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Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel (aka "1" and "Car") (vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

This was Peter Gabriel's first solo album after he left Genesis in 1975. This 1977 release was also the first to bear the title "Peter Gabriel." After several others shared the title, this became known as "1" or "car." There is some pretty amazing music on this album, along with some oddities. The collection of musicians here is impressive. A few notables featured include Robert Fripp, Tony Levin (who would become a regular Gabriel band member), Larry Fast,  Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner. The album produced one song that would be considered a Gabriel classic, "Solsbury Hill," but there is plenty of other great stuff here.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Side 1

                   
Moribund the Burgermeister
The rhythm section brings this number in. Unusual keyboards rise upward to join. The vocals come in over the top of that combination of sounds. When it hits the chorus, rocking guitar joins and a killer prog rock arrangement takes over. There are a couple drops to some theatrical weirdness, one of which ends the tune. The cut has some real symphonic vibes at times.
Solsbury Hill

This is absolutely one of the real classics from Gabriel's solo career. Cheery acoustic guitar starts it off. The other instruments and Gabriel's voice rise up over the top of that to bring a great song to life. The chorus has such great energy and hooks. The bright, clean guitar that rides over the top of this arrangement is so great. The edgy, crunch guitar later brings a different angle to it.

Modern Love

Energized, this is a cool rocker. It has some jazzy elements in the mix, and it really works so well. It has plenty of prog in the mix along with more mainstream pop rocking sound. There are some cool proggy twists and turns built into this thing.

Excuse Me

Weird barbershop-quartet stuff is on the menu here at the start. Then the track turns to a bouncy old time, jazzy rag-time cut. This is weird, and definitely not my favorite thing here, but it does have its quirky charms. It does have some leanings toward mainstream rock and some jazzy guitar work in the mix at times.

Humdrum

Trippy, psychedelic keyboards bring this in. The vocals come over the top of that in an understated arrangement. After this opening movement, the cut begins to twist and turn through a number changes with jazzy things alternated with more standard prog stuff and more. While this isn't epic in length, it is epic in scope. It has some parts that definitely feel like Genesis, too. There are some decidedly soaring moments, and this is another highlight of the set.

Side 2
                    
Slowburn

Piano and other keyboards start things here. When the rest of the instruments join, this launches out into fast-paced prog jamming that's so cool. This works through a number of twists and turns. It's another that's rather epic in scope. It is one of the hardest rocking things here at times, and also one of the standouts.

Waiting for the Big One
This one isn't really proggy at all. It's a bluesy, jazzy jam. At times it makes me think of Randy Newman. This is entertaining, but not one of my favorites here. It does shift towards a vaguely proggy sound for a short time before they take it out into the blues guitar solo section. There is a bit of a dramatic prog section near the end. The female vocals on that make me think of Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd. That gives way to reprise of the full blues guitar section to end the number.
Down the Dolce Vita
Symphonic bombast, like soundtrack music, brings this number into being. The drive out into a funky, up-tempo jam from there. This is hard rocking, but also proggy. There are some unusual twists and eccentricities as this drives forward. It eventually drops to ambient world music that segues into the album's closer.
Here Comes the Flood
Slow moving music comes in from the concepts that were left over from the preceding song. This works to a prog ballad approach with a lot of beauty and emotion in it. It powers up with a dramatic and potent section beyond that opening movement. That works through and then drops back to the mellower stuff to continue. The track works through by alternating those sections in more or less a prog power-ballad way.
 
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