Peter Gabriel (1977 album)

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Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel (self-titled album, 1977 - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
Released25 February 1977 (1977-02-25) [1]
RecordedAutumn 1976 [1]
StudioThe Soundstage, Toronto, Canada
Morgan Studios, London
Olympic Studios, London [1]
Label Charisma (UK)
Atco (US, Canada)
Producer Bob Ezrin
Peter Gabriel chronology
Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Singles from Peter Gabriel
  1. "Solsbury Hill"
    Released: 21 March 1977 [3]
  2. "Modern Love"
    Released: 20 June 1977 [4]

Peter Gabriel is the debut solo studio album by English progressive rock singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel and the first of four with the same eponymous title. Released on 25 February 1977, it was produced by Bob Ezrin. Gabriel and Ezrin assembled musicians, including guitarist Robert Fripp, and his future King Crimson bandmate Tony Levin on bass. On the album's release, Gabriel began touring with a seven-piece band under his own name. The album went to No. 7 in UK and No. 38 in the US. This album is often called either Peter Gabriel I or Car, referring to the album cover by London artist Peter Christopherson. Music streaming services currently refer to it as Peter Gabriel 1: Car. Gabriel's first solo success came with the album's lead single "Solsbury Hill", which Gabriel has said is about "being prepared to lose what you have for what you might get ... It's about letting go." [5]


Although mainly happy with the music, Gabriel felt that the album – particularly "Here Comes the Flood" – was overproduced. Piano-only or piano with synth versions of that song appear on Robert Fripp's Exposure and his appearance on Kate Bush's December 1979 BBC Two TV special (in which Gabriel and Bush also duetted on Roy Harper's "Another Day"). [6] A third such version appeared on the 1990 compilation album Shaking the Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats . Gabriel often performs the song live, accompanied by only himself on keyboard, either in German or English, depending on the audience. [7] The song was debuted during an appearance on Thames Television's Good Afternoon in the summer of 1976. [6]

Direct Disk Labs released a half-speed-mastered version of the album, from the original master tapes. It has a longer version of "Slowburn" (5:16 instead of 4:36) with the song's introduction intact. All other versions of this album have the introduction (with a full band) edited out.


During The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, Gabriel announced to his Genesis bandmates that he had decided to leave the band, [8] citing estrangement from the other members and the strains on his marriage. Nonetheless, he saw his commitment through to the conclusion of the tour. The breaking point came with the difficult pregnancy of Gabriel's wife, Jill and the subsequent birth of their first child, Anna. When he opted to stay with his sick daughter and wife, rather than record and tour, the resentment from the rest of the band led Gabriel to conclude that he had to leave the group.

In a letter to fans, delivered through the music press at the end of the tour, titled Out, Angels Out, Gabriel explained that the "vehicle we had built as a co-op to serve our song writing became our master and had cooped us up inside the success we had wanted. It affected the attitudes and the spirit of the whole band. The music had not dried up and I still respect the other musicians, but our roles had set in hard." [9]

Gabriel then closed the letter: "There is no animosity between myself and the band or management. The decision had been made some time ago and we have talked about our new direction. The reason why my leaving was not announced earlier was because I had been asked to delay until they had found a replacement to plug up the hole. It is not impossible that some of them might work with me on other projects." [9]

Gabriel's Genesis bandmate Phil Collins, who replaced him in the band as lead vocalist, later remarked that the other members "were not stunned by Peter's departure because we had known about it for quite a while". The band continued without Gabriel, starting with their next studio album, 1976's A Trick of the Tail . [10]

Recording, release and promotion

Peter Gabriel was recorded at The Soundstage in Toronto with producer Bob Ezrin in the autumn of 1976, [1] with additional sessions at Morgan Studios and Olympic Studios, in London, England.

"Bob Ezrin was suggested. For my part, I didn't feel I could be an Alice Cooper, but I made him listen to the extracts of what I had done and he liked them – or, rather, he liked what I liked. We understood each other. We talked. There was an excellent rapport immediately – a human rapport – and that was what I was looking for above all ... I tried to achieve a combination of Bob and me as producers. He controlled the American rhythm sections and I handled the more European things. And, on the album, Bob dominated the very rock passages which I wasn't used to producing, and I led the quiet parts – things I'd done in Genesis." – Peter Gabriel [11]

Gabriel and Ezrin assembled musicians for the sessions including guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson, bass player Tony Levin (later of King Crimson), drummer Allan Schwartzberg, percussionist Jimmy Maelen, guitarist Steve Hunter, keyboardist Jozef Chirowski and Larry Fast on synthesizers and programming.

"I was uncertain of what I could or couldn't do so went with some of Bob Ezrin's choice of musicians (including Tony Levin) and invited Robert Fripp and Larry Fast to cover my more soundscape orientated / European ambitions. Although it was mainly recorded in a snowy couple of weeks in Toronto I remember the sessions as fast, exciting and hot. Many of the backing tracks were put down live, working to the limitations of the 16-track tape machine. It was a fun, intense and scary session, with a great band – who later came out to tour with me."– Peter Gabriel [12]

The album was released on 25 February 1977 on Atco (US & Canada) and Charisma, reaching No. 7 in the UK and No. 38 in the USA.

The first single taken from it, "Solsbury Hill", became a Top 20 hit in the UK and reached No. 68 on the Billboard Hot 100. [13] The second single, "Modern Love", did not chart.

After Peter Gabriel's release, Gabriel assembled a touring band, consisting of Fripp (occasionally using the pseudonym "Dusty Rhodes", and sometimes performing from offstage) and Hunter on guitar, Levin on bass, Fast on synthesisers, Schwartzberg on drums, Phil Aaberg on keyboards and Jimmy Maelen on percussion. The first leg of his debut solo tour, entitled "Expect the Unexpected", started on 5 March 1977 in the United States and continued until April. The UK portion of the tour concluded on 30 April. A second leg assembled a different band, which included Sid McGinnis on guitar, Levin on bass, Jerry Marotta on drums and Bayette on keyboards. The "Sightings in the Test Area During Autumn" leg began on 30 August and saw the band play throughout England and Europe before concluding on 1 November 1977.

The album received the prize of the French Académie Charles Cros. [14]

Cover art

The photo on the cover is of Peter Gabriel sitting in the front passenger seat [nb 1] of a 1974 Lancia Flavia, owned by Storm Thorgerson, co-founder of Hipgnosis and the cover's designer. For the shoot, which took place in Wandsworth, the car was sprayed with water from a hose. The black-and-white image was then hand-coloured, and reflections modified using a scalpel, by artist Richard Manning. [15] [16]

Because Gabriel's first four albums were not titled (only numbered), the photograph has been used by fans and online music services to assign the record the simple title of Car.

An alternative proposal was to feature a photograph of Peter Gabriel wearing contact lenses intended to give his eyes the appearance of metallic ball bearings; this was relegated to the inner sleeve instead. [16]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [17]
Chicago Sun-Times Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [18]
Classic Rock 9/10 [19]
Entertainment Weekly A [20]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [21]
Record Mirror Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [22]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [23]
Sounds Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [24]
Uncut 7/10 [25]
The Village Voice B+ [26]

Rolling Stone critic Stephen Demorest described Peter Gabriel as "a grab bag collection of songs that bear little resemblance to one another" and called it "an impressively rich debut album". [27] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice found it "a lot smarter" than Gabriel's past work in Genesis, and despite noting that "every time I delve beneath its challenging textures to decipher a line or two I come up a little short", felt that the album was "worth considering". [26] Nick Kent, writing in NME in 1978, said that Peter Gabriel was "a fine record with at least one 24-carat irresistible classic in 'Solsbury Hill' and a strong supporting cast of material that, all in all, in a year besmeared with great albums was, in retrospect, sorely underrated." [28]

Track listing

All songs written by Peter Gabriel, except where indicated.

Original order

Side One
1."Moribund the Burgermeister" 4:20
2."Solsbury Hill" 4:21
3."Modern Love" 3:38
4."Excuse Me"Peter Gabriel, Martin Hall3:20
5."Humdrum" 3:25
Side Two
7."Waiting for the Big One"7:15
8."Down the Dolce Vita"5:05
9."Here Comes the Flood"5:38

1977 US and Canada cassette release track order

Side one
1."Moribund the Burgermeister"4:20
2."Solsbury Hill"4:21
4."Waiting for the Big One"7:15
Side two
1."Modern Love"3:38
2."Excuse Me"3:20
4."Down the Dolce Vita"5:05
5."Here Comes the Flood"5:38




RegionCertification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP) [40] Gold219,000 [41]
Germany (BVMI) [42] Gold250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [43] Gold100,000^
United States (RIAA) [44] Gold500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. Being British, the car has the steering wheel on the right

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