Thursday, 28 November 2019

Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 2 ("Scratch") (1978)



Released on 2nd of June 1978

Running time 41.29

Thankfully, on this, Peter Gabriel's second solo album, the prog rock vestiges that hung around on his debut offering from the previous year had been blown away by a cold, distant post punk-ish late seventies wind. This is a beguiling, but commercially inaccessible album that demands several listens. It is Gabriel's Fear Of Music, his "Heroes"or his Unknown Pleasures. All those albums came from the same sparse, industrial period for music. It is no surprise that a contributor to "Heroes", Robert Fripp, is heavily involved on here too. The E St. Band's pianist Roy Bittan, who had worked on David Bowie's Station To Station was another link to the monochrome music of the period. Strangely, that album and this were both completely different to the work Bittan did with Bruce Springsteen.

Personally, I much prefer its dark moods to the proggy indulgence of the previous album and I feel it is a bit of an overlooked gem of its time. It is a deceptively good album. None of its tracks will make any "best ofs", though, which is a shame. The picture on the rear cover perfectly fits the album, I have to say, however. It is also sonically by far the superior to its predecessor.


1. On The Air
2. D.I.Y.
3. Mother Of Violence
4. A Wonderful Day In A One-Day World
5. White Shadow
6. Indigo
7. Animal Magic
8. Exposure
9. Flotsam And Jetsam
10. Persepective
11. Home Sweet Home                                          
On The Air, after a ten-second "fade in", is a rocking punk meets The Who opener, with Gabriel adopting a higher-pitched vocal than usual, almost Johnny Rotten-esque in its sneering tone. The drums are very Keith Moon in style. It is hard as Gabriel has rocked in his solo career thus far. There are also some heavy metal-fashion keyboard swirls in there too. A right old mix.

D.I.Y. again features an operatic, grandiose Roger Daltrey delivery and the song is another upbeat, solid one. Its bass line is a nice, warm one. Mother Of Violence is a plaintive, piano-backed slow number with Roy Bittan on fine, expressive form, in a different style from that he regularly used with The E. St BandA Wonderful Day In A One-Day World flirts with a cod-reggae slow skanking style that sort of brings to mind Joe Jackson, not directly, but just something about it. It also has echoes of some of Elton John's material from the period. White Shadow is an atmospheric, beguiling slow burner that is familiar-sounding but at the same time virtually impossible to categorise. Robert Fripp adds some typically fuzzy guitar.

Indigo is a bleak, mournful number, while Animal Magic is a chunky, riff very late seventies rocker that sort of stands as a leitmotif for the whole album. The mysterious tones of Exposure are very Talking Heads/post punk in their broodiness. It is an excellent, most beautifully miserable track. Perfect for late 1978. It could almost be Public Image Ltd or Joy Division. Flotsam And Jetsam is very John Lennon, mid-seventies in its jerky feel. It is a short, but quirkily appealing number.

Perspective is a New York Dolls, piano-powered rocker enhanced by some lively, wailing saxophone and some solid punky riffs. Home Sweet Home is a moribund closer worthy of Lou Reed's Berlin in its subject matter. It is a dispiriting end to a solemn, often bleak album that has been accused of being cold many times. Maybe that is not a bad thing. Cold was de rigeur by 1979.