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Peter Gabriel - Security Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 April 2003

Peter Gabriel

format: Stereo SACD
label: Geffen
release year: 1982
performance: 9.5
sound 8
reviewed by: Jerry Del Colliano

Image 1982’s Security finds the legendary performer and songwriter Peter Gabriel in the later part of his transition from progressive rock icon to pop superstar. Freshly signed to David Geffen’s new record label, Gabriel reportedly turned down significantly more money from other labels to keep full creative control for Security. The gamble was worth it, resulting in an album that works as a whole (think Sgt. Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon, etc.), as well as providing hit songs that were picked up by radio, thus making his new label happy.

This stereo SACD is not a “hybrid” disc, so it will not play on a standard CD player. It is also unfortunately not mixed into surround sound (it is never too late, Universal – I’d buy the record again), despite the sonic material being artsy enough to lend itself to the creative interpretation needed to make the transformation from stereo to 5.1 surround sound. What you do get is a better, higher-resolution stereo version of a creatively important album. For those of us with SACD players, it is a worthy pickup at the record store.

The most familiar song on Security is “Shock the Money,” which features a new wave disco beat and a classic pop hook that foreshadows the kind of mainstream pop record SO was to become. On this remastered SACD, certain details of the mix sound better than on the traditional CD version of the record, including midrange attack. Because there are more digital bits (zeros and ones) on the SACD, you can hear more of the programming that makes the texture of the song as opposed to the CD. The layering of the tracks sounds more rich and detailed than on the CD. However, the overall track has a somewhat compressed feel to it, compared to other tracks on Security and especially compared to more modern recordings on CD and SACD. Remixing and remastering can do wonders in allowing us to hear more of the original art, but it can not reinvent the wheel.

Another more pop-sounding song that foreshadows Gabriel’s move towards pop superstardom is “I Have the Touch.” With a deliberate beat, the track develops into a compellingly robotic chorus that is made addictive by Gabriel’s vocal performance. Without question, the guy can tell a story and draw an audience in with nothing more than his voice.

For me, Security’s musical value comes from the less pop tracks like “San Jacinto,” a track that shows the beginnings of Gabriel’s interest in world music and spicy musical ingredients. After his US album in 1992, Gabriel spent most of his effort recording, promoting and releasing music from the far reaches of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Russia and far beyond on Real World Records. In a world where it is easy to find reasons to “hate” different cultures, these records share musical commonalities that remind us we are all the same on the inside and that we are all driven by music, even if the beats aren’t 4/4 and the chord progression isn’t a bluesy 1/4/5. “San Jacinto” builds for minutes with sonic accoutrements, including percussion and keyboards, resulting in a triumphant, almost power ballad-like resolution. The SACD remix had me back to my high school days of being drawn into this record for prolonged, dedicated listening sessions. There is just so much to hear that I couldn’t help it.

There isn’t a bad note on Security and I considered giving it a 10 for performance, but just couldn’t pull the trigger. I was certainly close. Most of my listening was done in Trifield, which is a mode on my Meridian 861 preamp that allows you to matrix stereo into a really good surround sound mode that focuses the music mostly in the front three speakers. If you have an SACD player, this is a must- have disc that is worthy of a few dark room, late night sessions that might introduce you to new levels of dynamics, transience and more importantly emotionally charged music.

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