Taking Sides: Sting vs Peter Gabriel

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If you had asked me when I was young, I would've stuck up for Sting. Not anymore. I'm a lapsed Sting fan now, and I'm rooting for Gabriel. But whats your pov?

Lord Custos, Saturday, 23 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Witness the power anthem Solsbury Hill, the videos for Sledgehammer and Steam and wonder what Sting has ever really done...

JM, Saturday, 23 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Gabriel wore that flower costume.

Sean, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Well, I guess that clinches it. Gabriel is God.

Lord Custos, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Good question. Frontman of excellent band leaves and makes three good solo records, then lapses into world music mediocrity? Sounds like a draw to me.

Probably Gabriel, though. I always liked the geometric costume the best.

matthew m., Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I'm embarrassed to even answer a question like this but Gabriel, duh. His 1980 solo album with the melting face on the cover (containing "Games Without Frontiers" and "Biko") sounded like a postpunk classic when I heard it. And "Harold the Barrel" alone blows away the collected works of the Police.

sundar subramanian, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Gabriel dressed as a hemorrhoid. Sting can thole tantric sex. It's pretty evenly matched.

powertonevolume, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yes, Sundar, but have you listened to the 3rd album lately? I spent yars in love w/ it but played it a few months ago for the first time in a long while and it didn't hold up well. I just have no use for a song like "Family Snapshot" now. "Biko," "Normal Life" and "Games Without Frontiers" were the only songs I could stand.

Mark, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Despite the excessive analogy-drawing of the lyrics (or did they make sense as the Cold War heated up again 22 years back?), I have enough love for "Games Without Frontiers" to call this one for Gabriel. It *sounds* as good to me as anything by Talk Talk, though Mark Hollis was a far better lyricist, obviously. Sting is just unforgivable, though I'm still quite fond of "Walking On The Moon".

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

As a "solo" artist -- Gabriel. Absolutely no question.

Tim DiGravina, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Oooh. Subthread: Best Silly Genesis-era Peter Gabriel costume
1) Flowerhead?
2) Foxy Babe?
3) Blue Pyramid of Cheese Suit?
4) Fluffy Bubble Suit?

Lord Custos, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Solsbury Hill" is great. Of course he's now very much the smug, socially-concerned Mac-fan and country estate dweller. But Sting manages to be ten times more nauseating.

David Inglesfield, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Mark: I have heard the album only once. I think it was in December.

sundar subramanian, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I like the Gabriel flower one too, but I have heard that some of those costumes got a bit riduculous when they began to interfere with the audio quality at concerts. Apparently his singing was quite seriously over-muffled which seems quite plausible seeing as he was encased in giant peapods of foam or whatnot. In a way that makes them that much cooler though - that he was so concerned with the visual presentation. Lots of goth kids I knew always went on about Bowie being this big style icon, a goth pioneer, and I would always argue that Gabriel was far more worthy of wearing that mantle. Bowie is all glam while Gabriel with his pasty white face, oddly shaven long hair, cloak wearing and introspective story writing is clearly far more goth. Whether or not he would want the title is another matter entirely.

static, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

p.s. Sting is a tool.

static, Sunday, 24 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I still gotta wonder how the singer/bassist from the Police & Ace from Quadrophenia can look at himself in the mirror now that he makes literock records. A lot of middle-aged suburban housewives think Sting is a total pussy.

But then Gabriel wrote "In Your Eyes" and "Don't Give Up" - blechh! wot shite. .. but the early Gabriel solo records were good.. "And Through The Wire", "Intruder", "Slowburn",...

Dave225, Monday, 25 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think Sting's fortunes began to change right about here. I'll side with Gabriel on this one, because despite any other ugliness that he may have perpetrated, the Passion soundtrack was amazing, and I still give him credit for giving wider exposure to a lot of artists througout the world via the RealWorld label (even though a lot of those artists end up getting overproduced like crazy as part of the bargain).

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 26 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Hmmm. Yeah, The Bride did smell of poopie, but I really think it was the iron underwear he wore in Dune that sealed his fate.

Lord Custos, Wednesday, 27 February 2002 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
Peter Gabriel by a mile... An uneven solo career at times, and not always a consistent songwriter, but generally good stuff... the first three eponymous albums all being pretty good; album 3 is rather good to my ears; a weighty, consistent production. Album 1, say, is let down by trying to be too diverse; the sound varies too much. 'Solisbury Hill' and 'Moribund the Burgmeister' are magnificent though... there still remains much of the 'theatrical', more eccentric side of Gabriel on that album. 'So' is poor though... a successful effort to cash in on the mid-1980s norms. 'Us' and 'Up' and some of the 'Ovo' stuff; better, and more thoughtful work, if possibly over serious and studiously managed.
Sting... even including the Police (Gabriel again trumps him there, by having a better band to start with) just doesn't match up... I can barely even bring to mind the name of a solo Sting single - generally forgettable and he was/is straining haplessly for significance and respectability.

'Selling England By The Pound', 'Foxtrot' and 'The Lamb Dies Down...' are very decent records, at times brilliant. Barring 'So' i think Gabriel's solo career is always at least genuinely interesting in some way, if not always great.

Tom May (Tom May), Saturday, 1 March 2003 17:51 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

If Sting wasn't Sting I'd vote for him but he's Sting so I'll go with Peter. Frankly both seemed a lot more impressive when I was in middle school.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Saturday, 1 March 2003 17:57 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Sting's a pretty-boy who's gotten by on flash for the majority of his career, and now wishes he could one day become Ottmar Liebert (who can piss-off ar well).

Peter is certainly an artists' artist -- and while his latest offerings mat be getting a bit Lite, his early solo and soundtrack work puts him ahead by default ((to say nothing for the inroads that Realworld Studios has provided for more traditional artists)).


musicians' released more quality albums/songs.

christoff (christoff), Monday, 3 March 2003 16:46 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Even from the very start of their careers, Peter Gabriel has always pissed on Sting.

But, well, what's the big deal. I mean Peter Gabriel pisses on most people anyway....

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 3 March 2003 16:59 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

That's pretty punk of him!

Ally (mlescaut), Monday, 3 March 2003 18:12 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'm without hesitation siding with PG; he has yet to release an album I didn't very much like (yes, even the so-called "lapse into world music mediocrity" as was so eloquenty put above), from Lamb Lies Down on Broadway to the self-titleds to Passion to Up and everywhere in between, there have been very few artists of the past 20+ years who have made music I've so consistently fallen in love with. Not to mention all the great stuff that gets put out on his record label and the WOMAD tours.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Monday, 3 March 2003 18:20 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'm interested in hearing how some of the "Peter Gabriel's new music is literock" crowd would answer this question now that's he's released the slightly darker UP.

Either way, I'm going to answer Pete, because he's been far more interesting overall, even with the bland pop stuff; also, I'd argue comparison between the two with the "world" music influences is unfair, because Peter seems to be genuinely interested in this sort of thing (why else would he set up a label to release a number of albums that surely must be losing money?) whereas Sting just seems to be interested in it because it makes him seem sensitive...there doesn't seem like there's any sincerity in it.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Monday, 3 March 2003 18:25 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

It was hilarious when Sting dragged that lip-disc wearing indian guy onto the Donahue show.

Lord Custos Epsilon (Lord Custos Epsilon), Monday, 3 March 2003 18:35 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I would say that, apart from "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time", Peter Gabriel has never released "bland pop stuff". He left Genesis long before they turned into a boring AOR band, and his solo material has always been maintaining a high standard (although a bit more patchy on his two first solo albums than on his post 1980 work)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 4 March 2003 01:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

what about "Steam"?

James Blount (James Blount), Tuesday, 4 March 2003 01:34 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I would say "Steam" is slightly more complex than "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time", although I do see your point.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 4 March 2003 01:36 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'd say that both Us and Up (and one-third of So) are relatively liteweight when compared to the edgier fourseome that initiated his solo career. "Steam" may have it's complexities, but it's still as circularly constructed as "Sledgehammer" (or "Shock the Monkey" for that matter). I have the highest level of respect for Peter Gabriel and one can't blame him for making pop records -- and while you can argue that they're better than the rest of the ilk, i submit that he shouldn't even be running with that crowd when he's still capable of more.

christoff (christoff), Tuesday, 4 March 2003 16:04 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Yes, screw what Gabriel himself wants to do, we should lock him in a room and torture the prog out of him.

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Tuesday, 4 March 2003 16:32 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

...torture the prog out of him.

ha ha!

Actually, one of the things about Us and Up that really strike me is how dark some of that stuff gets. "Diggin in the Dirt", fr'instance, is one of the gloomiest pieces of pop I've heard in my lifetime.

Honestly, I don't think Sting is as bad as we seem to make him out to be; it's just that PG's stuff actually hits a never with me, all of it (even goofier-lighter stuff like "Steam" and "Kiss That Frog"), whereas Sting's post-Police work (and even lots of his during-Police work) just ain't my bag, baby.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Tuesday, 4 March 2003 16:44 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

It's stupid to even ask such a question. Sting is OK for like pop songs, but Gabriel is God!

Anna Rose, Tuesday, 4 March 2003 21:08 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

BTW, I'd like to add that I'm in no way biased by the fact that I was this close (does pinchy thing with thumb and forefinger) to being named Peter Gabriel Coleman.

(As my mom was in labor 36 hours, I was eventually born on my dad's uncle's birthday, and therefore named in his honor rather than PG's. Which is cool, 'cause I can't imagine what my life would be like as Petealicious.)

nickalicious (nickalicious), Tuesday, 4 March 2003 21:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Petelicious ROXX! Haytas r all gay.

Lord Custos Omega (Lord Custos Omega), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 00:21 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

haha, I go with Pete for reasons already stated above.. I'm also relishing the fact that I can't seem to locate a single vote for Sting.

Bobby D Gray (bedhead), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 04:55 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'll give Sting a vote. But then I'll counter by giving Peter Gabriel two votes.

Lord Custos Epsilon (Lord Custos Epsilon), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 13:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Anna Rose is back!!

mark s (mark s), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 13:46 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Sting. Sting did "Don't Stand So Close" and "De Dee Dee Doo Dah" or whatever it is--great songs. Peter G. did the dire "Solsbury Hill" and then there's the one PG eponymous LP where he used no cymbals, yawn. I despise "Sledgehammer" and "Shock My Monkey." Also, the Genesis crap (I do like "The Battle of Epping Forest," OK). Sting more honest in his MOR pleasantries, I find his solo shit easy to listen to and that counts for a lot. Only PG track I find even tolerable is the live "I Go Swimming." PG is pseudo and his voice sucks even worse than Sting's. Sting by a mile.

Jess Hill (jesshill), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 15:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Actually, one of the things about Us and Up that really strike me is how dark some of that stuff gets. "Diggin in the Dirt", fr'instance, is one of the gloomiest pieces of pop I've heard in my lifetime.

Ever heard of Eels? :-)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 16:38 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'd have to go with Gabriel. I've never heard any solo Sting that I ever liked, but I did (and possibly still do) like some of Security. There are a couple Police songs I like, but then again, there is some decent Genesis material with Gabriel on vocals.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 5 March 2003 18:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Ever heard of Eels? :-)

Oh, totally, I'm quite the fan of E & his stuff; I think the biggest difference, though, is that even at his most dire, it seems like E/the Eels stuff has this strain of hope in it, like it's dark and dismal because he can sense the possibility of "better"ness, whereas some of Peter Gabriel's dark/dreary stuff seems to literally lack any hope.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 18:30 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Strangely, the only three solo singles of Sting's I can think of right now are all pretty decent ("Fields of Gold", "Desert Rose", and "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You", which is actually a great song!). I know for a fact he's done some pretty awful stuff, but I can't remember any. That said, I prefer Peter Gabriel.

Vinnie (vprabhu), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 21:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I will also have to defend Sting here. I mean, although I prefer Peter Gabriel (speaking of one of the greatest musical geniuses of the 20th century, after all), Sting has definitely done his share of good music. Particularly with The Police, but even his first three solo albums were actually quite good.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 22:52 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Vinnie: "The Russians"

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 5 March 2003 22:58 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

thanks, Dan. Now I know how Ned felt when I brought up the "failure/jail you" rhyme. Sting will kill me yet.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Thursday, 6 March 2003 00:23 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I go with Sting - Peter Gabriel never wrote a pop song half as good as "Mad About You," though I'll grant that PG wouldn't have sunk so low as "If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free"

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Thursday, 6 March 2003 00:34 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I go with Sting - Peter Gabriel never wrote a pop song half as good as "Mad About You,"

The first time Peter Gabriel wrote a pop song better than "Mad About You" (which is a nice song anyway) was "Time Table" in 1972. Later, he has done so at least 20-30 times, I believe.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Thursday, 6 March 2003 00:43 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, it's all coming back to me now: "The Russians", "If You Love Somebody", "We'll Be Together"... *shudder*

Vinnie (vprabhu), Thursday, 6 March 2003 18:30 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

The first time Peter Gabriel wrote a pop song better than "Mad About You" (which is a nice song anyway) was "Time Table" in 1972. Later, he has done so at least 20-30 times, I believe.

I get this image of John D. starting to claw his eyes out in frustration.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 6 March 2003 18:33 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
John Darnielle: Solisbury Hill, Games Without Frontiers...? Great singles IMO both.
Jess Hill: the 'dire Solisbury Hill'? Well, we all have our opinions, but that is one I can't quite empathise with.

Tom May (Tom May), Saturday, 14 June 2003 00:22 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

sophie's choice!!!

sex viagra cialis hard teen firm wet tight sexy rod unit teens hole suck (max), Monday, 15 September 2008 00:27 (eight years ago) Permalink

This is no contest. Peter Gabriel over Sting without a second thought.

ilxor, Monday, 15 September 2008 04:22 (eight years ago) Permalink

go away

sex viagra cialis hard teen firm wet tight sexy rod unit teens hole suck (max), Monday, 15 September 2008 13:03 (eight years ago) Permalink

Yep, that's what happens when you take Viagra, buddy. I'd honestly want it to go away, too.

ilxor, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 01:38 (eight years ago) Permalink

I know I've already answered this thread twice, but what hell, let's make it a three-peat, if only to say that the talk about Peter Gabriel's third album not dating well...total madness.

Sean Carruthers, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 01:48 (eight years ago) Permalink

eight years pass...

i am spending the evening reassessing Sting's solo works. Lite and not as interesting as the police for sure, but everything through 10 Summoner's Tales is quite good if you listen to it through the right, open minded lens. I haven't dug into anything past though, which is all stuff I'm pretty unfamiliar with.

akm, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 05:19 (three months ago) Permalink

San Jacinto is better than ANYTHING Sting ever wrote Police included.

earlnash, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 05:26 (three months ago) Permalink

well duh

akm, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 05:28 (three months ago) Permalink

I always thought it was clever that the album's title referenced Sting's real name, though in retrospect it couldn't mean anything else could it? What exactly is a "summoner's tale"?

but yeah, I agree that his stuff can be quite good, especially if you can get past some of the clumsy lyrics and the general Stinginess of it all. hell I'd maybe throw Mercury Falling onto that pile too. everything after that has been garbage, though to be fair what exactly has Peter Gabriel done in the last 15 years? they recently toured together (which makes this thread feel a bit prognostic) and "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight" was played, but it wasn't PG performing it, it was Sting! personally I think Gabriel-era Genesis and The Police are on about equal footing, though listening back to those Genesis albums it feels like Tony Banks is the man in charge most of the time. Gabriel was of course very important but I'm not sure I know what exactly he's bringing sometimes. even Phil had immense technical talent, back then at least. The Police on the other hand...while I do think Copeland was more responsible for the band's overall sound, Sting wrote like 80% of the tunes, and 100% of the singles. So, I don't know about this.

frogbs, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 12:51 (three months ago) Permalink

"What exactly is a "summoner's tale"?"

It's a story in Canterbury Tales. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Summoner's_Tale

akm, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 14:22 (three months ago) Permalink

it's the one with the farting

akm, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 14:23 (three months ago) Permalink

oh wow, I stand corrected. of course Sting would know about that!!

frogbs, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 14:26 (three months ago) Permalink

A decade ago, I'd have picked Gabriel easily. These days it's a closer call. Sting/The Police has arguably been more influential, and Gabriel's late output has been equally staid.

Their voices have held up surprisingly well — it sounds like they both sing their old stuff in the original keys.

dinnerboat, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 15:04 (three months ago) Permalink

can't help thinking sting would have been hilarious if he'd been around to indulge his medievalist thing in the high prog era

Benylin Ascent (NickB), Wednesday, 15 March 2017 15:14 (three months ago) Permalink

OTM, he was a bit of a jazz rocker at the time though, I think? Also some Gong connection or other.

Return of the Flustered Bootle Native (Tom D.), Wednesday, 15 March 2017 16:49 (three months ago) Permalink

San Jacinto is better than ANYTHING Sting ever wrote Police included.

San Jacinto is Dancing With Wolves as performed on Fairlight.

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 16:53 (three months ago) Permalink

that's praise!

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 March 2017 16:55 (three months ago) Permalink

actually Ive never been crazy about it, with the exception of that spooky as hell "We will walk on the land" outro with the Fairlight flutes– it's like a wolf man standing over a man's corpse.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 15 March 2017 16:56 (three months ago) Permalink

Prog Sting = Ian Anderson + Geddy Lee

dinnerboat, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 17:43 (three months ago) Permalink

the Gong connection was Strontium 90, which was The Police + Mike Howlett. their music wasn't proggy at all but that one CD released in 1997 or whatever was pretty interesting if you're a hardcore Police fan

frogbs, Wednesday, 15 March 2017 17:53 (three months ago) Permalink

that's praise!

It might be.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 16 March 2017 03:54 (three months ago) Permalink


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