“Peter Gabriel” by Peter Gabriel (1977)
Release Date: February 25, 1977
Produced by Bob Ezrin
Genre: Progressive Rock, Art Rock, Prog Rock
Label: Charisma, Atco
Chart Positions: #1 (Holland), #5 (Norway, France, Italy), #7 (UK), #8 (Sweden), #9 (Germany, Netherlands), #10 (Austria), #25 (Australia), #30 (Canada), #38 (New Zealand, US)
Certifications: Gold (UK, France, Germany)
Singles: “Solsbury Hill” #3 (France), #9 (Poland), #11 (Holland), #13 (Austria, Netherlands, UK), #14 (Belgium), #16 (Germany), #45 (Australia), #68 (US), #92 (Canada), “Modern Love” (No chart data)
Peter Gabriel is the first studio album by English rock musician Peter Gabriel and the first of four with the same eponymous title. Released on 25 February 1977, it was produced by Bob Ezrin (Ezrin is best remembered for producing Alice Cooper’s classic albums through the 1970s and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”). Gabriel and Ezrin assembled a team of musicians, including King Crimson main-man Robert Fripp, to record the album. Upon the album's release, Gabriel began touring with a seven-piece band under his own name.
The album was recorded in the wintertime in Toronto where Bob Ezrin was based at the time. Gabriel got to know the area by riding a bicycle from place to place.
This album is often called either Peter Gabriel 1 or Car, referring to the album cover by London artist Peter Christopherson when he was associated with the London artists group Hipgnosis. The car was a Lancia Flavia owned by Hipgnosis founder Storm Thorgerson. One of the first ideas Gabriel had for the cover was to use mirrored contact lenses. It took him a while to find someone that would make the lenses for him. Gabriel said, "They were painful to wear, but the effect was fantastic."
Peter Gabriel's first self-titled album served as his creative exodus from Genesis (no pun intended ... OK, kinda). It's a purposefully eclectic, anything-flies approach to songcraft, venturing from hard-hitting rock ("Modern Love") to quirky art-rock (the vastly underrated "Moribund The Burgermeister") to pastoral folk-pop (the lovely "Solsbury Hill," which serves as a thinly veiled kiss-off to his former band) to, umm, barbershop quartet crooning ("Excuse Me"). No other Gabriel album is quite so diverse in stylistic content. Overall, Car is a fascinating first chapter.
Peter Gabriel commented on his website: “I really wanted the first record to be different from what I’d done with Genesis so we were trying to do things in different styles. A bit of barbershop, which Tony Levin helped with, there were more bluesy things, a variety of songs and arrangements that were consciously trying to provide something different than what I’d done before.”
Peter Gabriel’s debut solo single was “Solsbury Hill,” Gabriel has said of the song's meaning, "It's about being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get ... It's about letting go." Former bandmate Tony Banks acknowledges that the song reflects Gabriel's decision to break ties with Genesis, but it can be also applied in a broader sense. The song was a huge hit in Europe having reached the Top 20 in France, Poland, Holland, Netherlands, UK, Belgium and Germany. In the US the song only reached #68.
"Solsbury Hill" (1977)
Built around an acoustic guitar riff, this song is much more simple and toned-down from his extravagant work with Genesis. At one point Gabriel was going to leave the song off of the album but in the end decided to include it. Gabriel considers “Solsbury Hill one of his favorites. It's almost always included in his live shows. Solsbury Hill is located near Bath, England, where Gabriel would often walk or jog.
The second and final single, the surging rocker “Modern Love, ” failed to chart anywhere despite a music video that was made to promote the song. The video was shot in a shopping mall that was in the process of being built. Most of the video is filmed on a moving escalator (which Gabriel felt was very “in the future” at the time).
One of the album’s popular cuts “Slowburn” takes Peter Gabriel back to familiar ground with elements of his earlier orchestral work with Genesis.
In the song "Down The Dolce Vita" Gabriel introduces the characters Aeron and Gorham who set out on a journey across the sea. They would become part of Gabriel's story of Mozo, a mercurial stranger who would come and go, changing people's lives. Mozo would show up again in "On The Air," "Exposure," "Red Rain" and "That Voice Again."
One of the most interesting songs, lyrically, is "Here Comes The Flood." Gabriel is speaking about a mental flood, "a release, a wash over the mind." He presents an image of a society where people can read each other's minds. Gabriel says the song was inspired by a dream he had.
Peter Gabriel Advertisement (March 5, 1977)
Peter Gabriel (1977) Mirrored Contacts