Peter Gabriel (1980 album)

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Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel (self-titled album, 1980 - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
Released30 May 1980 (1980-05-30) [1]
RecordedSummer-autumn 1979 [1]
StudioManor Mobile, Bath
The Townhouse, London [1]
Label Charisma (UK)
Mercury (US 1980)
Geffen (US 1983)
Producer Steve Lillywhite
Peter Gabriel chronology
Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Singles from Peter Gabriel
  1. "Games Without Frontiers"
    Released: 4 February 1980 [6]
  2. "No Self Control"
    Released: 5 May 1980 [7]
  3. "Biko"
    Released: 18 August 1980 [8]
  4. "I Don't Remember"
    Released: September 1980 [9]

Peter Gabriel is the third eponymous solo studio album by English rock musician Peter Gabriel, released on 30 May 1980 by Charisma Records. The album has been acclaimed as Gabriel's artistic breakthrough as a solo artist and for establishing him as one of rock's most ambitious and innovative musicians. [10] Gabriel also explored more overtly political material with two of his most famous singles, the anti-war song "Games Without Frontiers" (which became a No. 4 hit and remains his joint highest charting single in the UK) and the anti-apartheid protest song "Biko", which remembered the murdered activist Steve Biko. The album was remastered, along with most of Gabriel's catalogue, in 2002.


In the U.S., the album was titled Peter Gabriel III. The album is also often referred to as Melt owing to its cover photograph by Hipgnosis. [3] Music streaming services currently refer to it as Peter Gabriel 3: Melt.


Gabriel's ex-bandmate Phil Collins, who succeeded him as Genesis's lead vocalist, played drums on several of the album's tracks. "Intruder" has been cited as the first use of Collins' "gated drum" sound. This effect, as created by Steve Lillywhite, Collins and Hugh Padgham, [11] was featured on Collins' and Genesis's recordings throughout the 1980s. The distinctive sound was identified via experiments by Lillywhite, Collins and Padgham, in response to Gabriel's request that Collins and Jerry Marotta not use cymbals on the album's sessions.

"Artists given complete freedom die a horrible death," Gabriel explained to Mark Blake. "So, when you tell them what they can't do, they get creative and say, 'Oh yes I can,' which is why I banned cymbals. Phil was cool about it. [Marotta] did object and it took him a while to settle in. It's like being right-handed and having to learn to write with your left." [12] In an interview for Genesis: The Sum Of The Parts, Collins confirmed he was amenable to the request, but admitted asking Peter what he was supposed to do with his other hand.

So significant and influential was the sound that it has been claimed by Gabriel, Padgham, Collins, and Lillywhite. It was cited by Public Image Ltd as an influence on the sound of their album The Flowers of Romance, [13] whose engineer, Nick Launay, was in turn employed by Collins to assist with his solo debut, Face Value . [13] Paul Weller, who was recording with his band the Jam in a nearby studio, contributed guitar to "And Through the Wire". Gabriel believed Weller's intense guitar style was ideal for the track.

The album, produced by Gabriel and Lillywhite, was Gabriel's first and only release for Mercury Records in the United States, after being rejected by Atlantic Records, who handled U.S. distribution for Gabriel's first two solo albums and his last two albums with Genesis. Upon hearing mixes of session tapes in early 1980, Atlantic A&R executive John Kalodner deemed the album not commercial enough for release, and recommended Atlantic drop Gabriel from their roster.

"Atlantic Records didn't want to put it out at all," Gabriel told Mark Blake. "Ahmet Ertegun said, 'What do people in America care about this guy in South Africa?' and 'Has Peter been in a mental hospital?' because there was this very weird track called 'Lead a Normal Life'. They thought I'd had a breakdown and recorded a piece of crap ... I thought I'd really found myself on that record, and then someone just squashes it. I went through some primordial rejection issues." [12]

By the time the album was released by Mercury several months later, Kalodner – now working for the newly formed Geffen Records label and having realised his mistake – arranged for Geffen to pursue Gabriel as one of their first artist signings. [14] Geffen (at the time distributed by Atlantic sister label Warner Bros. Records) reissued the album in 1983, after Mercury's rights to it lapsed, and marketed it in the United States until 2010, when Gabriel's back catalogue was reissued independently by Real World Records. Coincidentally, Mercury is now a sister label to Geffen after Mercury's parent PolyGram merged with Geffen's parent Universal Music Group in 1999.

"I Don't Remember" was performed on Gabriel's 1978 tour for his second album. [15] An earlier studio version was to be the A-side of the first 7" single released in advance of the album by Charisma in Europe and Japan, but a Charisma executive thought Robert Fripp's guitar solos were not radio-friendly. This earlier version wound up as the B-side of the advance "Games Without Frontiers" single instead in those territories. It was included on the B-sides and rarities comp, Flotsam And Jetsam , released in 2019. The album version of this song appeared as the A-side of a 12" single in the United States and Canada.

Gabriel jokingly summarised the album's themes as "The history of a decaying mind". He added: "State of mind was definitely an area of interest at the time of writing it, but I never really set out with a concept. It was merely different songs, which perhaps have fitted into one particular slant." Of "No Self Control", he said: "That's something which I've observed in myself and in other people… In a state of depression, you have to turn on the radio, or switch on the television, go to the fridge and eat, and sleeping is difficult." [16]


The photo was taken with a Polaroid SX-70 instant camera. The sleeve's designer Storm Thorgerson said: "Peter himself joined with us at Hipgnosis in disfiguring himself by manipulating Polaroids as they 'developed' ... Peter impressed us greatly with his ability to appear in an unflattering way, preferring the theatrical or artistic to the cosmetic." [17]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [18]
Chicago Sun-Times Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [19]
Christgau's Record Guide B− [5]
Classic Rock 10/10 [20]
Entertainment Weekly A− [21]
Mojo Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [22]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [23]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [24]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [25]
Uncut 9/10 [26]

In his review for Rolling Stone , Dave Marsh described Peter Gabriel as "a tremendous record" that "sticks in the mind like the haunted heroes of the best film noirs." [24]

In 1989, Peter Gabriel was ranked at No. 46 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best albums of the 1980s. [27] In 2000, Q placed the album at No. 53 on its list of the "100 Greatest British Albums Ever"; [28] six years later, the magazine placed it at No. 29 on its list of the 40 best albums of the 1980s. [29] In 2018, Pitchfork ranked Peter Gabriel at No. 125 on its revised and expanded list of the 200 best albums of the 1980s. [30]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Peter Gabriel.

Side one
2."No Self Control"3:55
4."I Don't Remember"4:42
5."Family Snapshot"4:28
6."And Through the Wire"5:00
Side two
1."Games Without Frontiers"4:06
2."Not One of Us"5:22
3."Lead a Normal Life"4:14

Ein deutsches Album

Ein deutsches Album (English: A German Album), released in July 1980, is a German-language version of Peter Gabriel. Gabriel sang German vocals on top of completely new recorded instrumental and backing vocal tracks.[ citation needed ] The German lyrics are translations from the English. Two years later, Gabriel released Deutsches Album (1982), a significantly altered version of his fourth album Peter Gabriel (1982) (known as Security in the United States and Canada).[ citation needed ] In February 1980, German-language versions of "Games Without Frontiers" and "Here Comes the Flood" were released as a single in Germany. German adaptation was done by Horst Königstein. [31]

All songs written by Peter Gabriel. "Texte" by Peter Gabriel translated by Horst Königstein.

Side one [32]
  1. "Eindringling" – 5:00
  2. "Keine Selbstkontrolle" – 4:00
  3. "Frag mich nicht immer" – 6:04
    • Combines the instrumental "Start" with the German version of "I Don't Remember".
  4. "Schnappschuß (Ein Familienfoto)" – 4:26
  5. "Und durch den Draht" – 4:28
Side two [32]
  1. "Spiel ohne Grenzen" – 4:07
  2. "Du bist nicht wie wir" – 5:32
  3. "Ein normales Leben" – 4:21
  4. "Biko" – 8:55


Production personnel



1980 Billboard Pop Albums22
1980UK Album Chart1 [33]


1980Games Without FrontiersBillboard Pop Singles48
Feb 1980Games Without FrontiersUK Singles Chart4
May 1980No Self ControlUK Singles Chart33
Aug 1980BikoUK Singles Chart38


BPI – UKGold2 June 1980

Certifications and sales

RegionCertification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP) [34] Gold259,400 [35]

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