Peter Gabriel “Plays Live”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#456 in the Series and #44 in the Live, Saturday Night Series) is Peter Gabriel, Play’s Live

Peter Gabriel, Plays Live… for me, this is a Desert Island Disc. And it’s not even close. Peter Gabriel’s first few solo albums after leaving Genesis are some of my favorite albums.  This was recorded on his 1982 tour.  He was on the road promoting his fourth album, the one that here in the States is called Security.

It was released in a few different packages. The main release in 1983 was a double album.  The CD format of the album was also a double; however there was also a single CD version that was four songs shorter.  There was a reissue in 2002 of the double CD that included a remastering.

Plays Livewas recorded with one of the best bands Peter ever took on the road.   Jerry Marotta is a killer drummer; Larry Fast (of Synergy fame) was his keyboard player. He does a remarkable job reproducing ‘bag pipes’ on “Biko.” A young guitarist called David Rhodes was playing with Peter for the first time. His band Random Hold was the opening act for this tour as well. In fact, Peter would usually make an early appearance to introduce them. Rhodes is still with Peter.  Yes, last but not least as we always have to say; Tony Levin was on bass and of course his famous Chapman Stick.

Peter Gabriel and Tony Levin

“Humdrum” is a standout and also a great place to heat Levin and the Stick. It’s actually what makes the track. “Solsbury Hill” is spectacular here as well.  Then again, it always is.

Plays Live fared much better in the UK than it did here in the States. It peaked at #44 here while reaching as high as #8 there. “I Go Swimming” the only new material found here, was the only single. It didn’t do much, getting only as high as #38 on the Mainstream Rock chart.

How I wish there was a DVD of this tour, or any of those early tours.  The music need to be seen as much as heard.

Oh yeah, one question…. Peter, no room for “Here Comes the Flood?”

Track listing

All songs written by Peter Gabriel.

Disc one

Levin’s Chapman Stick

Side one

  1. “The Rhythm of the Heat” – 6:26
  2. “I Have the Touch” – 5:18
  3. “Not One of Us” – 5:29
  4. “Family Snapshot” – 4:44

Side two

  1. “D.I.Y.” – 4:20
  2. “The Family and the Fishing Net” – 7:22
  3. “Intruder” – 5:03
  4. “I Go Swimming” – 4:44

Disc two

Side three

  1. “San Jacinto” – 8:27
  2. “Solsbury Hill” – 4:42
  3. “No Self Control” – 5:03
  4. “I Don’t Remember” – 4:19

Side four

  1. “Shock The Monkey” – 7:10
  2. “Humdrum” – 4:23
  3. “On the Air” – 5:22
  4. “Biko” – 7:01


  • Peter Gabriel – synthesiser, piano, vox
  • Jerry Marotta – drums, percussion & b. vox
  • Tony Levin – bass, stick & b. vox
  • David Rhodes – guitar & b. vox
  • Larry Fast – synthesiser, piano


Posted by Larry Carta


  1. Stephen Dalrymple (06 Aug 2011, 4:24)

    Hmm interesting . I don’t know much about Gabriel but i did learn to love Here Comes The Flood via this website, hard to believe some of these songs are better………………

    • Larry Carta (06 Aug 2011, 11:21)

      Check out the video for ‘Solsbury Hill.’ Some one did a nice job editing clips from 1978 thru 2003. It’s really cool.

  2. Vic (18 Nov 2012, 6:30)

    I don’t agree, I’m a big Gabriel fan but exept for the expressive way of Gabriel performance this is a very very annoying and frustrating album musically speaking. First of all it sounds so 80′, there is a waaaaaaay too much treble, not enough bass , and there is like a void in the rythm section. The worst of worst is the treatement of drums, Lord how I hate it ! While Jerry Marotta did a splendid job on Peter Gabriel II ( scratch album) , here it is almost like he was replaced by a machine….It has a lot of to do with the typical new wave snare drums , the sound that should be forbidden and banned forever from the musical spectrum. Larry Fast is omnipresent, as he has the task of replacing digitally every real instrument present on the previous albums ( especially the two first) . Tony Levin is ok but not stellar here. David Rhodes? He was never a great guitarist, while here he is almost inaudible…Comparing to the very underrated Sid McGinnis from Scratch album , not to mention Dick Wagner/Steve Hunter Robert Fripp ….Well It is not surprising then that the more new-wave/ethnic oriented songs are better suited for that type of Instrumental treatement – the songs from Peter Gabriel III and IV sounds fresher and better on this album than the songs from I and II , the rockers like D.I.Y and ON THE AIR have both a horrible sound, it’s almost like a parody . The more progressive tunes like SOLSBURRY HILL and HUMDRUM are stripped to the minimum, horrible comparing to original versions or even to the bootleg live versions from late 70′. Highlights here are : SAN JACINTO, RYTHM OF THE HEAT, FAMILY AND THE FISHING NET, NO SELF CONTROL and maybe I HAVE THE TOUCH. The rest of it is very painful, knowing what Gabriel did prevousely, or would do in the future.

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