Sunday, May 3, 2015

peter gabriel (III)

Peter Gabriel burned into our memory cells, melting away barriers with the studio sophistication and musical experimentation of this dark and dramatic knockout.     Gabriel produced the sessions for his eponymous third album with Steve Lillywhite and engineer Hugh Padgham at his home studio at Ashcombe House near Bath and at London’s Townhouse Studios.   The album features  Peter Gabriel on lead vocals, backing vocals, piano, synthesizer, bass synthesizer, drum pattern, and whistles;   Kate Bush on backing vocals;   Dave Gregory, Robert Fripp, and Paul Weller on guitar;   David Rhodes on guitar and backing vocals;   Larry Fast on synthesizer, processing, bass synthesizer, and bagpipes;  John Giblin on bass;   Tony Levin on Chapman stick;   Jerry Marotta on drums and percussion;  Phil Collins – drums, drum pattern, snare drum, and surdo;   Dick Morrissey on saxophone;   Morris Pert on percussion;   Dave Ferguson on screeches;   and Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham adding whistles.  For the recording of the final chorus of "Biko", everyone in the studio was brought in to sing along.  

'Peter Gabriel'  is noted for the gated drum sound employed for the opening song "The Intruder".    Gabriel considers:   "You'd probably get three or four different answers to this question depending on whether you asked me, Hugh Padgham, Phil Collins or Steve Lilywhite. My version is that Hugh had already used gated reverb on an XTC album but he used it as a colouring agent in the way that people use FX. It is my belief that when the song was written around my basic [drum machine] programmed pattern, it originally had a much fuller arrangement. When Hugh put on the gated reverb, I got incredibly excited by it and I thought that it was going to change the way that drums sounded. I said, 'Let's turn it up, let's really put the drums loud and proud at the front of the mix and everything else will be subservient. I asked Phil then to just repeat that pattern from start to finish without putting in any fills. I also asked him to take all the metal off the kit, there were no cymbals and no hi-hats. I don't think anyone would dispute that. Steve is a great producer. He has many talents now but back then his main talent was that he was good at recognizing moments and getting great performances out of people. Hugh wasn't sure about it but he created that thing. [Making 'Intruder'] to me was the defining moment. But then of course the record that made the sound much more famous than mine was Phil's 'In The Air Tonight'. He hadn't met Hugh before that session and he then invited him to come and work on all of his records and that song went on to become a massive international hit, in the way that 'Intruder' was never going to be. ... I worked out the rhythmic sequences on a small electronic drum kit, then I built up the songs on top of them. For the lyrics, too, I exploited the repetitive rhythms of the drum machine.    

'Peter Gabriel' went to number thirty-eight in New Zealand, twenty-two in the US, eight in Sweden, seven in Canada, five in Norway, and number one in France and the UK.  Gabriel notes:   This was the first time I had a chance to work with Kate Bush, who sang on Games Without Frontiers. I thought she had an extraordinary, wonderful voice and was doing great things as a writer. Obviously I went on to work with her again in the future on Don’t Give Up.

Written as a tribute to South African activist and martyr Steve Biko,  the song became a torch song for the anti-aparteid movement.    “Biko became a very important song for me. I’d not written an overtly political song before and it led me towards some of the human rights stuff that I’m still very much involved with today. So it was as much a thing that helped shape me as it was the other way round ... I suppose; it is useful obviously if it does inform, so that now there are people who are aware of that when otherwise they would not have been. But I was very conscious about being hypocritical about that - because for a white Englishman with a comfortable home to portray something that is going on for a black person in South Africa is *can* be an influence - but I don't [think] that song will have much of an impact, a tangible impact, upon what happens in South Africa. But maybe it's part of a whole number of things which could increase external pressure from other countries on what goes on there...Books can be a much better source of social comment than rock songs, and yet rock songs get through to a much bigger audience  ...  It's a white, middle-class, ex-public schoolboy, domesticated, English person observing his own reactions from afar. It seemed impossible to me that the South Africans had let him be killed when there had been so much international publicity about his imprisonment. He was very intelligent, well reasoned and not full of hate. His writings seemed very solid in a way that polarized politics often doesn't...The musical side of the song 'Biko' was inspired by hearing a shortwave Dutch radio station playing the soundtrack to a not very good Stanley Baker epic called Dingaka. There were elements in the choir and grooves which made me want to explore further. I started to listen to various bits of African music, and Anthony Moore (formerly of Slapp Happy) introduced me to Dollar Brand, as he was then known (now Abdullah Ibrahim), and he was an influence. So there were a few feelers out in that area."

September '77
Port Elizabeth weather fine
It was business as usual
In police room 619
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

When I try to sleep at night
I can only dream in red
The outside world is black and white
With only one colour dead
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko, because Biko
Yihla Moja, Yihla Moja
-The man is dead

And the eyes of the world are
watching now
watching now

"Games Without Frontiers"

"I Don't Remember"

"Family Snapshot"

'Peter Gabriel' 
full album:

All songs written by Peter Gabriel.

Side one

"Intruder" – 4:54
"No Self Control" – 3:55
"Start" – 1:21
"I Don't Remember" – 4:41
"Family Snapshot" – 4:28
"And Through the Wire" – 5:00

Side two

"Games Without Frontiers" – 4:06
"Not One of Us" – 5:22
"Lead a Normal Life" – 4:14
"Biko" – 7:32

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