Peter Gabriel's "Car" - A Cathartic and Diverse Debut
Album: Peter Gabriel
Artist: Peter Gabriel
Genre: #ProgressiveRock #ArtRock
Release Year: 1977
It feels like it has been one million days since it has rained in Tucson.
I'm cooped up in my room with a mug of smooth hot tea in hand, listening to Peter Gabriel's self-titled debut on vinyl. All of a sudden, I hear the dreary, dark smatterings of rain drops on my window.
I run to the front door and look out onto the street. Sure enough, the sky has broken this evening, petrichor sweeping through the damp air and sticking to the outside of the clear glass window. Is this a metaphorical downpour?
Peter Gabriel is an iconic name, indeed. The frontman of the legendary progressive rock band Genesis left the group in 1975, right after the tour of their prior album. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway features some of the band's best material hidden within the kooky concept of Rael, a troubled mind looming through the streets of downtown New York City. Throughout the record, one could tell that the frontman took the reins more so then than ever, providing a vocal delivery never-before heard from the already eccentric performer. The tour itself offered up some of the most dazzling stage mechanics and oddities, a staple already presented by the band since its early days. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time that the leader would drift away from the style altogether, signaling a strong, dutiful career ahead after the struggles of tour life.
Known simply as "Car", the first of four self-titled records from Gabriel provides a beautiful balance between the theatrical Genesis era and the nearly-established pop star sound of his future career. Opening track Moribund the Burgermeister is the perfect candidate for a Genesis song, with the off-kilter vocal passages and avant-garde musical technique scattered throughout. This could easily fit on any of the group's prior records.
Even before his big hit Sledgehammer (released roughly ten years in the future), Gabriel was already creating pop rock anthems that could stand the tests of time. Tracks such as Modern Love and Slowburn exude these driving grooves alongside some of the most uplifting vocal deliveries listeners have heard thus far from the famed singer. Even then, the main hit from this record, Solsbury Hill, still remains one of the most popular out of his extensive catalog to this day! The plunking guitar progression gives the track a forcefully unhinged yet beautifully audacious feeling to it, akin to a national anthem.
Now, this is Peter Gabriel we're talking about, meaning, the tracklist isn't without its weird, off-hand moments all over. Excuse Me is of pure excitement and theatrics, a kooky and zany tune of a somewhat dark atmosphere and tone. Waiting for the Big One is one of the weirdest placements throughout this record, being a nearly eight minute blues rock epic akin to something off of Led Zeppelin's early records. Even though the track in question is most likely the weakest here, it still packs this emotionally boisterous tone displayed within the rest of the album, so I have to give it props for adding to that. And then, there's Down the Dolce Vita, a sweeping orchestral art-disco track with a spanning instrumental package. You get these booming orchestra hits of strings, timpani, and horns that hoist the listener up to the heavens of grandiosity. There's the jaunting guitar line that sounds like an 80s montage gem not yet created. The craziness of the track really shines through on the back half of the record as a last hurrah for Gabriel's weird moments here.
Lastly, there's Here Comes the Flood, my personal favorite of the tracklist - the graceful chord progression on organ for the verses, and the sudden brace of power on the anthemic chorus. The lyrics are speaking of an upcoming end times or dreadful moment unbeknownst to the listener. One can only ponder at the sheer upper-dimensional epic that this closer really is. It's one of my favorite songs of all time, to put it bluntly.
As I sit here listening to that final track, that beast of wonder, I look out the window with serendipity, with a gauge of awe, a feeling of relief. The "rain" keeps on coming, the sound of natural white noise thundering in the desert oasis. A car whizzes by every so often, another body, another chore. The clouds do not cease, the rain does not cease, the relief does not cease.
Here comes the flood, indeed.
Color: Blue, Orange
Here Comes the Flood
Moribund the Burgermeister
Reviewer’s Name: Trey Cardi
Date of Review: 4/19/2022