Top Artists – Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel – Self-Titled No. 1

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  • Peter Gabriel’s debut solo album returns to the site on this excellent British pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality – everything that we listen for in a great record is here
  • Features his autobiographical lead single, “Solsbury Hill”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…much of the record teems with invigorating energy (as on ‘Slowburn,’ or the orchestral-disco pulse of ‘Down the Dolce Vita’), and the closer ‘Here Comes the Flood’ burns with an anthemic intensity that would later become his signature in the ’80s.”

Tubey Magical Richness and breathy vocals are the hallmarks of a good British PG 1.

Unlike any that follow, the sound varies greatly from track to track on the first PG album, as does the music. You know you have a good copy when the best sounding tracks sound their best. That may seem like a tautology but it is, in fact, the only way to judge a side when the songs sound this different from one another.

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Peter Gabriel – Some People Have No Business Reviewing His Records

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Peter Gabriel

This commentary was written many years ago after a review I spotted online prompted me to crack open one of the Classic Records 200 gram Peter Gabriel titles and play it. Let’s just say the results were less than pleasing to the ear.

Bernie Grundman had worked his “magic” again and as usual I was at a loss to understand how anyone could find his mastering in any way an improvement over the plain old pressings, even the domestic ones.

I then had a discussion with a reviewer for an audiophile web magazine concerning his rave review for the Peter Gabriel records that Classic pressed.

I just now played one, and it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. But of course it’s not right either.

Not surprisingly, reviewers have a tendency not to notice these things. I’m not exactly sure how these people are qualified to review records when the most obvious tonal balance problems seem to go unnoticed. The Classic is brighter and less rich. This is not the right sound for this music and does the album no favors.

That’s Bernie for you. After all these years. no amount of mischief he does for Classic should surprise me.

A Bad Record Tells You… What?

Which brings up something else that never fails to astonish me. How can an equipment review be trusted when the reviewer uses bad sounding records to evaluate the equipment he is testing? Aren’t we justified in assuming that if said reviewer can’t tell he is listening to a bad record, he probably can’t tell whether the equipment under review is any good either?

Here is a good example of a reviewer raving about a mediocre-at-best pressing in an equipment review.

A bad record tells you nothing about the equipment it is playing on. Worse, it might complement the faults of the gear and end up sounding tonally correct. If you use So Long So Wrong as a test disc, what are you testing for, the hyped-up vocals or the harmonically-challenged guitars?

Genesis – Another Misfire from Classic Records

Hot Stamper Pressings of Genesis Albums Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Genesis on Vinyl

Sonic Grade: F

The Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing is a smeary, lifeless mess next to the best British pressings on the tan label. No Classic Pressing of any of the Genesis albums sounded right to us.

The Peter Gabriel albums they remastered were just as bad. All of them earned a grade of F. We made no effort to do listings for most of them because they were all bad, and bad in the same way.

In these four words we can describe the sound of the average Classic Records pressing.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this Classic pressing in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.


New to the Blog? Start Here

Basic Concepts and Realities Explained

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

Peter Gabriel Names a Third Record After Himself

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  • It’s been quite a few years since our last shootout – finding clean, quiet, early pressings of this album has been especially difficult for many years and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier
  • A Must Own for Gabriel fans, this album is widely considered his breakthrough work as a solo artist
  • Listen closely and you’ll recognize Phil Collins’ now-signature (but at the time revolutionary) drum sound on several of the tracks, including “Intruder,” one of the best tracks on the album
  • 5 stars: “Generally regarded as Peter Gabriel’s finest record, his third eponymous album finds him coming into his own, crafting an album that’s artier, stronger, more song oriented than before.”
  • If you’re a fan, this is a Peter Gabriel classic from 1980 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1980 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

With this, his third release, Gabriel established himself as a true force in the rock world. (more…)

Peter Gabriel – Self-Titled 2 (Scratch)

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More Progressive Rock

  • This UK Charisma pressing has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • We shot out a number of other imports and this Mad Hatter label copy had the presence, bass, and dynamics that were missing from most others we played
  • 4 stars: “‘On the Air’ and ‘D.I.Y.’ are stunning slices of modern rock circa 1978, bubbling with synths, insistent rhythms, and polished processed guitars, all enclosed in a streamlined production that nevertheless sounds as large as a stadium.”

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Peter Gabriel – Classic Records Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Peter Gabriel

Sonic Grade: D (Or Worse!)

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records Rock LP badly mastered for the benefit of audiophiles looking for easy answers and quick fixes. If only there were some!

We have a special section for bad sounding records that are marketed to audiophiles, and you can find that section here.

It currently has 266 entries, but if someone wanted to audition more of them — that person is definitely not me, although I cannot imagine anyone more qualified — the number could easily hit 500. If one were to do just the Music Matters and Analogue Productions albums released to date, a thousand would be no problem.

And if one were simply to include vintage Japanese pressings, the kind many audiophiles regularly bought in the ’80s and ’90s for their quieter vinyl and supposedly higher quality mastering, our bad audiophile record section would contain multitudes. Multitudes I tell you!

Bernie Grundman’s mastering approach for the first PG album is a disaster — brighter and cleaner, which turns out to be precisely the wrong sound for this music.

In a recent commentary we went into some detail about Bernie Grundman’s shortcomings as a mastering engineer.

To be fair, he has cut some wonderful records. We survey more of his work here.


FURTHER READING

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Peter Gabriel / Security

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More Art Rock Records

  • One of the most important records in the Peter Gabriel canon, original and influential on so many levels
  • With the benefit of today’s technology, on a copy this good you hear into the soundfield in a way never possible before, picking out all the drummers and counting all the layers of multi-tracked choruses
  • “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…”
  • If you’re a Peter Gabriel fan, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this title from 1982 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1982 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. Security is a good example of a record most audiophiles don’t know well but should.

Man, does this album sound better than I remember it from back in the ’80s when I first played it. 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.

On the best pressings, both sides are huge, and the music jumps out of the speakers. The balance is perfection. (more…)

Peter Gabriel – Direct Disk Labs Half Speed Reviewed

More of the Music of Peter Gabriel

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Peter Gabriel

Sonic Grade: D

The Direct Disk Labs half-speed here is thick, compressed and lifeless, though fairly rich tonally, a key quality the best UK pressings always have. The good UK pressings — on the original tan label, avoid the blue label reissues, they suck — are full of luscious Tubey Magic.

This is in fact the only Peter Gabriel recording that has that vintage Tubey Magical Analog sound. The worst recording of his first five, So, has the least amount. It is digital, and it sounds like it’s digital, but that is not the kiss of death if you can find a good pressing of it and clean it right.

You could do worse I suppose, but too much of the life of the music will be lost when playing this poorly remastered pressing.  Did they have a good British tape to work with? It doesn’t sound like it.

Is it better than the average domestic pressing, the ones that are clearly made from dubbed sub-generation tapes? Maybe, in some ways, but both this half-speed and the domestic pressings should be avoided by audiophiles looking for top quality sound.

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Genesis – Trespass

Hot Stamper Pressings of Genesis Available Now

More Prog Rock

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this UK Charisma pressing – it’s guaranteed to beat any Heavy Vinyl (or other) pressing you may have
  • The sound here is rich and Tubey Magical, which is the only way this music makes any sense at all
  • Probably for the more serious fan, but Melody Maker found it “…tasteful, subtle and refined.”
  • “… cannot find many ‘modern’ acts that can even come close to the brilliance demonstrated in these six songs… cannot recommend this album enough.”

Take it from us, the guys who play every kind of pressing we can get our hands on, the UK pressings are the only way to go on Trespass. (more…)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway

  • This KILLER pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES
  • An album that’s nearly impossible to find with good sound – this UK copy is guaranteed to kill any pressing you’ve ever heard or ever will hear
  • Considered by many the high point of Peter Gabriel’s tenure with the band
  • 5 stars: “In every way, it’s a considerable, lasting achievement and it’s little wonder that Peter Gabriel had to leave the band after this record: they had gone as far as they could go together, and could never top this extraordinary album.”

Stunning sound on all four sides! This album — and Genesis in general — can be difficult to find good sound for. Most copies struggle — or make you struggle — to get the sense of the material and what the band is trying to accomplish, but when you find a killer pressing such as this one, the complexity and theatricality of the music really WORKS.

Bigger and more present, richer and fuller, with more space and transparency, this copy is doing everything we want the album to do.

Certain tracks — particular the more rocking, guitar-heavy material — are often going to get a little hard in the midrange, but on a good copy the issue is much less apparent and doesn’t get in the way of the music. And the more open, spacious keyboard-based and acoustically driven songs which comprise the bulk of the album can sound really wonderful.

Latest Finding

We came across an original British pressing, Porky/Pecko and everything, that was a major letdown sonically. Yes, folks, some pressing that are supposed to be good just aren’t. You got to play them to which is which, and that’s where we come in.

We never assume anything about a record. We play it and find out for a fact how good it sounds. Any other approach will be too error prone to be of any real use, assuming you set high standards for the sound of your records. (more…)