Steve Hackett reviews Peter Gabriel's Car

“I remember the first time that I heard the album was when Genesis were on the way to the States to play gigs in support of A Trick Of The Tail.”

“We listened to a cassette of the album on a shared set of headphones, and we were all impressed with what he’d done. And also very pleased for him.

“What I really noticed more than anything else was that the vocals had been very well recorded by producer Bob Ezrin. Pete had gone up a notch with what he was doing here. There was a new sense of maturity and gravitas that you can hear running through his voice, and this really lifted everything to a new level. Of course, there were elements which connected him to what we had done in Genesis. For instance, a song like Moribund The Burgermeister reminded me of Get ’Em Out By Friday. Why was this? Because of the sense of humour that was evident, plus his influence from Dickens and Gilbert & Sullivan. But this was only to be expected. I would have been amazed if he’d done an album that was completely divorced from what he had done before in the past. Yet, this was definitely a solo album. You could tell that Pete was taking a lot of his inspirations and developing them in a way that he might not have been able to do when he was with Genesis. When you’re in a band, you have to make decisions by committee. But Pete was now doing his own thing, and so he was able to go in any direction that he wanted.

“There was a more soulful aspect here, which I know was something that interested him, but he couldn’t have gone as far as this if he had still been with the band. And a song like Waiting For The Big One allowed him to be more bluesy. Also Here Comes The Flood caught the attention, because of the way he constructed the vocals. I know that, later on, he preferred to sing this one unaccompanied, and you can hear why this works so well in the way that this track was put together. Obviously, the track that made the most impact was Solsbury Hill. Steve Hunter’s 12-string guitar riff is so easy to hum, and gave the song a very tuneful base.

“Everything on the album was new to me at the time. I didn’t recognise anything as being taken from an idea he’d been working on while with the band. And I doubt he could have done a lot of this had he stayed with Genesis, because it just wouldn’t have fitted in. But here, Pete was able to give free reign to all of his musical aspirations, and he also put together a really good team of musicians who would be able to bring his dreams to life.

“I think of the album, though, as being a stepping stone. It was the first step on the path to his third solo album, when it all came together. But part of what you heard on that album is here on the debut. It deserved to be successful.”