Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel is a singer/songwriter from Chobham England. He was born in 1950 to a upper middle class family. His father was a electrical engineer and was able to send Peter to private schools for advanced education. His mother was very musical and taught him clarinet at a young age. He took this early exposure to music and expanded on it during his schooling eventually coming to fruition with the form of Genesis, a band Peter and some of his Charterhouse buddies put together. Genesis did really well and Peter stayed with them from 1967 to 1975 when he left as a result of various differences. His relationship with Genesis remains good to this day and some of the Genesis guys can be heard on Peter’s solo albums, particularly Phil Collins, the drummer for Genesis. At any rate Genesis is deserving of it’s own discussion so I won’t dawdle.

For those of you to have lived through the eighties you may remember the 1989 film Say Anything. In that film there is a scene where a male character trying to connect with a female of interest stands on her front lawn while holding up a eighties style silver boom box blasting the Peter Gabriel song “In Your Eyes”. The scene really embodies Peter’s songs as the quintessential relationship music. Not necessarily lovey-dovey music and not necessarily break up music, but it fills that void in between. That area of uncertainty and second thoughts, mistakes and advances. He has an ability to write about topics not regularly visited by major artists. Things like unemployment or trying to connect with his daughter whom he had become estranged, both very personal yet he presents them in a way that anyone can identify.

One of the things that sets Peter Gabriel apart is his use of unique instrumentation. Unlike many artists that delve into new forms of instrumentation in Peter’s music it’s not in your face. In fact in most cases you don’t even notice Peter’s voice is being staged by synths and specialized drumming. Not surprising Peter was a major front runner of new techniques to make music in the early mid eighties, at the height of the new wave storm that was engulfing the popular music scene at that time. Perhaps it was him following in the footsteps of his electrical engineer father but Peter became quite proficient in producing tracks with subtle but effective electronic assistance. For you music nerds out there Peter Gabriel’s third album was actually one of the first commercial albums to be recorded entirely on digital tape, Sony brought a specialized truck to Peter’s studio specifically for the task.

When you look at Peter Gabriel’s discography you can’t help but be underwhelmed. Seven albums in thirty three years isn’t exactly a monumental task in comparison to some of the mammoth catalogs of his contemporaries. In Peter’s case it’s truly a case of quality over quantity. I’d recommend starting with his fifth album “So”, there’s not a bad song on it.

1) Peter Gabriel [1977] *aka 1 or Car
2) Peter Gabriel [1978] *aka 2 or Scratch
3) Peter Gabriel [1980] *aka 3 or Melt
4) Peter Gabriel [1982] *aka 4 or Security
5) So [1986]
6) Us [1992]
7) Up [2002]

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