The D I Y Guide to Peter Gabriel rarities by Ted Sayers. Memorabilia: TWR Archive.
Due to Peter’s slow rise to solo stardom since leaving Genesis, his early single releases are now mostly deleted and are hence quite collectable. The following article is NOT an attempt at a complete list of Peter’s rarities but all official UK rarities are here as well as some of the better known foreign ones.
Peter was partly responsible for a couple of singles released by Charlie Drake and Tom Robinson’s band before he released anything himself solo-wise. TRB’s Bully For You (co-written with Robinson) has since been performed by Peter live in 1980, but never officially recorded. The partnership with Robinson continued for quite a while after Robinson himself turned solo.
It was 1977 before Peter actually recorded any of his own material. Solsbury Hill was his first solo single. Although the single itself is exactly the same as album version (both A and B side), the single was released in a limited edition picture sleeve (a black and white photo of Peter) which is consequently quite valuable.
The second single was also the same as the album but was released in two forms. Neither had a picture sleeve but one particularly collectable version was graced with a picture of Peter naked on the label. The centre hole being strategically placed to avoid any embarrassment. Nevertheless, the single was quickly withdrawn and is therefore VERY difficult to get hold of (!?). Both the first two singles were released worldwide with entirely different covers for each territory, mostly colour photographs.
Two versions of DIY were released; the first one carried another black and white cover but both the A and B sides were lifted straight from the album, so again the single is collectable merely for the cover. The song was remixed and re-released without a picture sleeve but the B side contained one non-album track, the rather odd Me & My Teddy Bear.
At Peter’s London gigs (Christmas 1978) he gave away a live flexi disc of Solsbury Hill recorded at New York’s Bottom Line Club three months previously. This is doubly limited now because some copies will, no doubt, have been destroyed and only a handful of gigs were played.
Games Without Frontiers is again collectable entirely for its limited edition sleeve. Interestingly, Top Of The Pops banned the video for the single due to the use of children’s dolls (!). Games… was released in the USA with a slightly different cover and a different album track on the B side: Lead A Normal Life.
The cover to No Self Control was merely a variation on the previous theme (again Normal Life appeared on the B side). In Germany, Games… was released but sing in German - Spiele Ohne Grenzen with a German language version of Here Comes The Flood - Jetzt Kommt Die Flut. This latter track was also released as one of the tracks on the B side of a remixed version of Biko along with a piece of traditional African music called Shosholsa. Biko was also Peter’s first 12” single and the 7” and 12” were both the same musically although the covers are slightly different.
At the same time Peter’s third album was recorded and released sung entirely in German and three of the tracks have been remixed. Originally the idea was to do a few different language versions but only the German one ever got off the ground. Biko was released worldwide with many varying covers and in Canada with I Don’t Remember as an additional track.
Around this time an album/magazine was released called The Bristol Recorder. The idea was mainly to showcase various unknown acts but Peter donated live versions of Not One Of Us, Humdrum and Ain’t That Peculiar to the project.
Shock The Monkey was released in three versions: 7”, 12” and picture disc. The picture disc is quite difficult to find and is still to this day Peter’s only picture disc release. The only track on the B side in all cases was the non-album instrumental: Soft Dog. Again, the single was released in Germany sung in German as Schock Den Affen and again Peter released a German language version of the album. The second and final single from the album was I Have The Touch, released as a 7” only with a picture sleeve taken from the Shock The Monkey promotional video as its cover. The B side was the WOMAD album track: Across The River. The single was not a hit and consequently it is quite hard to find today.
In 1983 Peter released his first live album and to go with it, alive version of I Don’t Remember. The 12” containing Kiss Of Life (live) and Solsbury Hill which was the 7” B side. Kiss Of Life does not appear on the live album. Both versions are either expensive or difficult to obtain today, especially the limited edition 12” which had a free white label single with Games Without Frontiers and a German version of family Snapshot on it.
A white label sampler was also released of three tracks from Plays Live - I Go Swimming, Shock The Monkey, and Solsbury Hill. Side two previewed Tony Banks’ second solo album: The Fugitive.
The following year, Peter’s only release was a single used in the Against All Odds film soundtrack: Walk Through The Fire was originally demoed for PG 3 but never made it on to that album. The single was a 7” and 12” and the B side was in both cases, not by Peter but by Larry Carlton. The 12” however, did also contain a remix of I Have The Touch. Peter’s other release that year was Out, Out which was again, part of a film soundtrack, this time to the film Gremlins. The song was not released as a single in the UK but some sources claim that a US single is available (this is true, I have seen one - AH). In the UK the soundtrack was only a mini album and retailed at a budget price but has long since been deleted.
All the aforementioned material will only be available through second hand record shops and record fairs. There are very few rarities from Peter’s So album as many of the singles are still available commercially in record stores. These singles were: Sledgehammer, the B side of which contains the non album track Don’t Break This Rhythm. There were also two 12” versions - an extended remix and a dance mix. Both of these also contain the remix of I Have The Touch from the Walk Through The Fire single but the dance mix also had the 1980 single version of Biko. There was also a very rare cassette single edition.
Don’t Give Up had as its B side the remix of In Your Eyes and the 12” also contained the non-album track Excellent Birds with Laurie Anderson. Big Time had the non-album Curtains as its B side. The 12” also had a remix of the A side. There was also a compact disc and cassette version both of which had the following additional tracks: No Self Control and Across The River.
Red Rain was the only single from the album that wasn’t a hit. The B side was called Ga Ga, an instrumental version of I Go Swimming. The 12” also had Walk Through The Fire on it.
There was also a VERY limited edition version of Don’t Give Up which came with a poster sleeve featuring a still from the video with Peter and Kate Bush. There was also an ordinary 7” and 12” version both featuring the same artwork sleeve. The 12” had In Your Eyes (Special Mix) and Excellent Birds as its B side.
Peter’s latest UK single was a new live version of Biko recorded during the So tour at the Spectrum in Philadelphia on 27th July 1987. The only B side in both the 7” and 12” formats was the Sun City album track No More Apartheid although the CD version also contained the remix of I Have The Touch.
Most of the So singles were released worldwide but many of the B sides were interchanged.
Virgin Records have also released two of Peter’s old singles on 3” compact disc. They are Solsbury Hill with a colour sleeve and additional “Plays Live” version of the A side. And Sledgehammer which is the same as the 12” vinyl release. It should be noted that the Solsbury Hill CD is of very poor quality, the version of Moribund The Burgermeister sounds as if it has been recorded direct from the vinyl complete with crackles!
It is difficult to predict asking prices, condition must be taken into account and certain items always prove harder to find than others. Record fairs are usually the best source, but they tend to be slightly more expensive but bargains can be found. Happy hunting!