Peter Gabriel

Geffen Records, 1986

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review originally appearing in On The Town magazine on February 4, 1997]

This, by far the most successful album of former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel's solo career, offers two unique elements at its core that press every song firmly into memory—space and intensity. Gabriel, an art-house scion with an eye for the avant-garde (see the multiple award-winning video for this CD's hit "Sledgehammer") and an ear for international rhythms, put these quirks together on this album in a set of remarkably well-produced and personal songs. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The element of space is evident on every song—the airiness of the production on both quieter tunes like "Mercy Street" and workouts like the gleefully sarcastic "Big Time" is at times almost overwhelming (or am I listening too loud again?). The brooding atmospherics of songs like the pulsing, cascading "Red Rain" would sound merely odd without the hugeness the production grants them. With it, they are completely absorbing.

Space and intensity may be combined the most effectively on the three songs filling the core of the album: "Don't Give Up," "That Voice Again" and "In Your Eyes." These three offer intense looks at (respectively) despair, internal conflict and overwhelming attraction. "Don't Give Up," with guest vocals by Kate Bush, is a particularly tight little two-character play about spiraling depression and inspirational reinforcement. "In Your Eyes," at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, is one of the truly great songs about falling not merely head over heels but mind over body, soul over the horizon in love with someone: "In your eyes, the light the heat / In your eyes, I am complete... In your eyes, the resolution of all the fruitless searches."

The CD version adds a bonus track to the original album's contents, an arty chanted duet with Laurie Anderson which, while interesting, lacks precisely the elements which made the original so strong—space and intensity. It makes for an odd finish to a fantastic journey, but then that jibes with Gabriel's general aesthetic, and in no way subtracts from this album’s status as the high point of Gabriel’s solo career.

Rating: A

User Rating: B



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