Face Melt

gabriel_web1peter gabriel
Peter Gabriel
SRM 1-3848

$50 large and if you know how to shop wisely a gift card at that amount is LP buyer’s gold. What I mean by this is that while you can blow it on a couple of expensive reissues – its more fun to dive into the used crates and be the vinyl prospector you are.

When I walked over to the vinyl section of HPB in Naperville, IL., Peter Gabriel’s third album (which is sometimes referred to as “Melt“) was staring directly at me. The LSD drooping visage (designed by Storm Thorgerson using a Polaroid instant camera) that literally stopped me from buying the record back in 1980, was a siren call in 2016.

Of course (even then) I knew this was Gabriel’s masterpiece solo record (arguably) but in 1980 the image was enough to keep me away. I envisioned that if I dropped a tab of acid, this is what people would end up looking like. That fright alone is what kept me away from the drug in the first place and the surreal, disfiguring artwork confirmed this weird fear of mine. But it also kept me away from the album’s brilliance back then, which was irrational thinking.

In 1980, this record was one of many genius releases to hit the shelves. It was also a year of musical transition for me, shifting my viewpoint from a top 40 / southern fried rock perspective to a more punky / new wavy sensibility that started with London Calling making its way into my hands because of – with that one – the cover. Talking Heads Remain in Light (another album with great jacket artwork) was a major player for me that year as was the Pretenders first.

But I just couldn’t make the Gabriel leap in 1980. Its only the past handful of years in which I’ve been wanting Melt in my collection in a major way. And there it was at HPB the day I had $50 burning a hole.

Not rare by any stretch – its one of those records that people don’t give up and, like finding any Gabriel on vinyl, when you see it, you grab it.

This particular one at HPB (priced at $7.99, making it even more desirable) was a Mercury label edition, which is important because it was Gabriel’s only release on Mercury (Atlantic had dropped him). After Mercury’s distribution rights to the record lapsed, Gabriel was subsequently signed to Geffen and Geffen reissued the LP in 1983. Is this a significant distinction to record collectors? Maybe. Either way, its cool to have it on the Mercury label. The thing missing is the insert sleeve, which is a considerable loss to the package as a whole. For some collectors this would be a deal breaker.

But I love the music too much to pass it up again after all these years. It’s just a good thing I was able to get over the acid face melt.

© 2016 Chris Barry




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