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Andrew

Peter Gabriel

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I made it through the 80's and 90's never having listened to this guy's music attentively, only remembering that I always paid special attention when 'In Your Eyes' came on the radio. Now recently I picked up 'So' and 'Us' on a whim at a used book and music store in town, and I'm simply blown away. The layers of sound, the effective blending of 'world' music and rock-and-roll, the vulnerable strength of his voice are all impressing me greatly.

So now I'm keen to explore his work further. As I recall, there are other admirers of his work here, and I'd love to hear recommendations as to your favorite recordings and what makes them your favorites.

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So was my first CD.

U2's The Joshua Tree was my second CD.

Robert Palmer's Riptide was my third.

Two of those are still in heavy rotation, and remain on my all-time top 10 favorites list.

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Andrew, for about a decade I would've named Peter Gabriel my all-time favorite singer and songwriter. I haven't yet connected with Up or with three of his side projects (the soundtrack to Long Walk Home, OVO, and the recent Scratch My Back), but every other album in his catalog would find a spot on my Top 100. The knock against Gabriel is that he micro-manages and over-produces songs that are so strong already they can stand on their own, but I have a soft spot for over-production, especially when it's as innovative as Gabriel's.

My favorite albums are Passion, which is his score for The Last Temptation of Christ, and Security, the album that came immediately before So and is best remembered for "Shock the Monkey." I've listened to each well over a hundred times over the years and never tire of them.

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I maintain that he is one of the great-- as well as one of the most underrated-- rock singers of all time. So much soul in that voice of his! (And this, of course, is a big part of why I love Scratch My Back-- though, like Jeffrey, my favorite of his vocal records is So.)

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My favorite albums are Passion, which is his score for The Last Temptation of Christ, and Security, the album that came immediately before So and is best remembered for "Shock the Monkey." I've listened to each well over a hundred times over the years and never tire of them.

I'd echo that. Those are my two favorite Gabriel albums. The Passion soundtrack is gorgeously atmospheric, and Security features Gabriel's best songwriting, and arguably his best singing. Oh, Security is a bit of a misnomer, since Gabriel's album don't really feature titles on the covers. It's the untitled one with the bizarre electro-face-mask on the cover. More technically, it's Peter Gabriel 4. Or IV, depending on how prog-rock I'm feeling.

I actually found So a bit of a letdown, although it was clearly his most commercially successful album.

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There are many classic Gabriel moments. Red Rain, Don't Give Up, Games Without Frontiers are a few that come to mind. I have always found his music very God-haunted, even from the early classic Genesis stuff, which I prefer to the Collins era by far. His influence is so clear upon newer bands like Elbow in particular. I have been listening to some of his stuff recently and really enjoying.

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So was my first CD.

U2's The Joshua Tree was my second CD.

Robert Palmer's Riptide was my third.

Two of those are still in heavy rotation, and remain on my all-time top 10 favorites list.

Further evidence, Jeffrey, that I am your doppleganger.

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"Here Comes the Flood" is my favorite Peter Gabriel song. It's a great example of the "God-haunted" quality in his music that chillinrev mentioned, but I also think it's his most perfect chord progression and melody. I love it when an echo of gospel hymns can be heard in his songwriting. If I'm near a piano, chances are this is the first song I'll play. I found this clip a few months ago and can't stop watching it. It's easy to forget he wrote "Flood" when he was still in his 20s.

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Darren, I feel like we've had this conversation before, but yeah, that's my favorite Gabriel song too. And Passion isn't just my favorite Gabriel CD... it's my favorite CD.

Further evidence, Jeffrey, that I am your doppleganger.

Scott, a film instructor here on campus stopped by my office yesterday. He'd just seen Exorcism of Emily Rose for the first time, and he'd watched an interview with you. He stopped by to tell me, "You guys look so much alike it's creepy!" Hmmm.

Edited by Overstreet

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I'm enjoying the comments. Thanks for the link to his performance, Darren - I don't have sound on my work PC, so I'll check that out this evening.

Has anyone seen him in concert? I was watching some of his videos on YouTube several days back, and some of the concert clips (especially from his Milan show, in 2003 I think) were breathtaking in their exuberance and playful theatricality.

And his website looks pretty nifty, complete with monthly video updates from PG himself.

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His concerts are U2-level spectacles, and in some ways more performance art than rock concert.

I saw the "Secret World " tour (after Us), and was absolutely blown away.

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Andrew, another facet of Gabriel's career that I've always found fascinating is his ongoing collaborations with artists in other media. He's best remembered for the "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time" videos, which were genuinely innovative, but nearly all of his videos are installation-ready. The same goes for his live shows. On both the Secret World tour and the tour in support of Up, both of which can be seen in great concert DVDs, he collaborated with the artist/director Robert LePage. The shows really are performances.

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I like Peter Gabriel III (1980) best of his solo albums - he really found his feet as a solo artist there. He and Phil Collins invented the gated snare sound for that album - it obviously got way overused during the 1980s, but sounds fresh and innovative here.

And from Genesis, Foxtrot (1972), Selling England by the Pound (1973), and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974) are all fantastic.

That's probably my favourite four Gabriel fronted albums - although I enjoy Us, 4, and Passion too.

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Count me among the huge Gabriel admirers here. I love the voice, the big (over)production, all of it.

Once you've explored the first four albums, make room in your heart for some of his later work, which tends to get overlooked in favor of the classics from the 80s and 90s.

The Ovo album has some great music on it, despite the fact that PG only does lead vocals on one or two tracks. The rest of the songs are either instrumental, or character pieces sung by the likes of Iarla O'Lionaird, Goldfrapp, etc. That's not bad company. Despite the collaborative feel, it's still very much a Peter Gabriel album. Try to find the version with this cover f16839574cm.jpg

Also, 2002's Up was a huge disappointment for me when it was first released, probably because it consisted of a lot of recycled material (several instrumental passages can be heard on Rabbit-Proof Fence and Ovo, plus a couple of songs, "I Grieve" and "Signal to Noise" were first released in 1996 and 1998, respectively). But really, upon listening to the album again recently, it's pretty good. Trim it down to eight tracks from the sprawling ten, and it would be REALLY good.

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The Ovo samples are fascinating, reminiscent of the little bit of Afro-Celt Sound System that I've heard in years past (which to my mind, is a good thing).

Alas, the LePage shows are not available at Netflix, but a collection of his music videos is - I've just put that at the top of my Netflix queue. I'm looking forward to checking those out.

And at the risk of showing my rock and roll ignorance, what is a gated snare sound? ::blushing::

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If you pick up Play, the DVD collection of music videos, you also get the priceless treasure of several So tracks remastered into 5.1 surround sound... and that is quite an experience, let me tell you.

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Seeing The Secret World Tour live show on the Disney Channel (of all places!) at age 13 totally changed EVERYTHING for me.

US is his best album, and most atmospheric.

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The Ovo samples are fascinating, reminiscent of the little bit of Afro-Celt Sound System that I've heard in years past (which to my mind, is a good thing).

Most of the members of Afro Celt Sound System appear on Ovo at some point or another. It's an epic album, with massive production. Intimate acoustic numbers are not part of its vocabulary.

Oh, and speaking of Afro Celt Sound System, Peter Gabriel was the vocalist on their big radio "hit" circa 2001. He even makes a couple cheesy cameos in the video:

Edited by morgan1098

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US is his best album, and most atmospheric.

I was ambivalent about Us when it was first released but have come to love it. In fact, it's been in my CD player quite a bit over the past few weeks.

Random personal anecdote: Us came out right about the time I met Joanna, and Peter Gabriel was one of our first points of connection. When she told me she was struggling with a writing project for school, I gave her a copy of Passion and told her it might help spur some creativity. It did. A few months later, after we'd started dating and had fallen in love, I was at her apartment and suddenly a lyric from "Secret World" came to mind: "So I watch you wash your hair, underwater, unaware." The song seems to be about a fractured relationship, but I was struck by the deep intimacy of the image, something I'd never understood before because I'd yet to experience it. Still, every time I hear "Secret World" I'm immediately taken back to that time.

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My first experience with Gabriel was at a county fair in the late '80s. My parents coaxed me onto an octopus ride with them, and by the time the ride wound down I was preparing to vomit. The soundtrack for this? "Sledgehammer." My dad never fails to mention the ride and the subsequent upchucking when he hears the song. Still love the tune, enough so that I eventually got the Shaking the Tree compilation.

Having heard some of his studio albums, though, I think my favorite is either III (aka Melt) or So. Yeah yeah, the latter is more mainstream, but I consider "Red Rain" to pretty much be a perfect song. More perfect, though? "Here Comes the Flood."

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Having heard some of his studio albums, though, I think my favorite is either III (aka Melt) or So. Yeah yeah, the latter is more mainstream, but I consider "Red Rain" to pretty much be a perfect song. More perfect, though? "Here Comes the Flood."

I love So precisely because it is-- in my mind-- a pretty perfect balance of mainstream pop and art-rock. It's totally hooky and totally weird, and proof that "mainstream" and "commercial" don't have to be bad things!

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Yeah, you'd be hard-pressed to name another great pop record with two songs as alienating and strange as "We Do What We're Told" and "This Is the Picture." Maybe "Mother" on Synchronicity?

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Having heard some of his studio albums, though, I think my favorite is either III (aka Melt) or So. Yeah yeah, the latter is more mainstream, but I consider "Red Rain" to pretty much be a perfect song. More perfect, though? "Here Comes the Flood."

I love So precisely because it is-- in my mind-- a pretty perfect balance of mainstream pop and art-rock. It's totally hooky and totally weird, and proof that "mainstream" and "commercial" don't have to be bad things!

I remember in 86 when Genesis' Invisible Touch album was knocked off the top of the US album charts by Peter Gabriel's So. There was lots of talk about "Genesis rivalry." I'm ashamed to admit that, at the time, I thought Invisible Touch was the better album. Yeah, I was in 9th grade. Cut me some slack.

And I have to agree that "Red Rain" and "Here Comes the Flood" are both "perfect song" contenders.

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Having heard some of his studio albums, though, I think my favorite is either III (aka Melt) or So. Yeah yeah, the latter is more mainstream, but I consider "Red Rain" to pretty much be a perfect song. More perfect, though? "Here Comes the Flood."

I love So precisely because it is-- in my mind-- a pretty perfect balance of mainstream pop and art-rock. It's totally hooky and totally weird, and proof that "mainstream" and "commercial" don't have to be bad things!

I remember in 86 when Genesis' Invisible Touch album was knocked off the top of the US album charts by Peter Gabriel's So. There was lots of talk about "Genesis rivalry." I'm ashamed to admit that, at the time, I thought Invisible Touch was the better album. Yeah, I was in 9th grade. Cut me some slack.

And I have to agree that "Red Rain" and "Here Comes the Flood" are both "perfect song" contenders.

That's OK, Morgan - I remember hearing 'Big Time' in the late 80's and disapproving of it because I thought it was disrespectful of church and God. There wasn't much room for musical satire in my worldview, beyond Steve Taylor anyway, at that point in my life. At least I'm undoing some of this with the next generation - my 10 year old son's two favorite musical artists at present are Springsteen and Peter Gabriel. After several days of repeated plays of So, the little guy did a gleeful fist-pump when I surprised him with my new-used copy of Us - a wonderful father-son moment for both of us to hear these songs for the first time together.

Edited by Andrew

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Having heard some of his studio albums, though, I think my favorite is either III (aka Melt) or So. Yeah yeah, the latter is more mainstream, but I consider "Red Rain" to pretty much be a perfect song. More perfect, though? "Here Comes the Flood."

I love So precisely because it is-- in my mind-- a pretty perfect balance of mainstream pop and art-rock. It's totally hooky and totally weird, and proof that "mainstream" and "commercial" don't have to be bad things!

Well said. I don't have much to add to the conversation other than to say I too love Peter Gabriel's music. To me, his stand-out albums are So, Passion, and Up. I know I am in the minority on that one though. Thing is, I wasn't really exposed to most of Gabriel's stuff until after most of it had already been released - up through Up. So, the fact that many of the melodies and some of the songs on Up are recycled or repeats didn't bother me at all. I know the album is a bit aimless and it does have a bit too much noise throughout, but the emotion found in songs like I Grieve, Sky Blue, and More Than This really speaks to me.

To my death, I will maintain that In Your Eyes is one of the great mainstream pop songs of all time.

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