Album #459 – Peter Gabriel (III) aka Melt

Album #459

Peter Gabriel’s third self-titled album, also known as Melt, continues the former Genesis front man’s experimentation. This time, the album is being produced by Steve Lillywhite, best known for producing albums for U2 and The Dave Matthews Band. Lillywhite, along with engineer Hugh Padgham and Gabriel, creates a unique sounding record. It foreshadows the sound of Industrial music, that would become huge in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s, with bands like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and Skinny Puppy leading the genre into the mainstream. The musicians who help Gabriel are a who’s who of Gabriel staples (Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Kate Bush) and well known names (Phil Collins, Jerry Marotta, Paul Weller). In fact, it was during the sessions for this album that Phil Collins developed his unique drum sound: the gated drum effect. Collins was looking for a way to create a drum effect without using cymbals, as Gabriel did not want any used on the album. Collins came up with the sound along with Padgham and Lillywhite. The sound would be Collins’ trademark and the definitive drum sound of the 1980’s. In fact, Gabriel’s influence rubbed off on Collins. How different would In The Air Tonight be without that drum sound? Melt is very dark sounding and definitely was in a class of its own when it was released. But, the result is very satisfying to listen to. I was amazed at the sounds Gabriel created. It was as if I was being transported into another world. The lyrical content on Melt is about not only isolation but, the effect that politics can have on society. The later subject matter is explored in Games Without Frontiers and Biko. Biko takes on great meaning for me, especially after Mandela’s death, as it was wrtiten about Steve Biko, an Apartheid activist who died while in prison because of a hunger strike. I was able to learn about his story in Grade 9 through the film, Cry Freedom, starring Denzel Washington as Biko and Kevin Kline as a White Journalist who befriended Biko and then had to leave the country to stay alive. Gabriel captures a wide range of emotion on the album and, for some reason, his voice has always been one of my favourites in popular music. It is instantly recognizable, warm and filled with emotion. This is displayed brilliantly on Melt.  This album is definitely one I will be adding to the collection. I enjoyed it immensely and was captivated by it. The same can be said for Gabriel’s ever continuing career. Other highlights include: Intruder, No Self Control, Start, I Don’t Remember, Family Snapshot, And Through the Wire and Lead A Normal Life. Overall, I give Peter Gabriel (III) aka Melt, 5 out of 5.

Next: Underwater Moonlight by The Soft Boys

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