Peter Gabriel

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HOW I SEE HIM
Peter Gabriel is rightly lauded as a great songwriter and innovator in musical forms.  His contribution to early Genesis is profound and undeniable.  I have more equivocal feelings toward the "theatrical" aspects of his live performances.  While the makeup and props were also hailed for their creativity and most likely inspired and influenced later theatrical acts including Marilyn Manson, I have never been truly convinced of their value in musical presentation.  Although Peter made it a point to distinguish himself from Glam Rock acts such as David Bowie and Kiss, I'm not sure how much of his presentations was out of necessity for visual aid and how much was due to his desire to be the center of attention.  In a way his reported eccentricities in real life are also suspect (e.g., teaching chimpanzees keyboards).  Sometimes I am tempted to say "Peter you can be great without being weird".  While he has improved over the years, Peter still has trouble getting in touch with his own feelings.  Consequently his songs are harder to relate to and are less personal than Phil's.  Like Phil, Peter is blessed with a very distinctive, instantly recognizable voice which can be very soulful especially at lower registers.  His upper range however is no match for Phil's heavenly falsetto.            
MUSICIANSHIP RANGE OF OUTPUT
Peter himself stated in an interview that he thinks of himself as more of a songwriter than a musician, then joked that he must be the most inept miscellaneous instrumentalist.  This is actually not that far from the truth.  He started out as a drummer, but not a very good one.  Then he began to play flute and oboe and did a fairly good job.  And of course, not to forget the famous bass drum he used to kick for "dramatic effect". Heavily influenced by African music and continues to be involved in world music (WOMAD).  Surprisingly he turned out to be a fantastic composer of instrumental music on his own apart from Genesis as proven by Passion and OVO.  Solo albums are few and far apart, but always well received by the rock critics.
BEST TRAITS TRADEMARK STAGE MANNER
Extremely creative, have unique perspective on things
Care about human rights and the conditions of the Third World

Introduces songs with whimsical stories, often in foreign languages.  Seeks audience participation by physical contact (stage diving).  Outlandish makeup and costumes before leaving Genesis. 
WORST TRAITS
Procrastinates professionally
Can be egotistical
Seems remote and not very approachable, possibly due to shyness
FAVORITE SOLO SONG FAVORITE SOLO ALBUM
"Biko" from PG III Passion - Music for the Last Temptation of Christ (1989)
FAVORITE LYRICS
Young man says, "you are what you eat" - eat well.
Old man says "you are what you wear" - wear well.
You know what you are, you don't give a damn;
bursting your belt that is your homemade sham.

     --- from "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight" (1973)
FAVORITE QUOTE
"Most Rock singers have nothing to do except wiggle their bottoms when they aren't singing, but when the music gets exciting - I want to hit something."  

--- on the rationale behind kicking his bass drums during songs in early Genesis shows.
SLIP-OF-TONGUE
"I'm a bit non-competitive in my attitude at the moment but in some ways I want to get something out as quickly as possible, before those miserable bullshit." 

--- commenting on the fact that the release dates of PG I and Genesis' A Trick of a Tale might coincide.
 

 

 

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