Ed Driscoll

Let's Watch Peter Gabriel Invent The Music Of The 1980s

In 1980, Peter Gabriel somehow managed to combine just about all of the elements that would drive rock and pop music in the MTV era–and this was a couple of years before MTV was even born, of course. African polyrhythms, drum machines, gated drums, the Fairlight CMI synthesizer, sampling–it was all there on Gabriel’s third and fourth album.

It was around that time that England’s South Bank Show did an episode which documented Gabriel’s lengthy efforts to map out and record that fourth album, Security. Since we occasionally discuss home recording here, these YouTube clips are pretty cool stuff, especially when you realize how far technology has advanced since then: the Fairlight that Gabriel demonstrates here (particularly in the second clip) cost something like $30,000 back then; today the PC by your desk has much more computing power, and with the right software and soundcard, can do anything it could. (And can generate all of its preset sounds.)