Friday, February 24, 2017

Telescopic Umbrella




On February 25, 1977 Peter Gabriel released his self-titled debut, an album that marks the beginning of one of rock's most impressive solo careers. The opening track , "Moribund the Burgermeister", suggests Gabriel's break from Genesis isn't complete. It could be an outtake from Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. More interesting is the single "Solsbury Hill", a joyous tune some fans believe reveals the reasons Gabriel left Genesis.

So I went from day to day 
Though my life was in a rut 
Till I thought of what I'd say 
And which connection I should cut
 I was feeling part of the scenery 
I walked right out of the machinery



As I dive into the depths of the debut, I find myself most looking forward to hearing "Modern Love" if only because of Gabriel's own exuberance and the way it foreshadows "And Through the Wire". I would like to recreate this video but since 911 no airport would let me.


What may trouble some fans is how many Peter Gabriels we hear on this album. "Excuse Me" sounds almost like a vaudeville act ( complete with slide whistle). Gabriel would remain one of the most interesting, multi-faceted artists in the coming decades.

Robert Christgau gave the album a B+, suggesting the album required some work from its listener: 

Even when he was Genesis, Gabriel seemed smarter than your average art-rocker. Though the music was mannered, there was substance beneath its intricacy; however received the lyrical ideas, they were easier to test empirically than evocations of spaceships on Atlantis. This solo album seems a lot smarter than that. But every time I delve beneath its challenging textures to decipher a line or two I come up a little short. 


For NME Nick Kent wrote in 1978 :

A fine record with at least one 24-carat irresistible classic in "Solsbury Hill" and a strong supporting cast of material that, all in all, in a year besmeared with great albums was, in retrospect, sorely underrated. 



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