Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel is an English singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and activist with a career in music dating back to the late 1960s. He rose to prominence as the vocalist of Genesis, which he fronted for six albums between 1969 and 1974. As a solo artist, he issued four self-titled albums on Charisma between 1977 and 1982. He achieved superstar status with his 1986 Charisma/Geffen release So. Since then, he’s sporadically released albums on his Real World label.

Early Life

He was born Peter Brian Gabriel on February 13, 1950, in Chobham, Surrey, to a middle-class musical family. As a child at St Andrews Preparatory School for Boys, the teaching staff noticed his singing abilities. At age 10, he took up piano and drums. Before discovering soul music, his biggest influences were church hymns.

In September 1963, he entered Charterhouse, a boarding school for boys in Godalming, Surrey. During his first year there, he sang and drummed in The Milords, a skiffle combo. In his second year, he formed Garden Wall with fellow pupils Tony Banks and Chris Stewart. Gabriel and Banks wrote songs for the band, including “She Is Beautiful,” which later morphed into “The Serpent” on the first Genesis album.

Garden Wall played its only concert at a school event with Anon, another student band that featured Charterhouse pupils Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips. As members of both bands graduated, the remaining five — Gabriel, Banks, Stewart, Rutherford, Philips — assembled in a new band with Gabriel as the lead vocalist.

Genesis 1968 — 1975

In 1967, Gabriel’s band met with music producer and Charterhouse alumnus Jonathan King, who oversaw their initial recordings. King suggested two possible names for the young act: Gabriel’s Angels and Genesis. The band picked the latter. As Genesis, they released six albums with Gabriel at the mic: From Genesis to Revelation (1969), Trespass (1970), Nursery Cryme (1971), Foxtrot (1972), Selling England by the Pound (1973), and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974).

During his time with Genesis, Gabriel was known for his theatrical makeup and stage costumes, which were often worn to enact the characters of select songs in the band’s live repertoire. He left the band in May 1975 after the completion of their elaborate tour for TLLDoB.

Solo Career

Gabriel’s first post-Genesis appearance was on the 1976 soundtrack of All This and World War II, a collection of Beatles covers (set to wartime stock footage) that includes his take on “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That same year, he recorded his eponymous debut solo album with producer Bob Ezrin.

Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel released his self-titled debut album on February 25, 1977, on Charisma (UK) and Atco (US). Most of the songs are lavish, cinematic takes on 20th century styles, including ragtime/music-hall (“Excuse Me”), orchestral disco (“Down the Dolce Vita”), R&B torch song (“Waiting for the Big One”), and stadium rock (“Modern Love”). The folksy “Solsbury Hill” was issued as a single with considerable success on both sides of the Atlantic. The epic album-closer “Here Comes the Flood” became an enduring fan favorite and live staple.

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)

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)

Producer Bob Ezrin
Recorded Autumn 1976[1]
Studio The Soundstage, Toronto, Canada
Morgan Studios, London
Olympic Studios, London

Peter Gabriel – lead vocals, keyboard, flute, recorder
Robert Fripp – electric guitar, classical guitar, banjo
Tony Levin – bass guitar, tuba, leader of the Barbershop Quartet
Jozef Chirowski – keyboard
Larry Fast – synthesizer, programming
Allan Schwartzberg – drums
Steve Hunter – acoustic guitar on “Solsbury Hill”, “Slowburn” and “Waiting for the Big One”; electric guitar, electric rhythm guitar, pedal steel
Dick Wagner – backing vocals, electric guitar on “Here Comes the Flood”
Jimmy Maelen – percussion, synthibam, bones
London Symphony Orchestra – strings on “Down the Dolce Vita” and “Here Comes the Flood”
Michael Gibbs – arrangement of orchestra

“Solsbury Hill”
Released: 21 March 1977 [4]
“Modern Love”
Released: 20 June 1977

French Albums (SNEP)[36] 5
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[39] 5
UK Albums (OCC)[41] 7
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[40] 8
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[35] 9
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[37] 9
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[33] 10
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[32] 25
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[34] 30
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[38] 38
US Billboard 200[42] 38

Peter Gabriel

On June 3, 1978, Gabriel issued his second self-titled solo album, this time with guest-guitarist Robert Fripp at the console. The album hears Gabriel embrace rougher, fractious sounds; imported via Fripp’s involvement in David Bowie‘s then-recent Heroes. The mood of Gabriel’s sophomore effort ranges from uproarious (“On the Air,” “Animal Magic,” “Perspective”) to plaintive (“Mother of Violence,” “Indigo,” “Home Sweet Home”) with occasional bursts of whimsy (“A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World.”)

1. “On the Air” (5:30)
2. “D.I.Y.” (2:37)
3. “Mother of Violence” Peter Gabriel, Jill Gabriel (3:10)
4. “A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World” (3:33)
5. “White Shadow” (5:14)

6. “Indigo” (3:30)
7. “Animal Magic” (3:26)
8. “Exposure” P. Gabriel, Robert Fripp (4:12)
9. “Flotsam and Jetsam” (2:17)
10. “Perspective” (3:23)
11. “Home Sweet Home” (4:37)

Producer Robert Fripp
Recorded November 1977 – February 1978[1]
Studio Relight Studios, Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlands

Peter Gabriel – vocals; Hammond organ on 11; piano on 2; synthesizer on 5, 7
Robert Fripp – electric guitar on 1, 3, 5, 10; acoustic guitar on 5; Frippertronics on 8
Tony Levin – bass guitar on 1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11; Chapman stick on 2, 4, 9; string bass on 6; recorder arrangements on 6, 9; backing vocals on 1, 4, 7, 10, 11
Roy Bittan – keyboards on 1, 3, 5, 6, 10, 11
Larry Fast – synthesizer, treatments on 1, 2, 5, 7, 10
Jerry Marotta – drums on all except 3; backing vocals on 1, 4, 10, 11
Sid McGinnis – electric guitar on 1, 4, 8–11; acoustic guitar on 2, 3; steel guitar on 3–5, 6, 9, 11; mandolin on 2; backing vocals on 7
Bayeté (Todd Cochran) – keyboards on 2, 4, 6, 7
Tim Cappello – saxophone on 10, 11
George Marge – recorder on 6, 8, 9
John Tims – insects on 3

Released: 22 May 1978

French Albums (SNEP)[21] 2
UK Albums (OCC)[24] 10
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[23] 24
US Billboard 200[25] 45 

Peter Gabriel

Gabriel refined his newfound darker sensibilities on his third solo album, issued on May 30, 1980. He was joined on this release by a number of high-profile players, including Paul Weller (The Jam), Dave Gregory (XTC), Kate Bush, and former Genesis-collegue Phil Collins. Lyrically, the set tackles subjects like home break-ins (“Intruder”) and social ostracism (“Not One of Us”). The goth-tinged lead-off single “Games Without Frontiers” became an unlikely chart entry. The track “Biko,” about the martyred South African freedom fighter, marked Gabriel’s move into ethno-rock territory. Further hints of his subsequent course are heard in the instrumentals “Start” and “Lead a Normal Life,” which preview his forays into ambient and soundtrack work. (A collection of instrumental demos and outtakes from this period, Games Without Words, surfaced on the bootleg circuit.)

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)

7. “Games Without Frontiers” (4:06)
8. “Not One of Us” (5:22)
9. “Lead a Normal Life” (4:14)
10. “Biko” (7:32)

Producer Steve Lillywhite
Recorded Summer–autumn 1979[1]
Studio Manor Mobile (Bath) The Townhouse (London)
Production personnel
Steve Lillywhite – producer
Hugh Padgham – engineer

Peter Gabriel – vocals, piano; synthesizer on “Start”, “I Don’t Remember”, “Games Without Frontiers” and “Not One of Us”; drum pattern on “Biko”; backing vocals on “Intruder”, “Family Snapshot” and “Not One of Us”; whistle on “Games Without Frontiers”
Larry Fast – synthesizer on “Intruder”, “No Self Control”, “Start”, “Games Without Frontiers” and “Biko”; processing on “No Self Control”, “I Don’t Remember” and “Not One of Us”; bagpipes on “Biko”
David Rhodes – guitar on all tracks except “Start”; backing vocals on “Intruder”, “I Don’t Remember” and “Not One of Us”
Robert Fripp – electric guitar on “No Self Control”, “I Don’t Remember” and “Not One of Us”
Dave Gregory – electric guitar on “I Don’t Remember” and “Family Snapshot”
Paul Weller – electric guitar on “And Through the Wire”
John Giblin – bass guitar on “No Self Control”, “Family Snapshot”, “And Through the Wire”, “Games Without Frontiers” and “Not One of Us”
Tony Levin – Chapman Stick on “I Don’t Remember”
Jerry Marotta – drums on “I Don’t Remember”, “Family Snapshot”, “Games Without Frontiers”, “Not One of Us”, “Lead a Normal Life” and “Biko”; percussion on “Games Without Frontiers” and “Not One of Us”
Phil Collins – drums on “Intruder”, “No Self Control” and “And Through the Wire”; drum pattern on “Intruder”; snare on “Family Snapshot”; surdo on “Biko”
Morris Pert – percussion on “Intruder”, “No Self Control” and “Lead a Normal Life”
Dick Morrissey – saxophone on “Start”, “Family Snapshot” and “Lead a Normal Life”
Kate Bush – backing vocals on “No Self Control” and “Games Without Frontiers”
Steve Lillywhite, Hugh Padgham – whistles on “Games Without Frontiers”
Dave Ferguson – screeches on “Biko”

“Games Without Frontiers”
Released: February 1980
Ireland (IRMA)[19] 3
UK Singles (OCC)[20] 4
Canada RPM[18] 7
Australia (Kent Music Report)[17] 44
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 48

“No Self Control”
Released: May 1980
UK Official Singles Chart[6] 33

“Biko” / “Shosholoza” “Jetzt kommt die Flut”
Released: August 1980[8]
“I Don’t Remember”
Released: September 1980

French Albums (SNEP)[40] 1
UK Albums (OCC)[42] 1
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[39] 7
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[41] 9
US Billboard 200[43] 22

Peter Gabriel

On September 10, 1982, Gabriel released his fourth self-titled album. Stateside, Geffen re-titled it Security to avoid confusion with his prior three albums. The songs were largely self-recorded at his home studio in Bath, Somerset, with assorted backing from John Ellis (The Vibrators), Morris Pert (Brand X), Larry Fast, and Peter Hammill. The second single, “Shock the Monkey,” was accompanied with a surrealist video that proved highly influential on the fledgling medium. Musically, the album synthesized Gabriel’s fascination with ambient textures and ethnic rhythms.

1. “The Rhythm of the Heat” (5:15)
2. “San Jacinto” (6:21)
3. “I Have the Touch” (4:30)
4. “The Family and the Fishing Net” (7:08)

5. “Shock the Monkey” (5:28)
6. “Lay Your Hands on Me” (6:03)
7. “Wallflower” (6:30)
8. “Kiss of Life” (4:17)

Producer David Lord and Peter Gabriel
Recorded Spring 1981 – summer 1982
Studio Ashcombe House, Bath, England

Peter Gabriel – vocals, programming and sequencing (tracks 1–6), synthesizer, piano (track 7), surdo (tracks 1, 8), additional drums on track 2
Tony Levin – bass guitar (tracks 1, 6–8), Chapman stick (tracks 2–5)
David Rhodes – guitar (tracks 2–8)
Jerry Marotta – drum kit, surdo (track 1), percussion (track 6)
Larry Fast – synthesizer (tracks 1–5, 7, 8), electronic percussion (track 8)
John Ellis – backing vocals on tracks 1, 3, 8, guitar on tracks 2, 4
Roberto Laneri – treated saxophone on track 4
Morris Pert – timbales on track 6, percussion on track 8
Stephen Paine – programming on track 4
David Lord – synthesizer on tracks 6, 7, piano on tracks 7, 8
Peter Hammill – backing vocals on tracks 4, 5, 6
Jill Gabriel – backing vocals on track 2
Ekome Dance Company – Ghanaian drums on track 1
Greg Fulginiti – mastering
Malcolm Poynter – album art [30]

Peter Gabriel – producer
David Lord – producer, engineer
Neil Perry – assistant engineer
Andy Rose – engineer (Mobile One)
Tim Wybrow – engineer (Mobile One)
Julian Mendelsohn – remix on track 5
Danny Heaps – remix assistant on track 5

“Shock the Monkey” / “Soft Dog”
Released: September 1982
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
Italy (Musica e dischi)[18] 2
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[17] 10
Australia (Kent Music Report)[16] 25
US Billboard Dance/Disco 26
US Billboard Hot 100[20] 29
UK Singles (OCC)[19] 58

“I Have the Touch” / “Across the River”
Released: December 1982 [10]
Released: 1982 (NL)

Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[32] 2
French Albums (SNEP)[35] 5
UK Albums (OCC)[38] 6
Finnish Albums (The Official Finnish Charts)[34] 13
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[33] 14
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[37] 15
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[36] 18
US Billboard 200[39] 28

(more to come…)



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