“Lucid and driven … a tremendous record” – Rolling Stone
Informally known as ‘Melt’, the next in the series of self-titled albums featured the third different producer in as many records. This time it was the turn of the hot, young knob-twiddler Steve Lillywhite.
Recorded both at Peter’s home studio at Ashcombe House near Bath and at London’s Townhouse Studios, this third solo offering found Peter altering his modus operandi, turning the way he wrote songs inside-out. Now the rhythm came before the melody. “I worked out the rhythmic sequences on a small electronic drum kit,” he recalls, “then I built up the songs on top of them. For the lyrics too, I exploited the repetitive rhythms of the drum machine.”
Propelled by a top-five single in Games Without Frontiers (and featuring the totemic closer Biko), this 1980 album cruised to the top of the LP charts, despite Atlantic Records considering the album as “commercial suicide” and declining the opportunity to release it.
The record also included some notable cameos, including those of Kate Bush and of Peter’s old Genesis pal Phil Collins who supplied drums on several tracks. The song And Through The Wire featured the guitar of Paul Weller who was recording in an adjacent studio. Talking of guitarists, ‘Melt’ marked the first appearance on a Peter Gabriel record of his future long-time collaborator David Rhodes.
“This was the first time I had a chance to work with Kate Bush, who sang on Games Without Frontiers. I thought she had an extraordinary, wonderful voice and was doing great things as a writer. Obviously I went on to work with her again in the future on Don’t Give Up.
“I worked out the rhythmic sequences on a small electronic drum kit, then I built up the songs on top of them. For the lyrics, too, I exploited the repetitive rhythms of the drum machine.
“Biko became a very important song for me. I’d not written an overtly political song before and it led me towards some of the human rights stuff that I’m still very much involved with today. So it was as much a thing that helped shape me as it was the other way round.”