Six-Pack: Peter Gabriel
Today we celebrate the birthday of Peter Brian Gabriel, and if you didn’t know his middle name before now, that’s okay, because we’re pretty sure you know Peter Gabriel’s music, and that’s what counts. Beyond his work with Genesis and as a solo artist, however, Gabriel has done a fair amount of work with other folks, so we’ve put together a six-pack of tracks to educate you on some of those additional credits.
1. Colin Scot, COLIN SCOT (1971): In some parts of the world, this album was released under the title COLIN SCOT WITH FRIENDS, and there’s good reason for that, particularly when you see who Scot’s friends were. Among those who contributed to the album were Gabriel, Phil Collins, Brinsley Schwarz, Peter Hammill, David Jackson, Robert Fripp, Rick Wakeman, and Jon Anderson.
2. Robert Fripp, “Here Comes The Flood” (1979): You know the song from Gabriel’s own work, of course, but Fripp – who played in Gabriel’s band when he went on tour – didn’t love the version recorded by Gabriel with producer Bob Ezrin. When he tackled the song for his own album, Fripp clearly did it up right: as the Music Aficionado blog described it, “The performance by Fripp and Gabriel on the version from [Fripp’s] EXPOSURE album is simply perfect.”
3. Johnny Warman, “Screaming Jets” (1981): If you’ve never heard of Warman or his song, it’s not for lack of him busting his butt to try and make it in the music business. He came of age in the ‘60s and absorbed as much of the British Invasion as any young Brit could, so when the ‘70s arrived, he joined a band called Bearded Lady and made a go of being a musician. They didn’t make much of an impression in the long run, unfortunately, so Warman decided to take a shot at a solo career, earning a deal with Ringo Starr’s label, Ring O’ Records, but that didn’t result in superstardom, either. After a period with a band called Three Minutes, Warman went solo again, scoring a deal with Elton John’s label, Rocket Records. That’s where he crossed paths with Gabriel, who sang on “Screaming Jets,” which – hallelujah! – was a top-10 hit in Australia.
4. Laurie Anderson, “Excellent Birds” (1984): Given Gabriel’s history of stepping outside the box with his work, it makes sense that he should find a kindred spirit in New York art rock legend Laurie Anderson. “I am a huge fan of Peter Gabriel, and especially of what he does in the low end – it’s so beautiful how he can organize what’s going on downt here – but we could never agree on what a bassline was,” Anderson told Red Bull Music Academy in June 2015. “I wanted to learn from him, but it turned into a standoff and so we each put out our own version of the song. It taught me that I should collaborate in different ways. I always like to cross borders and see how I can bring other things into music.”
5. Phil Collins, “Take Me Home” (1985): For Genesis fans, it was a pleasant surprise to discover that Gabriel had reunited with his old mate Phil to offer some backing vocals to this track, but it wasn’t the first time the two had worked together since being in the band together. “In the late ’70s, early ’80s, he didn’t have a band, [so] when he was thinking about his third album, he didn’t have a band to play with, to rehearse it, to spitballs ideas off," Collins told the AV Club in 2016. “So I said to him, ‘I’m doing nothing, so I’ll be your drummer, if you want.’ We got on great, so I went down to his house in Bath, along with a few other musicians that we all knew, and stayed there for a month or so, jamming every day and playing through some of the ideas that he had, and those ideas became his third album. We did gigs. We did duets on stage. I mean, we sang ‘The Lamb [Lies Down On Broadway]’ together, we sang ‘Mother Of Violence’ together… So it was great fun to do it.”
6. The Call, “Everywhere I Go” (1986): If it seems unlikely that Gabriel would have contributed to an album by an American rock band, well, then you must not know much about The Call, because they were beloved by a number of high-profile musicians. In the case of The Call, though, they’d actually been on the road as Gabriel’s opening act. “When we were first asked to tour, we didn’t know too much about him except that he’d been in Genesis,” Been admitted in a 1987 interview. “During that tour, though, we all got to know each other very well. Peter is one of the most interesting, unassuming people I’ve ever met.”
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