G is for Gabriel, Peter Gabriel

As it turns out, I have TWO copies of Peter Gabriel’s third album in German, on vinyl.

Somehow, I was largely unaware of the music of the “progressive rock” group Genesis, which was formed in the late 1960s, until its 1974 album. The title track to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway [listen] got a bit of airplay in this area. Shortly after this album, lead singer Peter Gabriel left the group over personal and artistic differences, with Phil Collins taking over the lead vocals of Genesis. Gabriel would eventually initiate a solo career.

His first album (1977) was called Peter Gabriel and featured the song Solsbury Hill [listen], which was about his departure from Genesis, as well as the first version of Here Comes the Flood, which Gabriel claimed was overproduced; from the version on his greatest hits album, he may have been correct.

His second, less successful album from 1978, was also called Peter Gabriel, and featured D.I.Y. Fans dubbed the first collection Car and the second, Scratch, based on the album cover features.

But it was his 1980 third album, called Peter Gabriel, referred to as Melt, that really captivated my attention. The first song, “Intruder”, “featured the reverse-gated, cymbal-less drum kit sound which [Phil] Collins would also use on his single “In the Air Tonight”…. Gabriel had requested that his drummers use no cymbals in the album’s sessions, and when he heard the result he asked Collins to play a simple pattern for several minutes, then built ‘Intruder’ around it.” Another great song is “I Don’t Remember” – “I have no memory of anything at all.

The hit was Games Without Frontiers [listen]; this version is pitched higher with the treble is adjusted. I must admit that I heard the lyrics “Jeux sans frontieres” as “She’s so funky, yeah.” Oy.

This album was also realized in German; “alternate takes of some of the instruments seem to have been used occasionally, and the mix is somewhat different.”

As it turns out, I have TWO copies of this German-language album on vinyl. When I worked at FantaCo in the early 1980s, the boss gave each of us a copy of the album, but, for reasons now lost to me, one of my colleagues was angry about the gift, didn’t want it, and gave it to me. So, one of my LPs is still factory-sealed.

Here are Spiel ohne grenzen [listen] (“Games without frontiers” in German) and Biko [listen]. The latter song is about Stephen Biko, “a noted anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s,” who died in police custody in 1977. Gabriel’s song was one of several about Biko but among the most significant.

Peter Gabriel’s fourth album, from 1982, was called, you guessed it, Peter Gabriel. However, his US distributor slapped the title Security on it. The big hit was Shock the Monkey [listen]. This album was also released in German.

The next year, Peter Gabriel Plays Live came out, filled with previously released songs plus the minor hit I Go Swimming.

Peter Gabriel would go on to even greater commercial success, but that’s another tale.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

36 thoughts on “G is for Gabriel, Peter Gabriel”

  1. It is worth noting that ‘Jeux sans Frontieres’ took its name from a Europe-wide tv programme involving teams representing towns and cities in their countries competing in bizarre games, often involving lots of water, foam and cumbersome ‘funny’ suits. In the UK it was known as ‘It’s a Knockout’ and is remembered with some affection.

  2. You know so much about these singers! I am not familiar with much of the modern music apart from a few musicians. I always listen to classical music, I know I should broaden my knowledge.
    Thanks for visiting. You are right: legal documents are absolutely necessary. In this case there were legal documents but the bookkeeper had plenty of opportunaties to commit theft as the bank stopped sending bank statements, because of the internet banking the bookkeeper did.

  3. Peter Gabriel – artisitic is an understatement don’t you think? I was a great Genesis fan – my favourite album being Trick of the Tale. Love the slower tracks. Phil Collins – I have mixed views mostly favourable. Thanks so much R Dx

  4. Very interesting, Roger. And I listened wherever you said “listen”!
    Your posts are always so well put together and informative. Thanks!
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  5. Boy, I guess I am really “Old”. I have no idea who Peter is or his music.
    Thanks for all the information and sound bites. Who knows a new fan may be born.

  6. I wasn’t aware that he released any of his songs in German, how cool is that. I grew up watching his unique video clips on MTV and I love his voice. He can make me cry any day with Red Rain or Don’t Give Up.
    Solsbury Hills is my favourite and I laughed out loud at one of the comments on the video: “Why is it that people at TV talent shows can barely hit a single tone and Gabriel can sing perfectly while riding a bike?!”

  7. Peter Gabriel,Phil Collins, Genesis….my kind of post! Our first dance at our wedding was Genesis (as in hubby and me, not Roger and me).

  8. Unfortunately I must live a sheltered life, as I had never heard of Genesis or Peter Gabriel…but your post is certainly informative. You are such an expertise on “Music” Love what you do!

  9. I am out of my depth here, but I did enjoy the video ‘Shock the Monkey’. I do learn a lot from your posts, Roger.

  10. Like you, I wasn’t much into Genesis, but my younger sister was, and since she lived with me for a year when I was at university, I heard their music often. Can’t say I was much of a Gabriel fan, either, but I still know most of his music. Not having paid attention to words or titles, I never realized Biko (on of my more favorite songs of his) was about the South African, who I did know about.

  11. I never really followed Genesis or Peter Gabriel. Thanks for adding to my music pop culture education!

  12. I knew Phil Collins had been with Genesis but didn’t really listen when Peter Garbriel was the lead singer. He sure has a certain “style” but must admit I’ve not kept up with his career. I do enjoy Phil Collins, though.

    abcw team

  13. Love Peter Gabriel! Love listening to “Don’t give up” with Kate Bush;o)
    Thanks for sharing, Roger;o)

    ¤ Have a nice and happy week ¤

    ps: Mildred = Cildemer;o)

  14. LOVE Peter Gabriel, and his move to world music makes Paul Simon look like an absolute poser. Gabriel’s the real deal, core social justice values. His duet with Kate Bush on the Sinead O’Connor-penned “Don’t Give Up” is one of the most moving cuts of his career. The video is probably on YouTube; hardly any movement, yet it is poignant and haunting.

    Thanks for this wonderful offering, a tribute to one of my favorite musician/songwriter/singer/activists ever, and that’s coming from a usual jazz kitten… Peace, Amy

  15. Like many of your commenters I’m not too familiar with Genesis or Peter Gabriel. There are three aspects here — the music, the words and the videos. If I had time in this stage of my life I would want to know how they came to be what they are. Are all three trying to say the same thing? Is there a message here? I guess I want to know what makes him tick; what his motivation is in all three aspects; or is there even a connection between them. As usual being me I want to see the pattern or order — or not, if that is what he intended. But be it known, I am not completely out of date! I love Paul Simon!

  16. we named our second daughter gabrielle, and so often esp when she was in Singapore, she was mistaken to be Master Gabriel.

  17. That’s strange I never heard of him ! Not in English and not in German. Apparently he was very succesful in Germany, but living in Belgium I missed that too. I like Phil Collins very much.

  18. You fill in the blank spots in my education! I’ve always been fond of music but knew few bands and even fewer lyrics. I’m grateful for your information!

  19. You always have such an informative post. I knew Genesesi and Gabriel – but not all the detail you provided. Thanks for this and the links!

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