Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (III) (1980)

AllMusic Review: Generally regarded as Peter Gabriel’s finest record, his third eponymous album finds him coming into his own, crafting an album that’s artier, stronger, more song-oriented than before. Consider its ominous opener, the controlled menace of “Intruder.” He’s never found such a scary sound, yet it’s a sexy scare, one that is undeniably alluring, and he keeps this going throughout the record. For an album so popular, it’s remarkably bleak, chilly, and dark — even radio favorites like “I Don’t Remember” and “Games Without Frontiers” are hardly cheerful, spiked with paranoia and suspicion, insulated in introspection. For the first time, Gabriel has found the sound to match his themes, plus the songs to articulate his themes. Each aspect of the album works, feeding off each other, creating a romantically gloomy, appealingly arty masterpiece. It’s the kind of record where you remember the details in the production as much as the hooks or the songs, which isn’t to say that it’s all surface — it’s just that the surface means as much as the songs, since it articulates the emotions as well as Gabriel’s cubist lyrics and impassioned voice. He wound up having albums that sold more, or generated bigger hits, but this third Peter Gabriel album remains his masterpiece. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Intruder” 4:54
2. “No Self Control” 3:55
3. “Start” 1:21
4. “I Don’t Remember” 4:42
5. “Family Snapshot” 4:28
6. “And Through the Wire” 5:00
Side two
No. Title Length
1. “Games Without Frontiers” 4:06
2. “Not One of Us” 5:22
3. “Lead a Normal Life” 4:14
4. “Biko” 7:32

 

Schill Score: 6/10

 

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Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel I (1977)

AllMusic Review: Peter Gabriel tells why he left Genesis in “Solsbury Hill,” the key track on his 1977 solo debut. Majestically opening with an acoustic guitar, the song finds Gabriel’s talents gelling, as the words and music feed off each other, turning into true poetry. It stands out dramatically on this record, not because the music doesn’t work, but because it brilliantly illustrates why Gabriel had to fly on his own. Though this is undeniably the work of the same man behind The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, he’s turned his artiness inward, making his music coiled, dense, vibrant. There is still some excess, naturally, yet it’s the sound of a musician unleashed, finally able to bend the rules as he wishes. That means there are less atmospheric instrumental sections than there were on his last few records with Genesis, as the unhinged bizarreness in the arrangements, compositions, and productions, in tracks such as the opener “Moribund the Burgermeister” vividly illustrate. He also has turned sleeker, sexier, capable of turning out a surging rocker like “Modern Love.” If there is any problem with Peter Gabriel, it’s that Gabriel is trying too hard to show the range of his talents, thereby stumbling occasionally with the doo wop-to-cabaret “Excuse Me” or the cocktail jazz of “Waiting for the Big One” (or, the lyric “you’ve got me cookin’/I’m a hard-boiled egg” on “Humdrum”). Still, much of the record teems with invigorating energy (as on “Slowburn,” or the orchestral-disco pulse of “Down the Dolce Vita”), and the closer “Here Comes the Flood” burns with an anthemic intensity that would later become his signature in the ’80s. Yes, it’s an imperfect album, but that’s a byproduct of Gabriel’s welcome risk-taking — the very thing that makes the album work, overall. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing

Side One
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Moribund the Burgermeister” 4:20
2. “Solsbury Hill” 4:21
3. “Modern Love” 3:38
4. “Excuse Me” Peter Gabriel, Martin Hall 3:20
5. “Humdrum” 3:25
Side Two
No. Title Length
6. “Slowburn” 4:36
7. “Waiting for the Big One” 7:15
8. “Down the Dolce Vita” 5:05
9. “Here Comes the Flood” 5:38

 

Schill Score:  6.5/10

 

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