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Peter Gabriel - The Making of UP

“We are intending to release in September – you see, I never specify the year” (Peter Gabriel 2002)

When US came out and delighted most fans in September 1992 nobody would have believed that a full decade would have to pass before Peter Gabriel was to release his next real solo album. When asked in Musikexpress [a German music magazine; translator’s note) whether his next album would be released only in 2000, Peter laughed, said no and promised to better himself as far as his work speed was concerned. The rest is history.

Up coverTen years after US we finally got our hands on UP (or are about to). Ten years in which whole boybands’ careers began and ended. Ten years in which his former band Genesis entered stormy waters. Finally, ten years in which technology changed the world of music to a degree that many of the old hands in the business have retired. Peter Gabriel however were not who he is but that he noticed that. He has used every opportunity in these ten years to try new things both in music and technology. It was almost a torture for fans – only once every year he would present a new song. He recorded more than 130 songs for UP, some 25 are almost finished, 13 were scheduled for UP and ten finally made it. Ten years are a long time. And many things happened…

Chapter One: “Old men take a little bit longer to get UP” – ten years production time


No known activities transpire that would indicate work on a new album at the end of the Secret World Tour in Woodstock.


UP kicks off in spring. Peter and sound engineer Richard Chappell spend eight weeks in the French Alps. They record at night. Peter snowboards during the day.
Another Real World Recording Week takes place in July. Nothing is known about its outcome or influence on UP material. In October, Peter takes Richard and his later wife Meabh Flynn to Senegal for another session. Some 70 ideas are found and recorded. All of them are given a working title and a sketch by Peter.
Richard Chappell later says that every idea consisted of a groove, some kind of chord structure and a melody. Singer Yacine Ould works with Peter in a song about AIDS.


Another session in the French Alps takes place in March. David Rhodes is present, too. It later transpires that snowboarding was the main activity. Peter’s first live performance since the end of the Secret World Tour takes place on April 28 at the VH-1 Honors in Los Angeles. Peter has a big surprise in store for the audience. The show becomes the live debut for Signal To Noise, a song that Peter states will definitely be on the new album. He performs this powerful song together wird Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The world begins to expect a new album.
Ayob Ogada comes to Bath to record with Peter. When asked about a release date that same month, Peter states: “I should think, at the end of the year or early next year.” Virgin announces a release date of March 1997. October sees the first big session with David Rhodes, Tony Lavin and Manu Katché in the large Real World Recording Hall. The studio had been equipped with a brand new “Neve” recording console, which was why the production team was augmented by Ben Findlay. Chappell explains that a whole song was recorded almost every day. They also played pingpong. Peter announces that his new album will sound more spacious and, most of all, more rhythmic.


The album is not released in March. Rumours about that date quickly died in January when Virgin withdrew the release date. Later, a date of September 1997 will be mentioned.
The production team has spend several months on building a sound collage from the ideas. It is to become the new album. Peter starts playing grooves and samples on his keyboard which greatly facilitates work on new ideas for him. The biggest surprise is news that Peter played many songs on the guitar. Chappell explains that the sound will be unlike anything before. The focus will be on the melodies, he continues: “People will be very surprised."

So far, there is no real producer, but, according to Chappell, no problems have arisen yet. Peter announces that playing pingpong relaxes the working atmosphere. He also insinuates that one of the letters used in the titles of his two most recent albums – U, S or O – will be recycled for the new album.
Tony Levin is really talkative in July: “I flew to Real World to record a couple of songs. Unlike the previous album there were not five or ten songs I had to work on, but more than twenty. There are some terrific ideas. Most songs are finished. With everyone else I would expect the release to be imminent. With Peter, I don’t expect anything. Sometimes he changes everything and you’d have to start over from scratch. He can spend years with his work.”
Peter travels to Bolivia and Brazil with his production team in summer. They journey up the Amazon on a boat with a built-in recording studio.
Meanwhile, Real World Studios is fitted with a new recording console that was custom-made to Peter’s requirements by Sony. The Writing Room is redecorated and enlarged. It, too, is fitted with recording equipment.
Later that summer Peter has big news: He now has enough material for two records. One will be called UP, the other Another Tongue. It will feature the same material sung by other vocalists and some duets with Peter, too.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan dies. Peter announces that he will use the recordings from the VH-1 honors for the studio version of Signal To Noise.
The album is not released in September. Virgin changed the release date to spring 1998.


In March, Peter is rumoured to have finished half the lyrics. The City Of Angels soundtrack is released on March 31. It features a new song of Peter’s that is more than eight minutes long. Word has it that I Grieve will be released in a very different version on UP, too.
UP is not released in spring. Virgin moves the release to September 1998.
Tony Berg of Geffen Records visits Real World in June. He is ecstatic about the new material. Peter mentions that the album will be completed within the next four to eight months. Virgin changes the release date for UP to March 1999.
News spreads in summer that Peter is working with Mark Fisher on a musical piece for the Millennium Dome which will be performed there some six times a day. Rumour has it that UP is finished, but that Peter is not happy with it and intends to have additional recording sessions. Richard Evans works on the Millennium Dome project while Chappell continues work on UP.
RealWorld officially announces the album title. UP is to be released some time in 1999. Three projects called Up The Nile, Up The Amazon and Up The Ganges are mentioned, though nothing else is known about them.
Peter decides to stick to the title despite R.E.M. calling their new album UP, too: “I have been living in the UP-world for four years now, and I have no wish to leave it.” Chappell is drawn into the Millennium Dome project. In December Peter admits that it always takes him ages to finish an album. Plus: “The album will sound more African than anything I’ve done before.”
Peter performs Signal To Noise for a second time at an Amnesty concert in Paris on December 12, this time with Youssou N’Dour as a guest vocalist. Fans all over the world are shocked by the images of a bloated, sickly-looking Peter.


The number of songs that are being worked on reaches 94. There still is a sketch for every song. The tracks are divided into five groups that may be the final album version. Steve Gadd and Tony Levin come to RealWorld in April to record overdubs for UP songs and the Millennium Dome project.
In May, RealWorld announces that the album will be completed later that summer to be released in spring 2000. More than a hundred songs have been record, sixteen of which are likely to be chosen.
Youssou N’Dour mentions that he will definitely be on Peter’s new album. A new edition of Spencer Bright’s biography of Peter mentions that there will be a song about Peter’s dad called Father, Son, as well as a song about talk shows. Daniel Lanois recommends that Peter record in the desert in order to avoid being disturbed too often.
It’s RealWorld’s tenth anniversary in July. Peter gives the most precise date of release ever: “It will be released when it’s finished.” Virgin strikes UP from their release schedule.
The Millennium Show premières on New Year’s Eve.


Peter takes a holiday in January. The soundtrack for the Millennium Show is completed. Rumour has it that UP is finished except for most of the lyrics. Tony Levin confirms that there will be no Peter Gabriel tour in 2000.
In May, the soundtrack for the Millennium show is released. It is called OVO and features Father, Son, a song that was originally planned for UP. Peter explains that the song could well end up on UP in a different shape. On the promotion tour for OVO Peter mentions that he has enough material for two records. A song called Noodle is to be on UP. In Germany, he also mentions a song called Soft City which has a Brazilian rhythm. He also confirms his intention to release UP in 2000.
In June, Peter announces that there are some 130 songs. After the release of one or two records he may put up the remaining tracks for download on the internet. A month later, Peter already mentions several successors for UP. Brian Transeau, who now also works with Peter, mentions 150 songs.
In October Peter mentions that he has a number of (very) different versions for many tracks. He explains that it was difficult to pick one for the album.
RealWorld announces in December that more lyrics need to be written. Orchestral parts are to be recorded soon.
Brian Transeau’s hard disc with all his work is stolen on New Year’s Eve. Rumours spread that Peter’s complete album has gone because Transeau was to do the final production. It turns out after considerable confusion that there was just one song on the hard disc, and that it was not for UP but for one of Transeau’s own projects.
UP is to be released “probably at some point in 2001".


Peter announces that, due to an abundance of material, I Grieve will definitely not be on the album. He considers making an album with songs that did not fit on any of his albums but are good in their own right.
Tchad Blake begins with the final production (mixing) in February.
A whole new song surfaces in March. Nocturnals was used in the movie Les Morsures De L’Aube. Peter says that this song will be on UP in a radically different version.
Real World announces in July that Peter will write a full score for the film Rabbit-Proof Fence with Richard Evans and David Rhodes. Later Peter mentions 2002 as a release date for UP. He wants to finish the soundtrack first.
In July, Peter plays a one hour set as part of the WOMaD festival in Seattle, USA. It is a semi-acoustic set consisting of Here Comes The Flood, Red Rain, Digging In The Dirt, Family Snapshot, Come Talk To Me, Mercy Street, Solsbury Hill, Signal To Noise, In Your Eyes, Father Son.
At this point, Father, Son is part of UP so that Peter performed two tracks from the upcoming album.
In September Peter is father again, whereas his new album…
Virgin announces the summer of 2002 as a release date for UP in October.
RealWorld announces in December that the songs are finished except for some lyrics. It also turns out that the Blind Boys Of Alabama are so busy that Peter had to e-mail them a track on which they were to sing the backing vocals.


Since 1995, 120 ideas have been discussed. Some of them were released on OVO, others were used for Rabbit-Proof Fence.
In March, Peter announces that he wants to do some gigs later that year, first going to America and hitting Europe in spring 2003. Around the same time, Tony Levin says one could be sure of UP being released soon. He explained that Peter tould him he would not tour without a new album.
The soundtrack Long Walk Home – Music From The Rabbit-Proof Fence is first released in Australia. Two tracks offer a glimpse of the UP song Sky Blue.
On April 26, any doubts that UP will be released in 2002 disappear. On his website, Peter opens the Moon Club. Every full moon he will release some previews from his new album as QuickTime videos. The series begins with Wet One / Growing Up, Don’t Leave / Man Juan and Sky Blue.
Though one always has to expect the unexpected with Peter, his announcement to perhaps change the album title from UP to IO was a surprise. He had the fans decide via a poll on his web site. In the end, more than 30,000 internet users participated and chose UP.
In May there is a [BBC] radio documentary about Peter Gabriel, at the end of which the final (one thinks) version of Signal To Noise can be heard. Peter states that 13 songs have been completed for UP. He summarizes the previous years: “We plan to release in September – you see I never specified the year.”
The May edition of the Full Moon Club showcases Darkness / The House In The Woods and More Than This.
Robert Lepage confirms in June that he is busy planning the UP tour with Peter. The Barry Williams Show and The  Drop are presented in the Full Moon Club. The Barry Williams Show is announced as the first single.
The first set of promo-CDs is shipped by mid-July. The track list: Darkness, Growing Up, Sky Blue, Don't Leave, I Grieve, Burn You Up Burn You Down, The Drop, The Barry Williams Show, My Head Sounds Like That, More Than This, Signal To Noise. The accompanying letter mentions that Don’t Leave will be called No Way Out on the album.
The inclusion of I Grieve, which was not meant to be used before, is as surprising as the exclusion of Nocturnals. Signal To Noise seems to have undergone a last-minute removal of the electric guitars.
The fourth Moon Club item features I Grieve and My Head Sounds Like That.
Wild rumours about a change of the track list spread at the end of July. Apparently Burn You Up, Burn You Down was struck and The Drop will be the closing track. There seem to be two different promo CDs. RealWorld and Virgin confirm the ten-track version early in August. The Barry Williams Show single is to be released on September 09, two weeks before UP.
First dates for the US tour surface. Peter will perform in Munich, Germany, on August 31. It is going to be a sixty minute gig for the 20th anniversary of Virgin Germany. More special events are to follow in September in France and Italy. The UP world tour will kick of in November in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

The journey to UP has almost reached its end. The waiting was hard, the in-between projects were fascinating and in the end it was worthwhile waiting for it.
Every year new songs surfaced, and lots of working titles from the UP sessions became known. These are some titles that were mentioned on the internet in recent years: Signal To Noise, Funk Bone, Clap Trap, Sagrada, Macca, The Way Home, Tremolo, Wet Up, I Grieve, Egg Pain, Sky Blue, Velvet, Courage, Escape, Man Juan, ...Will They Survive?, Soft City, Father, Son (from the OVO album), Nocturnals (from the film Les Morsures De L'Aube).
Some of these tracks have been released in the meantime. Let us now turn to the most important songs by Peter Gabriel from the period between US and UP:

Chapter Two: "Speed is not my strength, diversions are." - Proof of life

Taste Of Lime

A little bit of a song that turned up on the internet at the end of the 90’s. The song developed during the Real World Recording Week 1991. Bits from it could even be seen on German public tv station ZDF. Incidentally, Burn You Up Burn You Down is from the same Recording Week.


Lovetown was a song from the US sessions. It was used in the movie Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks and was consequently released as a single in 1993. Peter played this song often on his Secret World tour. It was the first post-US song Peter gave to his fans. 


The Glory Of Gershwin is a sampler to honor George Gershwin. Along with covers by Sting and Kate Bush Peter also had a song on the sampler. Summertime is not only a classic, Peter manages to add new life to the song with his more mature voice. Fans try to obtain two promo versions of the CD. While one has only five tracks and comes in a cardsleeve, the other one has the full CD in the shape of a picture book. Both include Summertime.

Party Man

Virtuosity is the film, Party Man the song. Many of us may have wondered what was the song that was played for the credits. Party Man is much more loose, intense and airy then US. It soon became very popular with the fans.


Not only George Gershwin was honored. Leonard Cohen, too, became subject of a tribute album in 1995. Again, many big names were listed: Bono, Sting, Billy Joel and many others. Peter, too, participated and recording Suzanne, another slow song with intense singing. Plus the news that Peter had begun work on a new album.

Signal To Noise

VH-1 Honors Witness. With people like Michael Stipe, Peter Gabriel founded a human rights association. The idea: Distribute cameras all over the world so that violations of human rights can be recorded and published on the internet. To further this cause, a concert was played in 1996 on which Peter Gabriel presented the first song to be on his new album. Signal To Noise is a blazing song calling for more freedom and justice. Most impressive was the contribution by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who unfortunately died a year later. The version on UP is very different so that the VH-1 recording has grown in collector’s value.

Get Up Stand Up

Peter recorded this Bob Marley classic as part of his work for Amnesty International. It was never released on a regular album, but it was played live with Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen and Youssou N’Dour on an Amnesty concert in 1998. A couple of years ago, the much-coveted studio version was available on the internet.

While The Earth Sleeps

Everybody knows Deep Forest. Sweet Lullaby has been played almost ad nauseam during football programmes on TV. In 1996, Peter recorded a song with them. While The Earth Sleeps is not a typical Gabriel, but a danceable up-tempo number with lots of electronic bits and bobs. Peter’s lyrics were mostly unintelligible. The song triggered wild rumours about the sound of his new album. The passage "Dali znaes mila majko" caused much confusion. It had been assumed that it came from a Bulgarian folk song. One Risto Pulevski, however, recognized the song and asserted that it was neither Bulgarian nor a folk song, but that he had written it in 1960. No legal action followed so one would assume an out-of-court settling.

In The Sun

One of RealWorld’s greatest discoveries is certainly Joseph Arthur. Peter discovered him in person when Arthur sang the lines “Your history acts as your gravity acts as your history” as a busker in New York. Peter was so impressed that he approached and later signed him. The quote, by the way, comes from the song History which appeared on the album Come To Where I’m From (2000). This release was praised enthusiastically by the critics. The same CD also features In The Sun, a song Peter had recorded two years before for the Tribute To Diana sampler. It resembles Lovetown, but the instrumentation is harder. In The Sun was not written by Peter, but by Joseph Arthur.

Hush Hush Hush

This is a duet with Paula Cole who was Peter’s backing vocal on the Secret World Tour. Peter sings a verse on it. The song was the B-side for the Where Have All The Cowboys Gone. It can also be found on Paula Cole’s album This Fire.

That’ll Do

Who does not know the film Babe? Its sequel, Pig In The City, provided Gabriel with the honor of presenting That’ll Do at the Oscar awards ceremony. He did not win an Oscar, though. Though he did not write it, he did a good job with this song that was recorded especially for the film.

I Grieve

We had heard it in the Moon Club. I Grieve had left the mixing desk too early. The City Of Angels soundtrack offered an eight minute version of the song, and Peter explained that it would be used for the new album. A fine song with an interesting change of direction. If you felt back then that something was lacking in the song, now, with UP, you know what that something was.

The Carpet Crawlers 1999

A project many a Genesis fan had been looking forward to was released in 1999. News had spread even in the mid-90s that Peter would be recording a new version of the classic Genesis song The Carpet Crawlers. In autumn 1999, the slightly trip hop version was released on Genesis’ HITS album, though it had originally been planned for the Archive Volume One release. However, the lavishly animated music video Peter had announced did never turn up. Another thing that did not turn up was the much longed-for reunion concert. Said Peter, “It took me ten years to get rid of this ‘ex-Genesis’ label. I don’t want to have to do it all over again.”

This Dream

Peter was called in for a minor part in Youssou N’Dour’s album Joko. His task on the song This Dream consisted of repeatedly singing the words „This Dream“, which considerably improved the song.

Qui Sait?

In 2000, a benefit album called Solidays L’Album was released in France. One of the participating artists was Peter. The up-tempo song with the catchy melody was released in France only. The promo of the song is much sought after. Gabriel sings several lines in English and French.

When You’re Falling

RealWorld’s biggest success is the AfroCelt Soundsystem. Their CD Volume 2: Release became a world-wide hit. Peter Gabriel sang the lead vocals for the first single of the following album. When You’re Falling was a very catchy song and soon a favourite of Gabriel fans. The single was released in 2001… by which time UP should have been long since released.


This is one of the most sought-after Peter Gabriel songs that appeared between US and UP. It was never released on CD anywhere, but it was played completely in the film Les Morsures De L’Aube. Soon a high-quality mp3 version could be found on the internet. The song became an UP appetizer when Peter declared he would include it on UP in a radically different version.

Burn You Up, Burn You Down

This song, like Taste Of Lime, developed during the 1991 RealWorld Recording Week and briefly became a part of UP. The first batch of the European promo contained the track. It resembles many up-tempo Gabriel songs, most of all Kiss That Frog. It was a fine addition for the album, and it is hard to understand why it was removed at the last minute. Collectors, however, will be happy because it makes the promo a rare item.

Peter also sang backing vocals for other musicians, e.g. on Mercedes by Joseph Arthur. There are numerous remixes. The best-known may be ’97 remix of Shaking The Tree, the extended version of I Have The Touch and the Red Planet version of The Tower That Ate People. The RealWorld Notes also featured a 70 second instrumental with the apt title of Seven Zero.
There was some confusion about a song called Come Home To Me Now. It surfaced on the internet in 1998/99 and is part of a David Rhodes project. It has, however, nothing at all to do with Peter.

Then there were two major multimedia projects called XPLORA1 and EVE for which Peter received much praise.

Ten years. Some people release eight studio records, two live CDs and a greatest hits compilation in this time. Peter Gabriel does not care. So many things have happened in the music business. Peter’s label RealWorld is firmly established. It even writes black numbers. Peter has had enough success, now he enjoys the artistic freedom to need ten years to release a new studio album. And that’s okay.

by Christian Gerhardts
translated by Martin Klinkhardt