Master of Disguise
The following article appeared as part of a 1977 Melody Maker profile of Peter Gabriel. Although the article was made to look as though Ant had actually written it, his comments here were taken from a lengthy interview Ant gave to journalist Chris Welch. The interview was supposed to tie in with the release of The Geese & The Ghost but instead Melody Maker only printed this!
I adore Peter's voice. It's totally individual, although I've heard that people say that Phil Collins sounds a little bit like him.
I think Pete's got a great voice and his words are so great, really bizarre, I never claimed to understand a lot of it, but Peter Gabriel singing Peter Gabriel is absolutely amazing, and what he'd be like as a tenor singing Wagnerian opera in 20 years time, I've no idea. Will Peter Gabriel be doing that at the ago of 40? Will he be able to sing other people's songs? I don't know how versatile he is from that point of view.
He was tremendously influenced by Otis Redding in the early days and this comes out on the new album in places. You can hear what I call his soul side. In a way we used to joke about it, his 'soul' voice. But that's what he used to do in the early days. He'd get up on the dining room table at school and sing soul. He was well into James Brown. But after that there were no other influences. He forged out very much on his own. If you listen to his album there are so many aspects to his vocal style. I'm biased because I like it, but I love Pete's dreamy voice's floaty quality. There's a track called 'Hum Drum', which is absolutely amazing.
When I first heard the mixes before Christmas I got a bit worried because it seemed very professional and I appreciated the arrangements but I thought it was TOO American, too brash, then hearing the album properly there was a lovely quality to songs like 'Hum Drum'. Every song gets 100 per cent justice, and has greater scope and dimension than they might have got with Genesis; I'm not saying that's a comparison between Genesis and Peter's music, but Peter needs a vast array of instrumentation and every single track is right there and undiluted.
Every possible effect has been exploited. And there is no player who is so important that his instrument goes on right through a number. As the mood changes, so the whole arrangement changes, and there is a great arts to that. That's how it should be. It was important that Peter went to America to record because, in fact, Mike, Phil and I did some demos for Peter here and of course it sounded terribly, terribly like Genesis. And I thought at the time...hell, what's he gonna do? So America was absolutely necessary. I think Pete will produce a REAL masterpiece when he is reunited, hopefully, with his own country, 'cos he's very English.
He's not so much a rock singer, as a dramatic singer going through all the different moods and transformations. He has this extraordinary ability to captivate audiences which is why I see him on a huge stage. I don't know quite how you define a rock singer - God knows. But Peter is a dramatic singer, a master of disguises, moods and various vocal tricks he has built up over the years. And there was this contrast between his off-stage manner and his on-stage presence.
Would I like to work with him again one day? Too much water under the bridge? No, too many bridges under water!
At school we were all in the same house and in those days Pete was, and still is, an extraordinary mixture. My first recollections of Pete were that he was the last conceivable person on earth to be a rock star. He won't mind me saying this but...he was quite podgy, and very quiet, although he still is like that. But when he was podgy, he was like a barrel. And he used to get up on the tables and sing. He was always a bit slow delivering his speech and thoughts but he has a very individual way of expressing things and it's worth the wait...
From Melody Maker, 5th March 1977
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