Friday, July 14, 2006

Oh yeah... I do albums, too.

Recently felt a'hankerin' to hear one of the old classics, Peter Gabriel's 3rd eponymously (or is it apocryphal? The dictionary's just no help to me these days) titled album with the melty face on it. Good ol' Peter Gabriel, Charlie Brown! I couldn't help but notice all his CDs have gotten similar makeovers; the backs aren't the originals, but at least the covers remain; well, there's only one movie to link to on that one, am I right people?
Now I'm not on the street these days so I don't know what the word is about ol' PG. Some may theorize that he killed Genesis, but not enough so that Phil Collins came back to do the wonderful opening drum riff on the opening track, Intruder! All these years later and I still love the showmanship in that song. The drums, the eerie ethereal piano, the xylophone on crack, and if I remember correctly Phil himself did his own ... homage, if you will, called "Mama". Anyway, Intruder kind of sets and whets the palette for the general tone of all the songs on the album about deranged psychopaths, excepting of course Biko, but you still gotta give this album some mad props: four of its cuts made it onto Shaking the Tree, his compilation CD from diddley-some years ago... am I aging myself or what?
Anyway, march with me as I continue my analysis of the tracks... No Self Control; I wonder where the lyrical inspiration came from that bridge section (There will always be the silences, waiting behind the chair...) Also, I wonder what it would sound like if Ray Charles covered it. Anyway, the third is an instrumental which leads into John Poindexter's theme song, I Don't Remember. It got trimmed a little in its transition to Shaking the Tree, which is always a shame in my book. Is this not Rock's thumping tribute to amnesia?
Next is Family Snapshots, and again, the showmanship helps counterbalance the lyrics. I can't help but think of the movie Chaplin where Chaplin's brother at every turn warns that the people don't want to hear pop songs about Lee Harvey Oswald. Something like that. Anyway it also made the Tree. The same can't be said for And Through the Wire, which, with Come Talk to Me off his '92 album Us, is a nice duet in praise of the phone company. ...sorry, can't find a link to those first 1-800-Collect commercials, so skip it. Then, side two of the old vinyl (really dating myself now!) rippingly begins with Games Without Frontiers, or Jeux sans frontiers... damn! So many french words in English. How exactly did that happen? I remember being underwhelmed by the music video, maybe because they had to cut out the part about pissing on goons.. or did they? Anyway, he made up for it with Sledgehammer, big time. I guess we'll never see a music video like that ever again, people are just too jaded by tv and videos in general.
It's been a whie since I heard the opening guitar riff of Not One of Us. Again, I don't know what rocks, but I humbly ask, does that not? And how can you not like the chorus reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's overtly sexual track Big Love? Incidentally, I'm told that both songs are used quite a bit at the Connecticut underground orgy scene. The wonders never cease.
Then of course, every recording artist dreams of having a song with the corrosive simplicity of a song like Lead a Normal Life. You know, something that a friend will speak of to a friend "Man, you won't believe the song I heard the other day! It's just these same damn notes over and over again..." You can't BUY that kind of attention. So what else can I say? The song is as I remembered it... Which closes the album with Biko. Peter said he never wrote a ... oh, what was the word? Activist song? Oh, it's such a dirty word now. Political! I think that was it; that's even worse. Again, balancing the mostly fictional album out with a political song... good move. And good feng shui, or whatever they call it these days. Future memory? Scary!!! Speaking of Richard Attenborough, anyone remember Cry Freedom? Herein lies the danger of promoting a film on MTV; everyone thought it was going to be about Biko (Denzel Washington). Ah, 1987 was a rough year for the big auteurs, Attenborough with Cry Freedom, Spielberg with Empire of the Sun.

Speaking of Peter Gabriel, Napster seems to have come full circle being free again, but I know the music biz will never really forgive Napster, bringing style and zazz to checking out CDs from the library and making a couple new millionaires in the process. But there's another crime against music that hasn't gotten as much attention from the press or the Federal Government. Something so heinous that even Keith Gordon's stomach is churning! I was watching Phenomenon recently (Can you believe it? Schwarzenegger turned down the lead! And we all thought he was so magical once...), getting sucked in to its slickness of production, sinking down lower and lower in my chair as it washed over me, when I was violently awakened by the re-tooled version of Gabriel's I Have The Touch!! Completely re-mastered featuring new Elevator-Friendly guitar riffs, probably supplied by Bruce Hornby and his Range. And I don't need to tell those of you in this Know that yes, they did indeed tiptoe around the lyric "There you stand before me, all that fur and all that hair..." heh heh. This is a PG picture, after all! I'm sure some people will blame Gabriel himself for agreeing to go along with it, but it's such a massive retooling of the song that I can't get too mad at him about it. I'll bet even he was surprised by it. It's like the makeup in Dick Tracy, I don't think we've seen a reworking of a song like this since (except a little in The Rocketeer) Tell you what, though, there's another song off that same album, Security, (the Shock the Monkey album... oy! Don't even get me started on Project X!!!!!) that no one will EVER touch with a 10-foot soundtrack pole, not even Scorsese himself, and that of course is The Family and the Fishing Net. :)

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