George Starostin's Reviews




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Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

Peter has to be admired for relentlessly pursuing a unique artistic vision. The fact that he achieved commercial success with his last two studio albums isn't, in my mind, a sellout at all. He's found a way to make his innovations and influences accessible to a mass audience, and his lyrics are always outstanding, whether serious or lighthearted. Certainly, his idea of pop is expansive, as opposed to reductionist, as was the case with Phil Collins' work within and outside Genesis.

I remember a 1980 interview when Peter was quoted as saying he never expected to be as popular as "Frampton or the Doobie Brothers," but he's outlasted them both, as well as a plethora of lesser performers from his era. Infinitely cool!

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (14.10.2000)

Ya gotta love Tikhonov Konstantin's rabid Tull ravings, and I certainly do (even if he doesn't get the Byrds and the Beach Boys, not surprisingly since he didn't grow up in America in the '60s). But somewhere within them (I forget just where), I believe he stated that Gabriel was always a weak live singer -- indeed, stated that Phil Collins was a better singer onstage. I never saw the original Genesis and have never seen Phil Collins, but I've heard several Genesis bootlegs from the golden period of Selling England... and The Lamb... and his singing on them is fantastic. I also have a friend who saw them many times back then and has always raved about his live singing. However, I have also seen Gabriel three times live myself, and this is where I can really straighten Mr. Konstantin out, at least up until 1982. I saw Gabriel at Central Park and the Diplomat Hotel two days apart in July, I think it was, of '80. He masterfully pulled off the vocals on majorly challenging songs like "Modern Love," "Solsbury Hill," "Here Comes the Flood," "Games Without Frontiers," and "D.I.Y." with only one night's rest between performances. I might add that in concert, Gabriel has always sung a more difficult version of "D.I.Y." (recorded version of same available on a rare 12-inch 45 only) on which he jumps from the lower to the upper register starting with the second verse. And just for the history books, I should add that his performance of "Biko" in Central Park amounted to the beginning of the anti-apartheid movement in New York, as far as I could see. Folks of all ages, including a lot of teenage kids, left the park that night talking feverishly about Biko, asking each other where they could get the Donald Woods books on him, and in general starting to make a serious contribution to the worldwide movement that eventually helped free Mandela and brought reform to South Africa. It was one of the few times that I've seen a crowd's ritualistic lighting of cigarette lighters at a rock show be completely justified -- and thoroughly moving. I imagine this should all be of special interest to Russians who enjoy this website, as they undoubtedly know that it was MTV as much as anything else that brought down communism. (If I know Tikhonov, he'll probably say it was Jethro Tull!) The other time I saw Gabriel was at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California (major San Fernando Valley concert hall, for those who ain't been to the Golden State) in fall of '82, and he was just as remarkable vocallly on stuff like "Kiss of Life" and "Shock the Monkey," with those falsettos all done perfectly. I can't say I like his stuff after that album all that much but he could come back big at any time -- and I'll bet he can still sing live!

John Drayton <> (18.04.2001)

I think Gabriel's solo career is a perfect example of the way the (American) media laps up mediocre stuff that has its heart in the right place, then calls it art.

If you took all of his albums you could probably get a decent compilation of fair tunes (LP length, though: no 70 minute CD extravaganza). Side one: 'Humdrum', 'Modern Love', 'Moribund', 'Here Comes the Flood' (the Robert Fripp Exposure version) 'On the Air', 'Perspective', 'Mother of Violence'; Side two: 'No Self-Control', 'Through the Wire', 'Lead a Normal Life', 'San Jacinto', 'Red Rain', 'Blood of Eden', 'Secret World'.

None great (except possibly "Mother of Violence" and he needed his ex-wife's help to write it), but none too bad. As for the rest: self-conscious pap. None of this would matter except for the facts that 1. he was capable of better things ('Willow Farm', 'Dancing with Moonlight Night', 'Can Utility and the Coastliners') and 2. he has been hailed as important while far superior artists (Peter Hammill and Roy Harper for example, both of whom continue to produce quality stuff) languish in semi-obscurity.

Rich Bunnell <> (20.04.2001)

"I think Gabriel's solo career is a perfect example of the way the (American) media laps up mediocre stuff that has its heart in the right place, then calls it art."

Or maybe we actually enjoy it. Whodathunkit?

Chris Cali <> (05.05.2001)

You are such a retard.

No, you don't have to like every PG album or song. I don't even care if your a fan at all but for god's sake:

learn objectivity

see birdy

find out what 'Family Snapshot' is REALLY about

stop comparing PG to siseneGGenesis

if you want to be a critic of music invest in an at least an iota of music history and theory

We are all praying for your soul here at the Church of Peter Gabriel. It is people like you, with your hateful ignorance, that keep delaying the release of UP.


[Special author note: I don't usually post flames like these, but I had to make an exception in this case. No one will believe me twenty years on...]

Stefan Puiu <> (07.02.2002)

I don't agree with your assertions about Gabriel, mainly that he didn't sell out so quick as others in the eighties, and that he kept on making experimental music, only gradually moving to a more commercial kind of sound/music. I've heard his first three albums, and, may I say, you have a strange notion of "experimental music". To put it straight, he didn't sell out; he was kind of a sell-out from day one. On these three albums I hear a guy that's very mainstream-ish, and if you consider those strange sounds that appear hear and there "experimental", well, I don't. Maybe we call different things experimental/mainstream music. Remember, even the Beatles where 100% mainstreamish, even on their final albums, their music's essence was catchiness, commercial appeal, so to say, even if the compromises they were making were smaller. So is Peter Gabriel.

I've a friend who says he hates all of Genesis's music because it sounds so much like "eighties' stuff". I don't know if it is so, but they're definitely very mainstream, only back then 'mainstream' was close to 'decent', unlike in the eighties.

Ryan Maffei <> (02.03.2002)

Probably the most curious solo performer to ever exist in the history of rock'n'roll music. Seriously, though, what'd'you say about a guy who started out as the ridiculously-dressed, showy frontman to one of rock's most overblown progressive groups, and then crafts an album that's a hodgepodge of different, classifiable styles, and then crafts what's probably rock's most effective fusion of electronic and artsy music, and then ushers in the 80s with a modernistic sounding classic, and then descends into commercial/techno hell, and then doesn't release an album until 1992? Seriously, what?

And he's part of a Disneyworld feature attraction!!

Oh, well. Curious as he is, I really like Peter Gabriel (better than Phil Collins, anyway), and he's done a lot of great, or at least literate, stuff. His first two records are two of my absolute favorite of all time, and "Biko" is one of the most astonishing recordings I've ever heard. I'm not too big a fan of what he did after that, and every time I hear Security, Plays Live, or So I yearn for the years when the PG1 material was cool. But yeah...he's done a lot of worthwhile stuff, and it's a pity his endless scope of accomplishments haven't been more widely recognized in the scope of rock. But then, he's had some high-profile recorded moments. I suppose it's fine that he's faded, while we still have the vinyl memories...with awesome album covers, too (see Peter Gabriels 1, 2, and 3. Also check out my reviews of these below!).

Aaron J. Cather <> (25.06.2002)

I can agree with you on some parts but on others not. The greatest thing about Peter Gabriel is that he is a human being. There are not a lot of human beings in the music industry, hardly any in fact. Humans change a lot and they grow. Peter Gabriel has displayed that so very well in all of his albums (if you've ever heard the man talk you know what I am talking about). Peter Gabriel is an artist that I cannot get tired of. After awhile of listening to a certain artist I become bored because I notice how similar all of their music is. I do not have that problem with Peter because I feel I understand him as a human being. And the real funny thing about that is that he has only made 6 (non-soundtrack) studio albums. Some would say that he is a sellout, but it's just another direction that he took. He does not have one bad album. And I know this because I have given the albums time to settle in my mind.

Ilya Nemetz <> (12.03.2004)

Uh-huh… It’s sad to see Peter being somewhat underrated by such an intelligent and perceptive critic. In my opinion, 4-star rating should be more adequate. I understand your ‘rating criteria’ are applied retroactively, post factum, but, for curiosity’s sake, if we bother to rate his Diversity (how can he be denied at least four points here?) and add a point whether in Resonance (he’s not Tom Waits, sure, but sometimes he gets very close in terms of resonance noire, so to speak) and/or in Adequacy (Peter undoubtedly can back up his pretensions), old Gabe gets his four stars. Well-deserved four stars, mind you. Ah, de gustibus non est disputandum. I know, I know…

Another short remark. You define Peter’s songwriting approach as “a slow, meticulous and analytic one, based not on inspiration, but on a diligent and almost 'technological' patching together of diverse musical segments”. Fine with me, except for the italicised phrase. It has nothing to do with lack of inspiration, you see. Peter is an architect, while, say, Brian Eno is a painter. Being an architect is neither good nor bad, it’s just a vastly different approach from a painter’s one. Not that rare, by the way – Ludwig van Beethoven being an outstanding example. Now, architects are analytical by default, they’re driven by reason and logic, not by pure untamed emotion, but it’s wrong to assume their work is 100% perspiration at total expense of inspiration.


Richard C. Dickison <> (28.08.99)

Well it was a first when I heard a 'Solsbury Hill' on the radio. Boy, was I surprised, maybe Peter was too. To think the old Genesis guy came out shining and on the same song he was putting the old band down on, well not quite a put down he is a very polite person actually. I'm sure he could have pulled some punches on Phil (the pill) if he felt like it. My favorite song has got to be 'Here Comes The Flood' thou, I like that gospely chorus. Your right that this album is all over the place but I don't think that Peter was really trying here. He seems to be just passing the time on this album. Reviewing his old sound and playing with others. Every time I see an old Beemer blue I think of this album. Now the next one thou.....

Ben Greenstein <> (22.09.99)

Amazing. The songs on here blow me away every time. Peter takessome of the musical complexity of his Genesis works, and gives it pop appeal, which makes for his most melodic album ever. Kicks off with "Moribund," one of his wierdest tunes, but still with a great chorus that makes it accesible. "Solsbury Hill" is a huge hit, and "Modern Love" probably could have been, in a perfect world. The one track I don't care for AT ALL is "Waiting For The Big One" - a terrible tune. I like bluesy jazz, but this is bad bluesy jazz. And not catchy. And, by the way, how can you not like "Humdrum"? I find that tune to be gorgeous, and a heap more to-the-point than a lot of similar Genesis songs. I give this album a ten.

Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

Yes, he tries it all. "Burgermeister" is certainly as eccentric as anything in his Genesis catalog. I love "Solsbury Hill".What's it's supposed to be about? I've heard the Crucifixion, an alien landing, his splitting Genesis? Cryptic, but great. "Modern Love" rocks seriously, which is actually rare for Pete, at least in the conventional sense. The rest took a lot of getting used to, but one can get into it with repeated listening.

Rich Bunnell <> (13.05.2000)

Shame on me for not even considering checking out Peter's early albums as early as two years ago. This is a great album! The songs are so tight, so melodic, and so friggin' well-written. The radio standard is "Solsbury Hill," and it's, of course, good-- a pretty tune which really benefits from the electric guitars which join in at the end out of nowhere. "Down The Dolce Vita" and "Modern Love" are cool rockers, "Excuse Me" is a whole lot better than such a song should logically be, and "Moribund the Burgermeister" and "Here Comes The Flood" are delightfully-pompous pseudo-epics. The only weak link, I agree with Ben, is "Waiting For The Big One"-- not a terrible tune, but lodged in with all of these perfectly well-crafted stylistic excursions, a seven-minute-long freeform lounge-jazzy tune doesn't seem to fit in. It's still a wonderful album and a perfect start to a great solo career, and I'd give it a nine.

Jeffrey A Morton <> (29.06.2000)

One comment about a statement made above. 'Solsbury Hill' does not put down the current Genesis linuep, it just elaborates on Peter's reasons for leaving, however cryptic they might be.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (04.02.2001)

I've read all these reviews and comments and, as usual, am very impressed with the kindness, insights, and sophistication of everyone here, including George, o' course. Even when people are disagreeing strongly about specific tracks, they share a serious appreciation for Gabriel's work and its importance. So I think I'm just going to offer a few commonly-heard or printed ideas on what some of the songs are about, having followed Gabriel since the early Genesis days and especially since he left the band. "Moribund..." is often seen as one of a two-part metaphorical treatment of Peter's leaving Genesis, with the "I will find out" refering to his nascent exploration of the more head-banging rock 'n' roll scene that Genesis avoided and which is obliquely referenced ("...see the savior come out of the mud") throughout the song. The second part would be "Solsbury Hill," which offered references to leaving Genesis that seemed fairly clear ("I walked right out of the machinery...") at the time, especially as he'd always spiritedly act out certain lines ("...which connection I should CUT!!!") onstage. "Excuse Me" is also often considered a more whimsical view of Gabriel's oft-bemoaned refiguring of his career ("You got the money back, that's okay/Who needs a Cadillac anyway?") at exactly the point (after the success of the Lamb...) at which some people thought he was blowing it by leaving Genesis. Just for good measure, I'll add that I think "Modern Love" is probably Gabriel's best straight-ahead rocker and "Humdrum" is not only a great song but, in its mini-suite of movie romance/thriller images and sounds, an even better movie.

Ted Goodwin <> (12.05.2001)

A great album. I like every song, even "Waiting For The Big One". I can't even pick out a particular favorite. (Can't say I understand what any of the songs are about, either, though.)

Pete's credited not with "vocals" but "voices", which is appropriate because he gives us a whole Epping Forest full of them just on the first track. "Solsbury Hill" is one of those rare radio hits that I actually like as much as the rest of the album. "Modern Love" has an AWESOME instrumental hook. "Humdrum" isn't usually considered one of the better songs, but my only complaint is that the idea could have been developed more (only 1/2 a verse sung in the higher octave? leaves me wanting more!).

Pete obviously made an effort here to show he could do more than prog. But there's enough prog influence to show that he contributed more to Genesis' writing than just lyrics. Before this album everything he wrote or co-wrote was just credited to "Genesis", so he could have had little or no tunewriting talent for all anyone knew. (Note that his only collaboration on this album was with a lyricist, not a composer.)

My biggest complaint: for an album made as late as 1977 it doesn't seem to be particularly well-recorded; "Modern Love" in particular suffers from some muddiness.

John McFerrin <> (14.05.2001)

I still don't quite understand why virtually everybody adores this album. Sure, it's interesting to hear Peter doing something different, but does different necessarily mean good? Ehn ... I mean, how many classics are really on here, huh? 'Moribund' and 'Solsbury Hill', definitely. And maybe 'Excuse Me', since it's funny. Ok, and MAYBE 'Waiting For The Big One'. But the rest? Do you all really like these rock songs? I mean, come on - "Don't get me wrong, I'll be strong?" Ridiculous. 'Modern Love' isn't much better, and 'Humdrum', except for that one part where his vocals become super-hard to hear, passes me by each time.

That said, there aren't really any MAJOR stinkers on here, and there is some good stuff. I'd give it a LOW 7, but nothing more.

chris1arch <> (23.08.2001)

Geoerge - I think you totally missed the boat on your (however brief) characterization of "Excuse Me" on P. Gabriel's 1st solo effort.

The song is neither "fifties" or "ragtime" (Scott Joplin is now, I'm sure, rolling over in his grave!).

It is a classic 20's vaudvillian effort to be sure - and nothing more. From the barbershop quartet acapello to the plinkety-plink piano it is rather obvious (...isn't it?)

And with a heaping helping of other "funny" instrumentation, I'd say Spike Jones would be proud!

Ryan Maffei <> (02.03.2002)

Car. I love this album beyond all belief, and it's a terrible pity that a) it's out of print on CD (if it was ever released in that format) and b) that it isn't, from a critical standpoint, all that wonderful.

Each song does something for me. But I'll agree that the stylistic diversity provides for a rather uneven listen. Then again, just one listen to So makes me yearn for this kind of stuff again, and in light of his more recent accomplishments, PG1 still remains my favorite PG. Check out this song list: "Moribund" is thrilling progressive-rock and a neat Genesis revisitation, "Solisbury Hill" is a fluid, atmospheric classic, "Modern Love" is a charging, incredibly catchy rocker, powerful and nicely polished, "Excuse Me" is pleasantly absurd cabaret jazz (you're telling me you like "Rainy Day Women 12 & 35" and not this?), "Humdrum" is lovely, skilled balladry. Then you have a weaker side 2--the source of most of the point loss here. "Slow Drive" is like a just-as-powerful "Modern Love", but far less memorable, and "Waiting For the Big One" is fine, but...well, awfully produced. But "Down in Dolce Vita" is some invigorating pompous disco-rock (where's that style ever been used again?), and "Here Comes the Flood" is--screw arena-rock stadium staples--some really impressive, majestic balladry. And a frigging classic. So tell me, is 7 out of 9 too bad? Naw. Peter's most attractive album stylistically. So buy it, damn it. It's awesome, and I'm using the word in the literal sense. Inspiring great awe. Yeah. There you go. Uh-huh. Hmmmmmmmmmm.......


Ben Greenstein <> (22.09.99)

He's lost it a little here. I still like it quite a bit, but there are too many songs among the lines of "Animal Magic" and "Perspective" that flat out stink. How they got on the "Revisited" compilation is beyond me. And I'm still not made up about "D.I.Y." - I like bits of it, but it sounds a bit... um... stupid.

But do I ever love "On The Air"! A shameless Who ripoff, sure, but a great one. I agree about the vocals - they stink - but that Fripp guitar solo kicks! It's just one note - and what a note! And the ballads, particularly "Mother Of Violence" and "Indigo," are his most beautiful songs ever. I give the album a nine.

Richard C. Dickison <> (02.10.99)

Bad producer, bad producer, leave the vocals up front, enunciate please. I can only think they were going for a garage sound. But why, oh why, did they put the muffler over Peter's mike? Anyway, I see 'On The Air' a continuation of his Real character from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway . I love 'Flotsam and Jetsam' and Robert Fripp is here adding Frippertronics, he was spearheading a project that spanned three albums that this is apart of. Next to the first album this was not as much of a surprise and in someways I see this as a continuation of his fantasy characters he created for Genesis. It is better in many ways because it is a experiment and not a paced album as the first was. But as you put it, if electronics don't do it for you this is the best you get with Peter. DIY, Do It Yourself, DIY.

Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

The general consensus is that this one is Pete's weakest. The big surprise is that, with Mr. Fripp producing, one would expect something bizarre and avant garde, but most of the tracks have the least complex production of any PG album -- some would say underproduced. But a lot of the songs themselves are great -- "D.I.Y" and "On the Air" are classic singles. "Home Sweet Home" is so poignant it's painful to listen to. The Frippiest track by far is "Exposure," which Robert also recorded as the title track of one of his own albums.

Rich Bunnell <> (03.02.2001)

Kind of weak in the context of Pete's early solo canon, but sitting inbetween PG1 and PG3, two of the most innovative art-rock/new wave albums of all time, isn't a position that most albums would want to be in. The only thing which somewhat mars this album is the presence of too many nondescript songs, something which Gabe managed to avoid on pretty much every album of his musical career following Genesis' Trespass. I'm mostly speaking of "Flotsam and Jetsam," "Exposure" and "Indigo." I'm sure they're all good songs, but I just wish that they'd do more to grab my brain. As for the stylistically-controversial "Animal Magic" and "Perspective," they're stupid, brainless poppers, granted, but if you take the "stupid pop-funk" element from those songs and magnified it about 10,000 times, you'd get "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time." I don't see those songs getting slammed, so I don't see why these really freaking catchy songs should bear the criticism. "On The Air" is a terrific opener showing Pete copping on the Who's distinctive "rocker backed by a jingly synth loop" style, and "D.I.Y." and "White Shadow" are just awesome. So I guess that objectively, it's the weakest of the early solo Gabriel albums, but that doesn't mean it's not worth buying, if you can even find the flappin' thing. 8/10

On the cover, maybe Pete's reaching up underneath a transparent wall covering his body down to his upper waist and scratching it with the fingers facing himself. At any rate, whether it physically works or not, he's obviously scratching something, considering the way his fingers are turned. I mean, it's Peter Gabriel, for Christ's sake. On the cover of the next album, he's melting. Do you really expect him to follow the laws of nature?

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (04.02.2001)

"D.I.Y." seems fairly direct in its meaning. But at the time it was widely thought to be at least in part Gabriel's salute to punk and new wave bands that were eschewing the major labels and going "D.I.Y." by recording and distributing their own records. (The phrase quickly became part of the lexicon of the day.) As for the stripped-down sound on the second album as a whole, that came as no surprise to anyone who'd heard Gabriel and Fripp enthusing over bands like Talking Heads. (The '80s King Crimson, with David Byrne-soundalike Adrian Belew on vocals, sounded more like the Heads than Crimson!)

Insert for fans: There was a bootleg double LP recorded at L.A.'s Roxy Theatre in '77 and New York's Bottom Line '78, the songs on which were: Here Comes the Flood/Moribund.../Mickey Mouse/Excuse Me/Solsbury Hill/Ain't That Peculiar (PG loves Marvin Gaye)/Humdrum/Slowburn/All Day and All of the Night (yes!)/Modern Love/Down the Dolce Vita/Back in NYC/On the Air/White Shadow/D.I.Y./Flood... version 2/The Lamb... The band was Gabriel, Fripp, Hunter, Levin, Alberg, Fast, Maelen, and Schwartzberg -- at least, that's what it says on the cover. The drumming on the last five songs, which are the ones recorded in New York in '78, sounds unmistakably like Jerry Marotta.

Ryan Maffei <> (02.03.2002)

An unheralded masterpiece of complex, engrossing tunes that brilliantly meld art-rock and electronica. You've got Fripp, Gabriel, and a batch of great tunes, like "Mother of Violence", "Flotsam and Jetsam", "D.I.Y.", and "On the Air". Only "Exposure" is somewhat regrettable. This is one of the greatest albums of all time, and both I and my father will tell you so. Buy it today, folks. An A, a 9. And dig that cover!

Oh...admittedly, I don't actually (ahem) "enjoy" this one as much as Peter Gabriel Vol. 1. But hell...I like the Peter Criss solo album, so don't hold what I like against my critical credibility.


Rich Bunnell <> (21.09.99)

So THAT'S what the backing vocals are saying in 'Games Without Frontiers'! I always thought they were saying "She' POPular!" even though that sounds really out-of-context. And the song is amazing as well, a fun mishmush of Brit-sounding vocals, Disney-ish whistling, and spacey sound effects. Which brings me to my next statement...

This album is one major giant big fat huge giant whopping 10. Not a 15 on the Overall Rating, but very, VERY, VERY CLOSE. In fact, there isn't really anything bad on here, except maybe "And Through The Wire" but that's just a bit ugly. Also, "Biko" is very out-of-place, but 1) it's a great song anyway, and 2) It's at the end, where out-of-place stuff doesn't matter. And "Family Snapshot," "I Don't Remember"(which Ben will inevitably bash on here for his odd reasons), and the two opening tracks are excellent! This is definitely my favorite of his albums so far, though So, despite all of its commercial inclinations (for half of the album at least) is really enjoyable as well.

Ben Greenstein <> (22.09.99)

On my reviews, I gave it a seven - which, in retrospect, is way too low. I still refuse to look at "Not One Of Us" as anything but his most annoying song ever, and I think that "I Don't Remember," as cool as it is, is a tad obvious. However, I love "And Through The Wire," a great pop song, "Games Without Frontiers," a pop classic, and that little instrumental track near the end, with the name I can't remember. And those are just the filler tracks! The centerpieces are the dark epics "Family Snapshot," "No Self Control," and, to a slightly lesser extent, "Intruder." Three of my favourite tunes. Ever. I should have given this album a nine, a mistake which I hope I am remedying right now.

Richard C. Dickison <> (13.12.99)

Here is one of those albums that sneaked into history, It really is a turning point for the fact that it carried the seeds of innovation.

See, here's Phil (the pill) Collins working with Peter to create this electronic classic. And he picks up on the sequencers and rythym machines and runs off immediately to do his first solo album and then started producing the rest of the crap we all hated in the 80's. All the while Peter was the real explorer, anyway he definately used these tools with more intelligence and craft. There is very little here that cannot be raved about and George it's hard for me to only pick one song out of this album as a personal favorite too.

Again I say, His best album really is Security for pure artistry and experimentation but this one has the catchiest songs and is the most accessible. So buy them both and see for yourself.

John McFerrin <> (23.03.2000)

I found this on an ftp site and decided to give it a shot. This album rules! Pretty good melodies for Gabriel, but even if they weren't, this would be great just because it is so CREEPY! Now, I normally don't appreciate music that is this electronicized (if that's a word), but I absolutely cannot deny the greatness of this album.

It's not as good as Selling England, of course (but then, few things are; I'm seriously considering giving it a 15 when I get around to my Genesis reviews), but still damn good. I agree with the 13, and it has potential to go up.

Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

A total classic. Security comes close, but this is almost a total triumph. Sometimes, one song can draw into totally into an artist's work. For me, PG song that did it was "And Through the Wire" It just ROCKS. And that got me converted! No one, and I mean no one, sounded like this in 1980.

A great factoid about this album: PG's original American label, Atlantic, dropped him when they heard the tapes, feeling that the music was totally uncommercial. It ended up selling much more than the first two combined!

Also, Peter ended up rerecording the entire vocal tracks in German (!) and releasing an alternate version called Ein Deutsche Album. Apparently just for the hell of it..

John McFerrin <> (11.05.2000)

I finally got around to getting this album on CD ... holy shit. This sounds SO MUCH BETTER than it does on mp3's. Whatever doubts about giving it a 14 that I might have had before are GONE.

Jeffrey A Morton <> (15.06.2000)

what gets me about the third album is Phil Collins' influence. You can hear the current Genesis lineup's influence on "Games Without Frontiers" which could have been on Duke. Yes, Peter did forbid Jerry Moratta and Phil Collins to use symbols, but the songs go more for atmosphere than melody, and they all work perfectly on "Family Snapshot". Peter was starting to get his second wind.....with the help of Phil.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (04.02.2001)

"Family Snapshot" obviously recalls the JFK assassination, but I remember hearing an interview in which Gabriel said he merely intended to get into the mind of a typical assassin rather than that of any specific person. By the way, George, I don't think the idea is that the whole story is being told by a kid. Rather, it seems clear that at the moment of firing the gun, the killer, with the release of his misplaced aggression ("...all turned quiet..."), regresses ("...I've been here before...") in his mind to the helpless state of infancy at which he felt he could at once destroy and save his (in this case, divorcing) parents, etc., etc. as can be chronicled in any Psych 1 textbook. That's not to put Gabriel down -- his songs at this time were very much starting to become concerned with some classic psychiatric models. "We Do What We're Told," a song he performed live since 1980, was first introduced by Gabriel onstage as "Milgram's 37," and he'd always go on to explain how it was inspired by the famous sociological experiment in which students were told to administer electric shocks to fellow students in a Skinnerian-type behavior modification session, and proved to have very little objection to doing so. (In fact, no such shocks were administered, though the students doing the shocking weren't told that till afterward.)

P.S. For the contributor who suspected that "Games Without Frontiers" and "Biko" foreshadowed Genesis' next phase, let me attest that no one who groaned through albums like Duke that summer would've agreed with that. Indeed, a big key to the third Gabriel's album's sound is producer Steve Lillywhite, who'd already brought XTC from a fun garage band to an awesomely imaginative progressive-pop outfit on 1979's Drums and Wires. Many of the songs on Gabriel III consciously recall sounds and techniques that are all over the brilliant Drums... and its equally terrific, Lillywhite-produced follow-up Black Sea. PG III session guitarist Dave Gregory had, of course, just joined XTC for Drums... as III was being conceived, written, and recorded. Finally, 'Biko' was indeed one of the most openly political statements by anyone in rock history, and I believe the first, along with the Specials' "Free Nelson Mandela" song, about apartheid. Well into mid-80s shows, Gabriel would simply murmur into the microphone, "For Steven Biko," then go into the song.

Steve Y <> (18.01.2002)

This holds a special place in my heart, as it was the first CD I ever bought. (I'm sure I already had it on vinyl.) As a big Genesis fan since '74, I had followed PG's career closely, and for a brief period of a couple of years, Gabriel's split was a windfall - twice as many great albums, with Hackett hanging with Genesis for a while. But I digress. This is a classic, one of the most innovative albums in "modern" rock music. On first listen, the effect was unsettling, but this album quickly got under my skin. And to top it off, I first saw Gabriel live in 81 or 82, right after the release of Security, so many of these songs were still being played live at that time.

Ryan Maffei <> (01.03.2002)

I agree with you on most points here, but I really just don't get that "masterpiece" vibe from this particular album--or at least, not as much as I did from Scratch or the majority of Car. For one thing, this newly synthesized sound, while certainly revolutionary, causes Gabriel's prebiously affable music to sound considerably colder than the man's earlier work (unlike, say, Gabriel 1977's "Here Comes the Flood", which exudes a winning, attractive warmth and emotional depth. Here, great depth resides in the lyrics, but not the music).Then again, this new techno dabbling does result in the remarkable "Intruder", the engrossing "Games Without Frontiers", and the even more astonishing "Biko", a stirring recording that has yet to be topped by anything in Gabriel's canon...hell, it's absolutely one of the most perfect recordings of all time. As for the other tracks, I don't really like "No Self Control" or "Not One of Us" (the former more so than the latter), nor throwaways like "Start" or "Lead a Normal Life" (seriously, filler like this should not be on a 5-star record). But "Family Snapshot" is an equally great piece of music as it is poetry/character study, and "And Through the Wire" is how I'd like my guitar-driven 80s pop anyday, thankyouverymuch. These are all certainly quite redemptive for the clutch of low points on this an extent. Enough to warrant a high 8 from me, anyway. So Melt is great, but not as great as people say it is (I'd go with the first one from a sheer enjoyment standpoint, or the second from a critical standpoint). But yeah, it's worth buying. As long as one avoids the unfortunate spinoff Security.

Ben Kramer <> (20.04.2002)

This is a wonderful album, though I don't see it as Pete's best. The songs are extremely mature, both lyrically and musically, even if he does use drum machines.  'Biko' is probably my favorite song Pete ever wrote during his solo career. The psychological impact of those last two drum beats closing the album is immense. I also really like 'Family Snapshot', especially the beginning. The presence of emotion and creativity pushes this song over the top for me. Those are the two big songs on the album for me. Two minor favorites of mine are 'Games Without Frontiers' and 'I Don't Remember'. 'I Don't Remember' has got to be one of my favorite songs to play loudly. 'Games W/O Frontiers' is really well written. It seems that Gabriel has mastered the pop song on this album, though, he was able to add a certain level of creativity and "weirdness" to his songs that raise it above "regular pop". I also love the fact that every song isn't a love song. I mean, that is what a lot of pop songs are, and then here comes Peter Gabriel writing 'Intruder' and 'And Through the Wire'. I have the same complaints as you (and pretty much everybody) so I won't mention them. As for a grade, a high 13 or a low 14 sounds accurate. I can't rate it a regular 14 though, because I see Us as a 14 and this is not as good as Us. It is his best album to date (I haven't heard Scratch yet, so don't quote me on this, but I doubt that the level of maturity on Scratch can top this). Still, this is a wonderful album and if it weren't for The Talking Heads' Remain In Light, this would be the best album of 1980.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (26.12.2005)

Peter Gabriel is a different enough musician to deserve a different kind of review. I’ve already listened to his third for three times and these are my gradual impressions of the album.

First stage.

Hmm, the first track is sort of nice…where the hell is any song structure…the next one is a bit worse…HEY!!! What a brilliant refrain; the song is called “I Don’t Remember” and it’s damn catchy…but why, it’s already, like, the fifth song playing, but I’ve heard only three; it’s not honest!.. Now this one has wonderful atmosphere, hey, there’s something indescribable in it, something I always expect from music…really, really, the album is getting better…still, I’m not that fond of the approach: pleasant, quiet songs with loud, booming and, unfortunately, very heartless drums…”And through the wiiiiiiiiire…” okay, okay…fine! But what is the guy doing; is it dance music or just a record to relax to?.. very, very mixed album…but fine, fine enough…hey, what a tasteless beginning the song has! That’s some girl’s voice…and what WHAT!? She uses the “f-word”????!!!!???!!??! Peter, what where you thinking?.. no, no, I must be wrong… the song is memorable, the production bothers me a bit, though, every instrument sounds isolated which makes the songs sound a bit unsubstantial…a good track (“Not One Of Us”), but that same problem…and this one is just a mellow instruMENTAL…nice, nice…and, finally, the last track…grand VERY GRAND!

A good album, but begs for another listen. Left me in curiosity.

Second stage.

Creepy lyrics, creepy mood, suitable atmosphere…works, dammit, works!..hell, this one is nice, too; a calm, peaceful melody, but sometimes he starts sounding louder: very unsteady, very unsteady…a new track!!! Beautiful, beautiful sax – a very atmospheric piece…that one, the catchy one; still sounds great, could be a hit…”Family Snapshot” is mesmerizing, it’s amazing! Some brilliant unfinishness; images and more images!.. now a more conventional track; I like it, though…the hit, the hit off the record; no, no, no! it can’t be the “f-word”; the melody is classy!.. wow, the next one has rather an unforgettable chorus and snobbish lyrics…my, my next one is too moody; some words, some meaningful words, and the atmosphere asks you to flush your useless life in the toilet…and the last one is questionable; I love it, I guess; yeah, right, I think I love it! I guess.

A great album, but begs for another listen. Left me in curiosity.

Third stage.

Hey! No need in writing anything else. I’ve already expressed what I wanted to express. A ONE album. A nervous and thrilling record. Some complaints I have, though (see above), so my rating is a 13. But remember, the album just BEGS for another listen.


Ben Greenstein <> (13.09.99)

Good album. One of Pete's best (which is not a reference to Pete Best, everybody's least favourite ex-Beatles), it sucessfully creates a dark, nightmarish mood on almost every song, and uses some of the most creative instrumentation of any album. And, interestingly enoguh, there are pop songs! "Shock The Monkey" and "I Have The Touch" are incredibly fun, catchy classics (well, the former is a classic, the latter should ahve been), and "Kiss Of Life," while it is the weakest track, is a fun number about a guy who likes fat girls. I like the horns on that one.

The other, moodier songs are all fabulous as well, though I would probably say that "San Jacinto" is the best. Starts out with a cool wind chime sound that completely overshadows any melody, it eventually evolves into a full-fledged, powerful anthem, with that awesome "I hold the line" line. Cool stuff. And they're all that good, in my opinion. I'd give this album as high a score as possible, whatever that equates to on your scale.

And, by the way, "The Family And The Fishing Net" is about a wedding. Or is supposed to be. And "Shock The Monkey" is about jealousy.

Richard C. Dickison <> (14.09.99)

Thank god you like this album George, this is a turning point album for what some people term New Wave and I call Electronica. The low end on this album is just unbelievable. Security demands to be on the best sound system you can get a hold of, I try out all my speakers with this album. The build on 'Rhythm Of The Heat' is sensual and shattering. 'San Jacinto' has wonderful lyrics. I like 'Kiss Of Life' at the end, especially since it gets a little slow on side two. Security is a decendant of My Life In The Bush Of Ghost by Brian Eno and David Byrne but with Peter's wit and accessibility and a good sense of style to boot. A great study of cultural rhythms and sound.

Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

This comes a bit short of the third one for me because of "The Family and the Fishing Net" and "San Jacinto" which go on and on a bit too long for their own good. But they are Pete's favorites on the album, so maybe I'm missing something. The better slow tunes for me are "Lay Your Hands on Me" (great theological allusions) and "Wallflower" (a human rights themed work which predicts Pete's involvement with Amnesty International). "I Have the Touch" sounds more like the singer has a compulsion to touch people, rather than just being an everyday social butterfly, but it's a great track. Now that I think about it, all of the songs, in one way or another, seem to have very intense psychological underpinnings lyrically. A concept album from the unconscious?

Rich Bunnell <> (11.07.2000)

I was absolutely surprised by the quality of this album when I finally got a used copy and listened. I'd heard "Shock The Monkey" and "I Have The Touch" on the radio and loved and still love them both (intensely-catchy and creative pop classics, and great stereo effects with the guitars on the former), but every review of the album said that the rest of the album was nothing but a bunch of murky mood music. is, but it isn't BAD mood music at all! "Rhythm Of The Heat" is an exceptional opener, slowly boiling over so subtly that barely anybody notices, and "The Family In The Fishing Net" makes drum machines sound cooler than they ever had before (though Pete's former colleague Phil Collins would make them sound even cooler the very next year with "Mama" on the eponymous Genesis album). Everything else could seem like filler if one doesn't pay attention, but I still really like stuff like "Lay Your Hands On Me" and "Wallflower." "Kiss Of Life" is out of place and I guess somewhat weak compared to the rest of the album, but it's still energetic and fun. My only complaints are that the songs are a bit overlong ("San Jacinto" doesn't need that extra part at the end just so it could reach over six minutes) and that the sound quality isn't very good-- everything's far too quiet. This was the CD played during the maiden voyage of my new $16 headphones, and I thought that I'd been ripped off because even at maximum volume the textures didn't surround and grasp my ears like I wanted them to. Then I popped in Wasp Star and was pleasantly relieved. Still, I recommend this album highly, even though others don't seem to like it as much as I do. A nine.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (04.02.2001)

Like that one contributor, I've always heard "Family/Fishing Net" discussed as literally or at least metaphorically about a wedding. "Shock the Monkey" can obviously be enjoyed on many levels, but I believe Gabriel said at the time that the lyrics were partly inspired by breaking news stories about inhuman treatment of animals during scientific research experiments. (That's "Shock the monkey to life," George!) And I think I also heard that "Wallflower" was inspired by a specific case of a young person in a mental hospital, one that Gabriel had met or heard about.

Ryan Maffei <> (03.03.2002)

An awful album, if not for a few saving points. What Gabriel does here is merely carry on the innovations induced by the last album, but making it more dull, monotonous, uncreative, etc...jeez, I don't like this record, but my critical examination allows it a 6, for its more polished moments.

Letssee..."Rhythm of the Heat" is a dynamic continuation of Gabriel's world music fascinations (begun on "Biko"), and a triumph of exhiliratingly spooky atmosphere. A masterpiece. Then we have "I Have the Touch", which is catchy enough, and "Shock the Monkey", which is almost too so. But the rest of 'em just kinda suck, albiet slickly and nicely produced, and the ones I don't mention I DON'T REMEMBER BECAUSE THEY'RE DULL AS HELL. "San Jacinto" is muddy synth meandering, while "Kiss Of Life" is an ugly stab at...what? Latin crossover? Add to these some pointless atmospheric meanderings, and then next up we have..."The Family and the Fishing Net"? Don't even get me started. It's a terrible, terrible, terrible piece of music, an absolutely devastating song in its ugliness, I hate it, I hate it, it's the only one I'll say that I hate. The rest exist and slide by, because I'm fine with them, they're okay, just not great, unlike the stuff on the first two or even third records. But this was totally the beginning of Gabriel's descent into electronica hell. Kinda. A B-, a 6, once again. Pete can do much better than this.

Eric Benac <> (02.05.2002)

i have this on cassette, and its what i most often listen to going to and from school. alot of the songs ARE hard to get into, but i think they are all strong songs. contrary to your opinion, i like 'lay your hands on me'. 'rhytmn of the heat' is definitely the best song on here, especially the last line he sings, how he draws it out, it just proves to me that gabriel is one of the, if not THE best singer of all time. i'd give it an 8 on my least pretentious days, and a 9 on my most. even though it's not a pretentious album, at least not in a prog rock way, it does take a certain amount of pretentiousness to love gabriel.


Richard C. Dickison <> (25.09.99)

I saw him live on tour after the Security album and even though I don't have this particular live album (I don't do live albums, Dick's law #1) let me say the man has the ability to draw you in to his world on stage as he has in the studio. Of course it has been a while and we all are a little older now, but just as a statement of fact when he was younger he could be a religious experience.

Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

I saw a show on the tour which followed the release of this album in 1983 (although he called it, for some perverse reason, "Playtime '88). If he did do studio overdubs, they aren't obtrusive at all -- the songs sounded the same in the show as on the album. Both were brought down a tiny bit by the inclusion of the two losers from the last album, "San Jacinto" and "The Family and the Fishing Net." I could have also done without "Humdrum," and "Slobbery Hill" doesn't translate well to an electric live arrangement -- a friend of mind refers to it as a "Gestapo dance march." I wouldn't be so harsh, but I like the studio version much better,

What was interesting about the show I saw was that the only song played which does not appear on Plays Live was "Games Without Frontiers," which they had dropped because Pete said they "couldn't get it right?" The new arrangement was tougher, more percussive. Pretty good. By the way, my version of the album includes "Lay Your Hands on Me" -- good thing!

The above mentioned friend has a theory that "I Go Swimming" is about a water fetish. Maybe -- there certainly is more than meets the ear in Gabriel's lyrics. A backing track for a studio version (called "Gaga") was actually recorded during the session for the third album, but Pete didn't come up with lyrics then. It was released a few years later as a single B-side.

Ryan Maffei <> (03.03.2002)

I don't like this. You would expect a dynamic piece of showmanship from the frontman of Genesis, but instead, this is just some nicely played rehashes of the recordings on his solo albums. And not even the stuff on the first two, just stuff from the third and fourth Peter Gabriels, except a few early hits. Come on, wouldn't you like to hear some nice, powerful stage versions of "Moribund the Burgermeister", or "Here Comes the Flood"? (Both are tailor-made for concert performance!) There's a fine version of "Shock the Monkey", as well as a nice "On the Air" and "Biko", but this really doesn't do it for me. Live recordings should be something special. This isn't. A 6.


Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

The movie is very good, interesting, moving, with a bizarre trick ending. But seeing it as a Gabriel fan, the music can be distracting. Because, in a critical scene, you go, for example, "Hey, that's 'Wallflower!'," That not withstanding, the music really sets a precedent for Pete's future sound. Agreed, great for hardcores.


Rich Bunnell <> (24.09.99)

Whereas you seem to be divided by the faster numbers and the slower ones on here, I hate some of the fast ones and some of the slow ones. I'd give this a 10 (out of 15, of course) since there're great songs here and some horrible ones. I agree that "Don't Give Up" is wildly unspectacular, but I myself LOVE "That Voice Again" and "In Your Eyes." Cliched as hell, of course, but with great production. The same goes for "Big Time," the one big VH1 hit here that I'm not tired of. I can't say that I like "Sledgehammer" too much, however-- there was a time when I loved it but now it's just a drag for me to sit through, despite the great horn section. I agree, though, that "Red Rain" is EXCELLENT. And "Mercy Street" is boring. Remember, people-- just because it's slow and low-key doesn't mean it's good.

Ben Greenstein <> (24.09.99)

Okay, this time you're just wrong. This is a great album. I don't care if it was a sellout - it's still good. The melodies, while not Beatles material, are REALLY captivating - at least to my ears - and at least 2/3 of the songs are indeniably very good. I'm not a fan of "Don't Give Up" either - I hate Kate Bush's awful voice - but I wouldn't call it his "worst song ever," or compare it to Phil Collins. Listen to that bassline - shame the rest of the tune couldn't keep up. And, while "That Voice Again" and "In Your Eyes" are pretty soppy, they're also quite enjoyable. Sure, happy pop wasn't Pete's forte, but he's at least better at it than, say, that other ex-Genesis frontman.

And get this - I LOVE "Mercy Street." My favourite song on here - at least, it would be if it weren't for the epic first two tracks. Mood music, sure, but with a gorgeous melody and great lyrics. "Red Rain" is the centerpiece here - possibly Pete's best song ever - but I will never get sick of "Sledgehammer" or "Big Time," no matter how many times I hear them on the radio. Have you seen the video for the latter? It's swell! And the last two tracks (one of which is simply recycled - and improved - from a brilliant Laurie Anderson/Peter Gabriel collaborration) are moody and moving.

So I give the album a ten. Even the pop numbers are creative enough to keep you listening. Surprisingly, not as many people hate it as you'd think - most consider it to be one of his pinnacles. Including me.

[Special author note: sure enough, not too many people hate this album. Because people usually find it a hard task to use their head and get the true, complex and strong points of Peter Gabriel's and Genesis' early albums, but easily assimilate banal sludge like 'Don't Give Up' or the tuneless, but oh-so-sweety mess of 'In Your Eyes'. This is exactly the kind of album that the company wanted Peter to do, and I hope he's ashamed of it. Great album? Yeah, right. Ben thinks that Bob Dylan sucks, yet So is great. Whatever you say.]

Richard C. Dickison <> (25.09.99)

I agree on much that you say, but don't blame Kate Bush too harshly for that silly 'Don't Give Up'. I happen to like her work to some degree but only on early solo albums and never as a duet on this sappy crappy harlequin romance tune. 'In Your Eye's' with the phrase "In your eye's I see the doorway's of a thousand churchs", just ties physical love with religion so well that I'll forgive the repetitive music. 'Red Rain' is becoming more respected with this album now, so people are coming to, it really can catch you with it's warning tone. 'Red Rain' with 'Mercy Street' are gorgeous examples of Peter at his peak abilities, 'Mercy Street' is slow but very visual and emotionally haunting like a really good impressionist painting. I also agree that the record company was trying hard to sell not just Peter but also Kate and Laurie Anderson. All three on one album? I look at this album in the end as being a patch work of good, bad, and uh well crappy. Corporate influence can ruin even the most thoughtful musician, just look at Clapton. But it still is a Peter Gabriel album I would suggest owning to anyone who does not have it.

Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

Agreed, not to be compared with the third and 4th albums. But these are wonderful, unusual pop songs, not typical Phil Collins 80's type stuff at all! I find "Don't Give Up" totally believable, with it's tale of a guy facing unemployment and getting support from his wife (although I agree that the video is ridiculous). "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time" are the first songs with a sense of humor he put out since "Moribund the Burgermeister." And "In Your Eyes," with that great vocal by Yossour N'dour, is another great, atypical love song (a remix by Bill Laswell is even better than the album version, with N'dour's voice made more prominent).

I don't begrudge pop music being made, as long as it's good, with a few out of the ordinary twists, musically and/or lyrically. And PG gives us that here.

John McFerrin <> (16.06.2000)

First things first. 'Don't Give Up' is abominable beyond words. Nothing could have prepared for how stupid those backing vocals sound, and Pete does little to help things either.

And most of the rest of the 'middle' tracks don't seem particularly interesting. On the other hand, though, for some reason that escapes me, I'm quite fond of 'In Your Eyes'. Maybe it's just Gabriel's voice that makes such generic prom music work for me.

Of course, the first two and last two tracks are great. 'Red Rain' probably is the best, but 'Sledgehammer' is of course stupendous, and those last two are neat. You mention 'We Do What We're Told' as being suggestive, but 'Excellent Birds' seems much more evocative to me. It's clever, and I just get a kick out of the "excellent snow" declaration.

Over all ... ehn, a 6, maybe a 6.5. Regardless, though, Us is so much better that it hurts.

Philip Maddox <> (09.09.2000)

This is the only Gabriel solo album I have, and I like it quite a bit. 'Red Rain' is the best song here. I love that song! Very atmospheric. The last 2 are really good too, especially 'This Is The Picture' (which wasn't even on the vinyl). Unbelievably, I had never heard 'Sledgehammer' before I bought this album, so I actually have a fresh opinion on the song, and that opinion is that it's great. That's a groove that I can really sink my teeth into. 'Big Time' is great as well - it starts a bit abruptly (and doesn't really sound right coming after the quieter 'Mercy Street'), but it's still really catchy. 'Mercy Street' is really pretty, though a bit unmemorable. Except for the chorus, of course, which gets stuck in my head all day. 'In Your Eyes' is good, but I've heard it a few times too many. It's at least pretty. It isn't great, but I even like 'Don't Give Up'. Kate's vocals don't do much for me, but Peter still sings very well, and the bassline behind the song chugs along quite nicely. The only song on here that really doesn't do much for me is 'That Voice Again', which never gets going. I'd give this a lowish 8. A lot of it sounds like 80s pop, but it's really good eighties pop.

<> (27.10.2000)

I personally think that 'Don't Give Up' is a great track. It's nothing revolutionary, but that gospel bridge with Gabriel switching into falsetto for a brief sends shivers up my spine. The duet was unneccesary, but to my ears, the song is very melodical, pretty, listenable, and harmless.

Thomas M. Silvestri <> (04.02.2001)

Gabriel often said that with "Sledgehammer," he was trying for an Otis Redding-type R&B song. I heard an interview in the late '80s in which he said that before Redding's death in 1967 he saw him perform live in, if memory serves, PG's hometown of Bath and was deeply moved and majorly impressed. (In the same interview, he said he'd heard that the upcoming tapes for Dylan's Lanois-produced Oh Mercy were amazing, for any Dylan skeptics out there.)

Ted Goodwin <> (02.06.2001)

OK, so maybe it's a sell-out. But it doesn't seem to me that Pete's going for the mass appeal by making "commercial" tunes so much as by just becoming less "scary". (Most of these tunes aren't really that commercial sounding.) I haven't heard most of his output so I can't say if this is his worst album, but a lot of artists could stand to have as good of a "worst" as this.

I agree that "Red Rain" is a great track, but I actually like "That Voice Again" better. "Sledgehammer" and (especially) "Big Time" are lots of fun. And what's so wrong with "In Your Eyes"? The only thing I don't like is the way he blows the song's main rhyme (churches/searches) with bad meter. Surely he could do better than that!

"Don't Give Up" doesn't do much for me (surprise); Pete's part is OK, though awfully unmemorable. But I not only don't like how Kate's part is sung, I don't care for how it's written either (especially the disorganized string of Dont-Give-Up-'cause-such-and-such at the end).

"Mercy Street" is kind of mushy, but nonetheless it's effective for what it is. Its reverent tone is something I wouldn't expect from Peter (at least not the Pete I knew from Genesis). But then its religious theme gets continued, with a twist, in "Big Time". The '80s was a time when many people "sanctified" their materialism and selfish ambition by making them part of their religion; "Big" makes a great satire of this. The character thinks having a "big God" makes him bigger, when it should really make him "smaller" (humbler).

"We Do What We're Told" is a nice sad note to end on (if, like me, you have the LP instead of the CD); the song says so much with its few words that the lead vocal part at the end (which stops rather abruptly, no?) seems almost unnecessary.

I have to admit that at the end of the album I was left feeling like there should have been more of... something. Maybe if they'd dropped the overlong "Don't" and used all that space for two better, shorter songs...

Is it just my LP copy, or do several songs ('Eyes'/'Voice'/'Rain') have the hi-hat sound mixed WAY too high (to the point of being scratchy & distorted)?

Side note: You refer to 1986 as "the worst year ever in the musical business". I wasn't following rock music closely then, so I can't agree or disagree. But I'll always think of it as something like "the year all the classic Genesis members had their individual moments in the spotlight". Phil had released NO JACKET REQUIRED the year before and he was still riding on the hits from that; likewise with Mike and the first Mechanics album. Pete released SO. Steve was involved in the very visible GTR project (whose album isn't just a suspected sell-out, it's a KNOWN sell-out; I personally thought it had some great ideas that sadly weren't well developed).

Tony did soundtrack music for a movie which (for a change) a few people actually SAW (Quicksilver), and I don't think his solo work has ever gotten more high-profile than that.

<> (08.09.2001)

"In Your Eyes" is a pop production classic. That song is all about the rhythmic groove set up by Manu Kache and the rest of the band, and how the rhythmic pattern of the chorus grows out of the pattern for the verse. It's like when a latin band plays through chord changes and the percussionists to go town. The harmony is supposed to be repetitive so you can appreciate the abundant rhythmic and production ear-candy. The chanting of the title in the chorus and middle-eastern scat-singing at the end also help to break the monotony.

Mattias Lundberg <> (17.10.2001)

I am afraid I disagree with most of you on this one. 'Red Rain' is in my opinion the most commonplace pop-song of the whole album. The way it ends - tastes are different, sorry George - with an anti-climax of repeated and unvaried material look forward to a lot of the poorer pop music that was to come in the late 80:s (and indeed has not stopped coming yet). 'In your eyes' is probably Gabriel's most Genesisian (sicut) song to be recorded after 1975. It is a perfect example of how even intelligent and educated people can be misled by the 'foreground' of the piece without noticing that Gabriel is doing things that no unpretentious popster would, or could, do. The song is melodically weak (as is most of the album; note how 'Don't give up' and 'Mercy Street' starts with exactly the same melodic cell) but it is its form that makes it work: a harmonic plan - with a contrasting introduction in a foreign key stating the material that is later to become the climax - like this, will never be achieved or even conceived by a song writer who just pour out his melodies without any scope of structure. The irregular phrasing in the verses of 'Don't give up' is another example of a highly effective structural feature that most people would not think about, but which actually makes the whole (brilliant) song work. Every song on the album is highly enjoyable, if nothing else for the brilliant musicianship by everyone involved (is that a chapman stick or a bass played by Levin ?). 'We do what we're told' and 'Red Rain' must be regarded as the least substantial tracks, however.

Ryan Maffei <> (03.03.2002)

Pete's MTV record. I think some like this one because of its landmark video...or maybe just for the hit singles. Overall, it's a rather off-putting bit of glitzy commerciality, but Gabriel inserts enough good songs to keep things moving along without completely sputtering out after the first track (the excellent "Red Rain", and I'm comparing this record to Security in that last sentence). I like "Sledgehammer", of course, with some wonderful lyrics, and a great hook. It's probably the best tune on the record. I also like "Don't Give Up" and "Mercy Street", two pointed, atmospheric ruminations. The rest of the tunes do little for me (and I absolutely detest the chintzy "Big Time"), but it has enough substance and allure to earn a 7, or a B, from moi.

Eric Benac <> (02.05.2002)

i have the cassette of this as well, and half of these songs were familar to me from my past. although, i love all the fast songs to death, due to their catchiness, the slower songs suffer. i know, peter has done slow songs like this before, atmospherical or whatever, but he just doesn't craft them as well as he usually does. the songs that were slow on security were at least crafted to be interesting, or to have sudden, crescendo's like "san jacinto". 'don't give up'. i agree, the most embarassing song gabriel wrote musically, although the lyrics aren't that horrible (because they're gabriel) but the use of kate bush is vomit enducing. she sounds so good on 'games without fronties'....

that voice again doesn't particularly offend me, it just drifts by pleasantly than goes away and that's about it. 'in your eyes' i think is a nice romantic song, though generic. when peter says "and all my instincts" or whatever, and the music changes to the more upbeat thing, it almost gets good, but the only reason i listen to this song is because my girlfriend loves it (and really only because it was on that movie with Josh Cusak that escapes my mind) and it reminds me of her. the album opens strong with 'red rain'. it is the best song on here. so emotional how he sings it... 'sledgehammer' i love, but i admit, 'steam' is better. 'mercy street' intrigues me for some reason, it really shouldn't, but it does. big time i love the lyrics to, and it's at least energetic. the last two sogns i remember being shocked to hear becasue they were weird, but i honestly can't remember what they sound like at the moment. i'd give it a mid seven to an extremly low 8, on a good day. if not for the generic fodder of "don't give up" and "that voice again" i'd rate it higher. it's funny because i've read reviews of this, and the reviews are usually GLOWING. strange..

Bruno Müller <> (24.12.2002)

I really like this album. I know it's pop. Even worse: I generally HATE pop. But I see a difference here: the genius of Mr. Gabriel. His experimentations, his smart lyrics... This album is great. I would give it a 9, maybe a weak 9, but still 9. 'Red Rain', 'Sledgehammer', 'Mercy Street' are ABSOLUTE classics. 'Big Time', big lyrics, big rhythm. 'We Do What We're Told', 'This is the Picture', 'That Voice Again'; from good to excelent songs, words and music. I can't help but surrender to all these songs, the album's rhythm. Why not a 10? Well, I kind of agree with you about 'Don't Give Up'... Not that I hate it, but it's, you know, weaker and a little boring. But I saved the best for last: HOW INSENSITIVE YOU ARE!! (Just kidding, don't get upset.) How come you don't like 'In Your Eyes'??? Such a great song and those beautiful, tender lyrics... By the way: I like the live version even more. Those added lyrics... It's like adding perfection to what's already perfect! Don't shoot me, I know you disagree... eheheh.

Blake Jackson <> (12.06.2003)

...Well. This album is, of course, the commercial one. It's not a bad album - but it's by no means a classic. Although there is one classic song here - the awesome "Red Rain", that comes right at the start...beautiful song.

As for the other big hits..."Sledgehammer" is an intensely catchy song - well-deserved radio hit. "Don't Give Up"...well, the prospect is mouth-watering, to say the least. Sure, Peter Gabriel may be delving into commerciality, but's with Kate Bush! And not just any Kate Bush - THE Kate Bush, that one who seems to keep on producing the greatest albums of all time. But, of course, it's a disappointment - Gabriel generally sounds emotionless, and Kate can't really save the track - her vocals are a bit too sweet on this one...Shame really - this song totally gives out the wrong impression. This wasn't going to be the venue for the almighty, god-like collaboration - that had already happened, both on Peter Gabriel III and on a cover of Roy Harper's "Another Day". The real winner on this track just happens to be Tony Levin, who produces one of his best basslines. I don't think it's as atrocious as you say, George, but still, it's pretty much average. Which is very poor, considering who's involved.

..Anyway, the rest are generally alright, although "Mercy Street" and "In Your Eyes" stand out. It'd probably get a 6/10 from me.

Dave Bersey (23.10.2003)

Overplayed, sellout, whatever.  To my knowledge, these tracks don't even get much radio play anymore.  So... I'm going to evaluate So on its own terms, because that's the only way I can, as someone who had never heard of Peter Gabriel back in 1986 and who has yet to hear a lot of his other work. Since So has only nine tracks, I don't think it'll be too much for everyone if I just go through them one by one.

"Red Rain."  Well, well... on the basis of opinions expressed here and elsewhere, I'd have to say this is possibly the most overrated song of all time.  It is rendered reasonably listenable only by the well-layered production (Daniel Lanois does a great job with this whole album-- he's a better pop producer than Lillywhite, whose ear-splitting drum volume and occasional flirtations with smooth jazz can be annoying after awhile).  But "Red Rain" is weak, weak songwriting, and the most embarassingly pop moment on the entire CD, if you ask me.  No melody to speak of, but still an inexplicable repetition of the non-melody over and over again.  Cheesy, over-the-top vocals (yes, George, a man is equally capable of this as a woman).  Pretentious, go-nowhere lyrics that I have a hard time believing are about anything other than Peter artificially creating an aura of mysteriousness around himself.  And one half-decent sonic atmosphere that cont! inues with little variation for ALMOST SIX MINUTES?!  That acapella end section you praise is the most embarassing part of all!

In fact, I'd go so far as to say this song sums up everything a lot of people don't like about Peter Gabriel's music... brilliantly realized, yet poorly written; "deep," yet superficial; "thoughtful," yet dealing only in generalities and platitudes; "personal," yet somehow insincere; impeccably professional, yet totally uninspired.  As much as he manages to convince me otherwise in certain songs, mostly I get the distinct feeling he's an intelligent but rather talentless hack who can draw on an endless well of brilliant collaborators and build carefully calibrated albums and songs on the strength of their work (a Britney for the literati, basically).  And I don't usually have a problem with that.  The man is clearly an egotist, but he's also a do-gooder, and a consistent and interesting artist when compared with most of what pop has to offer.  I'll be the first to admit his music is usually enjoyable and worthwhile, as flawed as it can be.&n! bsp; But when he insists on creating sonic architecture as self-indulgently mediocre as "Red Rain," and then gets universal acclaim for it, something is clearly wrong.  Step back and take a minute to contemplate what exactly it is about "Red Rain" that is supposedly so amazing... could it be, just possibly, that it's merely the name "Peter Gabriel," the "dark" subject matter, and the track 1 placement?  For the record, the awful band Guns 'n Roses' "November Rain" is both darker and much better than "Red Rain."  That's saying a lot.

I also have a big problem, George, with the way you punish certain artists for one thing and then praise others for the same. I'm talking about the way "atmospheric" is used as praise when referring to "Red Rain," but as criticism when talking about songs on Dark Side of the Moon. I'm not a big pro-Pink Floyd crusader (I pretty much agree with your review of DSOTM) but if heavy production to mask absence of melody and proper songwriting are issues for you, then Peter Gabriel's ratings should be a whole lot lower. I also think it's somewhat ridiculous the way you denigrate Paul Simon and Roger Waters in your Peter Gabriel reviews, saying Simon's attempts at world music never approached Gabriel's, and that listeners can easily graduate from Waters' "sophomoric philosophizing" (paraphrase) to the presumably more intellectual ideas of Gabriel.

Okay, so Paul Simon was not as innovative (although you can't forget "El Condor Pasa"-- released long before PG went solo).  But he wasn't as pretentious either.  He never claimed to be doing anything groundbreaking, he was just out to make great music, and he also didn't inflate himself to the point where he was basically claiming credit for others' work, as Gabriel does. PG has become his own brand, and thankfully "PS" has not. Anyway, I'd say the results should be measured not just by originality but by quality of music. Aside from Security (which you only give an 8, anyway) and his soundtracks, the only mention you make of PG's world-music tracks is negative. If you don't like "In Your Eyes," "That Voice Again," or the musical track of "Don't Give Up," I'm not sure why you bother praising him for branching out, when the results are apparently so uninteresting to you. Graceland, on the other hand, is one of the best albums of the '80s, if not ever. It's far stronger both melodically and emotionally, and far more genuinely personal and unpretentious, than anything PG has ever come up with.

As for Roger Waters' intellectual inferiority to Gabriel, that's laughable.  I don't doubt that both were reasonably intelligent, but that doesn't mean it comes through much in their music, especially Gabriel's.  Your effort to paint him as a wise sage or a brilliant thinker, based on simplistic character-based songs like "Intruder" or an anyone-could-have-written-it protest tune like "Biko," simply falls flat. I think your statement that "Family Snapshot" deserves to have a whole thesis written on it speaks for itself.  That song has some of the stupidest lyrics I've ever heard, not to mention the low-grade music.

Understandably, you are quite clearly a big Gabriel devotee, having become a fan when you were a young child.  This explains the claim that PG3, a mediocre and inconsistent album if I've ever heard one, is somehow a "masterpiece," or that "Kiss That Frog" is somehow great rather than truly terrible. On a site that aspires to objectivity, such inconsistencies are a little out of place. And anyone who says "Steam" is the best single of the '90s is clearly out of it: a dull and derivative ripoff of an increasingly washed up artist's biggest '80s hit (which, although very good in and of itself, was hardly the freshest sounding thing to come out of its decade, either) seems like about the last thing to deserve that honor. And the "Steam" video is AWFUL.

You know, screw my plan of going through all nine tracks in detail. Suffice it to say, despite how much I've attacked "Red Rain," I still don't really mind listening to it if I turn my critical mind off. And other than the opener, So is a pretty good album. You're REALLY underrating "Don't Give Up," George. I don't blame you for hating the lyrics, the silly duet setup, Kate's crooning, and the sickening, very top 40-ish "gospel" section. But the background music of the verses is great, maybe even some of the best on the album. Even those synths sound fine to me. It's not at all what you'd expect in a mainstream pop hit, back then at least.  I was really expecting something over-the-top and slick, but again, thanks to Lanois' subtle and rhythmic production, what could have been an atrocious Phil Collinsesque pop ballad if Peter had been left to his own devices instead becomes a damn enjoyable song, as long as you can ignore the worst of the lyrics. And I really like "That Voice Again." The production is standard pop, but the repetitive synth-guitar melody is totally African, very unconventional for the top 40, and it builds up plenty of energy. One of the best songs on the album.

"Mercy Street" does start out like generic soundtrack music, the part about "daddy" is annoying, and as usual for this album, it goes on too long, but it's still a nice, truly atmospheric song, with a pretty good melody, and it's deserving of far more praise than "Red Rain." Predictably, I really like "Sledgehammer," probably the best track on the album, if only because it's the polar opposite of "Red Rain." The flute solo leading into the final funky climax is the best part, and fortunately that kind of subtle, unexpected production touch-- tribal wind instruments in a soul-pop single?!-- is all over So. In my opinion it's the work of Lanois, plus all the creative musicians who worked on the record, which truly keeps it interesting and keeps it from being anything like the standard pop exercize it's sometimes portrayed as. Even Pitchfork Media has called So a "masterpiece," which should tell you something. "Big Time" is the only real sellout-sounding track, but given the meaning of the lyrics, that was surely intentional, and it's forgiveable, because the song is so head-boppingly catchy (although annoying after awhile). And the last two tracks are AWESOME, especially "This Is the Picture," a perfect closer. But they're hardly "experimental" in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps when compared with "Red Rain," but not when compared with "Intruder" or "Rhythm of the Heat."

As for "In Your Eyes," it's not bad at all.  An okay song, pleasant enough, with a pretty chord progression and great production, as always.  But the lyrics are not very believable (some are downright stupid-- the multimillionnaire Gabriel singing about how hard he has to work "for my survival"), and Youssou N'Dour's voice shouldn't have been tacked on. An idiosyncratic, enjoyable little pop love song, but hardly a classic.  I hear that the new version of the album replaces "Excellent Birds" with "In Your Eyes" as the closing track... this CAN'T be true, can it?

Conclusion: So is obviously not a masterwork, but it's not so-so either. I'd give it an 8 out of 10. Worse than some PG albums, but better than most of them.

Amanda Kenyon <> (15.05.2004)

Feel free to call me the Peter Gabriel version of a "Floodie" - I really don't care - but I enjoy the hell out of this album. "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time" are two of the greatest pop songs ever written. Great lyrics, arrangements, and overall atmosphere. Not to mention that "Big Time" is funny as all hell ("a snow white pillow for my big fat head"). "Mercy Street" is also fabulous - I'm definitely with Ben on this one. "Don't Give Up," however, is undiluted crap, and I'm rather tired of "In Your Eyes." I own this one and Shaking the Tree (which contains almost the entire So album) and love them both. As soon as I win the lottery I shall be obtaining the rest of his catalogue.

Sean Umphlet <> (24.03.2006)

Not really a comment on your review per se. I really enjoy and mostly agree with them. I'm just noting that you say in So (and Us) reviews that the difference between the two albums is eight years. My math isn't that great, but I'm pretty sure 1992-1986 = 6. Six years! :)


Mary <> (03.01.2000)

Hello! I think that Passion is a really the best album of Peter Gabriel because he reach higher consciousness. I know maybe its strange but I think that PG like Bach in the our time. His music a very simple and hard simultaneously for perception.

Though Peter was always a polyhedral composer and this make him Interested for elected people.

Bob Josef <> (06.05.2000)

The album would seem to have two audiences: hardcore Peteheads or New Age mystics. I think it's marvelous, and certainly has all his signatures. But it really is a sound experience, as Mick Jagger once said, as opposed to a song experience. It's great background or meditation music, but don't expect to rock.

Ilya Nemetz <> (24.03.2004)

The vocals are completely missing - unless you count some tribal chanting on some of the tracks

In fact, George, it's not 'tribal chanting'. It's Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the greatest voice of Pakistan and India, Shahenshah-e-Qawwali. And hey... he's easily Pavarotti's equal (if not superior, with all due respect) in terms of sheer vocal power and range.

In fact, rumours have it that there exists a record called Passion: Sources or whatever. You'd probably put it in 'this is not music' category. Fourteen tracks full of 'tribal chanting', you see. Hehe... Seriously speaking, it's a worthy record. Lots of good music, not just 'sources'.

Concerning the review: too many points of disagreement, so expect a lengthy comment on Passion soon.


Rich Bunnell <> (08.10.99)

I dunno, I just can't see this as very enjoyable-- in fact, Prindle made a very good comparison between later Gabriel albums and Talking Heads' Naked, i.e. the artist thinks that they're making really full world beat music when it's really just weak pop. I like the three singles a lot; "Steam" has held up as a favorite of mine far ahead of "Sledgehammer." In fact, the song seems to me like a redoing of "Sledgehammer," eliminating its flaws (such as sluggishness) and even updating the music video from frame-by-frame animation into snazzy computer glitz. It's much more funky and cool, I'll say that. "Digging In The Dirt" is really enjoyable to me as well; nice, sly, and hard-edged, unlike a lot of the other music on here.

But not much else grabs, or at least I haven't listened to it enough for it to be able to. "Come Talk To Me" and "Secret World" are the best attempts at full world beat to be found here, but I just can't see great melodies in much anything else, and I really can't compare this to his earlier work. Hopefully, Gabriel's next release, which is to come out...umm...I don't know when at all, doesn't continue down this "sophisticated-means-slow-and-boring" spiral. I really only take out this album when I'm making mixtapes for other people and I want to put "Steam" on it---what a frickin' awesome song.

Ben Greenstein <> (24.09.99)

Yes. I like this album very much - more, in fact, than you do. I'd give it a ten and put it in my all-time top twenty list. Why? Because the songs are so good! "Blood Of Eden," "Love To Be Loved," "Washing Of The Water," and "Secret World" are among the most gorgeous and sorrowful ballads either (perhaps even surpassing certain Elvis Costello tunes), and the upbeat numbers, like "Digging In The Dirt" and "Kiss That Frog" (which may or may not be about Gabe's penis - it's a cute sexual metaphor anyway) are great dance tunes, if a little dark. My favourite song would probably fall someplace in between "Come Talk To Me" and "Blood Of Eden," but I DO love "Steam," so maybe that's my fave. And sure, "Fourteen Black Paintings" is filler, but listen to those lyrics! Like I say, a ten.

Richard C. Dickison <> (13.12.99)

Ok, well let me say I love 'Come Talk To Me', I was really excited when I heard 'Digging in The Dirt', and 'Only Us' and 'Secret World' are surprising, catchy, subtle songs.

Oh, yeah, and 'Steam' is cool.

But what happened, why did Peter get this soundtrack-itis thing. I mean I could forgive Passion, I waited patiently for his next album. Then this happens, I felt let down for some reason. He seems to be getting really lazy, 'Fourteen Black Paintings'?

Oh well, check out your soundtrack bins for a copy of the Gremlins soundtrack sometime. Deep in the middle of the movie Peter did a song called 'Dead Dog' that was just so much fun. Worth hunting for in my book.

This album did'nt make me cringe like So but it still was not the place I thought Peter was going for.

John McFerrin <> (23.03.2000)

What a wonderfully intriguing album! Now why can't anybody else make 'modern' music that's so damn good? Solid melodies, great lyrics, WONDERFUL moods, and that amazing voice that I've grown to love so. 'Steam' is obviously the highlight, but 'Come Talk to Me', 'Blood of Eden', and 'Secret World' all qualify as great. I definitely agree with the 12, and maybe even more.

Bob Josef <> (07.05.2000)

Lyrically, he tries deliberately here what he did unconsciously on Security: writing lyrics with heavy psychological under tones. A lot of the lyrics -- "Blood of Eden," "Come Talk to Me" -- came out of the end of his marriage and the subsequent therapy. Excellent, as usual.

Musically? I kind of go back and forth on it. Sometimes it seems to me to be too much a retread of the last album, sometimes too low-key. Other times, I think it's better, sounding fresher, more vibrant. I don't know of too may albums that I feel so divided about.

By the way, since you rave so much about "Steam," you might want to know that an alternate version called "Quiet Steam" was released as a B-side. Entirely different -- Pete turns the song into a a slow, minimalist drone. Intense, in its own way, as the album version.

John McFerrin <> (11.07.2000)

Well, I finally bought this on CD, and here are my thoughts.

First of all, when I only had the album on MP3's, the rendition of 'Steam' that I had was a single version, with a number of cuts. And I thought it was great. Then I heard the full six minute version. Holy crap. Blows the single version away. It grooves, shimmys, and yet is still intelligent. Now that's what I'm looking for in 'modern' music.

Which leads me to my second point. I have come to the conclusion that this is, by far, the greatest album of the 1990's. Seriously, I haven't heard anything that even comes close to it. As soon as I hear that bagpipe in 'Come Talk to Me', I'm in heaven, and I don't leave at any time thereafter. Heck, I've even come to adore 'Love to be Loved', 'Only Us', and even '14 Black Paintings', which I once considered filler. The singles are terrific, the album bookends are gut-wrenchingly beautiful, and the emotions flood out straight from Pete's broken heart. Hell, I'll say it, comparitively this album makes Blood on the Tracks seem emotionally contained, rather than being the massive outpouring that it is.

Ah hell, it's a 14. Or at least a high 13. I still don't know if it's better than III, but it's really, really damn close.

Philip Maddox <> (02.10.2000)

I finally got this and, well, I'm a little disappointed. I was expecting this album to be fantastic. Instead, it's merely good. Still, a good album is nothing to sneeze at. 'Steam' is a really good one, like you said. Very funky and catchy. Still don't like it quite as much as 'Sledgehammer', though. In my opinion, that one just grooves a little better. 'Come Talk To Me' is every bit as good an album opener as 'Red Rain', and that says something. Very pretty and atmospheric. 'Secret World' is a great album closer, too. I love the way Peter sings "What is it/We were thinking of?". Very very nice. Then there's 'Digging In The Dirt', which is catchy as all get out. It even sounds a bit "industrial" in nature, though it's certainly a much perkier song than most industrial. The rest of this album is just pretty good. I like 'Washing Of The Water' because it was used in the movie Angus, which I loved. As an actual song, though, it's just ok. Ditto everything else here. And is it just me, or does 'Kiss That Frog' sound a whole lot like 'Sledgehammer'? Either way, it's catchy, but inferior. A 7.

Rich Bunnell <> (03.02.2001)

Okay, I give in, I love this album. It's just that when I first bought it, my shallow ninth-grade mind was expecting more poppy stuff like "Steam," and I didn't get more poppy stuff like "Steam." Instead I got a bunch of full, brilliantly-written songs like "Come Talk To Me," "Secret World" and "Blood Of Eden," and I thought they weren't brilliant because they weren't poppy stuff like "Steam." I still love "Steam," for the record. It's just that now, unlike before, I also love most of the songs that aren't "Steam." A few dull moments, but I'm now raising my previously-unannounced grade of 7/10 to a 9/10. I was really surprised when you gave this such a high grade, but now I'm glad you did.

I don't think it's the best album of the '90s, though, the title which John bestows upon it. Try as I might, I just can't leave Radiohead's OK Computer, the Flaming Lips' Hit To Death In The Future Head and The Soft Bulletin, TMBG's Apollo 18 and both of XTC's Apple Venus albums out to sit in the cold and rot. It's a wonderful album, though.

Stefan Puiu <> (18.06.2002)

Dear George,

to be concise: fuck "Steam", must be the twentieth time I listen to "Digging In The Dirt" today! And I know the song sonce around 93!

The first three songs are pretty good, too, and the other singles.

I was listening to "Kiss that frog" and it came to me - I really think the All Music Guide reading of the lyrics is much more close to their "true meaning" than yours: what King's Quest IV - "kiss it better..."? "he's sleeping with you..."? "princess, you might like it"? "can't you see the state I'm in..."?

Sounds like a very sublte (yeah, sure) ode to fellatio to me also.

Gimber <> (13.03.2006)

Quintessential? Nstch-nstch. Gabriel trying to be diverse, but this was his worst attempt. Yes, there are great songs there, but quite a few: "Digging", "Frog" and "Secret world". The rest sound to me like filler, I supose he tried to add the new things found on the awsome "Passion"(his last great record) but he didn't got to knew how to marry them with new songs...what a pity. "Steam", if you ask me, it's just a fun song. Nothing more. I wonder what do you see in that song. A real mystery.


Ryan Maffei <> (04.11.2002)

Hey! I liked 'War and Peace' when I read it in 7th grade! (Seriously! I was one of the only 13-year-olds ever to read the entirety of 'War and Peace' over the course of a month). Dig it! Beats Solzhenitsyn all to hell.

Anyway, yeah. Secret World Live comments. Ahem. This is a nicely dynamic condensation of two shows from Peter Gabriel's 1992-93 tour. Said tour was not exactly one of the artist's best, but the chosen live recordings are presented here far better than the tapes used for Plays Live were. Secret World is immediately worth praise for the excellent digital transfers from the stage to the CD; for the first time on record, Gabriel and his band actually sound as if they're in the room with you. This may be enough to recommend the album completely, since energetic, solid performances of "Steam", "Solsbury Hill", "In Your Eyes", and "Digging In the Dirt" aren't going to be easily passed up by PG fans, but there may be some dispute over track selection-there's nothing from the 1978-82 era, even though there's room for seven Us tunes, the middling instrumental "Across the River" and a Birdy cut. Still, though, a decent record. Worthy of a 7 on the overall scale. It seems a little bland at times...but "Steam" absolutely kicks ass here. Even your so-called "lethargic intro": It only heightens the tension for the burst of definitively Gabriel-funk-brass-rock that follows, I think. Good stuff. It bodes well that the last three Gabriel albums I bought were surprisingly great. (Oh, wait, that's excepting Ovo...)


Tim Van der Mensbrugghe <> (28.08.2001)

Your review was the second review of OVO I read and also the second positive one.

A journalist of the Belgian newspaper 'De Standaard / Het Nieuwsblad' wrote a positive review, just noting it was a soundtrack but further just concentrating on the music. And he managed to be pleased as well.

Sorry I brought an end to year dream of uniqueness. Oh well, a man can't get everything, can he?

Stefan Puiu <> (08.06.2002)

About your OVO review... It seems to me that most of the time you try to write different reviews than most people have (and it's a good thing to be original), but, hey, (damn! I have to admit it again ;)) I gave OVO some listens these days and you're kind of right about it. The first listen made me want to hear it again; it's very listenable, very relaxing, and some of the music is real good (I don't know Gabriel's catalog as well as you, I only know his first three albums and gave So a quick listen).

Nonetheless, I want to argue with you on one point - you describe "The TIme of The Turning" as "one of the best vocal hooks of the decade" - I'd choose, funnily enough, the chorus from "The Story of OVO" - "Feet in the earth, heads in the sky"... OK, maybe it's not a vocal hook, but what a great hook - I listened to it around 10 times yesterday, mostly for that chorus. Also, I hate "Father, Son" - the lyrics are pretty strong, but the song sounds kinda melodiless (sounds like The Final Cut filler to me). Maybe it's just me.


Ilya Nemetz <> (18.02.2006)

Wow! Let's hope 'Up' will get reviewed here soon (it will probably get an overall rating of 12... although it's Peter's darkest record in years, and you don't seem to like too much darkness [AND 'Darkness', heh] these days - but who cares about the plain numerical rating, anyway? - it's your thoughts on the album that I'm looking for). Concerning LWH: well, it's hard to disagree with the review itself, it's just I'm a bit more tolerant towards ambient music in general, and Peter's ambient offerings in particular, I guess. So, maybe an eight would be more appropriate. Not sure, though. And, yes, this here 'Sky Blue' is great and all, but it's like... errr... a demo version of the corresponding 'Up' track.

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