1992: Geffen GEFD 24473
This album sits somewhat uneasily on my librarys metaphorical shelves. I had mixed reactions to it when it first came out, generally positive (and *loving* the cover art) but finding some tracks and even some parts of other tracks landed oddly within me or perhaps didnt even land at all. I came around to most of the tracks eventually, on an individual basis, but some still still dont connect with me.
Come Talk to Me surprises me still, but not in an impressed way, because it may be the most straightforward and unambiguous thing Id heard from Peter Gabriel when it came out: it does appear to be What You Hear Is What You Get territory in its lyricsjust relationship/communication issues given voiceand nothing special as to the musical side of things except for world-music elements being included because its Peter Gabriel, founder of Real World (on which this was released in the UK).
Rather than address every track individually, for now, Ill just note those that grab me most. Digging in the Dirt is the big one, justly chosen as the debut single, because its brooding/explosive introspection is an excellent cocktail of both depth and flash, the lyrics sustaining that as a contiguous thread right to the end with the repeated Digging in the dirt / to find the places we got hurt. Steam and Kiss That Frog initially struck me as both being attempts to match Gabriels archly hilarious Big Time on his previous album, So, that didnt quite even reach that beautys outskirts; years later, Steam still leaves me unimpressed (its video perhaps contributing to that situation), but Kiss That Frog both does delight me but unfortunately also now has secondhand personal baggage attached that makes me avoid it (plus theres the issue of all the sexual innuendo of the lyrics; I dont mind sexual innuendo, but having it hang over lyrics kinda soils them a little).
It took me a little while to get into Only Us, but wow am I glad I got there; its the purest peace we get in this territory, and it seems to me that its the calm, accepting voicing of whats violently addressed in Digging in the Dirt and finally cherishingly embraced in Secret World. I love its gently plodding path to and through the relationship issues its trying to own up to and better appreciate. It could easily have been the albums closing track, but I appreciate the superb result of flipping things around to let this close the first half (on the vinyl, this was a two-disc release of four sides) and have Secret World be the shimmering culmination.
And oh what a culmination that track is. The lyric that arrests me here is the wheel keeps turning, spinning round and round / and the houses crumble, but the stairways stand, because the latter halfs use as a metaphor as to relationship issues is both profound and provocative, coming how and when it does in not just this song but at the end of this album. (My second-favorite lyric on this track is, emphatically, the very last line of the album: Shlisten.)
I also gained an appreciation for Secret World after hearing it on the tour album Secret World, where it gets a more glorious extension of the whole experience.
Comments © 2018 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.