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Not For the Faint Hearted
on 27 August 2015
After the angular and uncompromising sound of his second album, Gabriel took another side-step with its successor, and from the start lets you know exactly what you're in for (he displays an uncanny knack for that in these early albums). "Intruder", with its famed "gated" drum sound courtesy of Phil Collins, is a creepy, disturbing and utterly compelling track taking you places you'd most likely rather not go (into the mind of a stalker/intruder). What follows is along the same vein, the songs displaying the fraying nerve-ends of paranoia, alienation, loneliness and all-round angst. I was twenty when this came out, adrift and broke in NYC and in a right state. I came to this album at exactly the right time (or wrong time, depending on your viewpoint) and I felt that almost all of the tracks (well, okay, not "Biko") were a snapshot of my life at that point.
Personal reasons aside, this is a stunning, brave and emotionally raw album, bristling with edge and energy. "Games Without Frontiers" ostensibly lightens the mood a bit with its jaunty whistling and off-kilter references to the popular game show, but the lyrics betray an unsettling undercurrent and the video for it is downright menacing. The album finishes off with the anthemic "Biko". Sure, his ex-label mate Peter Hammill tackled the subject first in his "A Motor Bike In Africa", but Gabriel makes it epic. It's a powerful, stirring piece of music and, despite its brutal subject matter it lights a candle of hope that's a welcome relief after the bleakness that came before.
Did I mention its bleakness? It is - it can be harrowing and unnerving, but I still I rate this as one of Gabriel's best and most consistently great albums.