Peter Gabriel's Most Memorable Studio Collaborations

Peter Gabriel's Most Memorable Studio Collaborations

peter gabriel collaborations
Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, 1987 (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

His former Genesis colleague Phil Collins might have a few more mansions and a bigger bank balance, but few artists come close to the musical acuity of Peter Gabriel. When it comes to 70s innovators whose catalogues are filled with sonic ingenuity and fascinating forays into new spheres, Gabriel is up there with the likes of David Bowie, David Byrne and Brian Eno. We all know his hit songs such as “Solsbury Hill”, “Sledgehammer” and “In Your Eyes”, but as Gabriel celebrates his 70th birthday this week, we instead look at seven memorable collaborations with fellow musicians.

Phil Collins - Take Me Home (1985)

Proving there was rarely malice between Genesis members, Gabriel appeared on his former drummer Collins’ multi-blockbuster 1985 album No Jacket Required. The 1980s’ most famous balding drummer had already popped up on Gabriel’s solo material (see more here), so it was only fair the ex-Genesis frontman eventually repay the favour. Gabriel guests (alongside Sting) on “Take Me Home” as a backing vocalist, adding depth to the album finale. The song was not only released as the final single from No Jacket Required, it also remains the encore staple for Phil’s live shows.

Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush – Don’t Give Up (1986)

A long-standing friendship between Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel was first committed to wax on Gabriel’s self-titled 1980 solo album (AKA “Melt”), where Ms Bush appeared as a backing vocalist on the first single “Games Without Frontiers” and “No Self Control”. After Dolly Parton turned down Peter’s request to duet on “Don’t Give Up” in the mid-80s, Bush was called upon to fill her shoes. It’s a duet which has since been tackled by Willie Nelson & Sinead O’Connor, Feist & Timber Timbre and even Aussies Shannon Noll & Natalie Bassingthwaite, but it’s hard to go past the moving original.

Paula Cole – Hush, Hush, Hush (1996)

Speaking of “Don’t Give Up”, someone else who has strong bonds with the song is US singer Paula Cole. Plucked from relative obscurity to tour with Gabriel and perform the song with him each night on his Secret World Tour of 1993-1994, the global stint led to her signing a major label album deal soon after. The resulting album This Fire featured Paula’s Secret World boss appearing on “Hush, Hush, Hush”, where he performs as a father singing to his dying son. Paula later had success with This Fire’s track “I Don’t Want To Wait”, which became the theme song for 90s TV show Dawson’s Creek.

Peter Gabriel & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Taboo (1994)

Gabriel takes a backseat to the frantic vocal chants of his Pakistani collaborator on this partnership.  Originally appearing on the Trent Reznor-curated Natural Born Killers soundtrack, this collaboration fit neatly into the discombobulating psychedelic bloodbath of Oliver Stone’s 1994 film. Pakistani vocalist Khan had previously worked with Gabriel on another soundtrack, 1988’s The Last Temptation Of Christ. A year later Khan would again find success with a soundtrack inclusion after collaborating with Eddie Vedder on Dead Man Walking single “The Long Road”. 

U2 – A Sort Of Homecoming (Danny Lanois Remix) (2009)

It was kept locked away in U2’s archive for more than 20 years, but when it was finally released on a deluxe edition of 1984’s The Unforgettable Fire this remix quickly betrayed its Peter Gabriel association. As The Edge explained in the liner notes to the box set, Peter became involved while working with U2’s producer Daniel Lanois on his commercial breakthrough album So. “This version was produced using the original album backing track and lead vocal, with additional vocals and other musical elements recorded at Peter’s studio in Bath. Peter Gabriel’s vocals are an unmistakable feature of this reworking of the track.”

Robbie Robertson – Fallen Angel (1987)

The Band’s key songwriter Robbie Robertson’s self-titled solo 1987 album opens with a song which could easily be a lost recording from Gabriel’s So release from the previous year. Produced by So’s producer Daniel Lanois (see above), Gabriel’s influence on the track “Fallen Angel” is strong, from the African syncopation through to the layered vocals. For those interested in hearing more, the former Genesis frontman pops up elsewhere on the album, which also features Bono on a couple of tracks.  

Joni Mitchell – My Secret Place (1988)

Often written off – not least by the artist herself - Joni Mitchell’s 1988 album Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm features a strange array of guest appearances from members of The Cars, The Eagles and The Revolution. In thrall to 80s production values, opening track “My Secret Place” is a lush duet with Peter Gabriel, who also appeared in the music video directed by Anton Corbijn. 

Related Posts