Peter Gabriel (Car)
No doubt anxious to establish his distinct identity apart from Genesis, Gabriel takes on a bewildering pastiche of styles on his solo debut. Due to this it’s difficult to make generalisations about this record because of its scattershot nature – it definitely has its moments, but as a whole it’s tentative and uncertain. American producer Bob Ezrin adds a radio friendly sheen, which confuses matters even more – the album veers between vying for mainstream acceptance and more self-consciously complex material.
The best tracks are those that stick closest to 1970’s Genesis; the opening progressive rock of ‘Moribund The Burgermeister’ showcases Gabriel’s theatrics, and the biographical ‘Solsbury Hill’ (with Robert Fripp’s ending guitar pyrotechnics) recalls Genesis’ acoustic tendencies. The closing epic ‘Here Comes The Flood’ is in similar territory, although its grandiose arrangement recalls Queen more than Genesis. On the opposite end of the scale, the texturally driven, low-key ‘Humdrum’ is the best precursor for Gabriel’s subsequent solo path. In between these high points, there are some less successful genre experiments; ‘Waiting For The Big One’ is the worst offender, featuring an irritating blues riff endlessly repeated, while the barbershop quartet on ‘Excuse Me’ is a bizarre choice.
In Genesis Gabriel often wrote in allegory, and relied on his band-mates for musical support; as a solo artist his debut finds him shakily finding his own feet and personal voice. There are individual gems like ‘Moribund The Burgermeister’ and ‘Here Comes The Flood’, but Gabriel doesn’t sustain excellence for an entire album.