistication has been deepened by about 4 to 5 layers. The single phrase "Shoot into the Light" has so many implied meanings (compared to the straightforward Scratch lyrics) that despite hundreds of listenings, I find myself discovering new meanings found in this song. The dynamics here range from gentle and spare to accelerated and manic. Hidden behind the Lee Harvey Oswald ? like story is a more universal statement about the need to find meaning and recognition. The metaphor does have some limits, but Gabriel's vocal performance (perhaps the best of his career) makes this song drip with meaning and emotion.

6. And Through the Wire - This is the only song that harkens back to the style of the second album, though it's much better executed than any of those songs. Here the repeated refrain does get old, which happens nowhere else on the record. Still, the song is listenable and is only a minor hiccup on an otherwise flawless album.

7. Games Without Frontiers - Combining pop sensibility, one of the best opening lyric lines in history, and a chilling vocal from Kate Bush, this song once again showcases how far Gabriel has come as a composer and artist. Unashamedly electronic, the song still holds up 30 years later which is astounding given its reliance on technology.

8. Not One of Us - This one opens with a multi-colored texture feast courtesy of Gabriel and Fripp before settling into a dark pop song. The lyric is about division of ideas rather than the usual superficial demarcations, suggesting almost a scary need to segregate.

9. Lead a Normal Life - This one is a slow burner. A beautiful bell rhythm and almost ambient piano yield to distorted dissonance, perfectly depicting a mental patient in a pastoral asylum. Truly chilling, the song begs the question ? are we the patients and who is holding back the knives?

10. Biko - This compelling protest song about how the death of Stephen Biko brought attention to apartheid is a perfect ending to this near perfect album. Simultaneously beautiful and dark, armed with dead serious lyrics delivered with raw emotion, this song embodies everything that made this album work and the previous one fail. It also hints at the depths to which future work would rely on world rhythms and tonalities.

Gabriel took huge risks on this album, and in the end provided fans with perhaps the best music his genius would ever create. Interestingly, the record company dropped him for this record and only later came crawling back after it became clear what a monumental (and popular) piece of work this would be. It is the freshness of that risk that makes this album so powerful. Later albums continue to include phenomenal pieces of music in the style established here, but never quite capture Gabriel's desperation and full creativity simultaneously like this. It is an absolute masterpiece, a must have piece of every prog collection.

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Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Have you ever listened to an album and suddenly been hit by a strange sense of nostalgia? It's almost as though you're overwhelmed with this funny feeling that you were first in line when the album hit the market?or right there, with the band members, during the drama bleeding from the nine-month series of unproductive recording sessions?or nonchalantly playing an eight-track version of the album on your truck's then-new eight-track player, during some epic, cross-country road trip?or whatever. I'm sure everybody reading this has experienced it. It's this profoundness that sort of imbibes you with a feeling that the album you're listening to has a timelessness that's bigger and badder than you, or any person listening, for that matter. If you're not picking up on my descriptive vocabulary like I hope you would, I guarantee you ? if you've ever listened (not heard, LISTENED) to the Beatles, you've surely experienced this sort of feeling. However, this isn't about the Beatles (and may not ever be ? reviewing the Beatles would poop me out)?it's about somebody long since forgotten about in the mainstream; somebody who was instrumental in the development of modern music in ways most people don't realize: Peter Gabriel, or rather his third, untitled album ? I'll just call it Melt.

What's so alluring about this album that warrants all the fun descriptiveness and such? Several things, really.

If there were one aspect of this album that I think should spark some curiosity, it would have to be this: it was the very first album to be recorded entirely with digital technology. Yes, folks, Petey was the first to tread the waters of modern technology?and MAN, does he succeed. One would expect some sloppiness in the production because of how relatively new all that crap was, but that couldn't be farther from the truth - Steve Lilywhite, the producer, knew what he was working with from the very beginning. The production, in general, was very unusual for its time ? the drums were entirely without cymbals, the sound has a huge emphasis on the middle-upper register of sound (which gives it a cold, metallic feeling), and everything has a "mashed potatoes" sort of feeling; most of the instruments and sounds are blended together?and what does musical "mashed potatoes" sound like? Chaos. But even with this revolution in sound, the album still sounds rather dated?but that's a given, due to the embryonic state digital technology was still in.

With that, the album is dark ? VERY dark. Not only is it dark in terms of lyrical content, but also in the songwriting, production, instrumentation, and arrangement. After leaving Genesis and stumbling to find his identity with his first two solo albums (which will be reviewed eventually, once I pick up copies of both and listen to them again), it was his third album where he finally found his footing. Let it be known right now - the results were not cheerful. Every thread of this album sounds dark, cold, and depressing. Leading off with the menacing Intruder (which is literally about an intruder who knows every which way to break into somebody's home, and its aggressive, pounding drum beat (courtesy of Phil Collins), it becomes immediately certain that we're probably not gonna come out of this one with an outlook on life having to do with puppy dogs and ice cream. This is not a world where happy roams free. I think you get the message.

As for the music itself: if you were expecting it to be extremely dark and menacing, to a threshold of where it becomes too harsh and unlistenable, this is hardly the case ? this album is beautiful. But how can something so dark and gritty-sounding be so beautiful? Peter Gabriel approached it in a way that somehow made the sheer darkness not only listenable, but also very, very accessible. The melodies are catchy, the rhythms are infectious, the musicianship is outstanding, and the lyrical delivery is irresistible. The album is very moody, but not in the sense of it sounding blue- and red- and yellow- and black- and white, over the course of the album, but rather it warps through different shades of black and grey. Every song on here is dark, but Peter presents the music in a way that plays more on the emotions felt from all of these somber situations. We jump all over the emotional smorgasbord, from the ominous "Intruder," to the schizophrenic "No Self Control," to the gritty angst of "I Don't Remember," to the melancholic sadness of "Family Snapshot," to the longing "And Through The Wire," to the playful irony of "Games Without Frontiers," to the disassociated "Not One Of Us," to the self-reflecting "Lead A Normal Life," and finally to the grandiose, world music-influenced march of "Biko" (which acts as an emotional reaction to a man being assassinated). Peter Gabriel has always been known for his intense emotional range, but here he manages to keep it within pretty solid boundaries; the whole album seems to have a purpose and a goal: to illustrate what a person feels in a darkened state of consciousness, in all sorts of different scenarios.

I'll refrain from going into the music in too great of detail ? I think it's meant to be heard to be fully understood, as with any piece of music. This album can easily win as Peter Gabriel's most defining moment, in his 30-plus year solo career. Neither before nor after did he ever manage to pack such an emotional punch that managed to keep such a tight amount of focus. The sound, like I said, is rather dated, but in a way that provides a certain sense of nostalgia of the glorious beginning of digital technology, and the many, many 80's clichés that this album helped create. The dated feeling slightly harms the final product in ways that prevent it from being an ABSOLUTE masterpiece, but not by much.

Take it from me: this is THE definitive Peter Gabriel moment, as far as his solo career is concerned. While it may not be quite as catchy as what came after it, it's still incredibly enjoyable. Give it a listen and decide for yourself whether or not it's all hype.

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Posted Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Third attempt: it's getting better!

When Peter Gabriel left Genesis to pursue a solo career, he wasn't quite ready yet to go about it on his own. This is evident on his first two solo releases that, despite a couple of strong moments on the debut, lacked direction. Apart from the wonderful Family Snapshot, there is nothing here that is quite as good as Solsbury Hill or Here Comes The Flood from the debut, but the strength of this third album lies in its consistency. Gabriel finally seemed to have a picture, an overall vision of where he was going and what he wanted to do and that made the much needed difference. Peter Gabriel 3 (aka "Melt" due to the cover art) thus was the best Peter Gabriel solo album up to that point (and possibly ever). Even his voice seems to be invigorated by the improvement in the song writing department and the production is also much improved over the weak Peter Gabriel 2 album.

Instead of jumping from one style to another, there is a nice flow to this album with each song more naturally following the previous one. This is still not Prog in any sense of the word and only glimpses of Gabriel's old band can be detected here (and this is really more similar to post-Gabriel Genesis than to anything from the time when Gabriel was in the band). In my opinion, Gabriel never managed to do anything that surpasses (post-Gabriel) Genesis.

Interestingly, Gabriel's old band mate Phil Collins guests on drums here. Larry Fast, Tony Levin and Robert Fripp return to provide synthesizers, bass and guitar respectively. Kate Bush contributes background vocals.

If you want to explore Peter Gabriel's solo career, the present album is a good place to start

Report this review (#226535)
Posted Monday, July 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Peter Gabriel" (sometimes titled "Peter Gabriel 3 - Melt") is the 3rd full-length studio album by UK pop/rock artist Peter Gabriel. The album was released in May 1980 and features "Biko" and "Games Without Frontiers", which are two of his best known songs. The album was also released in a German language version titled "Ein deutsches Album", probably as a result of Peter Gabriel´s dedicated German audience.

As with most of Peter Gabriel´s solo albums, "Peter Gabriel 3 - Melt" features quite a few prolific session musicians. Among others Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Phil Collins, Robert Fripp and Kate Bush.

The music on the album is mainstream oriented pop/rock with some alternative/experimental elements, a world music influence and a tiny nod towards progressive rock. Peter Gabriel´s distinct voice is in focus most of the time on the vers/chorus structured tracks. All tracks are pretty easily accessable but few leave a lasting impression as few of them feature catchy choruses. The closing track "Biko" is the track that made most of an impression on me with it´s african percussion and african choir type singing. Not that it´s especially great, but more because it´s a very different sounding track compared to the rest. The material are generally composed in a competent manner, but as mentioned the tracks are not that catchy. "Peter Gabriel 3 - Melt" is an album I´ve listened to quite a few times, and I still can´t remember more than a couple of tracks off it.

The sound production is professional, well sounding, and suits the music well. I guess this is what you´d call clever pop/rock with it´s slight experimental touches, high level musicianship and sophisticated lyrics, but personally I prefer pop/rock which are either more experimental or more hook laden and catchy than this. To my ears "Peter Gabriel 3 - Melt" falls between two chairs and quite frankly it just doesn´t excite me one bit. It´s still a quality release in many ways though and a 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong.

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Posted Friday, July 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another masterpiece of the Genius of Peter Gabriel. The beginning is "Intruder". Very serious, the affrican percussion along with some sound like an old opening door. Games without frontier is really nice, the lyrics are just fantastic. Biko is also really good. This album is so good that when I was in Germany for the first time I also bought the German version in which the genius sings in German. German does not adapt so well to this tracks. So for the first time I recommend the English version. It was a really pity that Peter did not do this in Spanish. I think it will not sound as good as in English. Very good!!
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Posted Saturday, September 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars I doubt that Gabriel will ever again release an album as wild and adventurous as this one! The previous statement can be considered both a good thing, since Peter Gabriel 3 - "Melt" will always remain a unique album and bad one since... well I'm sure that you can name the reasons yourself.

Although Biko is considered somewhat of a classic I never really truly love that track and instead turned my attention to the great album opener Intruder, the mellow and subtle Family Snapshot and my all-time favorite Gabriel composition beautifully titled Lead A Normal Life. Besides the music my second favorite thing about this album is the cover art which I completely adore. In fact, I love it so much that I even purchased a vinyl copy of the record and hanged it up on a wall. This have shocked a few of my friends but so far no negative remarks or any critique has been addressed towards this my choice my fine art gallery.

This release made Gabriel an artist in his own right leaving Genesis sound far behind. A definitive Art-Rock masterpiece and a must have in you progressive rock music collection!

***** stars songs: Intruder (4:54) No Self-Control (3:55) Family Snapshot (4:28) Games Without Frontiers (4:06) Not One Of Us (5:22) Lead A Normal Life (4:14)

**** star songs: Start (1:21) I Don't Remember (4:41) And Through The Wire (5:00) Biko (7:32)

Total Rating: 4,60

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Posted Saturday, December 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars What got into Peter? Right from the first second this album nails your head to the floor. After two directionless albums, the forceful percussive beat and weird instrumentation of Intruder is the most exciting thing Gabriel had recorded in his entire career. Regardless how good he was with Genesis, this album writes music history, almost for its entire 45 minute length.

The most remarkable innovation is the world music inspired percussion. Jerry Marotta was forbidden to use any cymbals and the resulting effect of the dry and powerful tribal rhythms is crushing. Some uncanny guitar, piano chorus effects and amazing vocals create a stunning masterpiece. Most of the album follows in the same path, combining clever songwriting with African percussion and beats. Highlights are plenty, No Self Control, Games of Frontiers and Biko are well known classics, but also the upbeat I Don't Remember and Not One Of Us never cease to amaze me. The minimalist Lead A Normal Life is very powerful, even if it just has some repetitive piano, vibes and Gabriel's distorted vocals in the background. Actually, only the awkward And Through The Wire reminds us of the albums that preceded.

While not his best in my book, this is easily Gabriel's most defining album, it's a groundbreaking experiment that is blessed with superb compositions, originality and unconventional musicianship. Prog was dead, but music was alive and kicking in 1980.

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Posted Saturday, January 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars It may seem like I'm giving everything 5*, but I'm starting by loading/listing my very favorite albums of all time. The real classics. So bear with me.

I didn't really get into this until the mid 80s, and not even sure why I started getting into Gabriel. This was before I appreciated/knew about the greatness of 70s Genesis. I was a 70s kid into hard rock, trying to change with the times and find something in 80s music that I could like. So when I found this, I just thought this was complete perfection. What "synth rock" should sound like. It was nice to have a real classic of the time in the 80s when so much of the commercial music at the time was disposable. So different from 70s era Genesis, but almost as great. His best solo album in my opinion.

I think most fans of his solo albums would agree. Although So and Up I think are fantastic as well.

Report this review (#273750)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars I'm truthfully surprised this album is rated so high. I mean I really enjoy it but it's prog-pop, not the everyday prog fan's cup of tea. In fact, I thought many would despise it...

However I absolutely adore this album. Simply good pop music, what pop was supposed to sound like.

Intruder introduces us to the overall sound of the album, aggressive and abrasively powerful pop. Gabriel screeches out the lyrics in a very un-human way to give the song a mechanical feeling, something you get from the album alot.

No Self Control is more mechanical sounding prog-pop but this is much more catchy than Intruder.

Start is a short little sax intro for I Don't Remember which is a massive pop rock track that is one of Gabriel's defining moments. Catchy and complex, every prog fan's dream (don't know about the catchy part).

Family Snapshot is a soft piano-driven ballad in which Gabriel puts alot of emotion into his vocals. It reminds me pretty clearly of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway-type music.

And Through the Wire is a mediocre little pop tune that somehow gets stuck in your head so it's not a total fail.

Games Without Frontiers is the best track on the album, another catchy, complex, and mechanical sounding tune. The chorus is also pretty meaningful: "If looks could kill they probably will in games without frontiers, war without tears."

Not One of Us recalls I Don't Remember and keeps the mood and emotion that song had with a slightly different beat. Catchy and original all the same.

Lead A Normal Life is a slow track that is just downright beautiful, I nice shift in mood from the aggressive music before it. The piano just kind of plucks your heartstrings.

Biko is another great track, slow and soft but catchy and still pretty pop-laden. It's a great track and one of Gabriel's greatest.

It's pop, a lot of proggers apparently got over it. I did too haha. Great album, barely missing the 5 star mark.

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Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I need to begin stating here that my love for Genesis is inmense. But I don't have any respect for the solo recordings from Peter Gabriel. They are not my cup of tea, except this one who has a special place on my heart. I remember all of It. Singing "Biko" with a lot of friends beer in hand and watching the videos in MTV. Those were the days and I feel the same way almost 30 years later. The band He gathered for this album is impressive, listen to the fretless bass and the drums without any cymbals to feel what's was cooking inside gabriel's mind. Surely my favorite from the bunch. By the way "I Don´t Remember" I think is the best song He ever wrote hands down. Did I say I love Gabriel. I do.
Report this review (#296028)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars NO CYMBOLS! I read that BRUFORD and COLLINS were going nuts--it was so hard for them to not hit cymbols. There are so many great reviews above. I have very little to add. Does anyone remember the gorgeous song "Shossalosa" on the 'B-side' of the "Biko" EP? Some of the songs here do not stand up as well over time (IMO), but the creative, innovative genius behind this album cannot be denied. I like the comparison to TALKING HEADS' Remain in Light, for "'Melt'" is definitely on a creative par. Only, Remain in Light stands up better over the years. I also agree with the reviewers' averages: This album rates right up there with Passion and Us as Gabe's three best solo albums. Plus he actually got Kate to sing with him! This is also the album that "invents" the gated drum effect. And previews Gabe and Kate's infatuation with drum machines and the Fairlight CMI.
Report this review (#299348)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rarely is an artist able to mix artistry and listenability in such a graceful manner that the two become indistinguishable. Of course, I suppose if anyone was going to do it it was Peter Gabriel, who, not satisfied with being in the greatest progressive rock band to ever exist, decided he would like to be one of the most intelligent, influential and marketable pop acts in the world as well, mixing his prog chops with the newly emergent world music scene to create a masterpiece that can't be easily defined as either prog or pop, but which slides comfortably into either arena.

It's easy to understand(and equally easy to mock) why Atlantic Records would drop Gabriel from their label after hearing pieces of this album: There's a nervous tone to the album, a seeping paranoia that can't be easily identified, that they were scared would frighten away a mainstream audience. When you have an opener like "Intruder", a song sung from the perspective of a burglar that uses tool sound effects, monstrous falsettos and whispered verses about the joys of home invasion to frighten the listener into submission, you can see why a manager wouldn't think that this album would light the sales charts on fire. And when you hear the next song, "No Self Control", a nervous breakdown driven by a xylophone, you'd be booting the man out on his behind faster than you can say "Billboard 200".

If you had waited a minute, however, you would have heard "I Don't Remember", a song which takes the dark, frantic themes of the first two songs and sculpting them into a dance track that's one part Brian Eno and one part Human League, you would've realized that you had a hit single on your hands. And if you had waited until the next song, "Family Snapshot", you'd have realized you missed the opportunity to release what is easily one of the greatest songs ever written: Focusing on the Kennedy assasination as told from the viewpoint of Lee Harvey Oswald, the listener is forced to sit inside the mind of the killer, letting the tension build and build to such grand proportions that by the time the song's quiet, heartbreaking denouement arrives one might be moved to tears at the plight of one of the most hated men in American history. It is not only Peter Gabriel's finest song, it is not only one of the greatest progressive rock songs of all time, and it is not only one of the greatest songs of the '80s. It has the distinction of not only being completely incomparable, but being one of the greatest songs of all time, in any era, in any context.

The second half of the album is as jammed with as many pop hits as it is experimental pieces, and only one of them, "Not One Of Us", straddles the line uncomfortably and becomes the album's only dud. The rest are spectacular. "And Through The Wire" is a touching, fast moving ballad about the pains of being in a long-distance relationship, and it goes without saying that "Games Without Frontiers" is a classic, a brooding, dramatic single that's still played on the radio to this day thanks to the rare mix of catchiness, deathly serious gravity and radio-friendly runtime. "Lead a Normal Life" is a quiet, reflective piece about being caged in a rehabilitative center of some kind, and is more notable for its subtle ambiance than its compelling content. The album concludes with "Biko", and introduces a case where I have no idea how this song became a radio hit. That isn't an insult-the song is a touching tribute to anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, and it's long, slow and thoughtful, just in the way that such subject matter should be handled. It simply lacks a "hook" to grab in the average listener. Still, anomaly that it is, it's certainly a welcome one.

Don't mistake this album for being a pop record-it isn't one. Don't mistake it for being a progressive rock record, either, however, as it isn't that either. It is one of the rare cases where the usually pretentious and unnecessary term "art rock" can be applied, a work that combines rock and roll with experimental electronica and instrumental influences from all across the globe to create an album that is designed to appeal to everyone from the most snobbish "high-culture" music aficionado to the most lackadaisical radio maven. It is one of my favorite albums, and if you let its layers seep over you it may become yours, too. "Melt" is a classic no matter who you talk to, and no matter what kind of music you enjoy.

Report this review (#299434)
Posted Friday, September 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Gabriel's strongest post-Genesis release, album number 3(known by fans as 'Melt'), found the singer moving yet further away from his theatrical prog roots, now weaving a bold, avant-garde- tinged, electric post-pop sound featuring a stew of bleakly ironic lyrics and experimental twists that mined a clever balance between his artistic ambitions and his commercial aspirations. Ably assisted by, amongst others, bassist Tony Levin, Synergy's synth-wizard Larry Fast, guitarist Paul Weller(yes, that one) and former bandmate Phil Collins on drums, '3' starts off with the darkly-paranoid 'Intruder', a song written by Gabriel especially for the slick new 'gated reverb' drum sound that he and Collins had stumbled across during recording sessions (the new sound would be used cunningly by Collins for his mega hit 'In The Air Tonight', as well as by Genesis for their song 'Mama'). Filled with a foreboding sense of dread and wonder, 'Intruder' is a slyly laconic and highly-atmospheric piece, with Gabriel's daunting lyrics undercut by Collins slow, simple, rocksteady drumming and Levin's slithery bass. The effect is both unsettling yet uplifiting, showcasing Gabriel's ability to insert pop hooks into the most avant- garde of material yet still retain popular appeal. Elsewhere on '3' Gabriel conjures up chart- bothering electro-pop('Games Without Frontiers'), retro indie ('I Don't Remember'), and, most memorably, catchy metallic pop with the anthemic 'And Through The Wire', which features blistering rhythm guitar from Weller and some ambitious synth workouts courtesy of Mr Fast. Both original in sound(and technique) and highly inventive, Gabriel's third self-titled album proves a marked improvement on both his slickly-produced debut and it's indulgent, lacklustre follow-up. Miles away from his previous incarnation as the lead singer of Genesis, '3' is the sound of a complex musician in full flow and his finest album to date. Fans of Genesis might not know what to make of it all, though those who admire the likes of Talking Heads, Talk Talk, The Smiths and Silver Apples should certainly investigate. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Report this review (#353474)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I have to agree with Finnforest when he says that this record along with Gabriel's first two studio albums are underwhelming. Wow 1980 was such a good year for me and the song "Games Without Frontiers" was all over the radio here in Canada at that time. I still love that tune. In fact Gabriel has released a few songs that i'm a big fan of.The problem for me is that the rest of his music does little for me. And this his most popular album is no exception. Lots of great guest appearances on this one as well. It's interesting to hear the BRAND X combo of Phil Collins and Morris Pert on the first two tracks.

"Intruder" opens with drums as experimental sounds join in. Reserved vocals around a minute. Percussion follows. Whistling comes in late to end it. "No Self Control" is vocal and percussion led early. It kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes then the opening soundscape returns to end it. "Start" is a short piece with synths and sax. "I Don't Remember" has Levin with his Stick along with Fripp on his guitar. A catchy tune. "Family Snapshot" opens with piano and reserved vocals. It builds then kicks in before 2 minutes.Sax too. A calm before 3 1/2 minutes to end it.

"And Through The Wire" picks up quickly.The guitar, vocals and drums standout. A real toe tapper. "Games Without Frontiers" sounds like it was stuck on this album from another recording session. I mean it sounds nothing like the other tracks. Kate Bush adds some backing vocals here.Easily my favourite track. "Not One Of Us" has some prominant bass and guitar on it. Fripp guests here.This one's catchy and it turns more intense late. "Lead A Normal Life" opens with some light instrumental music before the reserved vocals arrive after 1 1/2 minutes.The vocals are brief as it turns instrumental again to end it. Cool song. "Biko"is a powerful song that opens and closes with African singing. A top 3 track for sure.

A good album but I don't seem to enjoy it nearly as much as most do. Underwhelmed.

Report this review (#376390)
Posted Saturday, January 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fripp is no longer producer but appears here again with Tony Levin(pre-Discipline of course), and synthesist Larry Fast and drummer Jerry Marotta are back as well. In addition, somebody named Phil Collins, Kate Bush and Paul Weller are on this album. Weller was from The Jam, one of the most popular bands in the UK when this album was released. The producer is now Steve Lillywhite, who will go on to work with U2. This was a #1 album in the UK and his former band Genesis was also topping the UK charts the same year. Within seven years they both will become hugely popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

This was a unique album in many ways, most notable are the use of the then brand new Fairlight, a sampler/digital synth; as well as drummers Marotta and Collins being forbidden to use cymbals. Instead of using the handy hi-hat, they were now forced to make good use of the snare rim and tom-toms. This made the music have an 'African' feel sometimes, which was popular at the time with some New Wave and post-punk groups. Gabriel at the time offered to make several versions of the album in different languages; for whatever reason, then West Germany was the only country to take up the offer. Thus this third, still untitled album, as well as the fourth untitled album(to be called "Security" in the US) were released in German versions.

According to legend, the opening track "Intruder" was the first ever use of the now famous "gated drum" sound. This became a staple of 1980s rock music, and like all good ideas quickly became overused. This song is very creepy yet strangely melodic in places. I like the elastic band sound of the guitars. A marimba 'solo' in the middle. Nice "hey, hey" vocals. Cool guitar string scratching near the end. "No Self Control" has an interesting mix of Fairlight and marimba. The vocals are catchy here. I like when the drums and guitar come in, great part. Kate does some background vocals later in this song.

"I Don't Remember" is a great song. Levin makes good use of the Chapman Stick here. The chorus is really good and catchy. Nice processed, atmospheric guitar during the verses. I like Peter's imitation of Tarzan in this song. Love how the song gets slowed down near the end. "And Through The Wire" is the only song featuring Weller. This is another great song with a great chorus. The verses are just as good as the choruses. "Games Without Frontiers" was the big single from the album, and the best song on it. Great minimalist guitars here. Love the whistling-like synth melody during the chorus. Kate's vocals are great; she is singing in French about dogs or something. For the longest time I thought she was saying; "she's so funk-ay". Love the electro beat at the end.

"Not One Of Us" has great lyrics. Good use of the Fairlight here. Very New Wave sounding chorus. I like how it skips the second chorus, only hinting at it. Good drumming near the end. "Lead A Normal Life" is perhaps the most experimental song on the album, but it's also the weakest. "Biko" is of course a song about the anti-apartheid activist who died in the custody of South African police. It's a good song but gets a little bit too repetative. I once knew a guy from Germany named Nico. Me and my friends used to drive around with him in the car; when this song came on the radio we would sing along, but change "Biko" to "Nico". I don't think he was too amused.

This is the best thing PG did solo. The next album is similar in style but a bit more commercial sounding. Gabriel's record company did not want to release this. Eventually it came out on a different label. There weren't too many albums this good or original topping the charts in 1980. A great effort. 4 stars.

Report this review (#398295)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Story Teller's Master Stroke...

The third self-titled Peter Gabriel release which also features ex-bandmate Phil Collins on several of the tracks.

The Good: I've never been much of a lyrics person, especially in prog. Whilst I do appreciate the importance of the role they play, I usually just see them as either a sufficient addition or a subpar distraction. Every so often the words to a particular song will come along and grab my attention but it is vary rare indeed that this will happen in the case of a whole album. In this respect Peter Gabriel's "Melt" is nothing short of a masterpiece with each track showing a unique approach, ranging from the epic transitional narrative of Family Snapshot to the more minimalistic, but equally powerful, Lead a Normal Life.

The music itself is amongst some of the best Gabriel has ever written and both compliments and emphasizes the lyrical content. The dark and twisted album opener Intruder is also considered a pioneering example the of the gated drum technique. The overall sound of the recording is very experimental and also contains strong World Music influences, most noticeably on the tribute to anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko. Like its predecessors, "Melt" also features outstanding contributions from Tony Levin and Robert Fripp.

The Bad: Whilst there are absolutely no weak tracks on this release, my least favourite is actually the hit single Games Without Frontiers.

The Verdict: If Peter Gabriel was ever put on trial, charged with being a musical genius, then this would certainly be Exhibit A.

Report this review (#455327)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7/10

Enter Duke and Discipline.

Peter Gabriel 3 or Melt is the best-known work of this amazing artist (and considered by many as his masterpiece). Of course is an effort far more successful than its predecessor Scratch, which was a disappointing effort from all aspects. Now world music and new wave influences are more evident, as well as cold and tense atmosphere (but sometimes joyful) that is characteristic of the work of Gabriel.

Why the title of my review is given by the fact that the sound of this album is much like the Duke, launched by his former band Genesis in the same year 1980. A evidence in favor of my argument is the presence of Phil Collins on drums and his use of famous drum machine, but while in "Duke" he only uses it on the track Duchess in Melt he uses all the time.

In addition, we have two members of King Crimson would be redesigned next year: Robert Fripp, who produces the album and plays guitar in some songs, and Tony Levin on bass. A similarity between this and Discipline is much more subtle and unnoticed that in relation to the Duke, since Discipline is much more wild, dark and experimental (and you noticed how the electronic drums of Phil Collins and the non-use of cymbals here really resembles that of Bruford on Discipline?)

Beyond these comparisons, it is safe to say that Melt is a step forward as compared to Scratch, but it is not the best album of Gabriel. Indeed it is difficult to get face it - the letters dark, gloomy atmosphere and the experimentalism sometimes minimalist and dissonant - but more tapping you can make it more enjoyable. I say that this task, however, will not be easy.

I still think the biggest part of the problem in this album is a little song called Lead a Normal Life. Honestly, what is the usefulness of this song? Where does it go? Nowhere, I think. In fact, the only song on the B side that is worthy of note is the epic Biko, a wonderful protest song that Gabriel often uses to close his shows. Yes, Games Without Frontiers is not suitable for a single and Not One of us is absolutely forgettable.

Most of the jewels of this album is on the side A. While Intruder And Through The Wire, and are somewhat expendable No Self Control is a wonderful band led by xilophone (for a solo instrument in Intruder as well), but the best is in Start / I Don´t Remember and Family Snapshot , clearly the highlights of the album and some of the best songs of Gabriel of his career.

As I am seeing the work of Peter Gabriel in chronological order, I hope their subsequent albums are better and more produtive. 3,5 stars, rounded up.

Report this review (#463673)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars With a range of talents old and new in the backing group - old hands like Robert Fripp and Phil Collins, and new stars like Paul Weller and Kate Bush - Peter Gabriel delivered his first true solo masterpiece with this third solo album. Tracks range from dark, neurotic songs such as I Don't Remember, Intruder, No Self Control and Family Snapshot - the latter of which shows the most of the old Genesis theatricality of any of the songs of this collection - to the thoughtful and allegorical like Games Without Frontiers and the steadfastly political like the closing Biko. With world music influences creeping in on the closing number hinting at Gabriel's future direction and a masterful fusion of art rock sophistication and new wave menace, the album is a perfect showcase for Gabriel's dramatic, emotive vocal delivery.
Report this review (#564779)
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think that had it not been for the magnificent cover of the album, I probably would never hear it again. I know that this only justifies my poor judgment of any record out there.

Let's start with the opener. Oh, dear, it took me a long time to develop my own interpretation of what Peter Gabriel meant in the lyrics. I completely forgot about and took some time to ponder about it over opening and sealing barrels with oil filters in them. Then, finally, it came to me: maybe the song is about a psychological intruder who knows everything about what's going on in your head, who breaks in, enters, and can turn your whole world upside down after a very successful "slipping the clippers through the telephone wires". That really reminds me of my stepdad. The music is very seminal, extraordinary, and impressive.

'No Self-Control' is my personal favorite. The production values are even weirder than on the previous track, yet all of the sounds on this track are carefully arranged, too. This is perhaps the only time I get to enjoy the way Kate Bush provides her haunting vocal delivery. Robert Fripp's guitar work is the pinnacle for me: don't miss the crazy chord progression in the "chorus".

I am very allergic to synth-pop, but 'I Don't Remember' does a lot of justice to me. Robert Fripp once again really shines on his guitar. OK, this may be just words to you, but let me repeat this: really shines on his guitar. Breathe in some life. The experimental coda is astonishing. 'And Through the Wire' features one of my favorite riffs in all of the world of rock guitar, thanks to Paul Weller. The song feels melancholic in the middle eight, but for the most part the song features a powerhouse performance from the guest musicians. "Watch the wire!"

I didn't like 'Games Without Frontiers' on the first two-three listens. Even when I was playing World of Warcraft (can't remember which region, though), I still didn't like its 80's sound. But one day I decided to force myself to like that cheap groove, and it kind of worked. Then, when I was flying over Schnottz's Landing in Northrend, I liked it even more. The whistling and the way Peter sings the lyrics make the song even catchier. 'Not One of Us' confuses me lyrically a bit, but at least that song is catchy and it has an ending that is ominous to a surprising degree. Ditto for 'Lead a Normal Life'. Dig in.

The album closes with 'Biko', which is pretty impressive for the first protest song Peter Gabriel has ever written. I don't find this song particularly striking musically or lyrically, but it sounds good to me. It is through that song that I have learned about Steve Biko, one of the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, who was tortured "in the police room 619". I can't remember why the police did that, but I bet that they did it out of ignorance, and anything that is based on ignorance can barely even be called a reason. Oh, well.

By the way, I don't just like discussing only my favorite stuff; I just don't want to discourage you from listening to what I personally consider as something poorly made. That said, why don't you hear 'Family Snapshot' and make your own conclusions about this track. There is just nothing appealing to me musically and lyrically. Also, expect some deranged codas for almost every other track on the album (wink).

Ratings/comments (if you have to ask):

'Intruder' - ****

'No Self-Control' - ****

'Start' - ***

'I Don't Remember' - ****

'Family Snapshot' - * (why don't you make your own conclusion on this one)

'And Through the Wire' - ****

'Games Without Frontiers' - ****

'Not One of Us' - ****

'Lead a Normal Life' - ***

'Biko' - ****

Stamp: "I like it."

Report this review (#613886)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Peter Gabriel has been one of, or actually the only, soloists in prog that has stayed with me the hardest. His third album I believe to be a feat of his career, one such that is worthy of every prog listener to listen to. Sure, it doesn't have all those crazy synths all over the place, but it does have some good contributions. First off, there are A LOT of musicians who worked on this record, something that Gabriel tones down in the future. Robert Fripp returns again for guitar contributions for the last time with some pretty impressive guitar sounds for 1980; Phil Collins offers some drum contributions. And the best of all, this song has extensive use of a xylophone, yes A XYLOPHONE. I have never seen albums even contain a xylophone as a lead or melody before, EVEN A SOLO.

"Bum-bum-tsst bum bum tsst Bum-bum-tsst bum bum tsst" "dududin din din-dindun Aaaaaah aaah din din dun Aaaaaah aaah" I know, that Peter uses, his voice to convey such a tone. I know, that variety is here, through weird guitars screams and whistling. With those clippers, sneaking around, without chorus, making a sense of daaaaaaaark. With staccatos, he makes a, really good mooooooood...

He is the intruder. "Bum-bum-tsst bum bum tsst Bum-bum-tsst bum bum tsst"

The next song, No Self Control is really neat where Fripp uses some cool distortion. It also opens and contains a lot of XYLOPHONE action. Peter's vocals here show his ability fast-paced vocal and quick range changes. Kate Bush also provides some backing vocals of "No Self Control". The sound sort of decays as it approaches the end.

Start/I Don't Remember opens with some synth sounds and pretty cool jazz soloing, then whips into Peter's rampant scat vocalizing, and guitars. This contains the only recorded piece with Tony Levin on this record as he uses his Chapman stick to provides an unusual but freaky bass tone. The lyrics are pretty straightforward and a rather groovy chorus to listen to. It's something of Gabriel's that's rather fun to sing along to.

Another famous song of his, Family Snapshot. It opens with piano and Gabriel's singing for most of the song. After two verses, it delves into a groove that sounds reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen stuff. Gabriel has some strong singing with a bit of rasp, while most of this "sax section" of the song has no real structure. This continues until the character has "let the bullet fly", and the sound returns to a quiet piano/Gabriel singing piece. I have to say that I believe this to be the saddest part of the album that could easily bring someone to tears.

And Through the WIIIIIIIIIIIIRE, I feel knocked out. There's a lot of shouting powerful vocals from Gabriel on this song as there is some crazy guitar. Not much to say about this song except for that.

"A one......two......a one, two four" The percussion is drum machine/kit for this song, but Games Without Frontiers has it all. It has cowbell, basses that don't even sound like guitars, and Kate Bush provides "Jeux sans frontiers" for us. Gabriel goes into his extensive verses about a game show, using his slap-stick vocals to make some political jabs here-and-there. The chorus is the most catchiest on this album, "If looks could kill they probably will in, Games Without Frontiers, War without tears". It's a success in combining experimentation with prog.

Not One Of Us is one of those, commonly noted before, majority looking down on minority songs. There's some studio chatter in the opening, then a loud siren. More staccato guitars with some kind of gated sound, weird sounds, and Gabriel singing and making noises through a distortion filter. Some really good base line and set of vocals. "You make look like we do, talk like we do, but you know how it is, YOU'RE NOT ONE OF US". It's only water that there is a good cross of weird sounds, multi-voice choruses, and drum/bass to get you going.

Lead A Normal Life is one of my favorite pieces on this album, primarily for being a minimalist piece. Most of the song comprises of a xylophone riff and a piano playing in the background. But there are two or three breaks: the first time being a distorted low-volume guitar with Gabriel wailing, then Gabriel giving the only set of vocals with piano, and then the same guitar. After that, a soft drum comes in along to the beat then fades out. Truly a relaxing song.

Biko is the legendary Gabriel song out there, opening with an funeral song recorded from Stephen Biko's funeral. The song opens with the surdo sound and some grunts. Guitars begin to layer, and then Gabriel comes in with his lyrics. There is his powerful singing on "Biko, biko, because, biko", and the "Hear them Nigel! The man is dead"-whatever he's singing, I don't remember!!. The song mostly goes through this repetition with the surdo and vocals, until approaching the end with the chanting "ha, ah, aaaaaaaah". The song fades out nicely, segueing into another portion of the song presented at the beginning. It seems the song ends here, but a surprise (yes I'm spoiling it) gated snare sound comes to end it. Almost like ending where it began.

Truly one of Gabriel's finest accomplishments that can be liked by all for its ingenuity, variety and strength. A masterpiece of progressive music.

Report this review (#769093)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Let me start out by qualifying that I am not the greatest Genesis fan. I think most of the Gabriel-era albums are quite bothersome and the Collins-era is just bubble gum. I have said that - get your stones ready - I prefer Collins vocals, but I always try to "progress" and give people second, third and multiple chance listenings.

Another qualifier - I am not a major 80s fan. I like some 80s music: The Police, early Van Halen, some AC/DC, some new wave, and even some prog bands that "sold out", but that's about it.

So, with all that information I was SHOCKED to find out that Peter Gabriel defied the odds of a negative review with "Melt". I really enjoyed this album.

The first track "Intruder" is just too good even believe for Gabriel after hearing some of the early Genesis material. The experimental sounds and quality of Gabriel's lyrics and vocals are some of the best experimental work I've heard in a while and especially for the cheesy 80s. Granted, this came out in 1980, but the late 70s had some pretty cheesy music, in my opinion.

Gabriel found his vocal greatness with "No Self-Control" and continued throughout his career. This is the Gabriel I enjoy hearing - the bubble sound is gone, or at least minimized and he has a powerful, enjoyable voice here.

Another strange item is that "I Don't Remember" is very 80s, but I can't help but like it. It is catchy, yet weird. It is very "Peter Gabriel" (obviously), and gives me a strange early 80s gritty street vibe.

"Family Snapshot" is a bit mundane for my taste, but not boring. Very "Genesis-Gabriel", but with more of a realistic story - give or take whether that is an advantage or not, but the serious and emotion pushes it to a higher level, to me.

"And Through the Wire" is boring 80s crap, "Games Without Feathers" is a bit interesting, but I am not a big fan of electric drum machines or at least that cheesy sound they seem to have. The song is ok. I don't hate it.

"Not One of Us" sounds like early Police music mixed with some electronic experimentation. I actually enjoy it, even when it goes into that bouncy 80s Jan Hammer sound. Meh, well kind of. It's not terrible. I could listen to it over again.

"Lead A Normal Life" sounds like a commercial at the start, but turns out to be a bit of an existential poem with beautiful, sparse music. It is probably my favorite besides "Intruder" from this album. It is a track that is quite ahead of it's time and could be something Radiohead came up with. I am sure Gabriel was an influence for Radiohead.

"Biko" is the finisher and I had heard quite good reviews of the song. It sort of reminds me of world music mixed with psychedelic and "In The Air Tonight" percussion (or similar). I am not too fond of those hand-holding, world "anthem" type songs except for John Lennon's material, and I find this song too ambitious in a "We Are The World" type of way. *Yawn*

Overall, I enjoyed this album and especially when I thought it would be a major waste of my time. I was pleasantly surprised. There are moments of boredom and cheese, but overall a solid effort. I will give it at a 3.

Report this review (#827047)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The third Peter Gabriel solo album. Phil Collins and Kate Bush are here which bodes well.

"Intruder" - a track that holds a lot of menace in the music and lyrics. Collins is very good on this track and I also love the Marimba section of the track.

"No Self Control" - I love the drums again on this track. Paranoa abounds in this track about compulsions and psychosis. Very dark track.

"Start" - short track that has a lovely sax refrain.

"I don't Remember" - Levins deep bass work is brilliant here.

"Family Snapshot" - To me it's about a young boys imagination pretending to be an assassin which looking at the lyrics he is already well on the way to becoming. Very good track.

"And through the Wire" - Not one of my favorite tracks from the album but having said that there is nothing bad here. I don't really get the lyrics - telephone stalking? Maybe about watching cable TV.

"Games without Frontiers" - Track about the childish antics of adults. This needs no introduction as it was and is a massive Gabriel track.

"Not one of Us" - Not my favorite track on the album however I do enjoy the lyrics.

"Lead a normal Life" - Very powerful track about living in a psychiatric facility. Captures the mood very well.

"Biko" - Living in South Africa I couldn't not know the meaning of the lyrics. Very powerful track which began Gabriels foray into World Music. I kind of find a lot of similarity between this track and Manfred Mann's "Somewhere in Africa" album.

I rate this album 5 out of 5 stars as it is very good at portaying emotions and in fact causing emotions. It is a work of art in that regard. Anyone who enjoys Biko for its rythms and its power should most defenitely get hold of a copy of Mann's "Somewhere in Africa".

Report this review (#947305)
Posted Sunday, April 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars "And the eyes of the world is watching now"

To think of the surprise when his fans heard this album for the first time is really interesting, its a long jump from preceding album. But the choice to leave the more rock oriented music for this artpop is great, there seems to be a lot more room to experiment without ineffective guitar riffs and drum fills. Its no wonder the album contains so many classics and favorites, it was a time of doing something completely different, breaking some rules and borders. Good things usually comes out of that way of thinking! And a lot of new fans as well!

The whole album got a new kind of suspense to it, all the songs are daring and adventurous with a lot of atmosphere and drama. First track "Intruder" is a perfect example, a slowly creeping song with Gabriel doing some of the best vocals he´s done since Genesis. With a simple but mighty drumbeat, small noises, disharmonic piano and some screams it sets the perfect mood for this unsettling song. It even ends with a spaghetti western whistling ala Sergio Leone. To me it seems like most of the songs is about people with some kind of mental disorder. "No self control" and "I don't remember" are both about people in absolute panic, "Games without frontiers" is a study of human cruelty and "Family Snapshot" is a both beautiful and exciting story about a killing (well?). Its kind of nice to settle this disturbing theme with the fantastically relaxing and floaty "To lead a normal life". Some nice synthesizers and pianos, some interesting rhythms and the listener is in dreamland.

After To lead a normal life comes the last song, the classic "Biko". A touching tribute to the south african non violence activist Steve Biko, murdered for his beliefs and his fight against apartheid. Its a great symbol, a fantastic tribute and a powerful song to finish the album with.

Report this review (#1163905)
Posted Monday, April 21, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars From a compositional standpoint, the idiosyncratic Gabriel hasn't merely chosen the path less traveled, he's clear- cut a gaping glade clean through the forest. Whether as the outrageously caparisoned front man and storyteller of Genesis, or as a visionary solo artist delving into world music and visual media, Gabriel is not only singing from left- field, he's up in the nosebleed bleacher seats with the field barely visible below. And it is precisely because of the unconventional vocals, the quirky beats, the irregular time signatures, and the unorthodox subject matter of Peter Gabriel's third solo release (popularly christened 'Melt') that makes it an essential listening experience.

You have to hand it to Gabriel. With the release of 'Melt' in May of 1980, he came out with one of the best albums of 1980s only six months into the decade. It is certainly on par with other stellar releases from the period, such as U2's 'Joshua Tree', Paul Simon's 'Graceland'', Talking Heads' 'Remain in Light', or Gabriel's own 'So' album from 1986. But whereas 'So' was more commercially successful (with the MTV hits 'Sledgehammer' and 'Big Time') and far more huggable for the masses (don't we all get nostalgic when we hear 'In Your Eyes'?), the thorny 'Melt' pricks one's sensibilities and is satisfying from a visceral standpoint, with a psychological depth and intensity to the storytelling few albums from the 80s could match.

The first thing you notice is that there are no cymbals... throughout the entire album. There are other percussion instruments, but the lack of cymbals creates tension - a totemic, animistic thrum and rumble - that permeates the album with an unrelieved edginess bordering on hysteria. The purposeful mania instilled by Gabriel is amplified further with the "gated drum" sound, a dramatic reverb effect that produces a booming but highly-compressed punch to the drums created specifically for this album and employed with gusto by drummer Phil Collins (who appears on four tracks). Collins would memorably re-use the gated drum effect on his hit "In the Air Tonight", but perfected it on Peter Gabriel's stunning third self-titled solo album, known as 'Melt' (for the distinctive cover photo). And 'Melt' (1980), even more so than Gabriel's mega-hit 'So' (1986), is the best album of the 1980s. Aside from distinctive vocals, studio techniques and musical innovations, 'Melt' is, for all intents and purposes, a "psychological treatise' on the human condition: compulsion, obsession, isolation, schizophrenia, amnesia, prejudice, bigotry, anger institutionalization, and murder. Herein lie the darker dimensions of thought and action, delivered with an actor's flair by Gabriel.

'Intruder', a flesh-crawling ode to home invasion, begins the mind games with the grating, metallic grind of clippers on twisted wire, discordant keyboards, and Collin's strident drumbeat, and ends with a bit of whistling-with- criminal-intent made famous by Peter Lorre in the movie 'M' (1931). 'No Self Control' mirrors the troubled tendencies of 'Intruder', but amps up the mania, as well as the volume, with Gabriel's recurring avant-garde partners-in-crime Robert Fripp on guitar and Kate Bush on backing vocals, along with a vicious turn on drums by Collins. 'I Don't Remember' (amnesia), "And Through the Wire" (communication overload) and 'Lead a Normal Life' (asylums) are each excellent tunes, but the truly stellar songs are the allegoric satire on nationalism "Games Without Frontiers" (again with Kate Bush singing 'jeux sans fronti'res' or "games without frontiers"), and "Not One of Us", which cleverly attacks hatred and prejudice born out of fear and ignorance.

And then there are the two epics. The first, 'Family Snapshot', is a suspenseful character study of a publicity- seeking loner who kills a public figure, in which Gabriel, through the use of internal monologue, grafts the memoirs of assassin Arthur Bremer onto scenes of JFK's assassination in Dallas. The effect is riveting. Finally, there is "Biko", about Stephen Biko, a South African civil rights leader murdered while in police custody. The horrid event gained worldwide attention due in part to Gabriel's profound lament. "Biko" was the greatest protest song of the 80s, and the grand lyric 'And the eyes of the world are watching now', proved prophetic. 'Melt' is fully realized and conceptually brilliant, a stark look at man's inhumanity to man, and the madness that stirs in the minds of many.

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Posted Saturday, February 10, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.25: the third album by Peter Gabriel and their most acclaimed in the community. This album includes the collaboration of Phill Collins in the drums The distribution for this album in the United States had a lot of problem, mainly because Atlantic Record didn't consider it the it would be a commercial success, arguing that it has too many experimentation and some African music influences. Other curious thing is that there is other version of the album with German vocals and some minor modifications in the music. Musically it has a lot of experimentation with different rhythms, but if I have to classify it, I will call it pop Progressive. Lyrically, it has not a main concept is a collection of songs with interesting things to say and almost poetics verses, and in the other hand some liberal and politician messages and anti war declarations, but nothing too deep. I considered a excellent addition to any prog collection, although it will be too pop for some tastes.
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Posted Thursday, January 3, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Gabriel's third solo album, III or Melt, is among his best works. Once again, with the collaboration of a large number of renowned musicians, among whom his ex-companion from the Genesis era, Phil Collins, Robert Fripp of the King Crimson and Kate Bush, among others, stands out, he manages not only to be interested in the value of his compositions musically speaking, but also for his lyrics with deep messages that in many cases are statements committed to his beliefs, something that although it occurs frequently within the music scene, it is always remarkable, beyond points of view that may be divergent.

Undoubtedly Biko (in honor of Stephen Biko, who died during apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s) is one of Gabriel's best known and most representative songs, and one that demonstrates his activism for the defense of human rights.

In my opinion, a song that stands out and I consider as one of his best songs, to which I return every time I listen to Gabriel's discography, is Family Snapshot, inspired by the book 'An Assassin's Diary' by Arthur Bremmer, who he describes as shoot a public political figure not for ideals but above all for the fame that such a fact generates. The rhythm changes, the voice with that particular Gabriel style, in just over 4 minutes, makes the song not let you breathe until the end. Definitely the best of his repertoire, and rarely sung live, I suppose by how demanding his performance must be.

On a superlative level we can also find I Don't Remember, And Through The Wire, Lead A Normal Life, Not One Of Us and Games Without Frontiers, a song that he wrote in the days prior to the 1980 Olympic Games, and that gave account that many times political and nationalist interests motivated behaviors that affected the relationships of individuals and societies. For this song he had the collaboration of Kate Bush in the second voice

Both Intruder, No Self Control and Start, I consider that although they are within the overall idea of ​​the album, they do not shine like the previous ones.

With this work Gabriel established himself more and more as a composer and musician who tried (and succeeded) to transcend the borders of the progressive world, incorporating elements of different cultures around the world into his musical proposal.

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Posted Saturday, May 30, 2020 | Review Permalink

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