“Like Kate Bush’s equally brilliant The Dreaming (released only seven days after PG4), Peter Gabriel’s fourth solo album was an innovative fusion of cutting-edge sampling, primal rhythms, provocative globe-spanning lyrics, soulful singing, and strikingly memorable songs.”
“By 1982, Peter Gabriel was part of an elite group of ‘old wave’ musicians (including Bowie, Eno, Fripp, Hammill and Bill Nelson) who’d managed the task of winning over the hostile punk-obsessed media of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Appealing to sceptical Year Zero-ists, traditional prog fans, and those interested in where music was heading, Gabriel had even been the subject of a South Bank Show.
“Gabriel’s 1977 debut was big and bold, and in Solsbury Hill and Here Comes The Flood contained two of his greatest anthems. His 1978 follow-up offered a blend of exquisite ballads and punked-up rockers with a stark production and a Springteen-esque swagger. As good as the albums were and as successful as Gabriel had been in creating a new post-Genesis identity, both releases seemed more the result of Gabriel’s choice of producers (Bob Ezrin and Robert Fripp respectively) than a unified or personal vision.
“With his third album (released in 1980), Gabriel transformed himself from fascinating outsider to musical prophet. Anticipating the tribal percussive assault of post-punk, the melodrama of new romantic, and the world music experiments of Paul Simon and others, Melt showcased a new approach for Gabriel himself and for contemporary music as a whole.
“Album number four had a lot to live up to. Starting with two of Gabriel’s most ambitious pieces, The Rhythm Of The Heat and San Jacinto, from the off it was clear that PG4 was taking the promise and the core elements of Melt even further. Gabriel’s voice was full, throaty and emotional, and the music – sounding simultaneously ancient and ultra-modern – had more space to roam and a greater dynamic range.
“Lyrics about Jung’s experiences in Africa, US cultural imperialism and the ritualistic nature of the seemingly mundane, mingled with the claustrophobic and poignant prisoner of conscience narrative of hymnal highlight Wallflower.
“As on Melt, Gabriel’s use of revolutionary instruments (like the Fairlight CMI, the LinnDrum and the Stick) served to illuminate his song’s contents rather than swamp them with pointless novelty.
“Like the album’s opening pieces, deep cuts Lay Your Hands On Me and The Family And The Fishing Net were as epic as anything Gabriel had written with Genesis, yet shared almost nothing of his former band’s musical vocabulary (or anybody else’s for that matter).
“PG4 was (and remains) a shining example of a truly rare thing, genuinely innovative genuinely popular music.”