A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
Our first Hot Stamper shootout for Security is finally here, and man does this album sound better than I remember it from back in the ’70s when I first played a copy. Stereos have come a long way since then, along with a host of other things that help records sound better, such as cleaning fluids, room treatments and all the rest.
Now you can really hear INTO the soundfield in a way that simply was never possible before, picking out all the drummers and counting all the layers of PG’s multi-tracked choruses.
For all you PG fans it’s been a long time coming. We’ve wanted to do this album for years but kept running into a roadblock we could not find our way around: the fact that most copies are thick, opaque, turgid, veiled — pick your favorite adjective for mud, most copies fit the profile. Nice clean copies would come in, sound murky and get filed away, as if aging them would bring out the transparency we were hoping to find but never could. Until now. Now we can clean them and play them better, and like we always say, if you clean and play enough copies, something good will come of it.
On this title, forget the Brits. Every British pressing we played was horriblly smeared and veiled. This took us by surprise a bit because we happen to like some British PG pressing, but remember, So on British vinyl is awful too, so perhaps the later PG records are bad on British vinyl and the early ones are better. We’ll get to the bottom of it someday; for now let’s just face the fact that the domestic pressings are the way to go for Security.
What We Listened For
The best copies have the kind of qualities that are not tricky or difficult to recognize: presence, putting PG front and center; dynamics, both micro and macro; energy, allowing the rhythmic elements to bring out the life in the music; transparency, so that we can hear all the way to the back of the studio (where some of the many musicians that play in the densest parts no doubt had to stand); and ambience, the air that surrounds all the players and what they played.
And of course we played the album VERY LOUD, as loud as we could. It’s the only way to get the massive druming to sound right.
This copy on side one has right on the money tonality from top to bottom, with big drums and smooth, silky voices in the choruses. We took it down from our top grade because it lacked a little of the top end extension we heard on other copies.
Side two is even better at A++ to A+++, with everything going for it. We heard one copy with better transient information, so we docked it half a plus from the best. Still, this is our best overall copy.
This is one of the most important records in the Peter Gabriel canon, groundbreaking and influential on so many levels. The entire album is a wonderful journey; anyone with a pop-prog bend will enjoy the ride. Just turn the volume up good and loud, turn off your mind, relax and float along with PG and the boys. You’re in good hands.
I take exception to the AMG review referring to the album as mood music. These are fully developed songs, any one of which would stand up well on its own against others in the PG canon. The more you listen to the album the more you will appreciate that every track here is at least good while many of them are nothing short of brilliant.
The Rhythm of the Heat
I Have the Touch
The Family and the Fishing Net
Shock the Monkey
Lay Your Hands on Me
Kiss of Life
Security — which was titled Peter Gabriel everywhere outside of the U.S. — continues where the third Gabriel album left off, sharing some of the same dense production and sense of cohesion, yet lightening the atmosphere and expanding the sonic palette somewhat. The gloom that permeates the third album has been alleviated and while this is still decidedly somber and serious music, it has a brighter feel, partially derived from Gabriel’s dabbling in African and Latin rhythms. These are generally used as tonal coloring, enhancing the synthesizers that form the basic musical bed of the record, since much of this is mood music (for want of a better word).
Security flows easily and enticingly, with certain songs — the eerie “San Jacinto,” “I Have the Touch,” “Shock the Monkey” — arising from the wash of sound. That’s not to say that the rest of the album is bland easy listening — it’s designed this way, to have certain songs deliver greater impact than the rest. As such, it demands close attention to appreciate tone poems like “The Family and the Fishing Net,” “Lay Your Hands on Me,” and “Wallflower” — and not all of them reward such intensive listening. Even with its faults, Security remains a powerful listen, one of the better records in Gabriel’s catalog, proving that he is becoming a master of tone, style, and substance, and how each part of the record enhances the other.