Peter Gabriel (1980 album)

Peter Gabriel is the third eponymous solo studio album by English rock musician Peter Gabriel, released on 30 May 1980 by Charisma Records. The album has been acclaimed as Gabriel's artistic breakthrough as a solo artist and for establishing him as one of rock's most ambitious and innovative musicians.[14] Gabriel also explored more overtly political material with two of his most famous singles, the anti-war song "Games Without Frontiers" (which became a No. 4 hit and remains his joint highest charting single in the UK) and the anti-apartheid protest song "Biko", which remembered the murdered activist Steve Biko. The album was remastered, along with most of Gabriel's catalogue, in 2002.

Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel (self-titled album, 1980 - cover art).jpg
Studio album by
Released30 May 1980 (1980-05-30)
RecordedSpring–Summer 1979
StudioBath and Townhouse in London
LabelCharisma (UK)
Geffen (North America)
Mercury (Original US LP pressing)
ProducerSteve Lillywhite
Peter Gabriel chronology
Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Singles from Peter Gabriel
  1. "Games Without Frontiers"
    Released: February 9, 1980
  2. "No Self Control"
    Released: May 10, 1980
  3. "Biko"
    Released: July 1980
  4. "I Don't Remember"
    Released: September 1980
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[5]
Chicago Sun-Times3.5/4 stars[6]
Christgau's Record GuideB−[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[7]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[8]
Mojo5/5 stars[9]
Q4/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[12]

In the U.S., the album was titled Peter Gabriel III. The album is also often referred to as Melt owing to its cover photograph by Hipgnosis. Music streaming services currently refer to it as Peter Gabriel 3: Melt.


Gabriel's ex-bandmate Phil Collins, who succeeded him as Genesis's lead vocalist, played drums on several of the album's tracks. "Intruder" has been cited as the first use of Collins' "gated drum" sound. This effect, as created by Steve Lillywhite, Collins and Hugh Padgham,[15] was featured on Collins' and Genesis's recordings throughout the 1980s. The distinctive sound was identified via experiments by Lillywhite, Collins and Padgham, in response to Gabriel's request that Collins and Jerry Marotta not use cymbals on the album's sessions.

"Artists given complete freedom die a horrible death," Gabriel explained to Mark Blake. "So, when you tell them what they can't do, they get creative and say, 'Oh yes I can,' which is why I banned cymbals. Phil was cool about it. [Marotta] did object and it took him a while to settle in. It's like being right-handed and having to learn to write with your left."[16]

So significant and influential was the sound that it has been claimed by Gabriel, Padgham, Collins, and Lillywhite. It was cited by Public Image Ltd as an influence on the sound of their album The Flowers of Romance,[17] whose engineer, Nick Launay, was in turn employed by Collins to assist with his solo debut, Face Value.[17] Paul Weller, who was recording with his band the Jam in a nearby studio, contributed guitar to "And Through the Wire". Gabriel believed Weller's intense guitar style was ideal for the track.

The album, produced by Gabriel and Lillywhite, was Gabriel's first and only release for Mercury Records in the United States, after being rejected by Atlantic Records, who handled U.S. distribution for Gabriel's first two solo albums and his last two albums with Genesis. Upon hearing mixes of session tapes in early 1980, Atlantic A&R executive John Kalodner deemed the album not commercial enough for release, and recommended Atlantic drop Gabriel from their roster.

"Atlantic Records didn't want to put it out at all," Gabriel told Mark Blake. "Ahmet Ertegun said, 'What do people in America care about this guy in South Africa?' and 'Has Peter been in a mental hospital?' because there was this very weird track called 'Lead a Normal Life'. They thought I'd had a breakdown and recorded a piece of crap ... I thought I'd really found myself on that record, and then someone just squashes it. I went through some primordial rejection issues."[18]

By the time the album was released by Mercury several months later, Kalodner – now working for the newly formed Geffen Records label and having realised his mistake – arranged for Geffen to pursue Gabriel as one of their first artist signings.[19] Geffen (at the time distributed by Atlantic sister label Warner Bros. Records) reissued the album in 1983, after Mercury's rights to it lapsed, and marketed it in the United States until 2010, when Gabriel's back catalogue was reissued independently by Real World Records. (Coincidentally, Mercury is now a sister label to Geffen after Mercury's parent PolyGram merged with Geffen's parent Universal Music Group in 1999.)

"I Don't Remember" was performed on Gabriel's 1978 tour for his second album.[20] An earlier studio version was to be the A-side of the first 7" single released in advance of the album by Charisma in Europe and Japan, but a Charisma executive thought Robert Fripp's guitar solos were not radio-friendly. This earlier version wound up as the B-side of the advance "Games Without Frontiers" single instead in those territories. It was included on the B-sides and rarities comp, Flotsam And Jetsam, released in 2019. The album version of this song appeared as the A-side of a 12" single in the United States and Canada.

Gabriel jokingly summarised the album's themes as "The history of a decaying mind". He added: "State of mind was definitely an area of interest at the time of writing it, but I never really set out with a concept. It was merely different songs, which perhaps have fitted into one particular slant." Of "No Self Control", he said: "That's something which I've observed in myself and in other people… In a state of depression, you have to turn on the radio, or switch on the television, go to the fridge and eat, and sleeping is difficult."[21]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Peter Gabriel.

Side One
2."No Self Control"3:55
4."I Don't Remember"4:42
5."Family Snapshot"4:28
6."And Through the Wire"5:00
Side Two
7."Games Without Frontiers"4:06
8."Not One of Us"5:22
9."Lead a Normal Life"4:14



The photo was taken with a Polaroid SX-70 instant camera. The sleeve's designer Storm Thorgerson said: "Peter himself joined with us at Hipgnosis in disfiguring himself by manipulating Polaroids as they 'developed' ... Peter impressed us greatly with his ability to appear in an unflattering way, preferring the theatrical or artistic to the cosmetic."[22]

Critical receptionEdit

In 1989, the album was ranked No. 45 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Albums of the 80's".

In 2000, Q magazine placed the album at No. 53 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.

In 2006, Q placed the album at No. 29 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s", the only Gabriel album to make the top 40.[23]



Year Chart Position
1980 Billboard Pop Albums 22
1980 UK Album Chart 1[24]


Date Single Chart Position
1980 Games Without Frontiers Billboard Pop Singles 48
Feb 1980 Games Without Frontiers UK Singles Chart 4
May 1980 No Self Control UK Singles Chart 33
Aug 1980 Biko UK Singles Chart 38


Organization Level Date
BPI – UK Gold 2 June 1980

Certifications and salesEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[26] Gold 259,400[25]

Ein deutsches AlbumEdit

Ein deutsches Album (English: A German Album), released in July 1980, is a German-language version of Peter Gabriel. Gabriel sang German vocals on top of completely new recorded instrumental and backing vocal tracks.[citation needed] The German lyrics are translations from the English. Two years later, Gabriel released Deutsches Album (1982), a significantly altered version of his fourth album Peter Gabriel (1982) (known as Security in the United States and Canada).[citation needed] In February 1980, German-language versions of "Games Without Frontiers" and "Here Comes the Flood" were released as a single in Germany. German adaptation was done by H. Konigstein.[27]

All songs written by Peter Gabriel. "Texte" (that is, lyrics) by Peter Gabriel and Horst Königstein [de].

Side one[28]
  1. "Eindringling" – 5:00
  2. "Keine Selbstkontrolle" – 4:00
  3. "Frag mich nicht immer" – 6:04
    • Combines the instrumental "Start" with the German version of "I Don't Remember".
  4. "Schnappschuß (Ein Familienfoto)" – 4:26
  5. "Und durch den Draht" – 4:28
Side two[28]
  1. "Spiel ohne Grenzen" – 4:07
  2. "Du bist nicht wie wir" – 5:32
  3. "Ein normales Leben" – 4:21
  4. "Biko" – 8:55


  1. ^ Thomson, Graeme. "Peter Gabriel - the first four solo albums remastered". Uncut.
  2. ^ Roberts, Chris. "Peter Gabriel 3: "Melt" 30 Years on By Chris Roberts". The Quietus.
  3. ^ Christopher, Bahn. "Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel (a.k.a. III/Melt)". The A.V. Club.
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1990). "Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Peter Gabriel [3] – Peter Gabriel". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  6. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (4 July 1993). "A Solo Discography". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 19 November 2018. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  8. ^ Brunner, Rob (12 July 2002). "Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel 3". Entertainment Weekly: 84–85.
  9. ^ Easlea, Daryl (November 2015). "Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel". Mojo (264): 104.
  10. ^ "Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel 1: 'Car' / Peter Gabriel 2: 'Scratch' / Peter Gabriel 3: 'Melt' / Peter Gabriel 3: 'Ein Deutsches Album' / Peter Gabriel 4: 'Security' / Peter Gabriel 4: 'Deutsches Album'". Q (352). November 2015.
  11. ^ Marsh, Dave (18 September 1980). "Peter Gabriel (3)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  12. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Peter Gabriel". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 319–20. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  13. ^ Thomson, Graeme (November 2015). "Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel 1 ('Car') / Peter Gabriel 2 ('Scratch') / Peter Gabriel 3 ('Melt') / Peter Gabriel 4 ('Security')". Uncut (222): 88–89.
  14. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Peter Gabriel Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  15. ^ Robyn Flans (1 May 2005). "Classic Tracks: Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight"". Mix. Archived from the original on 17 March 2007.
  16. ^ Blake, Mark (December 2011). "Cash for questions: Peter Gabriel". Q. p. 44–46.
  17. ^ a b M, Scott (February 2003). "Nick Launay interview". F&F Publishing. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  18. ^ Blake, Mark (December 2011). "Cash for questions: Peter Gabriel". Q. p. 44.
  19. ^ Wade, Dorothy and Justine Picardie (1990). Music Man: Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records, and the Triumph of Rock 'n' Roll, Norton, ISBN 0-393-02635-3, pp. 247–249.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Capital Radio interview with Nicky Horne, broadcast 16 March 1980; transcribed in Gabriel fanzine White Shadow (#1, pp9) by editor Fred Tomsett
  22. ^ Classic Rock 2010 calendar
  23. ^ Q August 2006, Issue 241
  24. ^ "Number 1 Albums – 1980s". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  25. ^ "Les Albums Or". SNEP. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  26. ^ "French album certifications – Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  27. ^ "Peter Gabriel 45rpm Cat".
  28. ^ a b Ein deutsches Album at MusicBrainz

External linksEdit