[Review] Peter Gabriel: Security (1982)

A complex, subtle cabernet of internalized shame and global change.

Kronomyth 4.0: The man in the monkey suit.

Peter Gabriel dug deeper to find the animal within, exploring two very different paths in the process that led to a sort of future primitivism on Security. Not only is the music ahead of its time, but somehow it manages to be ahead of Gabriel’s own vision. As intelligent and ambitious as these songs are, Gabriel fails to bring most of them into focus, and you get the sense that the singer only had a vague idea of what the final product might sound like. At least that’s the impression left on me by works like “The Family And The Fishing Net,” “I Have The Touch” and “Wallflower.” This suspicion was confirmed in part when Gabriel released a far superior version of “I Have The Touch” a few years later that finally balanced the song’s disjointed giddiness with its worldbeat sensibilities.

That balance is already evident on the wonderful “Shock The Monkey” (with a video that made plain the album’s theme of a modern man lost in a primal world), far and away Security’s most immediately accessible track. The rest of the record takes time to sink in, from the subtle but stirring “Lay Your Hands On Me” to the spellbinding “San Jacinto.” Security is well worth the effort, as the arrangements are so rich in subtle detail that nuances are discovered with each sitting, eventually revealing the power and unlocking the obscured majesty of songs like “The Rhythm of the Heat” and “San Jacinto.” And yet it’s not the stunning achievement of his last album, here suffocating under too many layers, but a necessary step toward the cooly confident So.

In a real sense, “Biko” and “Wallflower” and “Red Rain” are the same image articulated by an evolving artist (and listeners may favor one period or style of composition over another as their tastes dictate). I’ve always been impressed with the record, and over the years continue to go digging in it for hidden treasures, but it’s never been the rewarding experience of the works around it. Note that the original elpee featured a sticker with the title “Security” that, when removed, rendered the album again untitled. Like last time, Gabriel also recorded a German-language version of the album, called simply Deutsches Album.

Original LP Version

A1. The Rhythm of the Heat (5:15)
A2. San Jacinto (6:21)
A3. I Have The Touch (4:30)
A4. The Family And The Fishing Net (7:00)
B1. Shock The Monkey (5:23)
B2. Lay Your Hands On Me (6:03)
B3. Wallflower (6:30)
B4. Kiss of Life (4:17)

All songs written and arranged by Peter Gabriel.

Deustches Album track listing
A1. Rhythmus Der Hitze
A2. Das Firschernetz
A3. Kon-Takt!
A4. San Jacinto
B1. Shock Den Affen
B2. Handauflegen
B3. Nicht Die Erde Hat Dich Verschluckt
B4. Mundzumundbeatmung

The Players

Peter Gabriel (lead vocals, backing vocals, CMI, Prophet, Surdo drums, Linn programming, additional drums, piano, vocal noises, Fairlight CMI programming), John Ellis (backing vocals, guitars), Larry Fast (Moog, Moog brass, Prophet, Moog bass, Fairlight CMI programming), Tony Levin (bass, stick, fretless bass), Jerry Marotta (drums, Surdo drums, percussion), David Rhodes (guitars, backing vocals) with Ekome Dance Company (Ghanaian drums section on A1), Jill Gabriel (backing vocals on A2), Peter Hammill (backing vocals), Robert Laneri (treated saxophone on A4), David Lord (CMI, polymoog, Prophet, piano, Fairlight CMI programming), Stephen Paine (CMI, Fairlight CMI programming), Morris Pert (timbales on B2). Produced by David Lord and Peter Gabriel; engineered by David Lord; remix engineered by Julian Mendelsohn.

The Pictures

Artwork by Peter Gabriel, Malcolm Poynter, David Gardner. Typesetting by Ron Hart.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on September 6, 1982 in the UK (Charisma, PG 4), the US (Geffen, GHS-2011/GEFM-5201), Argentina (Charisma, 6104), Brazil (BMG, 1408062), Canada (Geffen, XGHS 2011), Colombia (Charisma, 6302 201), Israel (Phonokol, 6302201), Japan (Charisma, 25S-137) and Mexico (Chrisma, LPR-34005) with lyrics innersleeve. Reached #66 on the UK charts and #28 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record).

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in 1984 in the US (Geffen, 2011-2).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1989 in Venezuela (Virgin, 1576) with lyrics insert.
  3. Re-released on audiophile lp in 2002 in the UK (Classic Records, PGLP-04).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Geffen, XPGCD-4).
  5. Re-released on remastered compact disc in the US (Geffen, 493266).
  6. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Virgin, VJCP-68848).
  7. Re-released on half-speed remastered 2LP in 2015 (Real World) and as Deutsches Album on half-speed remastered 2LP in 2015 in Europe (Real World, 884108003398).

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