Personnel includes: Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush (vocals); Robert Fripp (guitar); Roy Bittan, Larry Fast (keyboards); Tony Levin (bass); Phil Collins (drums); Dick Wagner, Jim Maelen, Steve Hunter, Allan Schwartzberg. Recorded at The Soundstage, Toronto, … see full wiki
Cons: He went away from this approach in later works
When Peter Gabriel left the band Genesis, no one really knew what to expect from this art rock pioneer. Few were prepared for the onslaught that is the first album titled Peter Gabriel.
Enlisting Bob Ezrin to produce this album, it was soon apparent that Peter was out to make a definite statement. He succeeded!! Even though it was not commercially successful and did not produce any monster hits, (The song Solsbury Hill did get some airplay.) this album ranks as one of the best releases of the 70's! Few know it, but those that do, love it!
Those that know Gabriel from his recent work, will be flabbergasted by the scope of the music on this disc. Instead of the sparse treatments and jungle rhythms that he is famous for now, this first solo effort is an exercise in overwhelming musical composition. Rich, textured music that is given the full heavy production touch of Ezrin.
If you enjoy music that is designed to take you away. To carry you by the shear weight of it's forceful delivery, this is the album for you! I rank this as one of my all time favorites and rightfully so. It is an album that will wear you out with just one listen!!!
The album starts of with a sordid little tale called "Moribund the Burgemeister." This song sets the tone for you. Starting out very quiet with Peter's vocals set against a synthesizer and drum backing, it soon builds to a crescendo that explodes with a loud burst of electric guitar by Robert Fripp and the full orchestral backing that is the brainchild of Mr. Ezrin! The effect is astounding! Then a return to the humble beginnings of the tune come out of this whirlwind of sound before rising again to once more assault your senses with such a cornucopia of sound that it is almost dangerous to listen to with headphones on! Well not really, dangerous, except for those that cannot handle great full blown orchestrated rock and roll at it's finest!!
The next song is one that I still consider a true classic in every sense of the word. It is also the only song from his early solo career that Gabriel still plays live. It is the song "Solsbury Hill." This acoustic driven song is so rich and lovely that it is impossible to think of this as anything but a masterpiece. I have heard a few different versions of this song and each one is majestic. A very nostalgic song, it has a lot to say about fatherhood and family. From the start with the pounding drum and guitar that will remind you of the sea crashing along the English shore. This song takes you on a journey of the English county side. Next a very subtle French Horn comes in and gives this song a deep textured feel as Peter's vocals carry you far, far away!!! Then as the song builds toward the finale, Fripp steps in and delivers a very subdued electric guitar that is just magical at that moment! This tune is as close to perfection as you will ever hear!!!
"Modern Love" is in direct contrast to the previous song. This thunderous rocker starts out with a burst by Fripp and really never lets up!! Gabriel's vocals are spine tingling throughout. Just listen to the many layers of instrumentation on this piece. A very powerful organ backing, the drumming of Allan Schwartzber is superb and the orchestration that is very sparse, is a brilliant touch!! This is how music should be done. Another great bit of rock and roll!!!
Well...."Excuse Me!" No, not Steve Martin, but he could have done this little barbershop ditty!! A great bit of fun is had by all with this song that is done in the style of an old barbershop quartet. Right down to the tuba in the back ground! Just a little breather on this great album.
A very eerie and appealing song comes up next. "Humdrum" starts out with a very spooky keyboard backing the almost whisper of Gabriel's vocals. The music then builds to the next level which is almost jazzy in feel. Some very great piano work by Gabriel provides this touch before the song again escalates to another level! Building once more to a fully orchestrated piece that again uses it's majesty to make you sit up and take notice! This is one of those songs that again works on so many levels. All you have to do is listen to Peter's vocal ability here. His voice acts as another instrument blended to the mix!! His piano work is perfect and powerful. A beautifully crafted piece by a musical genius!!
"Slowburn" is the next selection. Starting out with a light bit of keyboards, this song then veers off as Gabriel starts to add his voice and Fripp brings his guitar into play. Then with a sudden twist, the song then does a brief interlude with a great string section backing it before letting the guitars take off once again!! Gabriel uses changes of tempo and style so effectively, you will think that you are listening to an opera in 4 acts!! The changes are that dynamic. He forces you to pay attention that way! One last note, there is a nice guitar piece near the end performed by the Detroit native and one of my favs, Dick Wagner!
Gabriel next sets his sites on the blues. He does a very melancholy crawl with the dynamic song, Waiting for the Big One." This is a torch song that anyone would be proud of. The mixture of piano and guitar gives you that dark, back alley feel. Peter's vocals are as guttural as any in this genre. Another highlight is the Robert Fripp guitar solo. It just smokes!! This song gives you just a little rest stop before the conclusion of this almost perfect album. Gabriel wants to leave you with something to remember him by and he does it with the two partner that starts off with the tune......
"Down The Doce Vita." Starting out with the London Symphony Orchestra, this song is right from the beginning something to reckon with!! Fripp provides the powerful melody as Gabriel takes the role of orchestra leader with his dynamic voice! Once more this song is a symphony of dynamic proportions! The song itself evolves from one movement to the next as you are carried down the Doce Vita by the forcefulness of this piece. Another example of what a fantastic talent this man is. This music goes well beyond what can be called just rock and roll, it is something much more than that!!!
At the end of the ride that is the previous song, lies the finale called "Here Comes The Flood. Peter with just a minimal musical backing, begins singing as if this record has even worn him out! Very softly, we find out that he is just the calm before the storm....and here comes the FLOOD!!!! A flood of epic proportions!! One that is going to wipe out all that gets in it's path. A flood of music. This song is the perfect wrap up of one magnificent album. Another piece that creates an atmosphere that completely envelops you with it's full, rich texture, before releasing you all too soon as the song ends!! This is one album that is so much more than just a collection of song, it is a true listening experience!! Be prepared. You are about to enter the Gabriel Zone!!! (One last note on this song, Dick Wagner makes one more appearance with a truly dynamic guitar solo.)
Well there are not many times that an album can have this effect on me. This one does. It is not only an album, but a work of art. One that I can enjoy time and time again. Very few artist could pull off such an album. As a matter of fact, I can not think of another that has put out a work that equals this one in it's shear dynamics. The music here is something that cannot be appreciated to on a car radio. That would be like listening to Mozart in midi form! Not quite the same. As a matter of fact, if Mozart would have been born in this era, this is what I would expect from him!!