Review Summary: A unique beginning to a solo artist's discography, Peter Gabriel brings a perfect synergy of prog and pop without sacrifice, something that his former group could never truly achieve.
A bit of history. After recording and subsequently touring with Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Peter Gabriel had grown tired of the restraints of the democratic Genesis and wanted to experiment on his own. He took a year off, worked hard and created a unique sound that would be used towards his debut eponymous album, Peter Gabriel. The first of four eponymous albums and was known as Car because of the album artwork done by the design firm Hipgnosis.
Peter Gabriel is a beautiful blend of emotional and heart-felt pieces along with some great rockers and hugely grandiose songs. The album begins with Moribund the Burgermeister, a song that could have well been on Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. The strange beats and rhythms take us further into the story.
With terrific session musicians, the album is able to grow as we move from track to track. Tony Levin guest stars on bass and chapman stick as well as leading the barbershop quartet in Excuse Me.
The second single from the album comes in the form of Modern Love which leaves the listener wanting more and never lives up to its full potential. Humdrum similarly displays this however the beautiful musical arrangement makes up for it.
My personal favourite song comes in the form of the second last piece on the album Down the Dolce Vita. Though I do hate the use of this word, the only proper term to describe this song is epic. With all its horns, percussion, and a huge build up, the piece takes the listener right to the edge and this is where the album hits its climax. The song is a perfect mix of the times: some disco flair, a great opening, and strong, emotional vocals to bring it all together. Gabriel finishes on a strong note with his so called credits song, Here Comes the Flood. Robert Fripp provides the guitar while Gabriel is on the piano. He has since said that he did not like the over-produced sound of the piece and would subsequently perform it with just him and the piano.
The 9 song album is relatively short for Gabriel (having just come off a 92 minute epic), however, the length is perfect. It allows Gabriel to express everything and leave it all out on the record. Side 2 stands out to me as the more spirited and edgy side while side 1 is more poppy and commercial with the inclusion of the massive hit Solsbury Hill used in countless movies.
Though the album is complete and a terrific listen, it is not without it’s flaws. Waiting for the Big One is overdrawn and goes on for far too long. It’s a simple blues song that drags for over seven minutes. Luckily, the album finishes extremely strong and saves the second side.
All in all, a complete album that has its stumbles but where it begins to lag, it picks up and drives forward like no other Genesis album. This is Gabriel finally breaking free of Genesis’s chains and coming into his own. Peter is home again.