Wednesday Weeper of the Week: “Here Comes The Flood” by Peter GabrielPosted: March 25, 2015
The artist doesn’t always know best.
That’s the conclusion I’ve reached concerning Peter Gabriel’s haunting ballad “Here Comes The Flood.” I knew the song originally from a greatest hits collection called Shaking The Tree: 16 Golden Greats. On that version, which the credits listed as having been recorded specifically for the compilation, Gabriel is accompanied only by piano and some atmospheric effects. He sounds like the survivor of apocalyptic event in this take, sadly surveying what man has wrought.
For years I listened to this version and loved it. Then last year I was watching The Americans, which is the best thing on TV by a wide margin in my humble opinion. At the end of a particularly fine episode, the actions of various characters were set to the original version of “Here Comes The Flood,” which can be found on Gabriel’s 1977 solo debut and which I had never bothered to seek out. And I was floored by its power.
Gabriel apparently thought the song was overproduced by Bob Ezrin, known for his work on Pink Floyd’s The Wall and several other rock classics. While it’s true that Ezrin has never been known for his subtlety, his work on “Here Comes The Flood” coaxes great drama out of it. The crashing guitars and Gabriel’s hollowed-out croon really up the intensity, and the imagery of the lyrics, which are half-environmental plaint and half science fiction, really pops on this take.
I’m providing links to both versions below so you can make your choice. Like I said they’re both fantastic, but I’ve come to prefer Ezrin’s bombast over Gabriel’s desolation.
(E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @JimBeviglia.)