There are a few chilling moments in rock music; the kind that
make you shudder with a weird mixture of delight and apprehension.
One of those occurs at about 0:16 of Peter Gabriel's 1982 release
Security, where he wails a five-note line across thrumming
drums in the intro to "Rhythm Of The Heat". From that moment on,
you are aware -- or you damn well should be -- that this is not
your average pop/rock album and that you're going to be challenged
before you're done.
Security, the fourth solo release by Gabriel, was arguably a major breakthrough. If So was where he finally became 'Peter Gabriel, Worldwide Superstar', this is the CD where he became more than 'the former lead singer of Genesis'. It resulted in his first US Top Forty hit, arguably his widest critical acclaim to the date it was released, and was one of the first -- if not the first -- CDs to make the average American music buyer in the shallow and pre-fab 1980s to realize there was a whole wide world of music and sounds outside of Ronald Reagan's us and them mentality. In many ways, Security was the first global CD.
But in these latter days of the Internet, how does it hold up? The answer is -- pretty damn well, mostly. Security is almost a tribal album, with its elements of shamanic journeying ("Rhythm Of The Heat" and "San Jacinto") and cross-culturalism ("Kiss Of Life"). As such, its production is uncluttered, flat, and perfect for the type of percussion-driven sound Gabriel never really stopped doing after this CD. Unfortunately, I don't have the 2002 remaster; my original CD release lacks a little dynamic range, but I'd bet the remaster solves that.
The key, though, is the songs. "Rhythm Of The Heat" and "San Jacinto" may be the best one-two punch in pop music history, opening the CD with a breakneck psychic impact that never lets up. "The Family And The Fishing Net" opens with what sounds like alien flutes interwoven with orchestral premonitions of doom. "Lay Your Hands On Me" is triumphant, brilliant, with a magnificent crescendo on the refrain. Only "Shock The Monkey" -- ironically enough Gabriel's chart hit off this CD -- falls flat; the eighties synthesizer hits haven't aged well, though it's still not a bad tune.
Peter Gabriel's Security is a CD that any serious music fan should know, and anyone interested in the growing world music scene should own as a landmark in the genre's early development.
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