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on 25 November 2013
Not many authors have tackled Peter Gabriel's illustrious career. This is just the third 'proper' biography on the man who climbed up on Solsbury Hill, before making it his business to expose the horror in Police Room 619, pioneered the use of Fairlight synthesisers, made ground breaking videos, scored film soundtracks, instigated WOMAD, opened Real World Studios, founded Real World Records, formed Witness, founded The Elders and pioneered digital music downloads. All this while making some of the most thought provoking and distinctive music of the past 35 years. Oh and did I mention he formed Genesis in 1967 and quit them just before they made the Big Time in 1975? Well all these tales and more can be found in this very readable chronicle of Gabriel's career that covers just about every significant step along the way in sufficient detail in near chronologcial order, which due to Gabriel's lack of focus on any one project at any one time, is actually no mean feat.

Spencer Bright's An Authorised Biography got here first and had considerable help from his main subject and Bright took the brave step of compartmentalising most of Gabriel's career into discreet subjects (WOMAD, Real World, Love and Marriage etc)- which sometimes made it difficult to contextualise his rise to fame and what he did with it when he achieved it. Chris Welch's 'The Secret World of' book was less detailed but took the story in a more linear fashion. He just made too many errors getting the story out for my liking and is now well out of date.

Daryl Easlea has taken the near chronological approach that Welch used and borrowed from many sources without ever getting his subject to sit down to be interviewed for the book. Having said he has spoken to many of the main players in Gabriel's circle of friends and musicians - although I suspect many turned down the advances of the author. Gabriel's close associates have a legendary allegiance to their boss and would only particiapte in an official biography. So it falls short of a direct replacement for Bright's thoroughly excellent study of Mr. Gabriel but it does bring the story bang up to date.

The new revelations in the story are few and far between but some significant facts do emerge, such as the strongest evidence to date that the Six of the Best Genesis reunion show in 1982 WAS videoed professionally.

Easlea does well to keep the story trotting along at a decent pace without getting too bogged down in detail, although this brevity at times gives misleading accounts of when certain things happened (e.g. when Genesis first played to an Italian audience of 20,000, and when Tony Levin shaved his head for instance - which I accept won't upset too many readers out there!) but if you are going to put in detail it should be as accurate as it can be, particularly when such detail is already well documented.

For those who know this story inside out, and unfortunately I am one of them, there is a factual inaccuracy once every five pages or so but most of these are quite minor and don't spoil the overall job that Easlea has done here, and its clear that the author holds his subject in high regard. I'm currently reading the book a second time, making a note of these errors or inaccuracies and hopefully if the book makes it to paperback the publisher may feel the need to correct them. But as a study of Gabriel's career this is a very decent read, that will inform and please most fans.

There is still room though for a book on Gabriel that delves a bit deeper and is carefully edited to avoid the introduction of so many minor errors. If only someone would dig their quill out and write it!
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on 25 January 2015
Without Frontiers: The Life & Music of Peter Gabriel is the Definitive book on PG. A thorough and insightful look into the life of one of music's mysterious artist. This work contains a wealth of information that sheds light into the inner workings of a musician that is simply profound. Masterfully written in a style that is engaging, this is one book that you'll have a hard time putting down. The story behind the making of some of PG's greatest works is priceless, case in point is the story behind the inspiration of "Here Comes the Flood." The author has added another dimension to PG that has been unknown for the most part to the public. Plus, it is done with class and serves PG by placing him in the perspective he deserves. Overall, Daryl Easlea has put together an incredible book that will captivate the reader to the end. The exhaustive amount of research is evident and serves the reader well by providing a book that is as educational as it is entertaining. Simply put, one of the best "rock bios" I have read in years. This is one book that should be required reading for fans of not only rock but music period, well done sir, well done indeed.
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on 12 October 2014
Very thorough, and not too 'official' meaning that the book is not a fanbook or just praise from page one to 400. You really get an idea of Pete's personality as well as it's influence on his and Genesis' music. Critical review of the music is welcome as well. The English used by easlea is a bit too English, so though I have a vocabulary that exceeds most English and Americans, I had to read some sentences twice to get the idea. Maybe because I'm a Finn, not native Anglo-Anything.
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on 17 January 2016
Without actually interviewing Peter, Daryl Easlea has produced a truly fabulous and very detailed book on his subject. He has spoken to a wide range of contemporaries, done his research well, and writes with great love and affection for his subject. Extremely well written, I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone seeking the facts and background to one of the most thought provoking, challenging and varied artists of our times. As far as rock biographies go this is up there with the very best.
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on 6 August 2015
I'm only half way through the book, excellent details from Daryl Easlea. His certainly done his homework.
Amazing value also as the book is so thick and well written.
An absolute must buy for anyone who appreciates Peter Gabriel history.
An understated British singer songwriter.
I've only picked the book up two days ago, engrossing reading. Enjoying the book and memories of past songs.
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on 22 January 2014
Good on facts and research. Not written in the most comfortable of styles but this certainly gives a detailed picture of the music and the man behind it. It is right up to date so that is a bonus. If he intrigues you or you like his music, I would say it is a must read.
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on 24 July 2016
If only all rock books were like this. I want the narrative, yes, but I also want to know about the MUSIC, the songs and the albums. I would describe myself as a Genesis fan first and a Gabriel fan second but this book has opened my eyes to what a fascinating and impressive artist he is. No cut-and-paste job, the research is astonishing, the writing enthusiastic and entertaining and, if I were to say that this book is the treatment that Gabriel deserves, it would be the highest compliment I could pay. Essential reading. Well done Daryl.
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on 26 April 2016
This is an extremely well researched and well written book, one which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. While I have bee a fan of Mr Gabriel since the So album I knew little of his earlier work, Genesis having passed me by, due I think to a combination of being the wrong age and a general distrust of theatricality in rock. Thanks to Mr Easlea I now know about that period, too, and most interesting it is. I have read literally hundreds of rock biogs in my time and this one stands, without doubt, in the best handful of those I've come across.
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on 2 January 2014
If you want a respectful look at a great man's work from a music journalist then this is the book for you. This is a thoroughly enjoyable read, chronologically moving through Gabriel's life. Eastlea uses quotes from many sources plus new interviews to build up a picture of a man unafraid to follow his own path in life, no matter how difficult or non-mainstream. Great care is taken in describing the musical processes and productions, less notice is taken of the personal side.

My only complaint is that it seems a bit rushed at the end, just when Gabriel is diversifying into different avenues. There is content for about three men's lives here. He has lived a very rewarding life on many fronts and, judging by the quotes used, is admired by all that know him. Apart from that it is well-written (apart from the odd mistake) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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on 21 January 2014
Being A Peter Gabriel devotee I had read Spencer Bright's book when it came out 25years ago and eagerly waitlisted for months this one. As a holiday read it worked ok (as I would have read anything on PG thirsty for info) but it lacked much intimacy, detail and but mostly PG.

There seemed an uncomfortabilty when dealing with relationships and maybe it was just a lack of dialogue with subjects to express them. Thankfully some quotes from David Lord, Steve Lillywhite, Nile Rogers and some Bob Ezrin otherwise I would have not persevered. Genesis members have been interviewed over the decades but I hankered for Tony Levin, David Rhodes, Jerry Marotta, Manu Katche, Stewart Copeland etc. I could list scores of musicians but no one is interviewed by the looks and this seems like a lost opportunity. Or maybe just an agoraphobic researcher.

There also seems too much anchoring and reverence to an overarching seventies prog-rock prospective. At the centre of PG the artist was his evolution while most from that sub-culture remained anchored in intellectual pissing competitions. e.g. While Solsbury Hill is in 7 it swings like a euphoric anthem (my nine year old drums it without realising) while many contemporaries self-consciously composed (while counting clumsily) like an awkward WASPy hymn. Regardless of all the technology, musical virtuosity and eruditeness Gabriel's strength has always appeared to me to be his ability to empathise, communicate and include. I saw Gabriel and Co at a one-off at Wom(Adelaide) to boost lagging ticket sales with no lighting, costumes, choreography or even wardrobe. It was like being in rehearsal and underscored the selflessness of the man and the respect he had for his band and his guests.

Maybe Gabriel (and contemporaries) in their own words next time.
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