Listen while you read: Biko (audio snippet)
I was lucky enough to find one of Peter Gabriel‘s lesser known albums at the local record store in Waterloo (“Orange Monkey”). After leaving the then well-known Genesis to pursue his solo career in the mid 1970s, Gabriel went on to create a number of interesting and somewhat experimental albums. For full discography and other info, visit Peter Gabriel’s own official website www.petergabriel.com.
Gabriel’s experimentation went beyond many other contemporaries in that he decided to release his third album (known as “Melt” — none of Peter Gabriel’s first four albums had a title) simultaneously in both English and German, with the subtitle “ein deutsches album (a german album)” (© 1980 Charisma Records Ltd.). This was to be the first of two albums released in this way (the second is known as “Security” 1982).
The German version of Melt is especially interesting if you are familiar with the already excellent album in English. Suddenly things sound new and more intriguing again with the German lyrics. The famous “Games without frontiers” becomes “Spiel ohne Grenzen” and, appropriate to the song, “Du bist nicht wie wir” sounds a little more intimidating in German than “Not one of us”.
With this first German album, Gabriel stuck with the same basic musical tracks and made only modest adjustments here and there, so that the instrumentation sounds mostly identical to the English version. One change that was made is in the song in honour of the anti-apartheid activist Stephen Bantu Biko (who died in police custody in September 1977). Here Gabriel substituted a different African song as the lead-in. You can listen to a cleaned-up snippet of this tune here, which will also give you a taste for the German: “Biko” (audio snippet) There are other audio samples from the album on Peter Gabriel’s own site here.
In his next German album of 1982 (Security), however, he was to rework arrangements of the music more considerably. That one’s harder to find in vinyl and I’m anxious to get a hold of it soon. Don’t you dare buy a copy in the Toronto area!