Having recently re-discovered I owned a copy this album, it would have been a much better choice for my 1982 album of the previous round. No theme this week meant I was free to bring it along anyway. Rhythmically I thought this might mark a departure from my normal fare and allow us to ponder on an artist who has covered such a wide range of bases in his career.
From proggy/eccentric/worldy/political/pop it is pretty hard to find a file to put Mr Gabriel under.
From distant memory, I acquired this album in 1982 after a series of swaps, which to the best of my recollection, included Men at Work and Genesis. I think I came out the winner. I have never sought out any Gabriel era Genesis, but I’m pretty confident it sounds nothing like this!
I took to it pretty quickly as basically it sounded weirder than much of what else I was listening to, and had a spooky cover. Certainly the video for ‘Shock the Monkey’ was disturbing enough to get my interest at the time. It was pretty easy to please a 16 year old in those days!
I pretty much left the album alone for many years until I finally saw Alan Parker’s film, Birdy. The soundtrack recycles some of the tracks on this album and immediately triggered renewed interest in the album.
While, like many, I enjoyed the videos like Sledgehammer from 1986’s ‘So’, it has always been the darker atmospherics of this album that have held my interests. Heavily indulging African and Latin rhythms, sounds and atmospherics throughout, it is not an easy listen and sometimes a little too melodramatic in places. Overall I guess that is why some of the tracks work so well on the movie soundtrack.
‘Rhythm of the Heat’ is a brutal opener with African percussion and along with ‘Lay your Hands on Me’, and my personal favourite ‘Wallflower’, they are my stand out tracks from the album. Some very ‘heavy’ subject matter lies behind many of these tracks but seeing as I have misunderstood most of it for 20+ years, it is not essential to enjoying the album as a whole.
Tom Listened: Although I have never been a huge fan of Peter Gabriel, I had a ‘phase’ around the time of Sledgehammer and my copy of So languishes somewhere in my record collection, unlistened to and unloved for many years now…I am sure it sounds as good today as it did back in the 80s though. Must give it a go. Whilst So is the only Gabriel album I still own, my brother and I definitely had some of his self-titled albums back in the day but their whereabouts are a mystery to me now. I don’t think we had 4 but perhaps we did and I just never got round to getting to know it properly. I certainly enjoyed those albums back then and listening to Graham’s offering the other evening brought back why – Gabriel’s music is an interesting mix of influences, thoughtful and thought provoking, perhaps a little too earnest at times but, to my mind, well worth a listen. As Graham has pointed out above, Peter Gabriel is a bit of an enigma – hard to pigeonhole, one senses he is elusive and private and operates way outside the mainstream whilst still being widely admired and respected. Must be doing something right!
Nick listened: Peter Gabriel is one of those artists who I’ve had on my mental checklist of people to investigate for what seems like forever – my first exposure was Sledgehammer, which I loved as a kid (didn’t everyone?), and whilst I know he as in Genesis, the Genesis he was in are, as far as I can ascertain, a very different beast to the one that did tha awful song about being crap at dancing. I really enjoyed Security, and nosed for it at the weekend when I was in a record shop – alas they didn’t have it, and I was left ruing all the times I thought about buying remasters of his albums for a fiver each and out it off because I thought they’d always be there.
Rob listened: You know how when you get older things that were dreadfully despised when you were young seem to become fashionable, only for you to reaIise that you just got old and started to like old-people things? No? I’m thinking primarily here of golf and Peter Gabriel. Anyway, I was really pleased to see this pop out of Graham’s special Record Club bag just a couple of days after I’d read this rather convincing case for ‘So’ on The Quietus, a record that seemed so unashamedly grown-up to me when it was first released and about which still somehow hung sufficient wafting wisps of perceived former prog-rock atrocities that I’d mentally filed it somewhere far, far away, equidistant between Marillion and Luther Vandross, if such a thing were possible. So, as I was saying, I was pleased to see and hear this, although it seemed to suffer the Curse of the Curry and its details now elude me. I like Peter Gabriel. He seems like a decent chap, clearly very committed to what he’s doing, unashamed to be creative, political and intellectual and, oh what’s the use? I still can’t remember what it sounded like.