10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2000
This is a masterpeice of musicianship. Peter Gabriel is always great and with the addition of so many guests on this album, it truly is one of a kind. Robert Fripp's recognisable guitar playing on "I don't remember" is a joy and the wonderful "Biko" shows an indication of the world music Peter Gabriel loves. "Games without Frontiers" is just so much fun, but for my money, it's worth buying for "Family Snapshot" alone. 5 stars, no question.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2013
When Peter Gabriel played three nights at Hammersmith Odeon in the spring of 1980,he was "touring" this album even though it was yet to be released. The start of the show gave a truly stunning indication of what was to follow, not just on that magical evening but on the album itself. When the lights dimmed the cacophony of noise that was the (as yet unknown)drum introduction to Intruder thundered through the hall. From the back of the auditorium came a handful of men all dressed in black, like thieves of the night, armed with powerful searchlights which they played across the audience. When, after several minutes accompanied by the pounding drum sequence they reached the front of the stalls, they climbed onto the stage located instruments and microphones and a chilling voice rasped out "I know something about opening windows and doors" and thus we were introduced to "Intruder" and "Peter Gabriel 3".
Ok so this is not meant to be a concert review but the beginning of those concerts exemplifies the originality and vitality of everything Gabriel was doing at the time. It is quite rare, I believe, for a whole suite of unreleased songs to be ecstatically received in the way the extracts from "Gabriel 3" were that evening - especially given that, as other reviews have identified, his previous two albums had been highly worthy but not outstanding.
When the album became available a short while after the concerts, I remember being blown away all over again. Progressive rock it wasnt, although it had occasional nods in that direction, but what was it? . For me it was indefinable; crossing styles and genres (hate that word)in a way that may not be out of the ordinary now but was almost unheard of back in the 70s/80s. Loads of my friends whose musical tastes were not the same as mine loved it. I remember devotees of everyone from Joy Division to the Clash by way of the Jam, the Stones and Kate Bush all loving it for various reasons. In some ways the success of the single Games without Frontiers (being an unusual style of "hit" to say the least)had ensured people listened to the album with an open mind and also succeeded in bringing PG (back) to prominence in the lead up to the album release.
Various of the other reviews have highlighted the variety, idiosyncrasies and atmosphere of the album and i will not repeat them now. Suffice it to say that this is one of the very few albums of my youth that I can happily play to younger friends today confident that it will not be met with howls of derision. It truly was and is a classic: original; groundbreaking; timeless. If you thought you knew PG based on "Sledgehammer" "Digging in the dirt" "Dont give up" and the like, then think again. if you liked the aforementioned you will love PG3 if they are not your cup of tea then try "3" it may well change your mind.
Its very easy to award five stars to music that is in a style we like irrespective of its objective merits. However, I have no hesitation in awarding PG3 five stars whilst being fully confident that this is a highly objective assessment of the quality of the songs and musicianship.If youve not heard it - go listen, I would be surprised if you are disappointed.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2007
Revisiting this album after many years I am struck how this album and the next one, really caught Peter Gabriel at his most innovative in terms of the technology he was experimenting with and importantly his most accessible music.Often when listening to an album you haven't listened to for many years the experience can be a disappointment, this album does not do this! It still sounds current and fresh today which is why I feel this qualifies it for 5 stars. If you have never heard Peter Gabriel before this is a good place to start and if you, like me, hadn't listened to this album since it was released then I think a revisit is in order.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2011
Edgy, innovative, moody. Gabriel was very much influenced by the punk revoloution in the UK, cleverly utilised the up and coming talents of the time (weller XTC Bush) Not forgetting old mucker phil collins brilliant drumming on no self control. Not a duff track on the album each track a joy and very different. It finishes off with the first Gabriel anthem 'Biko' Has not made a better album since.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 26 December 2004
Peter Gabriel 3 is an astonishingly creative, intelligent and emotional collection of songs and atmospheres that has continued to inspire me for over twenty years. It could well be my favourite album of all time, and that includes ALL artists and ALL genres of music. From the dark and sinister opening of "Intruder" to the chant of "Biko" on the last track, every song on this album has substance, power and quality.
Musically, a wide range of styles are embraced with a number of contributions from other musical creative giants such as Paul Weller (punky thrashing guitar on "And Through The Wire"), Kate Bush (distinctive atmospheric backing vocals) and Phil Collins (crashing "gated snare" drum sound that was highly original at the time and an influence on much eighties music afterwards). PG 3 was recorded before Gabriel developed his "world music" sound. It has an incredible range of musical, emotional and lyrical dynamics not present in some of his later, more commercially successful (still excellent), albums.
Lyrically, Gabriel's haunting voice covers a massive range of basic human emotions here, many of them dark. Several tracks on this album can still make me cry even though I know them inside out. Other tracks have me bopping around like an idiot! Absolutely brilliant.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2002
This is the album that paved the way for Gabriel's super stardom. He finally left his past behind and joined ranks with the avant-garde (Bowie, Eno, King Crimson, Talking Heads), ushering in the age of world music. African rythms were to the fore, the drummers (including Phil Collins) ordered not to play their rides or hi-hats. It is still amazing how Gabriel managed to make his uncompromising issues so creatively and commercially successful, a magic trick seemingly impossible today. Starting with the (at first) tuneless sonic paranoia attack of Intruder, Gabriel tackles all sorts of difficult subjects from racism and alienation on Not one of us and Biko, to amnesia (I can't remember), war (Games without Frontiers - "we piss on the goons in the jungle") and murder, on Family Snapshot, one of his best ever songs in which a lone gunman (L.H. Oswald ?) merges with his victim. The list of collaborators is similarly impressive (Kate Bush, Fripp, Paul Weller, Dave Gregory from XTC, the marvellous Tony Levin and John Giblin on bass etc..)without ever detracting from Gabriel's complete mastery of his new, original art. The 4th album featured a slicker production and another set of great new songs before Gabriel became boring on "So", the first album with a title and a cover on which he did not rip, hide, melt or distort his own face - the phase of experimentation was over, all the worse for the listeners. Volume 3 is the real thing, uncomfortable, intense and weirdly, grippingly beautiful.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2012
This is the third of four self-titled albums, renowned for many reasons:
His face is melting
He did a German language version
It has no cymbals on it
It is absolutely brilliant
The quality and variety of the songs here is astounding. 'Wallflower' is tender and disturbing. 'Family Snapshot' is thought provoking. 'Intruder' will rouse the dead with its primal beat (by Phil Collins, incidentally). 'Games Without Frontiers' is as catchy as you like with a very clever lyric. 'Biko' energised a whole protest movement and is still powerful now.
The playing is superb as ever. Jerry Marotta and Tony Levin are an amazing rhythm section, and guests pop up all over (listen out for Paul Weller and Phil Collins in there).
It is Peter Gabriel's performance that really sets this apart. He is confident, emotional, powerful, soft - in fact just providing exactly what each song needs.
If you haven't heard this before it is something that will live with you always. If you have it go and play it now and remind yourself why you fell in love with it in the first place.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2012
Peter Gabriel is one of the most interesting artists in music. He's original, innovative and intelligent. He began his solo career with an absolutely fantastic album and then... he flopped. His second album, sometimes called Scratch, was poor. It felt more like a Phil Collins album than the stuff you would expect from Mr Gabriel. Fortunately, this album shows how he returned to form and more. Melt is heralded as one of the best he ever released and who am I to disagree?
The sound is unique. It's hard to appreciate it now but this was hugely innovative. Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins managed to invent a whole new drumming sound which can be heard most prominently on the opening to the first track "Intruder". The sound quality is superior to the previous album as well. It's richer, it's grittier and it's creepier.
Intruder is a superb, if scary, opening track. The drumming has already been mentioned but the rest of the music is just as worthy of note. The song is from the perspective of a slightly perverted burglar and the singing is chilling. In this album Peter Gabriel tackles head on subjects that other artists would avoid, not because they're particularly controversial but because they probably didin't think people would want to hear songs about mental illness, crime, racism etc. Ok so he wasn't the first to do it but he was one of the best.
No Self Control is Peter Gabriel first collaboration with Kate Bush. Though it's nearly impossible to identify her as the background vocalist. It's very similar in tone to the first track with more great drumming and troubled lyrics. These are some of the finest songs Gabriel ever wrote and truly reflect the imagination he poured out into this album.
Start is a short, emotive and very enjoyable Saxaphone solo which serves as an introductin to I Don't Remember. Still running with the theme of a troubled mind we are treated to more surreal lyrics and aggresive vocals with powerful, driving drums. The chorus here is the closest this album comes to commercial but retains it's dark mood all the while.
Family Snapshot is my favourite track on here. It's sung from the perspective of an assassin. I'll admit I don't know which assassin he was reffering to but it wasn't the assassination of JFK despite him later making visual references to it on stage. Anyway, on this song the "troubled mind" theme is explored in the most raw and emotional way yet. The music build as the moment draws closer with drums building and the volume rising before Peter sings "I let the bullet fly". The song explores the emotions running through the killers head and what has driven him to kill someone. It implies a troubled childhood may be responsible. Despite what he has done, you are made to sympathise with this character. This is Peter Gabriels writing at it's best lyrically, musically and storywise.
And Through The Wire is a welcome break from madness and seems to be about technology. The lyrics are probably slightly dated now but the upbeat music is still great. The mood changes massively for Games Without Frontiers which also features Kate Bush on backing vocals. This song compares international politics to childish games and arguments. The analogy works brilliantly and the overexaggerated racism drives the point home a little harshly but very effectively. Interestingly, the video has Peter wandering around a table of children who are sat pretending to be world leaders and some channels wouldn't show the video because they thought he was a paedophile. They also thought that the jack in a box was a reference to sex. They didn't seem to mind him singing "piss on the coons" though. How Strange.
Not One Of Us continues the theme of racism. It's a tongue in cheek dig at racists which is quite witty and funny. The lyric are pure gold ("There's safety in numbers when you learn to divide") and the music is upbeat and funny without sounding too silly. Lead A Normal Life then changes the sound completely. This song is complete synthesised as far as I can tell. It's made up of random little sounds that shift between light and jolly to harsh and sinister a few times before we hear a few sung lines. Then it's right back to the bleepity bloop blops we started with. It's strange and a bit disturbing. The music is very nice but also quite unsettling. I'm not entirely sure what it's about. I've heard that its supposed to reflect the "nanny state" or something but I always thought it sounded more like someone speaking to someone with dementia or schizophrenia.
Biko closes the album. This song became an anthem in the fight against the apartheid and always formed one of the most emotional parts of Peter Gabriels shows. The drums pound throughout as Gabriel recites the story of Bikos death with a chorus of "Biko, Biko, Because Biko". The power behind this song is indescribeable. The chorus eventually gives way to repeated chanting which is undoubtedly the emotional peak of the album. The chanting continues for a few minutes before fading out to the sound of african singing. Then silence. Absolutely incredible.
Melt represents a high point of Peter Gabriels career. The following albums are brilliant and I love them but the reason this album is remembered so fondly goes beyond the music. The sound was innovative and the contents were challenging. Gabriel sang very clearly about racism and Biko is widely considered to be one of his finest songs. This album is an experience. The emotions and issues take more of a front seat than they ever had before and ever have since. Even the album cover is brilliant.
I'm always hesitant to use the word "Masterpiece" about an album because it's a word that's used so much it has very little meaning left but if ever an album deserved that label, the finely crafted Melt does.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This third post-Genesis album shouts from the rooftops its sheer power. The power of the songs, their messages, Gabriel's plaintively expressive voice, and the power of songs like And Through The Wire, and - my favourite - the astounding Family Snapshot, a song I never want to end.
This is also of course the one containing both Games Without Frontiers (with Kate Bush on backing vocal) and the justly famous Biko, so beautifully sung later by Robert Wyatt.
From the opening Intruder to the final emphatic drum beat of Biko, this is an album of harsh beauty, conviction, fierce commitment and, as I say, power.
I came to Peter Gabriel's first four LPs later than I did the impeccable So, and the discovery has been well worth it. It's intriguing how the members of Genesis went into such differing musical areas - Tony Banks can be found on the classical music shelves now, Phil Collins (in my opinion) went from the glorious heights of Trick of the Tail & Wind and Wuthering to ever more bland disco-pop, Steve Hackett continues to amaze and challenge himself and us with his eclectic range of diverse projects, Mike Rutherford hit the charts and not a few hearts with Living Years etc, and Gabriel has shown time and again on records like this one that he's touched with genius.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2011
Peter Gabriel's third self-titled album, i.e. the one with his face melting on the cover, is one of the greatest albums of all time. From start to finish it is an incredible effort, with most of the lyrics from the point of view of someone with a disturbed perspective. The album was originally released on May 30th of 1980, and it remains one of the great Progressive rock albums of all time. Featuring greats like Robert Fripp, Kate Bush, Tony Levin, Phil Collins, and a host of others, the album has a firm musical base on which to build these extraordinary songs.
The album opens with "Intruder" a song sung from the perspective of a burglar, but not just a burglar, but one who gets a thrill from scaring those he is burgling. Next up is "No Self Control", which not surprisingly is sung from the perspective of one who lacks self-control in a number of areas and to an alarming degree. "Start" is a short instrumental which leads into "I Don't Remember" sung from the perspective of someone with amnesia who is trying desperately to remember. Next up is "Family Snapshot", a song sung from the point of view of an assassin. It was inspired by "An Assassin's Diary" written by the man who tried to assassinate George Wallace, but Gabriel uses images from JFK's assassination in the song. Closing out the first half of the album is "And Through the Wire" which is a bit more difficult to figure out, but a good song nevertheless. There are a lot of possible meanings for the song, but I have never figured out exactly what it means. The singer seems to be obsessed with someone, and perhaps stalking them through various methods, or perhaps it is merely someone he is unable to be with physically due to borders.
The second half opens with "Games Without Frontiers", a wonderful song which compares the ridiculous nationalistic contests as they took place on a couple of game shows (Jeux Sans Frontières - France and It's a Knockout - UK) with more the more series and still ridiculous contests between nations in the form of war. "Not One of Us" is next and deals with prejudice. Next up is "Lead a Normal Life" which is mostly an instrumental other than a short passage which invokes the image of one living under restrictions being told to lead a normal life. Last up is the superb "Biko" which is about the killing of Steven Biko, the anti-apartheid activist who died in custody from wounds he received during the interrogation.
Peter Gabriel's first two albums were well received, but this third album took things to a much higher level, and it set the stage for his next album which is right up there with this one in terms of quality. This is an album which is strong both in music as well as in lyric. No doubt this is a 5-star effort.