This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.
This is album retro-review number 118 in the series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and Cd albums in my collection.
The series is called “Cream of The Crate” and each review represents an album that I believe is of significant musical value, either because of it’s rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.
The first fifty reviews were vinyl only, and the second fifty reviews were CD’s only. Links to these reviews can be found at the bottom of this page. From review 101 onward I have mixed vinyl and CD albums and, try and present an Australian album every fifth review!
This CD album is by Peter Gabriel and is self titled – Peter Gabriel.
It was released initially in 1982 and between 1982 and 2012, it has been released in no less than 86 versions, including vinyl, cassette, acetate, CD, and Super CD.
This copy is the first CD release and is dated 1982, the first digital copy and it is on the Charisma label. The code is 800 091 -2.
The CD has eight tracks and comes in at around 45 min & 30secs. All 8 tracks were written and arranged by Peter Gabriel.
It comes with a four double sided gloss booklet and the cover of the booklet forms the CD cover. The booklet is nothing spectacular.
It does provide a listing of all the production credits and all the tracks are provided with their lyrics and credits for the musicians who played. It was some indication of the “newness” of CD’s in 1982 when the booklet even provided a detailed description of disk maintenance.
One glowing mistake in the booklet is that the “proofreader” did a very poor job as the final track on the CD (Kiss of life) is presented as the penultimate track, whereas that track (number 7 – Wallflower), is presented in the booklet as the final track.
Yes I know it’s not much but really, someone should have been hauled over the coals for such a basic mistake!
Peter Gabriel was at the time of this CD release better known for his work with Genesis, a group he formed in 1967 along with Tony Banks, Anthony Phillips, Mike Rutherford, and drummer Chris Stewart.
The group considered its self as an autonomous collective and were somewhat put out as the years went by and Genesis began to garner some popularity.
However with the limited popularity of the group and with Gabriel as the front man/singer, it seemed to other band members that he was beginning to take on a popular persona, that the others felt was contrary to Genesis collective approach.
There were many murmurs of discontent. Eventually Gabriel left Genesis in 1975 to find his way as a solo act.
In fact from the time he left Genesis and bought out his first album, titled “Peter Gabriel” in 1977, through to his most recent release, “Back To Front” – Live in London in 2014, he has released a total of 29 albums including live and compilation material.
Therefore it could be argued he is doing something right. His first four albums (1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982) were ALL titled “Peter Gabriel“!
Released in September of 1982 the album did have an alternative title which did not appear on the cover, and that was “Security“.
Produced by himself at home at Ashcombe House (with the assistance of recording engineer David Lord), this was the first album where Gabriel really immersed himself in the music of distant lands and cultures, be they from Ghana, Ethiopia, Bali or the Australian Outback.
As Peter’s first fully digital recording, ‘Security’ [or better known as the 4th Peter Gabriel album] – this album was, in its deeply effective soldering together of futurism and generations-old traditions – a significant marker of the artistry yet to come.
The album was played live on the final night of the first WOMAD Festival in 1982, with assistance from Police drummer Stewart Copeland and sitar legend Ravi Shankar.
“I’d been dreaming for some time of an instrument that could sample stuff from the real world and then make it available on a keyboard.
Larry Fast [a regular keyboard player for Peter] told me that he’d heard rumours of such an instrument.
It was called a Fairlight and cost £10,000, which seemed an unearthly amount of money. But I got very excited by this thing and spent a lot of time collecting sounds, going to factories and the university, getting interesting samples that were then used on that record and the ones after.
It was really one of the key things that gave that record a different sound.” [Peter Gabriel web site]
- The Rhythm Of The Heat
- San Jacinto
- I Have The Touch
- The Family And The Fishing Net
- Shock The Monkey
- Lay Your Hands On Me
- Kiss Of Life
As far as his previous works go, this one stands out, and personally it still stands as my favourite Gabriel album.
We start with Rhythm of the heat.
It seems that Gabriel wrote this song about psychologist Carl Jung’s visit to Africa. He joined a group of drummers and dancers and became overwhelmed with fear.
Gabriel learned about it from Jung’s book Symbols And The Interpretation Of Dreams.
The story goes that Jung was afraid he would go mad as the drummers let the music take control of him. Gabriel tries to capture this feeling with his use of tribal drumbeats.
According to Gabriel in an interview he gave in 1982, “The end of ‘Rhythm Of The Heat’ uses the Ghanaian war dance as an echo – because a big bass thud underneath it puts it in a different dimension. An area that I can identify with more strongly than something that sounds purely ‘African’.”
There is no doubt about it the choice of this track as track number one is excellent and it is a track that you ignore at your own loss.
Not only has Gabriel captured the feeling and to some degree with the sound of African drumming, his voice and delivery has a manic edge to it which is entirely appropriate.
It starts out gently with what seems to be a drum loop, simple but effective, before Gabriel comes in with a simple vocal one note cry and then a very dramatic “crunch”, and the track announces the drama of the piece.
This wasn’t the most popular track on the album, that track comes later – but in my mind it is equally as good as that and indeed, any of the tracks on this CD
The rhythm is below me
The rhythm of the heat
The rhythm is around me
The rhythm has control
The rhythm is inside me
The rhythm has my soul . . . . .
In addition to the use of Ghanain drums and Surdo drums, a Linn programmable drum was used, as well as the Fairlight CMI (Computer Music Instrument), which incidentally at that time was an amazing synth designed and built in Australia.
Other electronic instruments used included a Moog and a Prophet.
While there was some serious experimentation going on in the electronic music world with these instruments, Gabriel along with Tony Levin, Larry Fast and Jerry Marotta, turn out a great piece of music that makes use of these electronic instruments in a really good commercial type track.
The rhythm of the heat
Track 2 is San Jacinto.
This track kicks off with a really nice piece of marimba playing that is repeated throughout the piece. Far more gentle than the first track, well at least for the first three or so minutes [but he likes his drama does our Peter Gabriel!] it does pick up into a faster tempo. Nice to listen to.
Track number 3 – I have the touch.
It’s a good uptempo piece with a powerful downbeat, not the strongest track on the CD by any means.
I do like track number 4 – The family and the fishing net.
Certainly it utilises one of the more “weird” introductions. The track uses some great processed saxophone and the use of Ethiopian pipes gives it a nice touch.
According to Gabriel the track sets out to compare a modern wedding ceremony with a voodoo ceremony! OK, what ever!!! It does have some nice sampling which I assume was courtesy of the Fairlight!
That brings us to track number 5 – Shock the monkey.
Now this was a BIG hit for Gabriel.
The song was Gabriel’s first Top 40 hit in the US. In the UK, the song charted at number 58. Certainly the video clip that was used to promote the track got plenty of exposure.
The guitar work on this track is simple in construction but incredibly effective and it’s a nice piece of work by David Rhodes.
The other outstanding feature is the heavy repeating hook, which may have been one of the features that grabbed audiences as there was nothing else like it on the air at the time.
Checking out the meaning of the track would probably “shock” many people. But here it is.
“As a sex position, the man performs the “Shocker” on his partner as she is held upside-down and performing fellatio. She then resembles a monkey clinging to a tree eating a banana. Despite her fear of being dropped, she was more than happy to let him shock the monkey.”
Cover me when I run
Cover me through the fire
Something knocked me out the trees
Now I’m on my knees
Cover me, darling please hey,hey,hey
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don’t you know you’re gonna shock the monkey
Shock the monkey
Now to track number 6 – Lay your hands on me.
This is quite definitely one of the stranger tracks on the album, far more down-tempo that the rest and with what can only be described as a dramatic yet uneasy (emotionally) opening.
From the moment the initial lines are spoken, most people would say – WEIRD AS! It’s not just the words themselves but the delivery. We have the spoken word interspersed with a sung vocal delivery.
Sat in the corner of the garden grill,
with the plastic flowers on the window sill
No more miracles, loaves and fishes,
been so busy with the washing of the dishes
Reaction level’s much too high –
I can do without the stimuli
It was the track where he first developed his “stage dive”.
The stage dive was an exhibition of trust for the audience “Gabriel-hands” would pass him almost all around the floor. He would stand facing away from the audience, spread his arms and fall backwards. He would then continue singing.
It may not be a track to everyone’s liking, but I do and being slightly on the “bent side” of music, I appreciate the experimentation such as sampling of the noise of scraped paving stone.
Lay your hands on me
Track number 7 is Wallflower.
It starts out very gently with a collage of sounds nicely flanged. It is the closest we get to a “ballad” style from Gabrielle.
The final track, track number 8 is titled Kiss of life.
Kicking off the timeless cry from a drummer of “a one, two” – the track kicks in to an immediate drum bass groove with a nice piece of ‘distorted” guitar cutting through it.
Early reviews of this track canned it because of what was supposed to be a “generic Latin beat”.
Hmmm, on that basis so much music would be “canned”. I don’t agree, I think while there is certainly an undertow of a Latin feel, the great percussion overlay of Morris Pert and the solid drumming of Jerry Marotta bring this track to life!
Incidentally I haven’t mentioned the bass playing of Tony Levin very much, and a smack on my own hand.
Levin is undoubtedly one of the best bass players around – certainly at the time of this recording, solid and innovative – his work seriously underpins this and all the tracks.
The lyrics aren’t really fantastic, but the verbal hook on Kiss of life, makes it easy for the audience to dance their heads off while being able to sing the hook. A great “good-time” dance track and a nice finish to an excellent album.
Kiss of life
So where does that leave us?
Peter has plenty of fans from both his Genesis and his solo days. I can take or leave him but I do prefer his solo work, and this is absolutely one of his top three solo Cd’s.
Although maybe the following CD to this one, “So” in 1986 being just a little better according to others, but not for me.
He was very experimental for the time and given the “pap” being produced today, it seems as though that excitement of experimentation and the resultant “new sounds” may have either been at its peak at this time, or was certainly well under way.
Peter Gabriel’s accolades are many and include being recognised and being the recipient of many awards for humanitarian projects.
More recently being awarded Progressive Magazine’s Progressive Music Award 2014. The award recognises progressive innovators of the past 40 years,
During 2014 the BBC announced a new feature length documentary on Genesis, that will include contributions from Gabriel.
Made with the full co-operation of Genesis, the film reunites all original members of the band – Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett and Mike Rutherford – together for the first time since 1975.
The film recounts an extraordinary musical story, exploring the band’s songwriting as well as emotional highs and lows, alongside previously unseen archive material and rare performance footage across their entire career.
I hope you enjoy it, it will take a lot of fantastic footage to interest me!
On reflection if I was to be recommending a Peter Gabriel album to someone who was not all that familiar with his work, it would either be this one, or the album “So”.
Peter Gabriel’s fourth album, confusingly self-titles like the previous three, can be found under that alternate title “Security” and the CD can be obtained on Ebay for around $18.00, but Discogs have secondhand copies for as low as $6.00 plus postage.
Youtube has a decent collection of live performances by Peter Gabriel. Here are some clips relevant to the album I have just retro-reviewed.
Lay Your hands On Me
Shock the Monkey (Original promo)
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
To view/listen the first 50 vinyl album reviews just click the image below –
To view/listen the first 50 Cd album reviews just click the image below –
Click to open the following Vinyl reviews from 101 onward:
#108: Paul Simon – Graceland