Llamalpaca’s A Waste Of Space. Peter Gabriel.

This week’s object of affection/derision is Peter Gabriel. It has to be said that the ladyllama is no fan, but he has had a varied career and I guess a fair chunk of it may have passed her by. Remember the Genesis era theatrics, or the political conscience? Or the jokes going round Africa about needing to quickly hide the rhythms any time he or Paul Simon showed up? Recently he has been reduced to revisiting his back catalogue. Has the man any talent or is he rock’s own jerkin-clad Chauncey Gardiner mucking around with a mixing desk in his oversized garden shed?

Now you may hold views PG which might be too withering in their honesty for publication over on RR. Here, however, you may choose to pay homage to some of his ouevre that moved you or delight in cruelly exposing overarching ambition interlaced with a bewildering lack of talent and yes, even a considered meh is fully acceptable.  Any stance should be supported with some form of evidence or justification.

Off you go then.

31 thoughts on “Llamalpaca’s A Waste Of Space. Peter Gabriel.

  1. Won’t have it. Love the man. Love old Genesis, love him solo (ok, maybe not some recent stuff). And as a youtube commenter said – “people leave him alone because he’s not an asshole.”

    A national treasure to you all, he is.

  2. His revisited album was turgid in the extreme and almost as bad as Bob Dylan’s Christmas album or Rod Stewart growls the classics vols 1-7.

    Hated Genesis with a passion – indulgent wank, but him & his outfits were fun. Do like most of his solo stuff – he has a great voice & writes songs that have substance & innovates when doing live performances. Rather than just cash in on “world” music he often bankrolled & supported it (WOMAD & his Real World label). Does tend to overproduce & this also limits his output, which makes it all the more disappointing when you get a polished turd like the last album.

    However, anyone who can come up with a masterpiece like Mercy Street can be forgiven other sins.

  3. I found Gabriel era Genesis pretty unlistenable. Made me feel like screaming for it to stop. Until The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway where I rather liked some of it. Carpet Crawlers was really good and so was that “packaging” song.

    Found post Gabriel Genesis boring apart from that “Trick of the Tail” album they made just after he left.

    His solo stuff. Loved Salisbury Hill and Games Without Frontiers. Thought Sledgehammer was too overblown. Can’t bring to mind any of the other songs.

    WOMAD – derided by cynics as worthy and patronizing but he got people in Britannia listening to the rest of the world (which we hadn’t been) so 10/10 v.g.

    Being fancied rotten by Sinead O’Connor. Most impressive but possibly a mixed blessing.

    Conclusion – he’s ok.

  4. I grew up in the village in which a young Mr Gabriel went to school. We used to walk past and see the young, privates in their caps and shorts and felt rather sorry for them, they seemed caged behind their school fence rather than running free and feral as we did. I seem to recall that they were even there on Saturdays which seemed very cruel.

    At “big” school many of the lads were into Genesis, it was a Grammar School after all and it was important to maintain your intellectual pretensions ( I liked the Stooges and Alice Cooper and regularly came bottom of the class, managing a magnificent 7% in one French exam, a personal best !).

    In later years I’ve come to appreciate the band’s early works. It is exactly the sort of music that young, privately educated young white boys of the early 1970s would make. Touches of Python and Vaughn Williams alongside folk and “rock” ( but not the “dirty ass” kind, of course) and recently purchased the Lamb Lies Down which I thoroughly enjoy. It’s pompous, overblown, indulgent and perfect for it’s time for those very reasons.

    His later work makes my brain itch though. Sorry but if I want to hear “world” sounds I’ll go to the source , which , these days, is easily accessible with a little effort.

    Genesis without Gabriel sucked monkey balls. Though, again, in recent years I have been able to appreciate Phil Collins skills as a drummer and backing singer, he really was rather good at both.

    • The constant tinkering with stuff since So has removed the freshness from his music – I find myself wanting to listen to it because I quite like his voice, but it just doesn’t engage.

  5. My first three gigs:
    King Crimson – Birmingham Town Hall 13/10/71
    Van Der Graaf Generator – Malvern Winter Gardens 30/06/72
    Genesis – Solihull Civic Centre 25/07/72

    For some reason I rated Genesis as the best show of the three and I think it was the costumes and the potted plants on stage, but the records never really grew; heard Lamb Lies Down a few times and never went back. Having said that I do like Peter Gabriel for that evening in 1972, for his spreading the wealth by employing Peter Hammill on a lot of solo albums, for being a divinely damaged, real human presence, but mostly for this

    • Back in about 1980/81, I picked up a cassette bootleg of an Italian PG show. Most of it was so-so, but there was an absolutely glorious version of Here Comes The Flood. Full band, orchestra, big solo, completely OTT bombastic. Gabriel thought the LP version was too much; God only knows what he thought hearing back that show’s soundboard tapes. Me? I thought it was fabulous. That bootleg tape is long since lost, but now I have a feeling I may be off on another Search & Rescue mission, like the one tfd helped me out on with Little Feat / Bonnie Raitt.

      Thank you in advance for that, Llama & Tatanka.

  6. I love the odd song (Don’t Give Up featuring Kate Bush and Blood of Eden featuring Saint Sinead spring to mind), but I’ve never really been bothered by him one way or t’other.

  7. I found Gabriel era Genesis pretty unlistenable. Made me feel like I didn’t want to grow up if that was what older kids listened to. Until The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway where I rather liked some of it. Back In N.Y.C. was really good and so was that “tasting the Lamia’s flesh” song.

    Grew up a bit, then found post Gabriel/Hackett Genesis too juvenile-pop apart from that “Trick of the Tail” album they made just after he left. Oh fickle youth!

    His solo stuff. Loved Here Comes The Flood and Biko. Thought Sledgehammer was too overblown. Can only bring to mind other songs released as singles.

    WOMAD – derided by cynics as worthy and patronizing but he got people in Britannia listening to the rest of the world (which we hadn’t been) so 10/10 v.g.

    Being fancied rotten by Sinead O’Connor. Most impressive but possibly a mixed blessing. DsD a bit jealous. Did snuggly video with Kate Bush. Rest of male UK population jealous, but DsD just liked the song (honest!)

    Saw his show for the Millennium Dome in 2000. Didn’t have a bloody clue what was going on but enjoyed it. Then heard the OVO album in isolation, and realized how pissed I must have been in Greenwich that day.

    Conclusion – he’s ok.

  8. No interest at all in early Genesis although I was surprised to find out that Simple Minds’ In Trance As Mission blatantly rips off Supper’s Ready!
    I actually like some of his solo singles , particularly Games Without Frontiers and Biko.
    I didn’t hear much else until the So album seemed to be everywhere – I didn’t like any of that , it slotted in with Brothers In Arms, Tango In The Night and al those other albums at the CD vanguard that I wasn’t interested in.
    As for WOMAD and his support for African musicians, apparently Jah Wobble has a word or two to say about all that in his autobiography.

  9. Never really keen on early Genesis with Peter Gabriel. Loved “So”. Loved the video from Sledgehammer and the Shaking the tree gig. Love Mercy Street. My friend used to live near Solsbury Hill. haven’t heard anything recent. So a thumbs up from me.

  10. In 1987 my brand new baby daughter found his Sledgehammer video endlessly delightful and I would leave MTV on almost all the time in the hopes of it coming on early and often…sometimes it did, sometimes not so much. She is 25 now and still loves how it ends…IMAO, is a talented singer, I have little patience for Genesis (and they got worse it seems to me), and have always thought I should like his work more than I do…maybe if I were deeper…?

  11. As an example of his overproducing. Was floored by Signal To Noise on MTV (think Michael Stipe was involved, but can’t recall what capacity – maybe he was just holding Nusret “Fatty” Khan’s lunch bucket). Anyway, when the finished version came out, about seven years later, it wasn’t nearly as good.

  12. I think I’m largely repeating what others have said; never really got the hang of Gabriel-era Genesis, though I had friends who loved it (I have to confess that I did like post-Gabriel Genesis up to and including the ‘shapes’ album). Don’t think I’ve ever listened to an entire solo album of his, but I love some of the records – was one of my favourite ‘Greatest Hits’ albums for a while. He was pretty good in the one concert I’ve seen, as part of the ‘Human Rights Now’ tour with Tracy Chapman and Springsteen back in the late 80s.

      • This was Wembley? I was working for Amnesty at the time, so spent much of the event rushing round with piles of leaflets to hand out, t-shirts to sell etc. I have a vague recollection that Sting might have appeared as well, but if so I’ve blanked it completely.

    • Yes, it was Wembley. And you are right about Sting. My leg was killing me but I went down onto the pitch for Springsteen and was very disappointed that he played almost nothing from Tunnel Of Love.

  13. @kalyr would mock me & rightly so for falling for the CD re-issue with extras like Floyd did last Xmas, stuff I already have on vinyl and cd .. but a few out-takes and a booklet, print too small to read. This Xmas there are 40 years ago today re-issues of Thick as a Brick, the Who live in Hull ( the day after leeds ), Crimson’s larks tongues and Gabriels only 25 year old, So. I could just about get away with one, and was tending Gabriel wise … so timely article to try and put me off ( the Who perhaps ? )
    The So one has a two cd extra of the live show .. saw him at Earls Court with brother & sister. Mid-way through they started Don’t Give Up. Kate wandered on holding a mike and we lept up and screamed like kiddies
    No one else .. no-one in our section had a clue who the backing singer was …
    She of course was the whole show .. the rest of piddly synth and nowt .. he really should have does like Costello did and do the Hammersmith Palais and get people dancing as it all had a great funky beat .. it was so dull to sit through

    Saw his first solo tour in his Rael leather jacket and no lighting rig, just lampstands. Bob Fripp sat off stage on a beer crate playing away .. no idea why he wasn’t meant to be visible

    Gabriel genesis are fun, using words no one but stephen fry would, but fun like the Goodies .. as Cleese the genie said in a christmas special with Alfie Bass as the giant up the beanstalk – kids stuff .. we know who the Python of prog were, surely surely

    • Erm… I was at that gig too, Alfie! Was over from Ireland for a few days after my finals. Couldn’t persuade my mates to go early to see the other bands – did you?

      • Hi llama .. i remember that Yussef N’dour was with that tour .. in fact he sang the high Kate Bush part of Don’t Give Up on the other nights and Kate herself was only on that night … So I suspect he did a support slot of World music .. but no memory of it .. shame as I got to like his stuff later after getting into Tinawren .. bleedin shed of a venue though

  14. not that i’d diss or dismiss the genesis .. at uni some lads in the god sqaud and noel edmunds cardigans, thought Rumours was heavy and 10cc was rock, were desperate to see Genesis. Back in the bad old days that meant queuing outside the venue to wait for the box office to open. Popular bands could be an all-night affair and they didn’t venture out after dark – too much revising when you’re medics – so like good christians we volunteered – went to the Grapes next to Liverpool Empire for a drink, while two joined the queue which at 9pm was already dozens. After closing we switched, me & another in the queue, now hundreds, the rest to Erics till about 3am. The unlucky last two took over for the cold slog till 9am opening to get the allotted four tickets each. Don’t think we even asked the god squad for a pint .. just handed them half of the tickets
    The show was the tour for Seconds Out and was one of the best i’ve seen .. Collins singing of course, so off topic .. but praise & thanks to the lads for talking us into going … Suppers Ready was particularly fine
    a laser beam shot a cone of light around Phil just as he got to the big finale .. Can’t you feel your souls ignite, shedding ever changing colours .. etc .. anyway the cone came down, he ducked and missed his lines

  15. Very simply, I thought he was gifted and creative, certainly in Genesis and in collaboration with others (such as Robert Fripp – thanks TY for that excellent clip) but that eventually diminished (as is usual) and he was totally mainstream. The silly stuff was still there in conjunction with the mediocre and became a bit unpardonable :-).

  16. I don’t think I’ve ever heard his stuff with genesis as it probably fell into my 7 year exile from British music so the first time I saw him was on Vlapham Common singing Biko. I love most of So and Us and I’ve got the Secret World live double album but he really lost me with Up. Beautiful voice, though.

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