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Peter Gabriel

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Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel 1 [Aka: Car] album cover
3.60 | 788 ratings | 76 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Moribund the Burgermeister (4:18)
2. Solsbury Hill (4:21)
3. Modern Love (3:38)
4. Excuse Me (3:20)
5. Humdrum (3:27)
6. Slowburn (4:37)
7. Waiting for the Big One (7:14)
8. Down the Dolce Vita (4:42)
9. Here Comes the Flood (5:56)

Total Time 41:33

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Gabriel / vocals, keyboards, flute, recorder

- Robert Fripp / electric & classical guitars, banjo
- Steve Hunter / guitars (lead, rhythm, pedal steel, acoustic)
- Dick Wagner / guitar solo & backing vocals (6,9)
- Jozef Chirowski / keyboards, Barbershop Quartet - backing vocals
- Larry (Wires) Fast / synthesizers & programming
- Tony Levin / bass, tuba, Barbershop Quartet - leader
- Allan Schwartzberg / drums
- Jim Maelen / percussion, synthibam, bones, Barbershop Quartet - backing vocals
- The London Symphony Orchestra (8)
- Michael Gibbs / orchestra arranger & conductor

Releases information

Artwork: Hipgnosis

LP Charisma Records - CDS 4006 (1977, UK)
LP Atco - SD-36-147 (1977, US)

CD Virgin - PGCD 1 (1987, UK)
CD Atco - 36-147-2 (1990, US)
CD Geffen - 069493301 2 (2002, US) Remastered by Tony Cousins
CD Real World Records - PGCDR1R (2011, Europe) Tony Cousins remaster reissue

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PETER GABRIEL Peter Gabriel 1 [Aka: Car] ratings distribution

(788 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

PETER GABRIEL Peter Gabriel 1 [Aka: Car] reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the first album by Peter Gabriel. It is not extremely progressive. There are omnipresent aggressive rock guitars. "Moribund The Burgermeister" still has some "Lamb lies down on Broadway" influences, especially the miscellaneous original vocal expressions provided by Gabriel himself. The acoustic "Solsbury Hill" was a huge hit, which I personally find only good; it has a bit the style of Kansas' "Dust in the wind". "Modern Love" is a more ordinary and conventional almost hard rock track a la The Who, full of straightforward aggressive electric guitars and background organ. The intro of "Excuse me" has exuberant retro lead & backing vocals, a bit like the Van Halen's "Happy trails" track; the track itself, full of banjo and acoustic string instruments, has a slight Beatles-esque style. "Humdrum" is a really good track: it is very subtle, fluid and progressive: Larry Fast expands his keyboards in the end, forming an impressive floating texture. Speaking of keyboards, Larry Fast does not sound very much futuristic nor electronic, as he used to do on his Synergy's records: he is rather down to Earth here, often playing accessible piano parts a la Supertramp, like on "Slowburn", which by the way also contains an electric guitar solo a la Supertramp. There is even a bluesy song: "Waiting for the big one": cabaret piano and bluesy electric guitars are played through a slow rhythm; the end seems to contain Gospel chants. "Down the dolce vita" has some very good participating orchestral arrangements: there is an interesting use of simultaneous symphonic orchestra and rock/hard rock elements. The last track, "Here comes the flood", is an EXCELLENT song: it slowly starts with delicate & subtle acoustic guitars and piano textures; then Gabriel sings loudly, producing a moving slow rock ballad.
Review by daveconn
3 stars W hen the most theatrically inclined member of a theatrical band like GENESIS quits the company, you assume he has big plans in store. As it turned out, Peter GABRIEL toned things done considerably in an effort to find his own muse as well as his own musical identity. Just when it seems he has something up his sleeve on the opening "Moribund the Burgermeister", GABRIEL wears his heart on his sleeve with the next track, "Solsbury Hill", addressing the need to leave GENESIS. The rest of the record is a little choppy, as GABRIEL tries his hand at modern rock ("Modern Love"), lounge singing ("Waiting for the Big One") and barbershop ("Excuse Me"). The closing "Here Comes The Flood" taps into the quiet intensity that would become one of his hallmarks, though the song has since been re-recorded with better results.

Although it's arguably GABRIEL's most uneven record, it's important if only because he never made another quite like it. His second album borrowed parts of the first ("Modern Love", "Humdrum") and threw out the rest, resulting in a more consistent but also more guarded record. On this effort, you can hear GABRIEL finding his own voice, having a little fun, and not being afraid to make mistakes. Given the interest in his music relative to the number of albums he's recorded, a lot of folks will buy this record eventually. But don't make it your first choice expecting to hear any connection to GENESIS; better to spend your money on Steve HACKETT's "Voyage of the Acolyte" instead.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "I walked right out of the machinery"

After leaving Genesis, for his first solo album Gabriel played it pretty safe. While the music here is more commercial than that of (Gabriel era) Genesis, his distinctive vocal style means that the overall sound still has something of a Genesis feel to it.

"Solisbury hill" gave him an immediate hit single, and included a parting side swipe at his former band mates ("I was feeling part of the scenery, I walked right out of the machinery"). "Morbund the Burgermeister" makes for a powerful opener which would have sounded good on "The lamb..". "Modern Love", is an upbeat number, not the Bowie song of the same name, but in some ways similar. "Excuse me", is an amusing, old fashioned track, while "Here comes the flood" with its quiet verse, bombastic chorus structure makes for an excellent closer.

Needless to say, Gabriel's vocals dominate the album, with little in the way of instrumental work, and thus it is less prog orientated than the music he made while with Genesis. It is however a very accomplished first solo outing which does lean heavily on his experience with the band, recommended.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Hard on the heels of The Lamb, Gabriel broke the mould and released his first solo LP. What a cracking job he did too. Moribund the Burgermeister is a ' burbling' beauty. Solsbury Hill definitely one of the most complete songs he has ever written, the Alice Cooper like Modern Love.Further highlights on side 2 are Slowburn and the epic, Here Comes the Flood. It's great when you get a debut solo of this high calibre cos you know it can only get better.
Review by Guillermo
4 stars One of Gabriel`s most accessible albums. "Moribund the Burgermeister" is the most close song to the old GENESIS, with theatrical vocals. "Solsbury Hill" is one of the best songs in this album. "Modern Love" is a "rocker". The humorous "Excuse Me" has Tony Levin playing a Tuba solo! "Humdrum" is the best song in this album, and is one of my favourite songs from Gabriel as soloist. Very good arrangements in this song, with maybe Fripp on classical guitar (!) and great keyboards. In this song, Gabriel sang with emotion. As a soloist, Gabriel started to be more himself almost all of the time, and not always acting as a character in a weird story, as he was in GENESIS. This is the reason why I prefer Gabriel as soloist than as a member of GENESIS: he sounds more "authentic" here. "Down the Dolce Vita" is "explosive", with an orchestral arrangement. "Here comes the Flood" has some flutes and recorders played by Gabriel, and he sounds "authentic" in this song too, singing with feeling.A very good album. "Slowburn" and "Waiting for the Big One" are good songs too, but they are less interesting for me than the rest of the songs of this album.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Gabriel's debut album after he left Genesis with a major shift in musical style from the band he was leaving. The album was made during the time when the world music industry was dominated by punk where bands like Camel, Wishbone Ash, Jethro Tull et al were all marginalized by the three-chord rush and anti-establishment sneer of The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. Gabriel approached Robert Fripp (King Crimson) during his tentative steps out of musical retirement. Fripp played on the demos recording session for this album and was persuaded to join the subsequent tour band, which also included Tony Levin, albeit performing unseen.

Down The Dolce Vita has been my all-time favorite since I heard the song the first time when I was lent a cassette containing this track dated back in 1978. My second best include: Here Comes The Flood (which I also like the later acoustic version as well as Growing Up live version), Excuse Me (for me, it was my first introduction to humorous prog music), Solsbury Hill (has become a masterpiece in live version due to its energetic style), Humdrum (a nice mellow track).

An album that you must have it if you want to take steps in prog journey with Peter Gabriel's music direction. You would notice how his music has shifted significantly from this debut album to the groundbreaking UP album. Interesting. Recommended! (3.75 / 5). GW, Indonesia.

Review by Muzikman
4 stars Peter GABRIEL's first solo album, better known as the "Car" album, was originally released in 1977. After an enormously successful stint with GENESIS, GABRIEL felt it was time to move on and explore all of his diverse musical taste rather than stay in the more strict musical confines of a group.

Featuring the guitar work of Robert Fripp, and the incomparable Tony Levin playing tuba and bass, his first solo outing features progressive-rock, pop, jazz, and flat out rockers. Peter also shows his adeptness on vocals, keyboard, flute and recorder.

This is the first in a series of comprehensive remastered efforts by Geffen Records (A subsidiary of the Universal Music Group) of GABRIEL's entire catalog. The artist was involved first hand with every step of the process.

"Solsbury Hill," now a FM radio staple, was Peter's first big hit on his maiden solo flight. The tightly woven melodic tune had everyone in the world humming, and it proved without a doubt that GABRIEL had what it took to be a huge success with or without GENESIS. The quirky "Excuse Me" would be one of the indelible stamps that would identify GABRIEL's many different sounds in years to come. Although the song was different than what people had become accustomed to hearing him sing, it was easy to get used to. Gabriel continued to be the consummate varied showman as he was with his former group by offering a marvelous cross-section of material for his faithful followers. "Modern Love" was a great rocker while "Here Comes The Flood" was an intense rocking prog-rock multi- instrumental affair with layer upon layer of stellar musicianship that anyone could enjoy and identify with. This was another show stopper that he would rely on for many years to stir the audience. Actually, every song on the album is outstanding.

This is awe-inspiring debut that would start a trend of excellence that continues to this day.

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars Peter Gabriel is my hero, for me he is the one who shaped Genesis, especailly live. Unfortunately I was at about 13-14 years old at the time Genesis performed legendary albums like "Foxtrot" and "The Lamb .. " so I have never seen the magical Genesis. When Peter Gabriel I was very curious to his music. This first solo-album is the last effort that contains progressive and bombastic pieces like "Moribund the burgermeister", "Waiting for the big one" and "Down the dolce vita". On later albums Peter shaped his own, very unique sound, from pure rock inspired (even punk elements) to the world music, he gradually went more and more away from the progrock scene. He stunned the world with his creative mind (the "Sledgehammer" video is still a visual masterpiece) and even sold millions of his solo- albums. But this first album is still my favorite one, mainly because most of the songs sound as a strong bridge between rock (great guitarplay from Hunter and Fripp), symphonic and pop, later that balance would be disturbed by an urge to protest against his former musical style (on II) and a wish to create emotional music (III and IV), inspired by the world music. I lost interest in Peter Gabriel from the succesfull album "So", this was too much poppy for me. So thumbs up for number one!
Review by Fishy
3 stars Transitional albums are fun. They usually feature some familiar elements combined with some fresh new elements as well. Although the Genesis influence isn't really present on Gabriel's solo debut "Moribund the burgemeister" would have fit in easily on "the Lamb lies down on Broadway". But "Moribund" also shows some elements that would become Gabriel's trademark in the decade to come. In the interesting percussion parts you can spot slices of African drums. The chorus is pretty majestic but the arrangements shows the signs of what there is yet to come over the next couple of years.

On the subsequent live tour Gabriel performed just one track from his former band which is odd for an artist who just has released one album on his own. It seems he already wanted to get rid of his past back then. On the lovely "Sollsbury hill he refers to his old band in the lyrics for example this : "I was feeling part of the scenery, I walked right out of the machinery". Bob Ezrin did the production for this album and it's impossible to lie about this. Wherever he goes his big sound comes along, just listen to The Wall, Alice Cooper or Kansas' late eighties album. Even compared to the sound of Genesis this sounds extremely bombastic or pompous. Songs like "Modern love" and Slow burn" could almost be called American heavy rock : heavy guitar chords, guitar solo's that sound like anthems, energetic vocals with Gabriels voice dubbed in the chorus, a rocking piano underneath. Only some details on the background are referring to the good old Genesis or progressive rock in general even though the line up features the likes of Robert Fripp and Larry Fast but a lot of guitar parts are played by Steve Hunter, a typical American rock musician. Though these songs have definitely strong melodies and are highly enjoyable Gabriel would never to be seen in this area again and that must have been the influence from Bob Ezrin who's impact on the album is more than just producing the record. He even brought in some musicians.

"Waiting for the big one" was another one off experiment. A blues song which refers to Randy Newman if it wasn't for the chorus, very strange to hear him in this area but no one could call this a bad song. In the end the chorus is sung by a choir and that makes an excellent introduction to the orchestral "Dolce vita" which is another American sounding melodic rock song. This is one of the only tracks to contain an excitable song structure. Mostly I'm fond of the idea to bring in orchestra's in rock music but these orchestral section are sounding so bombastic, it's getting close to annoying. Many people seem to prefer the piano version of "Here comes the flood" but I do like the original version more cause of the full blown sound and let's be honest the emotional guitar solo is splendid. Another version of this track ended up on a solo effort from Robert Fripp. The atmosphere on "In a hundrum" has some similarities but the accordeon adds a lighter touch. This is the only track to have an atmospheric dreamscape reminiscent to Genesis. On these songs Gabriel seems to turn himself into a talented song writer.

The music on this album is a lot more rock than progressive. Springsteen's Born to run meets Genesis ? Something like that ! This melodic stuff is accessible and does contain excellent musicianship at the same time as you can hear on the details which you can easily hear on the remastered edition. But no real instrumental excerpts can be spotted. You can't possibly call this an essential addition to any prog collection apart from the fact that Gabriel use to be the front man of one of the greatest progressive rock bands ever. As a rock album I would rate this album much higher, after all, I still consider this amongst my all time favourite Gabriel albums. The melodies and atmospheres that are present on this album are astonishing. 3,5 stars

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Being a Genesis fans in the later 70's and being a Torontonian at the time , this album brings a lot of memories. It was recoded in Toronto and produced by "local boy" Bob Ezrin (ex-ali9ce Cooper and future Floyd's The Wall). I still remember friends stalking all possible studios in the city to spot The Gabe, even to undue hours of the nights. ;-)

when this album finally got released , it went under intense scrutiny from all of us Genesis addicts, deconstructing the song lyrics for hints. yes Solsburry Hill actually gave us the reasons for him leaving Genesis. But to have called this album prog rock (or art rock), was pushing it a bit. Moribund has cool prog tones , but this is the only track that could be classified as such IMHO. We could be talking of a sort of progressive pop, but anyway what an outstanding pop album it is. Certainly a wide spectrum of tunes are presented to us , from the blues Waiting For The Big One , to the poppiest Solbury Hill. Please not that there is a more definitive version of Here Comes The Flood on Fripp's Exposure solo album.

Outside Fripp, the cast of musicians also gained a lot of recognition from this album and became Gavriel's backing band for a while with Larry Fast and Tony Levin coming to the forefront. If memory serves me well , Wagner and Hunter were the two feuding guitarists in Cooper's Welcome To My Nightmare film. Over all a good pop album but really not a prog one.

Review by horza
4 stars By the time I got into Genesis Peter Gabriel had already left. My mate said Gabriel was far better than Collins. I felt Collins was good and defended him. I bought this album out of interest because I obviously had started to discover Gabriels contribution to Genesis. 'Moribund the Burgermeister' was obviously not written for the Top Of The Pops fans and certainly would'nt be appearing on that show EVER. However,'Solsbury Hill' was a track which could appeal to all and is a timeless classic. This album has lots going for it. Excellent musicians,superb compositions and sheer and utter class. The final track 'Here comes the flood' is one of my favourite tracks (the acoustic version is even better). Oh,and some bloke called Robert Fripp plays on it.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Upon his exit from Genesis, Peter Gabriel became a recluse in the next few years only to come back with this album in 1977. He draws a number of guest musicians, including Robert Fripp and Tony Levin, on this album and also strays away from the symphonic sound that was identified with his past ventures with Genesis drastically. The sound on this album is a quirky mix of glam rock, barbershop quartet, bombastic classical, quasi-disco, and blues, but they are all mixed well together and there seems to be a cohesive flow within the album. While not terribly progressive, this album is a strong foundation for the mega career that would follow for Gabriel, and it would also provide one of his biggest hits (and one of his most personal songs) in Solsbury Hill, the "story" of why he left Genesis.

Moribund the Burgermeister opens quietly with some vocals from Gabriel but soon breaks out into a guitar driven rock anthem, with an interesting chord progression and a quirky chorus section in which Gabriel says, "I will find out. I will find out,". Solsbury Hill is a gentle acoustic tune with a great 7/4 motif and a very uplifting feeling throughout. The distorted choruses and the great hammering chords at the end really give this song that triumphant edge. No wonder it's one of his biggest hits. Modern Love is a poppier number but it still retains a rocky edge and it has a nice chorus/bridge. It's not the best song on the album but it's not a bad song at all. Excuse Me opens with a barbershop quartet and it really sounds cool. When Gabriel comes in with the main vocal, the piano in the background is really fun and quirky. It's a bit of an off the wall track, but I really enjoy it. Great guitar from Fripp on this track.

Humdrum continues the rocky edge of the album with solid guitar and bass work, as well as some great keyboard work from Larry Fast. Slowburn is a bit of a throwaway, and my least favorite song on this album. It doesn't really seem to go anywhere terribly fast and it seems more like filler than anything else. Waiting for the Big One is a bluesy number with some great soloing and a nice breakdown towards the end. This is also the longest song on the album, running at 7:14, and it doesn't really get boring at all. Down the Dolce Vida begins with a bombastic orchestra hammering out triumphant notes that break into a disco type chords and patterns, but the epic orchestral score is what really makes this song great. Here Comes the Flood ends the album with an epic chorus and some emotive vocals from Gabriel. This song is only improved on Robert Fripp's album Exposure, in which Gabriel sings this song solo while playing the piano, a beautiful piece on this album, though, and it really ends the album well.

In the end, Peter Gabriel's first solo album marked the beginning of a new era for the vocalist. His work would only improve, though, but this album acts as a high mark for his career and shows that he didn't need Genesis to make fun, engaging, and quirky music. Recommended to all, as it would make a very excellent addition to your collection. 4/5.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In spite of somewhat subdued production and poor sound, which may be attributed to a low-quality vinyl press of Yugoslavian release that I had listened, Gabriel's debut is an excellent work. It is filled with many varied-style songs. If uneven, the album contains many of his best moments in the entire post-GENESIS career. From the opening "Moribund" experimental, via chart-topper "Salisbury Hill", through the symphonic remnants of "Here Comes the Flood", Gabriel made a definitive "post-progressive rock" album, anticipating his later pop avant-garde works and even the world fusion trend of the 1980s. Listening to this music, it is obvious where the most of creative energy of the classic GENESIS albums lied, especially when compared to "And Then There Were Three", which appeared the following year.
Review by russellk
3 stars The split between GENESIS and PETER GABRIEL was, in my opinion, a good thing. The first fruits were two excellent GENESIS albums, along with this slightly underwhelming PETER GABRIEL offering. Having called this album underwhelming, however, does not do justice to GABRIEL'S stellar career that followed.

I don't know what other fans of GENESIS expected from this album, but it certainly was not packed with multi-part, GENESIS-style songs. Instead GABRIEL crafted a solid if unspectacular art-rock album. All GABRIEL'S trademarks are here: moments of high emotion (Solsbury Hill, Here Comes The Flood), examples of his eccentric, hit-and-miss humour (Excuse Me) and quasi-operatic numbers (Down The Dolce Vita), along with a more troubling part of his songwriting, the underdeveloped song (Humdrum, Waiting For The Big One).

I find it interesting that GABRIEL prefers a stripped-down version of 'Here Comes The Flood' (as on the compilation 'Sixteen Golden Greats' to the bombastic version presented here. I'm of a different opinion. This version of 'Here Comes The Flood' isn't subtle, but it is powerful; and part of what made GENESIS essential listening was the lyrical and instrumental power of their work. Both versions have their charm, but this version is progressive.

Any potential purchaser of PETER GABRIEL'S albums must be aware they will be listening to something quite different to early GENESIS. If you are able to put GENESIS to one side - as GABRIEL himself did - you will have yourself an enjoyable and challenging album. But remember, GABRIEL'S best work was to come.

Review by fuxi
3 stars When this album came out, I wanted to BE Peter Gabriel. (Or Bowie, as he then was.) (OR Pete Townshend.) Wot! Leaving one of the world's leading prog bands because they were getting too commercial, or because PG wanted to follow his muse... How noble! And then he came up with an album ALMOST as good as the things he'd done with Genesis!

Back in '77, I played PG1 a lot and thought it was a virtually immaculate collection. The opening number, "Moribund the Burgermeister", was plainly weird, but theatrical in the best possible way. Fortunately, it was followed immediately by "Solsbury Hill", the least annoying hit single Peter's ever had (pardon me, I just can't stand "Sledgehammer"), and by a great rocker, "Modern Love", with which I totally identified, as I was desperately looking for a girlfriend. (Peter screams and shouts as if he's back in "Back in NYC" - a true delight!) Then you got some comic relief in the shape of "Excuse Me" (undoubtedly arranged with help from Tony Levin, Mr Barbershop himself!) and finally (to finish off the original A-side) the majestic beauty of "Humdrum". Friends of mine who hated prog used to say, 'It sounds just like Genesis', and it is indeed remarkable that on quite a few of his albums Peter would return to grand symphonic gestures in the style of "Firth of Fifth" and the "Supper's Ready" finale. ("San Jacinto" is another such piece.) I loved him for it.

The B-side took a while to get going. "Slowburn" never meant much to me, but all the same, I found it remarkable that, via producer Bob Ezrin, Gabriel had caught hold of some of the musicians who made Lou Reed's BERLIN and ROCK 'n' ROLL ANIMAL such a delight, notably guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner. "Waiting for the Big One" seemed a half-way convincing homage to the great Randy Newman, only it never sounded amusing and went on for far too long. Then, suddenly, with a thunderclap, you were hit by "Down the Dolce Vita". Like Neil Young before him, Gabriel borrowed the entire London Symphony Orchestra, who must have been desperate for cash at the time. Specially arranged by Mike Gibbs (one of the great jazz-rock composers of the 1970s), the orchestra made you feel as if you were watching a pirate movie, although "Dolce Vita" rocked as well - I can't remember how many times I played air guitar to that one! After the storm had subsided, you were left with the pure, ethereal beauty of "Here Comes the Flood", one of the loveliest songs Peter has written. You must remember there was no trace of a "piano-and-vocal-only" version at that time. My friends and I thought the orchestral version was just great. Even my fifty-eight year old dad was bowled over. Mr Gabriel touching the Sublime!

Review by ghost_of_morphy
4 stars When it's time to leave, it's time to leave. Peter Gabriel left Genesis, and he left an awful lot of the things that we had grown so accustomed to from him behind with them. This is a new Peter Gabriel searching for his place in the musical world, and he visits some strange new locales on this quest. Peter has never shown off his vocal versitility like this.

4 stars: It's not quite a masterpiece, but it's a brilliant example of a talented individual dipping into various styles to see where he fits in.

Moribund the Burgermeister (very good) kicks off the trip. This tale of monster terrorizing a village, complete with all of the vocal theatrics that Gabriel throws in, is the closest that Gabriel gets to what he had been doing with Genesis. The music, on the other hand, doesn't really sound like something Genesis would do. Save that for the next song.

Solisbury Hill (excellent). What can I say about this brilliant song? This is a mellow acoustic number that wouldn't have sounded out of place if it had been released by Genesis, and it's definitely the high point of the album.

Modern Love (average). Ok, the first place we visit after leaving Genesis country is hard rock with this song, which features hard driving rock andvery choppy riffs, and has an early example of Gabriel's witty sexual double entendres, which were later to drive the song Sledgehammer.

Excuse Me (average). And next we stop by and hear a barbershop quartet! Once again, Peter's wit rescues this from what could have been a disaster.

Humdrum (excellent). A wonderfully grandiose yet meditative song that (taken together with the next one) kind of points in what direction Peter wants to go. From it's very simple intro to it's expansive ending, this is one great piece. I just wish I had a clue what the lyrics were about.

Slowburn (good). The same kind of sound that is featured in the last song, but here it is played more uptempo and lacks the majesty of the last track.

Waiting for the Big One (average). Peter sings the blues! Way back when I first heard this, I'd have rated this as good, but now I have actually heard a lot of blues and realizes that Peter doesn't have a blues bone in his body. Still, it's an interesting try.

Down the Dolce Vita (very good). Peter returns to prog land for a brief visit and we are all very glad to so see him, since he is bringing a musical gift like this one (complete with orchestra.)

Here Comes the Flood (very good). A sad, slow, well-crafted pop ballad ends Peter's magical musical journey.

Review by Dim
4 stars Peter Gabriels first attempt at a solo album, and quite a good one! Here Peter Gabriel is trying to find his sound outside of Genesis, outside of hardcore prog music and a sound a bit more pleasing to the masses. He tries classic rock, some horns, ballads, and even jazz. But I find the progressive songs the best, that being the quirky opener, moribund the burgermeister, and the acoustic radio hit Solsbury hill, which, as commercially accepting it is, it's in 5/4 time!

This album also has to do with some closure from leaving the band that made him an international prog hero. Solsbury hill is all about him and Genesis, and how he felt he was being sucked into the "machine" of being a rockstar, and how the band was being led by outside people, more than the band itself. Another small thing the album gives us is Gabriels apparent fascination with everyday modern life, Humdrum, another day in a one way world (next album), and Lead a normal life (album after that), all show Peter Gabriels opinion towards normal citiszen life, and how he thinks life just goes on unless you brake through the barrier that is normality.

As far as the music goes, like I said, it's very diverse, there are some very amazing and wonderful songs here, and some that are not so good. My favirote songs are Moribund the burgermeister, Solsbury hill, Humdrum, here comes the flood, all of them show off Peter Gabriels songwriting skill as well as singing. Now the rest of the songs are good, but either sound like a wannabe classic rock song, or a weird swiss alps heel clicker. The albu is well recorded, probably due to his excellency Robert Fripp who helped produce this album. Though you can barely here much Fripp on this album, the lead guitarist, Steve Hunter, is excellent and his work on the jazzy tune, Waiting for the big one is excellent.

Gabriel would go out to produce a bad album, an amazingly beautiful album, then as history goes, shock his monkey with huge fame, and multiple grammies, emmies, or whatever other muzac awards there are. As for this album, a great start to one of my favirote songwriters epic journey in music.


Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Two things come to mind when considering Gabriel's first solo effort. On one hand, given that he had a few years to create this album, one could say it's a rather disjointed mess. This is the best he could do? On the other hand, you can almost hear the huge sigh of relief burst out of Pete as he delights in the prospects of complete control of his artistic intentions. It sounds to me as if he just decided to ease into his new status quo by clearing some of the cobwebs from his attic. The results are mixed but the overall experience is interesting.

Highlights include "Moribund," a nice quirky number that rocks but seems half-baked. "Solsbury Hill" is one of Gabriel's finest tracks bar none, lyrically and musically. Dealing with his angst of divorce from the band the real story is the music here, the most delightfully catchy little number that justifiably was a huge hit. While you might be burned out on it from radio overkill it has to be acknowledged that it's a fine piece of songwriting. "Modern Love" is passable rocker that almost makes me think of what Joe Jackson would soon be doing with "Look Sharp." "Here Comes the Flood" is another classic Gabriel track deserving of its reputation. Really beautiful and a hint of what was coming from Pete in the future.

Some of the other tracks really stiff with moments of silliness (Excuse Me), unconvincing blues (Waiting for the Big One), mediocrity (Humdrum and Slowburn), and even a bit of a disco-sounding beat (Down the Dolce Vita.)

While there are some good moments here my belief is that Gabriel 1 is for fans and not something I could recommend to people. It's not awful but aside from the bright spots I can't quite get to 3 stars. About 2.4 stars.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars A fun, classic bit of poppish art-rock from a terrific singer/songwriter who-- in my opinion-- records music here that is with very few exceptions better than anything from Genesis.

Gabriel's songs here are all catchy, filled with melodic hooks and thanks in part to his excellent backing band, contain many outstanding instrumental moments as well. Many different styles and moods are present, from straight-ahead pop sing-a-longs, lazy- tempo blues, and big, sweeping epics complete with symphonic flair. Gabriel delivers more memorable vocals here than on any of his Genesis albums and really seems to be more in his element.

A solid, fun listen which will connect to some more than others, but is deservedly respected as one of this great artist's gems.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Peter Gabrielīs first solo album is one of his most accessible work and showed that he could be very versatile, songwriting wise. With the solo exception of the opening track, Moribund The Burgermeister, which could be an outtake from The Lamb Lies..., the album is quite different from everything he has ever done with Genesis. Every track has a unique style and ambience. He dabbles with hard rock (Slowburn), blues (Waiting For the Big One), Symphonic Rock (Down The Dolce Vita), eletronic progressive (Humdrum) and so on. It even includes a doo wop/dixieland tune (Excuse Me) complete with Tony Levin playing a tuba solo! And it works! Well, with his talent and the talents of a bunch of the best studio musicians available, how could he go wrong?

Of course there are some of his swipes at his old colleagues in Genesis in the lyrics of the aforementioned Excuse Me and the beautiful Solbury Hill, one of the highlights of this album. This great song has one of the most interesting and effective riffs in prog history and very inspired lyrics about his leaving from Genesis. Here Comes The Flood is another classic that closes the album and promises greater things in the future, that would eventually happen.

All in all Peter Gabriel proves that the singer could easily have a life without his old band. Even with the help of some heavy weights like Robert Fripp (King Crimson) and synthesizer wizzard Larry Fast, Gabriel is the star of the record and dominates the show all the time. With a strong production and fine arrangements this is a testimony of his greatness and a must have for any prog fan.

Review by Zitro
3 stars The solo album that Genesis fans were dying to hear. Did it reach the expectations? maybe, maybe not. This is a quite strong release. Luckily, it does not sound like a Genesis clone and shows elements that will appear in his future solo albums: he has not yet found his sound, so this album is quite diverse. On the other hand, this is far from a masterpiece and to the disappointment of prog diehards, it is not very progressive and does not have deep epics.

The opener reminds of Lamb Lies material, with theatrical music, different vocalizations (different characters) and humor. However, the album really smokes when Solsbury Hills starts. This commercial success has a natural sounding 7/4 theme and excellent vocal melodies. Modern Love is a standard hard rock number which doesn't leave a big impression. Excuse Me is amusing if you pay attention to the lyrics, but it is quite uncomfortable to listen to this silly barbershop quartet. The next two tracks are solid: Humdrum is a prog-related grandiose ballad with powerful vocals while Slowburn is a guitar-led rocker. Waiting for the Big One is a surprising tune, with a lounge-like blues tone, but so much more.

The last two tracks bring a great closure to the album. Down the Dolce Vita is a theatrical progressive rock song with bombastic choruses featuring an orchestra, some dramatic instrumental moments, and unusually upbeat verses. Here Comes the Flood is a ballad that alternates between laid back piano verses with big, symphonic, anthemic refrains. I think it is much better than the acoustic versions he does live nowadays.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
3 stars After leaving Genesis in 1975, Peter Gabriel began his solo career with this eponymous debut in 1977. This was the first of what would be a series of untitled albums. Gabriel originally wanted his albums to be considered as consecutive issues (like a magazine), rather than as individual works. Although he did this for four straight albums, his fans still gave them names. Because the album cover featured a picture of a car, this album is often referred to as Car and sometimes just as Peter Gabriel I.

Gabriel brought a number of talented musicians to perform on his first solo effort. These included the famous bassist Tony Levin, King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, guitarist Steve Hunter (known for his work with Lou Reed), popular session percussionist Jimmy Maelen, synthesizer expert Larry Fast, and guitarist Dick Wagner (known for his work with Alice Cooper).

With an experienced line-up, Gabriel put forward a very nice debut effort. But if you were expecting more of Genesis, you were definitely not going to get it on here or on any future solo releases. Instead, Gabriel crafted some really intelligent music more in the vein of pop/art rock. About the closest contemporary artist I could compare this with is David Bowie, although the two of them sound completely different. In many ways, Gabriel sort of moved Genesis in this direction on their Lamb Lies Down on Broadway album, which featured many more radio-friendly shorter pieces.

Gabriel still retained some progressive tendencies, and for the most part would on future releases. Songs like Waiting for the Big One, Here Comes the Flood, and Moribund the Burgermeister showcased some minor nods to Gabriel's Genesis era. His lone hit off this album, Solsbury Hill, became a popular fan favorite and is the one song most associated with Gabriel's name.

A very enjoyable album and an excellent contribution to artsy-style rock, but because it's more in the pop rock vein, three stars seems like an adequate rating for this.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Peter Gabrielīs first solo album after leaving Genesis in 1975 was released in 1977. Peter Gabriel will always stand as one of the greatest, most influential and innovative progressive singers in my book. His time with Genesis spawned some of the greatest prog rock albums ever and it was probably with terror that the fans learnt he had left the band after the tour for The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Genesis would never be the same again. While Genesis soldiered on with drummer Phil Collins taking over the lead vocal duties it seemed that Peter Gabriel vanished. But in 1977 he emerged with his debut solo album.

The music is very different from the music Peter Gabriel did with Genesis as the symphonic prog rock style is only present in glimpses on this album. The songs on this album are generally shorter and more simple than what Genesis normally stood for. Some people embrassed Peter Gabrielīs new sound and found it new and exciting while others like myself donīt really see many positive things about this new direction Peter has chosen.

The songs are not that memorable even though they are simple and the only songs that stand out for me is Moribund The Burgermeister ( Clearly the best track here and the one that sounds most like Genesis in the Lamb Lies Down period), Solsbury Hill, Down The Dolce Vita and the sing along like Here Comes The Flood. The rest is forgettable and not very exciting.

So many great musicians have contributed to the album and names like Tony Levin ( King Crimson, Liqiud Tension Experiment) and Robert Fripp ( King Crimson) should evoke some interest in a prog fans mind. The problem is that this music is so simple and boring that even with great musicians like this it all hits the ground with a bang. Peter Gabriel sings with conviction in some songs while he sounds tired and indifferent in others.

The sound quality is typical late seventies on the way to the eighties. Itīs a bit cold if you ask me.

The cover art is good. Iīve always liked the picture of the blue car with raindrops on the windshield.

This is a very disappointing solo album from Peter Gabriel. His approach to rock music is certainly different than the norm but that donīt neccessarely mean that his approach is good. Even with the aforementioned partially good songs I canīt defend giving the album more than 2 stars. A great disappointment.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: Four Stars Favourite Track: Down The Dolce Vita

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Review by J-Man
3 stars 3.5 stars really!

Of all of the early Genesis lineup members, you would expect Peter Gabriel to have the most progressive solo career. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This contains experimental rock and pop rock, but without much of a prog relation. Nothing here has much technicality, or progressing solos like early Genesis had. That aside, all of the music is pretty good. Some of the stuff is very acquired taste, but nothing's horrible.

The first song MORIBUND THE BERGIMEISTER sounds something that could have been on The Lamb, and is a good song. SOLSBURY HILL is the big hit from this album, and got a ton of radio play. A good pop song, but nothing's that special about it. Everything else on the album basically goes at this speed. Not standout superb, but not bad. The best song on the album is probably the closer, HERE COMES THE FLOOD, which is a great song that I occasionally listen to on its own. Other highlights are WAITING FOR THE BIG ONE and DOWN THE DOLCE VITA.

Like I said, nothing's that technical, or progressive, but is just good pop rock music. It's actually tough to pinpoint at one specific genre because the music is varied. Some of the music is accessible pop, and some is acquired taste experimental rock. It's a good buy for any Peter Gabriel fan, but if you're expecting Foxtrot, you won't find it here. For starters with Peter Gabriel's music, I recommend going to his third album, which is more progressive, and is overall just better music.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So. this was Master Peter Gabriel's solo debut. A very good debut album this is, cleverly distanced from the Genesis trademark yet comprising a repertoire full of inventive art-rock resources in an ordained eclectic framework. To a degree, Gabriel uses some sonic sources that seem quite related to the aggressive, somber moods that plagued the most intense moments of the epic "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" - this album rocks, but all in all, it is not your standard rock'n'roll album. A host of the backing musicians came from Alice Cooper, and there is also Robert Fripp tempting his way back into the rock business, so they could really move comfortably in the artsy feel that Gabriel intended to approach from these earlier days. The opener 'Moribund the Burgermeister' pretty much perpetuates the dynamic theatrics of his good old Genesis days in its mischievous combination of psychedelic rock, surrealistic Cabaret and electronic adornments. It's been a long while since Gabriel blew this one off his live setlists, but it still remains a personal Gabriel fave of mine. 'Solsbury Hill' is, indeed, a classic that refuses to leave live setlists up to this day - this bucolic midtempo song happens to be closely connected to the acoustic side of Genesis, although it clearly bears a less melancholic mood, it is celebratory of the freedom found on the threshold of a new way of life. 'Modern Love' is a catchy rocker that sounds like Peter Green's FM-meets-Rolling Stones. Later on, other rockers such as 'Slowburn' and 'Down the Dolce Vita' will provide fluid combinations of power and sophistication: 'Slowburn' features what arguably is the best lead guitar solo in the album (played by guest Dick Wagner, another Alice Cooper alumnus), while 'Down the Dolce Vita' states an electrifying mixture of rock, funk and orchestral OST, plus a typically prog rock interlude. Brilliant! The Barbershop parody 'Excuse Me' brings clever musical humor in a proper dose, followed by the lovely semi- ballad 'Humdrum' that shows Gabriel's vulnerability in a delicate fashion (including brief French moods and Latin cadences). But the prize to the most vulnerable song in the album has to go the magnificent closer 'Here Comes the Flood', which flaunts its epic romanticism with polished majesty. This is another song that somehow has links to the Genesis trademark, and now that I think about it, a ballad like this was necessary in the first Genesis-trio albums so they could be more valuable as art works. Well, we won't skip 'Waiting for the Big One', a slow rocker set on a blues tempo that portrays a constrained bombast: the use of a choir for the last chorus is a weird, yet strangely effective idea. A very good debut album this is, let me say again, and as such it deserves to be marked as an excellent addition to any good art-rock collection.
Review by Negoba
4 stars Excellent, Exploratory Debut Screams Freedom

As most know, Peter Gabriel is perhaps my single favorite musician over time, and as I approached my 100th review here on ProgArchives, it seemed amiss that I had not completed my series of reviews of his solo work. I've been listening to his first four albums continuously in the car over the last days, and been greatly rewarded. I'd never quite listened to this work with an ear for criticism, and I've discovered some new detail in his work that I've missed even over 20 years of being a huge fan. I've also had to focus on weaker work that I'd glossed over. So here begins a bit of a detailed series of opinions from yet another PG nerd.

Peter Gabriel I (Car) was released in 1977, three years after Genesis' Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, and two years after his public exit from the band. It shows the artist full of energy, celebrating his freedom, and exploring a wide range of possible sounds. Some are quite progressive and some standard, but all are full of energy, well played, and thoughtfully constructed.

1. Moribund The Burgermeister (4:18) - This track virtually takes off where Gabriel left off with the sound of the Lamb. Though distinct from the core Genesis sound, it is quirky, experimental, and definitely progressive. As was his habit in Genesis, he adopted different voices to sound various characters in a strange story song. Well executed, I can imagine fans licking their lips with glee when greeted with this when they first listened to the album

2. Solsbury Hill (4:21) - Along with Pink Floyd's "Money" and the Beatles' "All You Need is Love," perhaps the most famous rock song ever written in 7. Driven by a folky acoustic line, this song sounds almost nothing like anything else Gabriel ever did. At the same time, it may be the best crossover prog song ever written. Beautifully poetic lyrics talk about emancipation and freedom in a way that far transcends the artist's exit from the band. Despite the complex time signature, the song is danceable, positive, a true pop masterpiece. The song continues to highlight the live show over 20 years later.

3. Modern Love (3:38) - This song could have been named "Modern Rock" for it was a very straightforward venture into the current rock sound of the time. The chorus riff is not unlike the Baby's 70's hit "Back on My Feet Again." It's well written and Gabriel gives a good performance, but it's probably the most straightforward cut Gabriel had done on record since the first Genesis hippy pop album. Here it works as a single track on an eclectic album. Unfortunately it became the template for the entire second album, Peter Gabriel's worst.

4. Excuse Me (3:20) - Now this is a fun little romp where Gabriel explicitly just says "I want to be alone." Starting with barbershop choir vocals and then transforming into a Randy Newman-esque satire, the song is playful and entertaining. Gabriel comes off as gleeful rather than angry or defensive, which this song easily could have been.

5. Humdrum (3:26) - This is one of the first glimpses of the dark, immediate intensity that was to become a Gabriel trademark.

6. Slowburn (4:37) - A strange mishmash of styles that actually works, this song centers on the rock sound found on "Modern Love" but varies things a bit more. Along with track 8, this song is a little overwrought, sounding a bit like a big stage production number. Aggressive bursts of harmony "Yeaaaah," seem comical now, but this style of music was certainly in style at the time. Again, this song is a little more varied in style than "Modern Love" and probably a little more enjoyable

7. Waiting For The Big One (7:14) - This song is a straight blues number dealing with the classic blues topic of hoping to move up in life. Gabriel's voice is not made for blues, but for this one song he pulls it off well enough. More importantly, the band really performs the style quite well, nailing the behind-the-beat execution while retaining plenty of energy. I feel the song works in the context of this album, again as a single try at a genre.

8. Down The Dolce Vita (4:42) - Upping the dramatic ante from "Slowburn," this rocker starts with the London Symphony and drops into a disco beat. As awful as that premise sounds, the song is actually listenable. Peter is just having fun, and that allows him to sound playful rather than pretentious. Though not a track I'd choose to listen to, it holds its place on the album.

9. Here Comes The Flood (5:56) - This song was dressed up by producer Bob Ezrin, but had always been intended by PG to be a simple piano and voice song. A powerful lyric with great dynamics, the song was re-recorded many times and appeared on Robert Fripp's Exposure album and then on Gabriel's greatest hits album in 1990. I personally like both versions and the contrast in styles, but there is no doubt that the later version is better. The song is so strong it overcomes the production and is a great finish to a very strong debut album.

Overall, Gabriel and fans had to be quite happy with this debut. While certainly not holding on to pure symphonic prog as fellow Genesis member Steve Hackett did, there are plenty of progressive moments here. More importantly, this is simply a very solid collection of well- written, well-performed songs that showcase the artist well. Along with two PG classics are two very strong progressive tracks, two fun novelty pieces, and three quirky rockers. Not bad for an artist stretching out his wings, exploring a new wide open realm of musical possibility. The masterpiece albums are yet to come, but this is certainly an excellent addition to any prog fan's library.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Humdrum

He left Genesis for this? Gabriel not only abandoned Genesis, but he abandoned Prog too. This first solo album of his, is a Rock album pure and simple with only traces of his former band. Fans of Gabriel-era Genesis are bound to be disappointed by this "Humdrum" of an album. The album lacks direction and the music goes in all kinds of disparate styles with humour (Excuse Me), weirdness (Moribund The Bugermeister), Rock 'N' Roll (Modern Love, Slowburn) and Pop (Solsbury Hill).

Only two tracks are really good here; Solsbury Hill and the wonderful Here Comes The Flood. The latter is the album's only Prog-related moment as such with lovely acoustic guitar and a strong chorus. I think it is fair to say that Peter was not ready for a solo career at this point. He seems to be lost here, wondering in what direction he should go.

The albums Genesis did after Gabriel had left are extremely much better than this and also very much closer to what they did when Gabriel was still in the band. Given this, it is strange that post-Gabriel Genesis are often criticized for giving up on Prog while Genesis drifted towards Pop. It is true that they eventually did that, but so did Gabriel after all.

This album is worth having for the two strong tracks it contains, but as an album considered it is rather uneven and incoherent, and considered as a Prog album it is almost wholly misplaced. I am not very fond of Gabriel's solo career overall, but he did do better things later on.

Review by friso
1 stars I never really got the Peter Gabriel Fuzz. His vocals were never brilliant, not as good as the Gentle Giant, Yes, Jethro Tull or King Crimson vocals. His microphone techniques are sometimes unbearable, giving an unclear vocal line. The production of his voice in the studio has never been very intelligent in my humble opinion. Throwing him out of Genesis can easily be seen as a rightful act to interfere with his always growing role in the live performances of early Genesis. But, I'm not to judging on him, because he has also wrote great lyrics for songs like "The Giant Hogweed" and "Get em out by Friday". I bought this record for just 1 euro at my local second hand vinyl store to give it one more try.

The production of the complete record is awful. It fall right between the seventies and the eighties and one can hear the confusion around how to produce a record in this hard times for progressive musicians. The second thing that took my attention was the complete lack of progressive elements. I really disliked the dry parts of Moribund the Burgermeister, but some other parts are acceptable. Salisbury Hill is a nice 100% pop song, catchy and modern. Modern Love is bit more tasteless and has that very uncomfortable radio-friendly vibe of 'classic rock' radio-stations. Till now still not a interesting note is played. Excuse me starts of with classic vocal harmonies, but not sung very accurate. The rest of the song is an awfull country banjo song I wont spent any words on. Humdrum is a bit better, but still very unasked for. On side two nothing seems to change. Another poppy song 'Slowburn', a bluesy Waiting for the big one with (I must say!) some nice riffs but with a total strange vibe and lyrics sung out of tune. Simply the wrong pitch. It does make the blues song feel miserable. The ending is however beautiful, with a lot of melodic themes we've missed so far. And by the way... where is Fripp? Did he really work on this? Down the Dolce Vita is played with an orchestra. After the intro the radiofriendlyness rises to full pophit-potential. The parts with the orchestra make this song worthwhile, but not my taste. Some other parts like the click-clack sounds are very messy. The closing track Here comes the Flood is a bit better then the other songs of the album. You might call this symphonic rock, it's the best song of the album.

Now... before I started writing this review (accompanied by the record playing while I write about the songs) I intended to give this two stars... but now I must say this really not my taste. It has no progressive elements whatsoever and it is recorded messy. Yes.. sorry folks... this is not for collectors... this is for completionists in my humble opinion. One star. It still might appeal to Genesis fans and people who like radio friendly classic rock.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Oh boy. I'm going to raise some peoples blood pressure with this one.

After recording the last great Genesis album, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Peter Gabriel seemed spent. He proved it by leaving the band, and going on his own, and producing albums which started out only slightly progressive, and getting regressively less progressive, and progressively less interesting with each release. He could have stayed with Genesis to do that.

The opening track, Moribund The Burgermeister, is the only truly progressive song on the album, and also the best song on the album. There are other bits of prog on the rest of the album, but in small supply. Humdrum is not a bad song, Slowburn has some nice sections, and Down The Dolce Vita has a good orchestral intro before turning somewhat mundane.

It may be that Gabriel, having a fairly well played hit on this album with Solsbury Hill, had a taste of what fortunes a pop hit can bring, similar to what happened to Kansas after hitting it big with Dust In The Wind. For it seems that after this album, the prog became hard to find in his music.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Could Gabriel make it on his own without his fellow band members backing him up? Well, apparently he could and this album demonstrates it quite nicely!

On his debut solo album Gabriel shows his complete eccentric body of work which is far from what his band effort could ever accept him do in Genesis. This is both because of the restrain of a rock band lineup and the fact that an artist of Gabriel's persona was just too bright to only remain a Genesis front man. Although I can't really figure out what Robert Fripp and Tony Levin are doing on this record I still consider it a great piece of contemporary Art Rock of an album. One particular track that has grown considerably on me is Down The Dolce Vita which I originally thought of as a filler.

From Moribund The Burgermeister to Here Comes The Flood it's a joy to hear such a variety of sounds and ideas from a man who has already given us so much pleasure during his early days.

***** stars songs: Moribund The Burgermeister (4:20) Solsbury Hill (4:21) Excuse Me (3:20) Here Comes The Flood (5:38)

**** star songs: Modern Love (3:38) Humdrum (3:25) Slowburn (4:36) Down The Dolce Vita (5:05)

*** star songs: Waiting For The Big One (7:15)

Total Rating: 4,25

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Gabriel's solo career took an awkward start. I don't know what people expected, but from whatever point of view you look, be it past or present, this debut is an odd album. It was a huge step away from the prog rock of Genesis and compared to his later famous albums it's still a pretty standard art rock affair. In a way that means it's a unique item in Gabriel's career.

The compositions and vocals are adequate but never amazing. Moribund for instance is an adventurous tune, I especially like the creepy I will find out section, but the arrangement of the chorus is a bit overblown, like something Lou Reed would do in an orchestral mood. Apart from Salisbury Hill and Here Comes The Flood the album mainly consists of classic rock styled anthems and ballads that are too unremarkable to grasp my attention.

I've never found much charm in the art-rocking direction Gabriel started his solo career with. It was a field that was already occupied by superior performers such as John Cale and David Bowie. At least, this first one is a sincere and personal start of an exciting solo career and will probably sit better with people who like the 70's classic rock sound more then I do. 2.5 stars

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars What a strange album! Genesis fans must have been abuzz when Peter Gabriel released his solo debut, but it seems that many were disappointed, and many were delighted. This album is one of many styles, a strange menagerie of genres, as though the newly emancipated front man was test-driving a variety of musical directions- perhaps that is the symbolism of the artwork! It seems this fellow was musically clutching at straws!

"Moribund The Burgermeister" Am I sure Rael has rescued brother John, or is he still stick in the otherworld with the Slippermen and the lamia? The opener of this album either represents Gabriel just stepping out in the direction he wanted to go, or it reveals that he truly is not as free as the rest of the album would lead listeners to believe. Either way, it is a satisfying and unquestionably progressive piece that could have been a part of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway- an amazing song in that imaginary context.

"Solsbury Hill" This is a masterpiece of music. It is inspiring. The debut single from Peter Gabriel tells of his departure from Genesis in a poetic and mythical manner. The piece is mostly in 7/4 time but sounds like the perfect pop song, and this is evinced by the sheer number of artists who have covered it and movie producers who have included this in the soundtrack of their films. I think the interaction between the acoustic guitar and the synthesizer is phenomenal, and the vocal performance is nothing short of fabulous.

"Modern Love" This painfully obvious attempt at a pop hit is so painful that Gabriel wore a fencing uniform in the even more awful music video. His vocals are good (how often are they bad?), but the composition itself just sucks- terrible pop rock song with horrible lyrics.

"Excuse Me" This off-kilter track opens with a Barbershop a cappella bit. Using tuba for the bass, jazz guitar runs, honky-tonk piano, and a jaunty bit of drumming, this is about as theatrically embarrassing as it gets. It is a novelty I can do without. Excuse me for saying so.

"Humdrum" Gentle electric piano and a soft vocal make up this initially relaxing track. The composition has some real progressive leanings, particularly in its wide variety of textures. Overall, this is a remarkable song.

"Slowburn" Like the previous track, this is a strange mishmash of styles, but not nearly as good. It fuses Queen-like rock with bittersweet quieter passages. The lead guitar is a majestic highlight of the piece.

"Waiting for the Big One" Continuing on in this bizarre soiree of styles, the album's longest track is a piano-led blues number. Gabriel's pipes were just not crafted to sing the blues, especially not this cheesy lounge music, but the guitar solo is something of a compensation.

"Down the Dolce Vita" After a cinematic introduction that will occasionally hurl itself back in, Gabriel goes disco. The clavichord is the main rhythm instrument during the first verse, but later there's a jumble of sounds and electric guitar, making this a real chimera of a song. Without reason, there's a fifteen-second Celtic passage at the end.

"Here Comes the Flood" Soft and sensual, this light piece has been accused (by the song maker, no less) of being overproduced, but I don't quite see it that way. This has the bite of rock music, yet has so much more going on. While I wouldn't consider it a masterpiece, it is a great closer to this highly eclectic debut.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I must admit to having quite a little soft spot for this album. I got it when it came out, not too long after I had completed my acquisition of the complete GENESIS back catalog (my intro to GENESIS was with the release of "Trick of the Tail"), and so I was still growing in my appreciation for the 'Gabriel-era' Genesis at the same time as his solo career was launching. (I'd already heard his awesome version of "Strawberry Fields Forever" on a BEATLES tribute album released in 1976). Yes, every song on this album is completely different from the others, and, yes, there are some really weird styles represented here ("Excuse Me," "Moribund," "Waiting for the Big One"!) But there are also some really good, very memorable songs here. I remember all of the hullabaloo surrounding the fact that Bob Ezrin--of KISS fame--had been chosen as the album's producer. I think he did a very nice job. A good album with some great music.

My faves are "Humdrum"--which was amazing in concert--"Moribund" and "Slowburn."

2015 update: I have revisited this album and many of its songs in the past couple of years with typical enjoyment but a surprising discovery of the amazing compositional achievements of each and every song here. I think I had always downgraded it before because it was so diverse--"too" diverse for a prog album--and because it was not a flowing concept album. But, these are all GREAT songs and deserve to be recognized as such. Upgrade to four stars.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars This was my second venture into Peter Gabriel solo territory. My first was number two. I can imagine Genesis fans at the time being disappointed with Gabriel's departure and less than enthused about this album. Number two was hard for me to get into after becoming a huge fan of the older Genesis music, but Peter went his own way and put out something not entirely different if you compare it to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

Two particular notables he assembled for this album: Robert Fripp and Tony Levin. I don't know if they were acquainted before, but this album has to be a major root of '80's King Crimson. I was looking at the credits and Fripp plays banjo, what the hell banjo? I think it may have been the only time he's played that instrument on an album.

The opening track, Moribund The Burgermeister had to be about as anti-Genesis as you could get. A parting shot perhaps? Solsbury Hill you could almost see as a Genesis song. Modern Love has similarities to Back In NYC, but in no way could I see this on a Genesis album. Excuse Me, seems Peter wanted a little more humor in music than what was done in his former band.

Back to some more seriousness in music are Humdrum (I'm listening to that one as I write this and getting goose bumps "As I drove into the sun Didn't dare look where I had begun Lost among echoes of things not there Watching the sound forming shapes in the air ") and Slowburn, two really intense tracks, but then he breaks it up again with Waiting For The Big One.

Back to seriousness, Down The Dolche Vita. (Ah Fellini Film reference I guess, never seen that one.)

The closer Here Comes The Flood is a tsunami of an ending. "Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry."

Review by lazland
4 stars An album that receives more than its fair share of mixed ratings, the debut solo effort by Gabriel, following his self imposed hiatus after leaving Genesis, is, on first impressions, a mixed bag, but, ultimately, an album which rewards patience and, above all, an appreciation of an exceptionally talented artist starting on the long road to breaking free from his past and shouting out his own voice in the musical world.

An eclectic mix of guest artists was brought in to assist, although only one has lasted the course to still be with Gabriel to this day, that being the great Tony Levin on bass. Fripp featured on guitars, although not, pointedly, on the two most blazing exemplars of that instrument, Slowburn and Here Comes The Flood, both of which were played by the incredible instrumentation of Dick Wagner, who, this reviewer is quick to admit, has remained unheard of ever since. Fripp's more direct influence on proceedings would await the disappointing follow up, and this, in hindsight, is recognisable as Gabriel in his own right.

The opener is a deliberate attempt to resurrect the story telling he was famous with in Genesis alongside the humorous side so brilliantly portrayed on Harold The Barrel. It is a magnificent opener, but the other attempt at eclectic humour, Excuse Me, featuring a barber shop quartet, is less effective, to the point of being an annoyance, which is a shame because the lyrics are interesting in their depiction of a breakup.

The album spawned a hit single in the still evergreen and popular Solsbury Hill. A beautiful and aching paeon to the England he loved and found in spades in the West Country, it remains to me one of the most evocative short songs of all time, crying as it does to the need to belong and not be torn between conflicting loyalties and people. Talking of evocative, first side closer Humdrum is exceptional, giving us a lovely flute solo, almost jazzy backing, to a most incredible depiction of life in the "normal" lane. Almost certainly written as a description of life outside the music business and career he left, this is a track which, if anything, worked even better live, as the example on "Plays Live" shows more than adequately.

With the exception of Down The Dolce Vita, which is a little bit too knowing an attempt at something different for its own good, the second side of the vinyl LP I first purchased over 30 years ago now remains to this day a highlight of this great man's career.

Slowburn is simply amongst the best that Gabriel ever released, inside or outside Genesis. Wagner's guitar cannot be praised highly enough (it is simply to die for), and the rest of the band excel in both quieter and rockier passages backing a simply superb vocal and lyric that drags Gabriel, gloriously, back into Rael territory in its telling of a forlorn and doomed troupe.

Waiting For The Big One is another palpable attempt to move away from the Genesis heritage, but this one is more successful. The idea, in 1975, that Gabriel could possibly record what is, at heart, an old fashioned blues number, was unthinkable, and it is enlivened by some great guitar work in the solo bursts.

The album closer, though, saves the best until last. I am one of the few, I think, who believes that the solo Gabriel with piano and vocals version of Here Comes The Flood is better than the original heard here, but that statement is absolutely not made to denigrate at all the sheer beauty of this piece of music. It is, perhaps, the earliest example of Gabriel's later infatuation with bringing us stories of unsung heroes, those who willingly give up their lives and liberty for those less fortunate. The lyrics that expand the story are so painfully beautiful. "Stranded starfish have no place to hide", "and as the nail sunk in the cloud, the rain was warm and soaked the crowd", "we'll say good bye to flesh and blood", "it'll be those who gave their islands to survive, drink up dreamers, you're running dry". I could go on, but how such poetry can be transformed to such evocative music is, to me, the stamp of a true genius.

There will be younger members of the site who love classic Genesis but, for whatever reason, be reticent to explore the career of solo Gabriel because of mixed ratings. Don't be. The man is a truly exceptional artist, and this was the start of a very long and deeply satisfying journey. It has its faults, but, ultimately, its merits far outweigh those and give it a deserved four stars. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

Review by Matti
4 stars (This is my 398th or 399th review, and the 400th will be on an artist that's No. 200 on my PA review list. I have an eye for lists - and symmetry! But here's one useless choice for you and a pleasure for me.)

My relationship with PG's solo material is slightly older than my relationship with Gabriel-era Genesis. I used to dig So when it came out fresh in 1986. That year and the next ones were my most active vinyl buying years. When I bought this one, I already owned several classic Genesis albums (and naturally knew almost the whole small discography of PG). That's to say, my expectations against this debut weren't anyhow spectacular or nervous as Genesis-fans must have had back then. Instead, I naturally compared it to the three other untitled "peter gabriel" albums. As we know, each has a character quite different from the others. My fave of them is still the 3rd (1980) but this one comes next. The 2nd was nearly disastrous in its under-production (courtesy of Robert Fripp) and poor songs. As if it was an antithesis for this, more or less over-produced kaleidoscope of styles.

The exciting opener 'Moribund The Burgermeister' is great in its Lamb Lies Down on Broadway -sort of atmosphere. Also I visualize its slippery synth sounds to be very nicely related to the cover art (still seeing cars awash with rain drops may make me think of this music. Funny.) 'Solsbury Hill' was familiar for me from Plays Live, and I was a bit disappointed with this hilariously bumpy studio version. The fast and bold 'Modern Love' shows Gabriel as a full-steam pop artist. Hmph. I don't think there's a PG fan who counts this among his favourite songs! 'Excuse Me' is yet another song saying "hey, I can do music in this style too". Barbershop quartet and such. Probably the most irritating song here. Side One ends with an intimate, sad, little (and in the end cathartically soaring, better shown on Plays Live) song 'Humdrum', one of my PG favourites.

Side Two suffers less from showing-off the styles and more from over-production. OK, there's the late nite blues crooning 'Waiting For The Big One' - but I like it. It succesfully mixes the intimacy of broken heart blues and the bigger sounds of polished art rock. The song is surrounded with sharper, edgier material. 'Slowburn' is not bad as an intensive song but the chorus's "Don't get me wrong - yyyeeeeeeaaahh!" featuring female backing vocals disturbs me a little. 'Down The Dolce Vita' is where the production really goes over the top, if it hasn't already done it by now. A shame, it would be a good proggy song but the heavy brass-loaded orchestration makes it almost intolerable. And finally, 'Here Comes The Flood', album's best known number (or is it 'Solsbury Hill'?). It's gorgeous, and I can truly forgive the massiveness of the chorus. Happily PG has done also more ripped-down versions of the song (e.g. on Fripp's Exposure album 1979). Speaking of the whole album, maybe PG felt too much pressure and therefore relied on (over-)production and a variety of styles more than was good for the result, but nevertheless it's full of excellent stuff and in my opinion should have a bigger status in PG's own eyes too. 3― stars.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Making a clean break from the pastoral symphonic style of Genesis, Peter Gabriel's first solo album sees him apply his theatrical approach to singing to a set of intriguing art rock pieces, produced (and occasionally overproduced) by the legendary Bob Ezrin. It's an entertaining enough album - though I think it bogs down around the middle, with both Excuse Me and Humdrum being extremely skippable - but I can't help but feel that it represents a lost opportunity.

To my mind, Gabriel should have been able to something a bit more interesting and unexpected with a backing band including talents like Robert Fripp and Tony Levin (an encounter which would, no doubt, lead Fripp to recruit Levin into the reconfigured King Crimson some years down the line), but possibly this wasn't down to him - he's gone on record as feeling that the album was overproduced, particularly Here Comes the Flood, and having heard the sparser version he performs on Fripp's Exposure album I'm inclined to agree.

In short, the "Car" album is a decent start, but Gabriel hadn't quite found a compelling solo sound yet - as an album it just isn't that cohesive. What saves it is that as a collection of songs, it's a heap of fun - whilst the diversity of sounds on there does suggest a lack of direction, it also means that there is at least a wide range of stylistic exploration, and some of the individual songs are legitimate classics, even if others are creative dead ends. Call it a three and a half star album that's tantalisingly close to being rounded up to four stars - and go ahead and round it up if you're particularly well-inclined towards Gabriel's musical experimentation, which most prog fans will likely be.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars I got to know Peter Gabriel's work in a very ass-backwards way. First of all, it wasn't until early '76 after he'd gone solo I discovered how great his former outfit Genesis was. See, up till then I was such a rabid Yes freak I dismissed any group that did anything akin to what Yes was doing out of hand, thinking they'd only be an inferior imitation of the real thing. I was between bands at the time, working in a record store to make ends meet when "Trick of the Tail" was released. I was so taken with that album I actually entertained the far-fetched notion that I'd been wrong to snobbishly ignore them so long. Though Peter wasn't on that particular platter I soon realized what a gifted singer he was as I systematically accumulated the Genesis catalogue and developed affection for their brand of progressive rock music I found to be on a par with Yes' but wholly different. I wasn't upset that Gabriel had left the fold because their records from "Trespass" through "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" were all wonderfully new to me and, besides, the group had shown they were still going great guns without him. To be honest, it wasn't until Peter's 3rd disc came out in '80 that I deemed he was worth investigating and that was the beginning of a long-term relationship with his art that continues unabated.

I was aware of him, of course, but my infatuation with Genesis was so strong in the late 70s I didn't pay him the respect he deserved. I knew he was an eccentric kind of guy who'd been associating with the likes of Robert Fripp but, other than repeated exposure to the irresistible charms of "Solsbury Hill," I didn't hear much of his other stuff on the radio so I was content to stay ignorant about what I was missing. That changed when "Games Without Frontiers" caught my ear and I became acutely aware that he was creating interesting sounds that were right up my alley. I bought that album and, soon after, his 2nd and hungrily devoured both but, for some strange reason that escapes me to this day, I never delved into his debut until 34 years had passed since it initially hit the record bins. Yeah, pretty weird. I wholeheartedly agree. But better late than never, eh?

Starting with a tune called "Moribund the Burgermeister" would be considered a strange opening act for most anyone else but in Peter's imaginative sphere of existence (the same where the grotesque Slipperman lived) it was risky business as usual. The track's electronic rhythm is a distinct departure from Genesis' motif but the tune's theatrical aura is pure Gabriel and what his fans were relieved to hear he'd not abandoned. "This thing's really outrageous, I tell you on the level/it's really so contagious must be the work of the devil/you better go now, pick up the pipers, tell them to play/seems the music keeps them quiet, there is no other way," he sings as if addressing his flock. The aforementioned classic "Solsbury Hill" is next. It's most unexpected that he'd produce something so universally accepted (and enduring) when what was anticipated was music that'd be very eclectic and likely inaccessible to the masses. Yet its popularity eclipsed any single that Genesis had ever released up to that point yet it doesn't sacrifice any of its composer's uniqueness. So catchy was it that John Q. Public hardly noticed the unorthodox 7/8 time signature. Two poignant lines sum up his decision to move on in his career. "I was feeling part of the scenery/I walked right out of the machinery," he relates. "Modern Love" follows and this straight-ahead rocker is a step down, mostly due to the overall production being too busy, detracting from any potential impact the song might've had.

Then comes the eyebrow-raising "Excuse Me." A delightful, harmonizing barbershop quartet provides the focus as it evolves into a nostalgic 20s-styled ditty that proves Gabriel wasn't about to ride exclusively on the coattails of his previous persona. "I'm not the man I used to be," he explains with a wink. I first heard and fell in love with "Humdrum" on his superb "Plays Live" album so it's a special treat to now hear the original with its vast array of instrumentation. The opening words, "I saw the man at J.F.K./he took your ticket yesterday/in the humdrum/I ride tandem with a random/things don't run the way I planned them/in the humdrum," are indelible and Larry Fast's dense wall of synthesizers drenching the last segment are glorious. "Slowburn" gallops out as an aggressive rocker (I've read this is a rare version in that respect) but soon reveals it's much more complex in structure than found in typical rock & roll fare. The progressive arrangement is unpredictable and consistently dramatic. The slow, hard blues atmosphere he uses for the foundation of "Waiting for the Big One" came as a complete shock for this aging monkey. Topping that revelation, Peter takes on the countenance of a tipsy lounge singer, a tactic extremely odd in a novel yet attractive way. The number has a Randy Newman-ish tone I don't mind at all (he's a favorite of mine) as Gabriel slurs, "I pray the snow goes, be bad if it settles/'cos I follow my nose and the dried up rose petals/like the man says, sure hope Moses knows his roses/or we'll all be waiting for the big one." Steve Hunter's gutsy guitar solo is no joke and the ending is deliciously pompous.

Peter hauls in a regal symphony for "Down the Dolce Vita" and the churning rock beat roiling underneath offers a fascinating contrast to the orchestral score's seamless intrusions. There are many layers inside this hefty burrito but that's what adventurous, bold prog is all about. I surmise he's referring to touring when he sings "'So long,' said four men to their families/'Be strong till we get back home/and if not, take care of all the children/until then just hope and pray/we're gonna find a way to make it alive.'" I'm more familiar with the awesome, stripped-down version of "Here Comes the Flood" included on his best-of collection, "Shaking the Tree," but I find the haunting intro here sublimely sets up the somber mood he wraps around this beautiful song. On this cut his emotional voice delivers the undiluted power of the poetic lyrics dynamically. "Lord, here comes the flood/we'll say goodbye to flesh and blood/if again the seas are silent/in any still alive/it'll be those who gave their island to survive/drink up, dreamers, you're running dry," he cries mournfully. It does come off a bit heavy-handed (Gabriel has expressed that he felt it was overproduced) so I continue to prefer his later rendition but it still packs a punch that shouldn't be downplayed.

Peter wisely enlisted the help of bassist extraordinaire Tony Levin, drummer Allan Schwartzburg, Hunter and Fripp on guitars and Jozef Chirowski on piano along with Fast's synth expertise to construct his first project and, as such, is an impressive piece of work. It has some rough edges, to be sure, but they add to the ambience rather than erode the effective presence of his youthful enthusiasm. The album peaked at #7 on the UK charts (which isn't all that surprising) but it rose to #38 in the states and that's remarkable considering that Genesis still had barely more than a cult following here in 1977. By any measure what Gabriel achieved with this record is quite admirable and I'm only sorry that it took me so many years getting around to listening to it. My bad.

Review by richardh
5 stars I am quite shocked that this record seems to have so little love attached to it. Admittedly it takes some time to really appreciate and the switching of styles may appear haphazard and the production a little muddy (although it sounds fine to me in a Phil Spector 'Wall of sound' way) but generally what I hear is an exploration into the great unknown. Clearly for Gabriel this had to be set well apart from his Genesis days and so all instrumental twiddling is expunged in favour of songs..just songs! Yep horrors of horrors there are no extended instrumental work outs. However all is not 'lost' as you get at least a outing with the London Symphony Orchestra on 'Down The Dolce Vita'.

The opening track 'Moribund The Burgermeister' is a tricky opening rack. Talk about not making life easy for the listener! Over the years I have to come to love this little gem but its an incredibly twisted piece that needs time to settle (as do many tracks on this album). The background synth is so good. Gabriel sings 'I will find out' and you know he will (and he says so).

Solsbury Hill ,does this even need reviewing. Along with Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here and Kansas 'Dust In The WInd' this is one of my favorite prog singles. Fripps guitar signature at the end is sheer magic. If you don't have goosebumps at this point get someone to prod you to make sure you aren't dead.

Next up is Modern Love , something of an obvious nod to the exploding new wave scene of the time. Instrumentally its a tad ordinary but the sharp and humorus lyrics are the saving grace here. 'In Paris my heart sinks when I see the Mona Lisa , she gives my the wink and then shows me the freezer'. Ha!

Probably the most difficult track for me is 'Excuse Me'. Barbershop is something I know nothing about..Normally this sort of thing is harmless but in Gabriel hands in turns into an ode about wanting to be alone. Humour is again very much to the fore in the lyrics. Loads of fun but admittedly not everyone's cup of tea.

Humdrum is possibly one the tracks that for many drags the album down a notch. Its just very soft and melancholic. Not very cheery but the electric piano is gorgeous in a depressed Supertramp kind of way. It does a perk up a little in places but then is enveloped by what sounds like Mellotron (but most probably isn't) and returns to the general depression. I like this track very much.

Slowburn vies with Down The Dolce Vita and Solsbury Hill for my fave on the album. The complexity is delightfull taking you every place imaginable in just a few minutes.

Waiting For The Big One does nothing to take away the melancholic mood. It's basic bar room blues. Dull as dishwater and easily the worst track on the album but at least its sandwiched in between the two best tracks. One to skip.

Down The Dolce Vita is a juggernaut of a track featuring the LSO and with a mid section to die for. Turn it up loud!

Last but very much not least is the beautiful Here Comes The Flood. Gabriel is such a soulfull singer and the use of organ on this track is spot on. Exceptional.

So what does this album add up to. About 8 brilliant tracks and maybe one dud. I'm not prepared to deprive this commendable debut a 5 star album because of one filler. There is just so much that is good and 'kills' 99% of the releases recognised as 5 stars on PA.

Review by jamesbaldwin
4 stars First album after leaving Genesis, "Peter Gabriel" was released in 1977, the year of punk and, with great candor he proposed the many (often confusing) art-rock, theatrical, baroque ideas, in a word: progressive ideas of our darling.

First symphonic song, "Moribund The Burgermeister" (4:18) on a music hall rhythm, pompous baroque arrangements, which arrive at the grotesque, alternating dramatic and theatrical mood with the subtle and demented one. Excessive track in everything: the exact opposite of punk. Very overproduced, polypoid. But I like it. Surely it's very creative. Rating 8. Second pop song, "Solsbury Hill" (4:21): catchy melody, acoustic beginning with the guitar (Fripp?), simple composition. He will become his warhorse in concert, to lighten up the most dramatic songs. Rating 7,5.

"Modern Love" (3:38) has a good hard riff on the guitar, sustained rhythm, singing screamed scratchy and gritty. Production is not the best. Rating 7+. "Excuse Me" (3:20) is a funny, lazy joke. Vaudeville, it's a retro, pre-war, swing song that Paul McCartney could have written. Rating 7. Very well arranged, it remains a disorienting episode. The listener begins to wonder: where does Gabriel want to go? He wants to get serious, or he wants to produce catchy retro songs (so far it's two out of four)?

Last song of side A, "Humdrum" (3:26) is a progressive track in its own way, given its changes in rhythm, arrangements and atmosphere. It looks like a mazurka, at first, then it becomes orchestral, remaining melodic. Some problem with the production: the drums sound bad. Rating: 8. Again Gabriel brings great creativity to the album: so far we have listened to 5 very different songs from one another. All very cutesy, except the third one, the only one played in a serious way (but also the least convincing one).

Side B opens with "Slowburn" (4:37): has the same sound as "Modern Love" but differs in the refinement of the arrangements and atmospheres, which are perhaps those that most of all recall Genesis. Melodic orchestral rock song with enthralling moments and refined sounds, in some moments it does not deepen the pathos because it gets carried away by instrumental ramblings. This song has merits and defects of the progressive. Rating 7,5/8. "Waiting For The Big One" (7:14), the longer song, it brings back to the retro atmosphere of "Excuse Me", but fortunately the piece dampens the ironic vein and turns towards jazz. Pretentious song, it influences the second side too much. Gabriel is now clear that he alternates three types of songs: the progressive symphonic ones, the catchy pop ones and the retro theatrical ones of variety shows, such as cabaret, like this one. Made well, but too emphatic. It's a song best suited to the voice of a soulful colored singer, like Nina Simone or Dina Washington. It's a soubrette song. Rating 7+.

"Down The Dolce Vita" (4:42), with The London Symphony Orchestra (8), it's as pompous as the opening song. We hear Tony Levin's work on bass, which will remain a collaborator for a long time. You can also hear Gabriel's desperate singing, which will remain his trademark in the future, on a more ethnic and soft instrumental background. The arrangement is really too heavy, swollen. The track, however, is good, even if, like "Slowburn", it's lost a bit in the instrumental ramblings, including a percussive one that anticipates "San Jacinto". Rating 7,5. The finale is mixed with the last song, the masterpiece of the record: "Here Comes The Flood (5:56)". Here Gabriel is finally serious, and arranges with due measure a traditional melodic great work, sometimes epic and dramatic, with a strophe-refrain structure. Rating 8,5.

Very creative album, varied in musical styles, between progressive, retro pop songs, catchy melodic songs. He does not invent anything, and indeed challenges punk with arrangements that are sometimes too pompous. But the musical writing is good, the fantasy as well, the songs always pleasant without difficulty.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,64. Rating: 8+. Four Stars.

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars The allure of the solo album is undeniable and the stellar catalogue of Peter Gabriel is beyond exciting, at least for the ones willing to explore his unusual sonic world; After fronting Genesis in the first half of the 70s and leading his band successfully through their most glorious years [musically, certainly], he left after 'The Lamb' and went on to release a string of severely engaging and innovative art rock albums, where he shifted styles and crossed boundaries, never disposing of that precious progressive aura that is, of course, bound to 'haunt' him, regardless of what he puts out to the listeners to embrace. And his very first studio album as a solo artist provides some strong evidence to back all of this up - the self-titled 1977 album, also known as 'Car', after the famous Hipgnosis cover artwork, is a bold collection of nine completely unrelated songs that seem to go from one extreme to another, stylistically, providing a fine glimpse into Gabriel's musical vocabulary. To make it all even more exciting, one has to mention the presence of Robert Fripp and Tony Levin (who would later go on to play together in King Crimson in the 80s), as the main contributors to the music on 'Peter Gabriel 1'.

Significant and rich are certainly the words that best describe this record, the elegance that accompanies each composition is also valuable, as well as the fact that the album is completely different from everything one might expect from Peter Gabriel, given his previous releases with Genesis. The opening track 'Moribund the Burgermeister' is arguably the weirdest song on the album, and this one resembles some of the material on 'The Lamb' just remotely, making it the only plausible Genesis comparison one could make; Then there are the two fantastic and successful singles 'Solsbury Hill', a song that needs no introduction, and 'Modern Love', with its artsy, wacky music video. The softer 'Humdrum' has to be another highlight, and so is the 7-minute Americana 'Waiting for the Big One'. We have producer Bob Ezrin's influence on these more American-sounding tracks, while Gabriel has been credited for the more 'European sounds' on the record. The rest of the album is also excellent in the face of 'Down the Dolce Vita' and the emotional rollercoaster that is 'Here Comes the Flood'. It is interesting how Peter Gabriel's very first solo album is simultaneously so diverse, so warm, and so hard to predict, yet it is far from perfect, while there are no weak moments on it. His progressive leanings are evident, though not so strongly, as he incorporates a more approachable way of composing songs, in comparison to all releases behind his back up until 1977. All in all, this is a great album that needs to be given some time, in order to be fully appreciated, as the subtlety of it reveals itself gently and gradually before the patient listener.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Robert Fripp and Tony Levin join Peter Gabriel on his first solo album. What's missing here is other songwriters--while there are some excellent songs here, the song quality doesn't match most of his work with Genesis. It does match the weirdness--if not the quality--of his last album with Genes ... (read more)

Report this review (#2903900) | Posted by Idaho | Sunday, April 2, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 4: The debut album of Peter Gabriel, after his departure of genesis with several problems, including a difficult pregnancy of his wife, he decided to began a solo career. So, he began to work with bob ezrin, who assembled a team of musicians that includes Robert Fripp for this new album. His sing ... (read more)

Report this review (#2150858) | Posted by mariorockprog | Friday, March 1, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I will see this extraordinary artist perform his music live in Sweden in May, so I thought that as a little warm up for this great event (to me it just doesn't get bigger, Gabriel might as well be god) I gonna try to review all of his albums, or at least most of them. The first album, or "Ca ... (read more)

Report this review (#1162498) | Posted by BatBacon | Friday, April 18, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A few years after his departure with Genesis, whilst he was experimenting with film amongst other projects, Peter Gabriel amassed material for his breakaway debut album. The music is surprisingly consistent and fully-formed, and despite the occasional musical or production flaw, one feels particular ... (read more)

Report this review (#1116494) | Posted by Xonty | Sunday, January 19, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Peter Gabriel without Genesis. "Moribund the Burgermeister" - This sounds like it could have been one of the quirkier moments from the last Genesis album that Peter was involved with "The Lamb lies down on Broadway". A strange number that I find interesting for its structure. "Solsbury H ... (read more)

Report this review (#947093) | Posted by sukmytoe | Sunday, April 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A highly impressive start to a highly impressive solo career. All of Peter Gabriel's albums live in their own sound world, some more accessable than others, and the first one has one of the less accessable sounds to it, but like all, is a sound that can be warmed up to. There is much warmth in ... (read more)

Report this review (#864010) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Out of the scenery of course! Introduction First of all, I just love his voice and the way how he uses it: after you get caught by Gabriel's great gift everything seems to be shining under your eyes. This is to say that someone who comes from the early Genesis may feel discordant emotions li ... (read more)

Report this review (#464496) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Sunday, June 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The Peter Gabriel album that brought the world. 2 years later after his controversial decision to leave Genesis, Peter Gabriel brings the first of four albums to his name (self-centeredness? I think not), as well as a series of successful albums of his solid career. I'm really happy with t ... (read more)

Report this review (#463118) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, June 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I would like to give this album 5 stars, because it may be my favorite Gabriel album, and he is by all means a 5 star artist. This review should be taken with a grain of salt, as it is rather uncharacteristic of Peter Gabriel's solo work in general. It is a pleasant anomaly, however, in my ey ... (read more)

Report this review (#282947) | Posted by Tarquin Underspoon | Friday, May 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Peter Gabriel solo career is not really a progressive rock music, but as this excellent site says is a Crossover prog. In my opinion the musical quality of Peter Gabriel music, is good but not excellent. In fact none of the Genesis members could reach through their solo career the same level t ... (read more)

Report this review (#281477) | Posted by genbanks | Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Wow, Peter was really struggling here. Mumbled vocals, a complete mish mash of styles all thrown in, little or no hooks, messy production. Okay I'm going over the top a bit, this album is probably worth 2.5 stars, but I've given it 2 because I don't have the heart to give it a 'Good but not es ... (read more)

Report this review (#278676) | Posted by Brendan | Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Peter Gabriel First album after leaving is great career at one of prog greatest bands. He got himself pretty great musicans to help him here the names include: Tony Levin on bass, Larry Fast on Keyboards and synth, and the god of progressive rock Robert Fripp. Don't expect it to be a lost genesis ... (read more)

Report this review (#262472) | Posted by BlindGuard | Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Peter Gabriel is one hell of a musician, fronting Genesis and having a rather successful solo career, the same can be said for Phil Collins except for the musician part. Anyway back to the point, Peter Gabriel's first solo attempt is much more popy then most fans of genesis would have hoped, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#230293) | Posted by DASistGrantTeeL | Thursday, August 6, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Peter Gabriel's exit from Genesis in 1975 was a cataclysmic event. Not only did it put the existence of one of England's major band at risk, it also created high expectations for Gabriel himself. Almost 35 years later, both have more than survived the test of time. Under Phil Collins' leadership ... (read more)

Report this review (#227028) | Posted by izash | Thursday, July 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The solo career of a rock artist is a peculiar concept. Too often an artist is given complete creative freedom, becomes arrogant and produces an inconsistent mess; yet still other times they consolidate their strengths and produce a timeless masterpiece. Gabriel has done both on this 1977 LP. ... (read more)

Report this review (#185905) | Posted by hasheten | Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars To be honest, the first Peter Gabriel solo album is not a great one, and not his best work. There are some good tracks (Solsbury Hill, Here Comes The Flood, Down The Dolce Vita), but some fillers too (I don't like Excuse Me and Humdrum). In its globality, an honest, simple and efficient album, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#163994) | Posted by Zardoz | Saturday, March 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The fact that this album is currently rated here as 3.54 comes as a shock to me. I am a massive Peter Gabriel fan, and I happen to think that this is his finest album as a solo artist. Firstly, for any Genesis fans, this is Gabriel's only solo album that really reminds you of Peter's time with Gen ... (read more)

Report this review (#152940) | Posted by cynthiasmallet | Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Interesting album with highs and lows, but leaving an overall nice impression. Still, I guess it was sort of a dissapointment for Genesis fans at the time of its release, because of the very few nods to Genesis and progressive rock in general. Obviously, this is not necessarly a bad thing if the ... (read more)

Report this review (#122461) | Posted by mistertorture | Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Moribund: the lyrics wind around you, while a musical theme and structure can't help but brings you more of what Garbiel fans have come to expect. Solsbury: A bright light of hope and happiness throbs along in this tune. I was afraid leaving Genesis would spoil the musical spell Peter can cast wi ... (read more)

Report this review (#114878) | Posted by convocation | Sunday, March 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Gabriel started his solo carreer with a great album, to compare his solo work with Genesis material is not really fair to Gabriel, since that's another time another story and another direction. the album distigueshes itself by good melodies, and a huge variety in styles, ranging from the Qu ... (read more)

Report this review (#94011) | Posted by tuxon | Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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