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Without Frontiers: The Life & Music of Peter Gabriel

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He became famous with Genesis but simply to call Peter Gabriel a pop star would be to sell him very short indeed. A quintessential Englishman, he has since pursued several overlapping careers, bringing to each of them his trademark preoccupation with quality control and restless curiosity. In 1975, after leaving the band that made him famous he diversified into writing movi He became famous with Genesis but simply to call Peter Gabriel a pop star would be to sell him very short indeed. A quintessential Englishman, he has since pursued several overlapping careers, bringing to each of them his trademark preoccupation with quality control and restless curiosity. In 1975, after leaving the band that made him famous he diversified into writing movie soundtracks, various audio-visual ventures, tireless charity work and supporting major peace initiatives. He also became world music’s most illustrious champion, launching the WOMAD festival and recording solo albums that featured musicians from every corner of the globe. These and several other careers make writing Peter Gabriel’s biography an unusually challenging task, but Daryl Easlea has undertaken hours of new interviews with key friends, musicians, aides and confidants to get to the very heart and soul of Peter Gabriel, his music and his complex life. The result is an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man.


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He became famous with Genesis but simply to call Peter Gabriel a pop star would be to sell him very short indeed. A quintessential Englishman, he has since pursued several overlapping careers, bringing to each of them his trademark preoccupation with quality control and restless curiosity. In 1975, after leaving the band that made him famous he diversified into writing movi He became famous with Genesis but simply to call Peter Gabriel a pop star would be to sell him very short indeed. A quintessential Englishman, he has since pursued several overlapping careers, bringing to each of them his trademark preoccupation with quality control and restless curiosity. In 1975, after leaving the band that made him famous he diversified into writing movie soundtracks, various audio-visual ventures, tireless charity work and supporting major peace initiatives. He also became world music’s most illustrious champion, launching the WOMAD festival and recording solo albums that featured musicians from every corner of the globe. These and several other careers make writing Peter Gabriel’s biography an unusually challenging task, but Daryl Easlea has undertaken hours of new interviews with key friends, musicians, aides and confidants to get to the very heart and soul of Peter Gabriel, his music and his complex life. The result is an extraordinary biography of an extraordinary man.

30 review for Without Frontiers: The Life & Music of Peter Gabriel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    Without Frontiers is more a biography of Peter Gabriel's discography. Very little is said about his life. Reading the book is like slogging through mud, with a little respite here and there. By the time you get to the end you feel exhausted. The actual page count is 371 pages. The other 100 or so pages are reference credits. I have chosen not to read Peter Gabriel's real biography. I want to continue the love I have of my music hero. Sometimes it's best never to meet your idols. If you want to know Without Frontiers is more a biography of Peter Gabriel's discography. Very little is said about his life. Reading the book is like slogging through mud, with a little respite here and there. By the time you get to the end you feel exhausted. The actual page count is 371 pages. The other 100 or so pages are reference credits. I have chosen not to read Peter Gabriel's real biography. I want to continue the love I have of my music hero. Sometimes it's best never to meet your idols. If you want to know the personal details of his life and struggles, this is not the book to read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Caeser Pink

    I am a fan of Peter Gabriel's work from the Genesis days. The book is an interesting read. There have been times over the years where he has seemed to disappear from public view. The book explains a lot about what happened. What I didn't know is that Gabriel is not only a musician, but also a tech innovator, businessman, and actively involved in many non-profit organizations. A few which he founded. On that I found interesting was called the 'Elder.' It is a think tank on world problems that inc I am a fan of Peter Gabriel's work from the Genesis days. The book is an interesting read. There have been times over the years where he has seemed to disappear from public view. The book explains a lot about what happened. What I didn't know is that Gabriel is not only a musician, but also a tech innovator, businessman, and actively involved in many non-profit organizations. A few which he founded. On that I found interesting was called the 'Elder.' It is a think tank on world problems that included Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela. It seems that artist biography either focus heavily on personal history and don't discuss music as much, or as this one does, focuses on the music career and skims over personal history. I wish the writers would balance between the two. I've met Gabriel a couple times and found him to be very friendly, and he showed interest in me and my work. After I knew then what a busy man he was with such important work, I might have not been so bold when approaching him.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Esther

    Hmm. Mostly quotes collected from already published interviews and some input from mostly peripheral figures. Nowhere near as interesting as the Spencer Bright biography. Speaking of which, must dig that out now....

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brian Katz

    This was a very detailed review of the professional life of Peter Gabriel. It gave me a really great insight into one of the most talented, interesting and important rock stars that grew out of the 1970’s. I now better understand why he left the band Genesis in 1975 as the band first began to set itself apart from other bands during this time period. The book covered Peter during the Genesis era, the first four Peter Gabriel albums and his career defining albums apex of So and Us. It walked thro This was a very detailed review of the professional life of Peter Gabriel. It gave me a really great insight into one of the most talented, interesting and important rock stars that grew out of the 1970’s. I now better understand why he left the band Genesis in 1975 as the band first began to set itself apart from other bands during this time period. The book covered Peter during the Genesis era, the first four Peter Gabriel albums and his career defining albums apex of So and Us. It walked through the creative process, which was exhausting, the tours and other activities beyond his music. His philanthropic activities are commendable and have gained him tremendous recognition on the international stage. Peter is truly a renaissance man.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Allan Heron

    A fascinating insight into Gabriel, one of the most consistently interesting artists of the last fifty years. It makes sense of the increasingly long gaps between his album releases with his extensive interests in other areas, not least human rights and technology.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eleanore

    In need of a better editor, and fairly dry in tone, but overall still an excellent overview of one of the most unique, influential, undervalued, fascinating careers in music. Considering Peter's been making brilliant music since 1969, the fact that his is really only the third book ever to take a close look at his life and work is incredible, and long overdue. Peter's always been my favorite living musician, and probably always will be, if the things I learned about him while reading this are an In need of a better editor, and fairly dry in tone, but overall still an excellent overview of one of the most unique, influential, undervalued, fascinating careers in music. Considering Peter's been making brilliant music since 1969, the fact that his is really only the third book ever to take a close look at his life and work is incredible, and long overdue. Peter's always been my favorite living musician, and probably always will be, if the things I learned about him while reading this are any indication. A worthy tribute to a true artist.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    The author has written a book jammed full of interesting and technical information about the musical and humanitarian career of Peter Gabriel, but is very sparing with the story of his personal life. He writes descriptively of Peter's personality, and I feel as if I know him much more closely than before I picked up this book. The author has written a book jammed full of interesting and technical information about the musical and humanitarian career of Peter Gabriel, but is very sparing with the story of his personal life. He writes descriptively of Peter's personality, and I feel as if I know him much more closely than before I picked up this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diana Toole

    It is VERY important to me that I write this review, so here I go: My first introduction to Peter Gabriel was in 1986. I was 16 years old, the height of arrogant youth. And you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing "Sledgehammer." And I HATED the song. I would go so far to say that I loathed it. There was a lot of dial spinning happening. This went on for some months. Then, one day while my friend was doing some work on something, and I was sitting in his car waiting for him to finish, he pu It is VERY important to me that I write this review, so here I go: My first introduction to Peter Gabriel was in 1986. I was 16 years old, the height of arrogant youth. And you couldn't turn on the radio without hearing "Sledgehammer." And I HATED the song. I would go so far to say that I loathed it. There was a lot of dial spinning happening. This went on for some months. Then, one day while my friend was doing some work on something, and I was sitting in his car waiting for him to finish, he put in So to listen to while he worked. I was not impressed. That is until the first notes of "Red Rain" played. I was mesmerized. Instantly and completely. I then heard Sledgehammer through new ears, though not yet honed to what would come later, I found I did not hate it as much as I thought I did. The rest of the album played on. When my friend finished his work, and was going to turn off the album, I wouldn't let him. I had to hear it to the end. From the moment of the first trilling gentle sounds of Red Rain and the subsequent listen to the ridiculously popular So, I became the biggest fan of Peter Gabriel. I sought out as much of his old music as I could, though that was a little difficult for me, since they are all merely labelled as Peter Gabriel, I didn't understand that there were three albums to search for. . . I listened to So in its entirety at least once a day for quite a few months. I was hooked. But more than just hooked, I had this sense that Gabriel was more than just music. He was knowledge. He was a window into my own soul. That feeling about him has never changed. I have sought out as much of Gabriel as I can in my Mid-western America life. Going to the UP concert (a gift from my oh-so-understanding-husband) was a life-changing event. Music has always meant a lot to me. It is my battery, my catharsis, my scheduler. I do everything in my life to the sound of music. And Gabriel has been at the absolute pinnacle of that love I have. Others are close, and the names of those that share his pedestal might surprise you, but the heart loves what it loves. But Gabriel has never fallen. Each subsequent release has only added to the adoration I carry for the man. Now we get to the actual book I am reviewing: I was extremely excited to accidentally stumble on this title in my libraries data-base. I immediately clicked the hold button. I waited with baited breath for it to come. But I was also REALLY NERVOUS to begin reading this book. Many times in life, I have admired or enjoyed actor/musician performances only to have their life choices sour my love for the person. (Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson are names that come immediately to mind -- luckily I was NEVER a Tom Cruise fan, or he would be listed, too.) So, would reading an entire book devoted to the pinnacle of my life's blood sour me to the man and his music? I was afraid it might. IT SO DID NOT! Easlea has written such a splendid tour through Peter Gabriel's life in this biography. And it is a life to only be admired. Does he have human faults? Of course, and Easlea does not skate over these (including the marriage ending affair in the early 80s). Surprise, Peter Gabriel is human, well, almost. . . But this one man's vision of greater things is the stand-out of this story of life. Not just in his music, though he always followed his own soul, and never caved to the industry machine, but in his various other interests, too. And those interests have been extremely varied. It is hard to even fathom the time scale of what those interests have encompassed, let alone their impact on cultures and even the planet. A friend of mine once said, "Peter Gabriel KNOWS all. He knows, but he only gives you little pieces of it at a time." I have always felt that was a perfect description of the man. And I found that this biography only strengthened that conviction! Peter Gabriel might be more of a Renaissance man than Shakespeare or even DaVinci! And the love that I found for the man that bizarre moment in my friend's driveway has only grown stronger over the years. And, even after reading the story of his life, I am proud to have been a fawning fan for the better part of my own life! (Yes, I am listening to Gabriel's music right now, and have been since I started typing this. . . ) Thank you Daryl Easlea for illuminating the man in very real, but very amazing ways. I am grateful to you. My next step? To pour over the discography at the end of the book to search out any gems that may be missing from my music collection.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eric Leblanc

    This summer I read Steve Hackett's, Phil Collins's, Mike Rutherford's and Peter Gabriel's bio, in that order. I kept Pete's last as I expected to like it the most, but nope, not at all. Oh, you learn a lot about his creative process and his albums, but practically nothing about his life or his thoughts. All three of Mike Phil and Steve books were much more about their feelings in specific eras or musical process, especially Mike and Phil. After reading all this, I found that the one that give th This summer I read Steve Hackett's, Phil Collins's, Mike Rutherford's and Peter Gabriel's bio, in that order. I kept Pete's last as I expected to like it the most, but nope, not at all. Oh, you learn a lot about his creative process and his albums, but practically nothing about his life or his thoughts. All three of Mike Phil and Steve books were much more about their feelings in specific eras or musical process, especially Mike and Phil. After reading all this, I found that the one that give the most insights about Genesis early days is Mike's.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael McManus

    I bought this book many years ago and only began to read it last week. Why did I take so long to read it? Peter Gabriel has always been my favourite singer and frontman and I suppose as it is with all your favourite artists, be they singers or actors, you don't really want to know what they are really like. But in this book by Daryl Easlea he shows the reader and fan, just what a wonderful person Gabriel is. A very caring and determined human being and an absolute genius when it comes to his son I bought this book many years ago and only began to read it last week. Why did I take so long to read it? Peter Gabriel has always been my favourite singer and frontman and I suppose as it is with all your favourite artists, be they singers or actors, you don't really want to know what they are really like. But in this book by Daryl Easlea he shows the reader and fan, just what a wonderful person Gabriel is. A very caring and determined human being and an absolute genius when it comes to his song writing and arrangements. A fantastic read and one that I couldn't put down. Excellent!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vanyo666

    Interesting for fans of Genesis and Gabriel but marginally so. It does get into the stories behind the making of the albums but does not delve enough into his personal life. And ultimately it is too favorable to the character, painting a worshipful portrait. It's not that I wanted more "dirt", I think that is not worthwhile either, but it does feel a little one-dimensional and one-sided. At least it offers a convincing explanation of why we are still waiting for the follow up to "Up". Interesting for fans of Genesis and Gabriel but marginally so. It does get into the stories behind the making of the albums but does not delve enough into his personal life. And ultimately it is too favorable to the character, painting a worshipful portrait. It's not that I wanted more "dirt", I think that is not worthwhile either, but it does feel a little one-dimensional and one-sided. At least it offers a convincing explanation of why we are still waiting for the follow up to "Up".

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris Lira

    An excellent bio about one of the pioneers of progressive rock, who had a great career with Genesis(in their heyday, IMHO), and then as a solo artist. The book is well-written and provides a nice of review of the music(band and solo) as well as Gabriel's life. I thought the part about him leaving Genesis was well-done and fair. Small nitpick- the author's liberal political bias shows through a few days, distracting and unnecessary. An excellent bio about one of the pioneers of progressive rock, who had a great career with Genesis(in their heyday, IMHO), and then as a solo artist. The book is well-written and provides a nice of review of the music(band and solo) as well as Gabriel's life. I thought the part about him leaving Genesis was well-done and fair. Small nitpick- the author's liberal political bias shows through a few days, distracting and unnecessary.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Corey

    That was so interesting! I learned so much about Peter Gabriel's work. What an interesting guy. At the same time I was reading this, I was watching Secret World and Growing Up, so the theatricality that the author described was on full display! That was so interesting! I learned so much about Peter Gabriel's work. What an interesting guy. At the same time I was reading this, I was watching Secret World and Growing Up, so the theatricality that the author described was on full display!

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Kosobucki

    Highly informed view of Gabriel's life. Lots of quotations from numerous articles and personal interviews. Well researched. Highly informed view of Gabriel's life. Lots of quotations from numerous articles and personal interviews. Well researched.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alvaro Calero

    A must for any Peter Gabriel fan.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Parol

    An average book about great ARTIST.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gerald Lucas

    A good introduction to Gabriel's career, but light on the man. Easlea probably interviewed 30 important people from PG's life and supplies generous quotations from them, yet this bio just seems a bit cursory. For such a great artists, I expected a more artful biography. Still it is worth a read. A good introduction to Gabriel's career, but light on the man. Easlea probably interviewed 30 important people from PG's life and supplies generous quotations from them, yet this bio just seems a bit cursory. For such a great artists, I expected a more artful biography. Still it is worth a read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cale

    Peter Gabriel is my favorite musician, but I only had a cursory knowledge of his life an activities outside of music, so when I saw this, I picked it up. After reading the Prologue and Introduction, I was groaning - was I really in for 300+ pages of this kind of writing? Thankfully, no. After the first sections, the book picks up in quality, doing a wonderful job of not only detailing the major events in Gabriel's life (revolving around his albums, but also including his personal life when appro Peter Gabriel is my favorite musician, but I only had a cursory knowledge of his life an activities outside of music, so when I saw this, I picked it up. After reading the Prologue and Introduction, I was groaning - was I really in for 300+ pages of this kind of writing? Thankfully, no. After the first sections, the book picks up in quality, doing a wonderful job of not only detailing the major events in Gabriel's life (revolving around his albums, but also including his personal life when appropriate), but also detailing in depth the scene at those times; It's a great way to see why the albums hit (or missed) like they did, and the frames of reference are very helpful. There's some critical analysis of the songs, but it's brief; just enough to make you think about them without overwhelming them with analysis. Lots of quotes, and lots of details that aren't exactly biographical, but are helpful (like tracking the major points of Genesis' lifespan, even after Gabriel left the group). It left me with a much better understanding of how all the music fits together, and gives a strong view of Gabriel's demeanor and personality from the eyes of those around him. Aside from a tendency to re-use quotes as section headers and in the body (and occasionally multiple times in the body), this is a well-written, well-approached biography that paints a clear and not-too-biased picture of Peter Gabriel as both an artist and a person.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alex Storer

    Without Frontiers... is a long overdue up-to-date biography on one of our generation's most innovative and creative artists. Easlea presents a very readable and accurate book; his own admiration of Peter Gabriel's work clearly shines through, but with perspective and objective. Presented as a chronological journey through Gabriel's life and career, this book is nicely organised by the various phases and albums of his career - it is a book you can either read from cover to cover, or dip selective Without Frontiers... is a long overdue up-to-date biography on one of our generation's most innovative and creative artists. Easlea presents a very readable and accurate book; his own admiration of Peter Gabriel's work clearly shines through, but with perspective and objective. Presented as a chronological journey through Gabriel's life and career, this book is nicely organised by the various phases and albums of his career - it is a book you can either read from cover to cover, or dip selectively in and out of, if you're just wanting to read about a certain album or tour. Easlea, having previously interviewed Gabriel as a music journalist, presents the artist in an honest and humble light, also offering a glimpse into his life behind the scenes, particularly over the last couple of decades. While I might still prefer Spencer Bright's older biography on Peter Gabriel, Without Frontiers certainly does its best to take you closer to this pioneering artist, giving an inspiring insight to the man and the mind behind the music.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    Walking through the library's new book section one day, I happened upon this tome and picked it up. I have always enjoyed Genesis and Peter Gabriel and thought this would be something different from my usual reading material. Primarily this is a catalog of Gabriel's musical output. What added to the fun was being able to use YouTube to call up the songs as they were described. Steeping myself in the music, the words and the videos was a delight for my senses and went beyond the usual just readin Walking through the library's new book section one day, I happened upon this tome and picked it up. I have always enjoyed Genesis and Peter Gabriel and thought this would be something different from my usual reading material. Primarily this is a catalog of Gabriel's musical output. What added to the fun was being able to use YouTube to call up the songs as they were described. Steeping myself in the music, the words and the videos was a delight for my senses and went beyond the usual just reading a story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Lyon

    I don't typically enjoy biographies where the subject (if alive) is not involved, but in this case I found that his not being involved was perhaps a good thing. The book was very well researched and well-written, giving enough detail to make it interesting without going overboard. The only issue I had was the author's editorial commentary, inasmuch as virtually every album was Gabriel's "best" or "most challenging". Not a big deal, but it was noticeable and became almost humorous by the end. Oth I don't typically enjoy biographies where the subject (if alive) is not involved, but in this case I found that his not being involved was perhaps a good thing. The book was very well researched and well-written, giving enough detail to make it interesting without going overboard. The only issue I had was the author's editorial commentary, inasmuch as virtually every album was Gabriel's "best" or "most challenging". Not a big deal, but it was noticeable and became almost humorous by the end. Otherwise, an excellent read!

  22. 5 out of 5

    j_ay

    A mess of a book, clearly just culled from previously published interviews and far, far, far too many errors (spelling, grammar, etc), redundancies and repetitions. Not to mention continually usage of "ironically" misused in baffling, stupefying ways. What is it Editors do these days? A mess of a book, clearly just culled from previously published interviews and far, far, far too many errors (spelling, grammar, etc), redundancies and repetitions. Not to mention continually usage of "ironically" misused in baffling, stupefying ways. What is it Editors do these days?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rollie T Anderson

    Surface only Written from the pov of an outsider, I wanted more insight to how PG wrote his songs, not a fan's review of them. Surface only Written from the pov of an outsider, I wanted more insight to how PG wrote his songs, not a fan's review of them.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jaime Page

    The early years were fascinating, but it did slow for me towards the latter period. I still enjoyed most of it but a few sections rather skimmed over.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

    In some ways fascinating but not terribly well structured with endless quotes from other sources and little original insight. Did learn a lot about Peter Gabriel though probably 2.5 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elisesshelf

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tony Kerkhove

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  29. 4 out of 5

    Roy

  30. 5 out of 5

    mr c a horrocks

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