[Review] Peter Gabriel (1980)

His breakthrough third album mixes world music with world politics to sometimes shocking effect.

Kronomyth 3.0: You yourself are just the same as what you see in me.

You know the name, look up this number. Peter Gabriel’s third album (sometimes referred to as Peter Gabriel III) is as unconventional as his last was conventional. Exotic instruments, inventive arrangements (e.g., prohibiting the use of cymbals) and compelling character studies combine to create something unlike anything else from 1980.

Gabriel throws down the avant-garde gauntlet with the opening “Intruder,” a nightmarish song that sets the stage for a side-long study of psychoses. No sooner has Gabriel declared “I am the intruder” than we find the felon has already gone over the line in “No Self Control,” only to writhe under examination in “I Don’t Remember.” An Oswaldian allegory follows on “Family Snapshot” (beating Godley & Creme’s “Lonnie” to the punch) and everything closes in a celebration of strangeness with “…And Through The Wire” (a precursor to “I Have The Touch”).

Side two flips the perspective from the individual against society to society against the individual, “world music” in every sense of the words. “Games Without Frontiers” is a cleverly crafted pop shot at global fighting, the ugly head of prejudice roars on “Not One of Us” and the muted “Lead A Normal Life” rattles in its prison. It’s all leading up to the closing “Biko” (or so it would seem): a larger-than-life ode to Stephen Biko that somehow turns social injustice into a sublime song of martyrdom.

For the first time since Lamb, Peter Gabriel was back to pushing envelopes. The album re-affirmed the singer as one of rock’s leading visionaries and ranked among the year’s best efforts (alongside Remain In Light, Scary Monsters and Vienna). More important, it established a workable idiom for Peter Gabriel the solo artist, one he would fine tune over the years but never really abandon. In an interesting move, Gabriel re-recorded the vocals for the entire album in German and released it as Ein Deutsches Album.

Original LP Version

A1. Intruder (4:50)
A2. No Self Control (3:53)
A3. Start (1:20)
A4. I Don’t Remember (4:35)
A5. Family Snapshot (4:24)
A6. …And Through The Wire (4:43)
B1. Games Without Frontiers (4:03)
B2. Not One of Us (5:19)
B3. Lead A Normal Life (4:07)
B4. Biko (7:25)

All songs written by Peter Gabriel.

Ein Deutsches Album track listing
A1. Eindringling
A2. Keine Selbstkontrolle
A3. Frag Mich Nicht Immer
A4. Schappschnub (Ein Familienfoto)
A5. Und Durch Den Dracht
B1. Spiele Ohne Grenzen
B2. Du Bist Nicht Wie Wir
B3. Normales Leben
B4. Biko

The Players

Peter Gabriel (vocals, piano, backing vocals, synths, whistles, drum pattern), Phil Collins (drums, drum pattern, snare, surdo), Larry Fast (synths, processing, bagpipes, electronic production), Robert Fripp (guitar, guitar-burst), John Giblin (bass), Tony Levin (stick), Jerry Marotta (drums, percussion), Dick Morrissey (sax), Hugh Padgham (whistles), Morris Pert (percussion & solo), David Rhodes (guitar, backing vocals) with Kate Bush (backing vocals on A2, B1), David Ferguson (screeches on B4), Dave Gregory (guitar on A4/A5), Steve Lillywhite (whistles on B1), Paul Weller (guitar on A6). Produced by Steve Lillywhite; engineered by Hugh Padgham.

The Pictures

Sleeve design & photos by Hipgnosis. Liner drawings by Colin Chambers.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on May 23, 1980 in the UK (Charisma, CDS 4019), the US (Mercury, SRM/MCR-4/-1-3848), Australia and Brazil (Charisma, 9124 054), Canada (Charisma, CA-1-2215), Israel (Phonodor, 13183) and Japan (Charisma, 20S-102) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #1 on the UK charts and #22 on the US charts. Also released with German language vocals as Ein Deutsches Album on elpee in 1980 in Germany (Charisma, 6302 035) and Canada (Charisma, MIP-1-9465) with lyrics innersleeve.

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in May 1987 in the UK (Charisma, PGCD 3).
  2. Re-issued on elpee, cassette and compact disc in the US (Geffen, GHSP/M5G 2035/-2) with lyrics innersleeve.
  3. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 2002 in the US (Real World, PGCDR3) and Japan (Virgin, TOCP-66079).
  4. Re-released on half-speed remaster 180g vinyl elpee in 2016 in the US (Real World).

1 thought on “[Review] Peter Gabriel (1980)

  1. Today is Peter Gabriel’s 70th birthday. I’m listening to some stuff of his (incl. early Genesis) to commemorate the day.

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