Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Monday, 17 September 2012


Peter in 1978
After leaving Genesis in 1975 Peter Gabriel released five albums on the Charisma label, the first four of which were self-titled.  I bought the second and fourth of these albums at a recent car boot sale for £1 each.

Firstly was 1978's Peter Gabriel, the second of this run of albums and also known as "Scratch".

Produced by Robert Fripp, this is an album of eccentric piano-rock, with Roy "The Professor" Bittan from the E-Street Band behind the piano.

Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (1978)

As well as bestowing some excellent guitar solos Fripp makes use of his synthesiser skills and tape-looping techniques (Frippertronics).

The opening song "On The Air" is the story of Gabriel's character 'Mozo' broadcasting his amateur radio show from his secret riverside shack.

Another of my favourites is "A Wonderful Day In A One-Way World", which is bouncy, bassy and fun, even though it appears to be about a man becoming trapped in a supermarket (you never can tell for sure with Gabriel's lyrics).  The tender "White Shadow" is another standout.

"Scratch" is not widely regarded as one his best records but I disagree, although it does tail off a bit towards the end with the exception of "Home Sweet Home", a tragic tale of loss and gain.

Peter Gabriel no.3 was released in 1980.  Also known as "Melt", I found it at one of last year's boot sales.  No.4 was released two years later and is often referred to as "Security"; it's official name in the US and surely better than Scary Face:

Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (Security in USA) (1982)
"Melt" was written using digital equipment and Security continues this new-found way of making music (well, it was the 80s), adding elements from his travels; namely Latin rhythms and African drumming.

Opener "Rhythm Of The Heat" is wonderfully percussive with a thrilling finale.  On the album as a whole and in particular with this song, Gabriel's gorgeously husky voice is allowed to soar, in marked contrast to "Scratch" where is seems reined in.

Long-time collaborator Tony Levin's bass is always a joy to hear and is well used on songs such as the twinkling "San Jacinto", "Kiss Of Life" and "Wallflower".  The latter is a dark description of life for a political prisoner held in a psychiatric instiution, the white-coated staff chillingly portrayed;
"Their eyes are all as hidden as their Hippocratic Oath".
The dark themes continue with a disturbing depiction of a wedding-as-voodoo-sacrifice in "The Family And The Fishing Net".  The human need for physical contact is explored in "Lay Your Hands On Me" and "I Have The Touch".  The single "Shock The Monkey" reached no.29 in the US but only 58 in his home country.

From his five albums on Charisma, only number 1 (or "Car") has yet to turn up at a car boot sale so far.  I must fight the urge to get it from eBay.  Here's "A Wonderful Day..." followed by "San Jacinto".

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