A good way to start off a promising career
Pink Floyd Maniac | 06/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A huge Genesis and Peter Gabriel fan, I am compelled to comment on his first album, one that, while not his best, was nonetheless good and showed how much potential he had. It also proved to the world that Gabriel no longer needed Genesis to support him.
That being said, it is interesting how much he returns to Genesis in his lyrics. Several of the songs on this album relate to his leaving the band and building up a new identity. The first is "Solsbury Hill", an softer acoustic rock song that directly related to his estrangement from his bandmates, and his longing to spread his wings and explore other music. The most popular song from the record, it is one that has never left his live repetoire, showing that it must have been very personal and dear to him. Then you have "Excuse Me", which is undoubtedly the poorest song he ever wrote. Styled as a barbershop quartet-esque song, it deals with his desire to escape the life of a rock star yet stay in the game, albeit independently. Coming from a man who lent lyrics and vocals to progressive rock masterpieces like "Supper's Ready" and "The Carpet Crawlers", this turn-of-the-century pop song will come as a shock to listeners, and will most likely be the one you skip over.
Musically the album is Gabriel's most diverse, with styles poles apart coming together well. The album kicks off with "Moribund the Burgermeister", a song that shows that Gabriel had kept and always would keep his influence from Genesis with him. The song, laden with synthesizers, percussion, and an orchestral backing, is light-hearted in music, masking it's dark lyrics that deal with a deadly plague and the Burgermeister's struggle to maintain order. After the successive song, "Solsbury Hill", comes "Modern Love", a rocker that demonstrated Gabriel's lyrical diversity - he could write about sex like the best of them. "Humdrum" is another moody progressive rock song, only to be followed by another hard rock number, "Slowburn". Afterwards Gabriel will surprise listeners again by singin' the blues on "Waiting for the Big One", a track that, like "Excuse Me", has no companion in the rest of Gabriel's career. However this song is far less cringe-worthy than "Excuse Me", featuring good guitar work by Steve Hunter.
The final two tracks create a seameless piece that is arguably the finest moment on the record other than the anthemic "Solsbury Hill". "Down the Dolce Vita", musically a possible response to the burgeoning Disco trend, is another one of Gabriel's fine lyrical moments, with lyrics concerning the wandering Mozo, a man who changes other's lives along his journey. He would appear in several other songs throughout Gabriel's career, but the full-fledged stage production and movie he planned never came to anything. Backed by The London Symphony Orchestra, the song showcased the merging of styles: Gabriel's dark, Genesis-esque prog rock with funk and disco. Without a pause, "...Dolce Vita" flows into "Here Comes the Flood", another symphonic rock song that appealed to fans of Gabriel's earlier work. However, Gabriel did not share their enthusiasm with the song, feeling it was overproduced. On Robert Fripp's "Exposure" and on Gabriel's compilation album "Shaking the Tree", a simpler, softer version of the song was present, featuring only vocals, piano, and acoustic guitar. In my honest opinion the original version was better.
Though nothing like his masterpieces, "Peter Gabriel III" and "Peter Gabriel IV", this album does give the listener a chance to see the new, untethered Gabriel, proving to his audience that he has moved on from Genesis."
Peter Gabriel is as good as ever
Roch | Fairfax, VA | 07/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The quality of the compact disc was very good and provided excellent sound quality. The music on the CD was first rate, bringing back wonderful memories of when I first heard this album on vinyl. Solisbury Hill remains a timeless classic that is worth listening to over and over again. Modern Love and Slowburn Sunset also fall within the same league. This album is a classic that deserves to be in anyone's music collection from the 1970s."