Peter Gabriel’s German Release Excursion

To reflect the experimentation of the age, Peter Gabriel recorded versions of Melt (Ein Deutsches Album) and Security (Deutsches Album) in German.

“I wrote to the French, Italian, German and Spanish labels, saying I wanted to experiment creating a version of my album in another language,” Gabriel said. “The only label to show any interest was the German, hence the choice.” In true Gabriel fashion, simply removing his vocals from the existing records and singing a translated version was not enough. “It also gave me a chance to try new mixing and remixing approaches, with some new overdubs.” These new versions were, especially on Security, at times, radically diverse. “The German stuff is brilliant, really interesting,” Dickie Chappell says. “I hadn’t paid that much attention to it over the years, maybe getting a Shock The Monkey (Schock Den Affen) up out of the archive for Peter to re-sing on tour.”

“The mixes are all really different,” he adds. “From a fan’s point of view, whether you speak German or not, there is a whole other thing going on. Some are longer, there’s added stuff, on Security there is some Fairlight that Peter still goes on about now. He played a snare drum and got a loop going; he sped it up, so the sound changed and turned into a note. He was so into it he put it on the German record, so it could be definitely captured somewhere.”

Finally, the pair of German albums gave Gabriel the opportunity another chance to evaluate his precious words. He took “another look at the lyrics through the process of translation.” Gabriel worked with German writer and film director Horst Königstein.

“I spent a long time going through layers of meaning in the new language – I also insisted on having the German lyrics independently translated back to English.” They are often a fascinating listen: the percussiveness of the language makes Gabriel’s voice another instrument and he sounds comfortable singing in an another tongue; he revels in the annunciation of Kon Takt! (I Have The Touch) and luxuriates in the drama of Spiel Ohne Grenzen (Games Without Frontiers). Often simply dismissed as a curio, these releases are the footnote that provide considerable illumination to where Peter Gabriel was at in the early 1980s.

Daryl Easlea

Daryl Easlea has contributed to Prog since its first edition, and has written cover features on Pink Floyd, Genesis, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Gentle Giant. After 20 years in music retail, when Daryl worked full-time at Record Collector, his broad tastes and knowledge led to him being deemed a ‘generalist.’ DJ, compere, and consultant to record companies, his books explore prog, populist African-American music and pop eccentrics. Currently writing Whatever Happened To Slade?, Daryl broadcasts Easlea Like A Sunday Morning on Ship Full Of Bombs, can be seen on Channel 5 talking about pop and hosts the M Means Music podcast.