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Gabriel, Peter

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Music, People.

(1950-    ) UK musician, most famous as a founder-member of the group Genesis. After leaving the band in 1975 he recorded and released four highly regarded solo albums all titled Peter Gabriel (1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982). The albums are differentiated by fans either as "I", "II", "III" and "IV" or, following their cover-art, as Car, Scratch, Melt and Security. The songs, always oblique and elegant, deliberately defamiliarize the usual subject matter of pop in intriguing and often sf-like ways; for instance the time-loop consumerist dystopia of "A Wonderful Day in our One-way World" (on "II"), or the darkly surreal "Games Without Frontiers" (on "III"), which treats European politics as a grim television game show. Gabriel broke through to mainstream success with the suite of poppier non-sf songs So (1986), a feat several subsequent albums tried unsuccessfully to repeat. One other Gabriel album is of genre interest: OVO, which was conceived as the soundtrack to the London Millennium Dome Show, performed as such in 1999 and released as an album in 2000. Sadly it is a rather clumsy piece of work, a concept album dramatizing the clash between wholesome tree people and nasty machine-users; the plotting is sub-Ursula K Le Guin, the message (about tolerance and eco-friendliness) both too heavily telegraphed and too fatuous, and the world-music aural stylings muddled and unmemorable. [AR]

Peter Brian Gabriel

born Chobham, Surrey: 13 February 1950


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