I loved Peter Gabriel's third album, but it is a primarily English affair, even with the hints of African rhythms that began to creep in around the edges. When it came time to make his fourth album, Gabriel decided to take strides into areas outside his island, and the resulting album (and first to bear a proper title), "Security," was rich with African, Native American and other worldly influences. Not only were the sounds more internationalist, so were the characters involved. From the American Indian who's sadness at seeing his culture dissolve into trivialities like the "Sit'n Bull Steakhouse" to the tribal marriage in "The Family and The Fishing Net," these are people more real than anyone Gabriel had imagined on any of his other recordings. And they certainly did not sound like they were taking tea on the row.
The sound of "Security" influenced many to come. The newly reformed King Crimson and the Talking Heads were dabbling in this style of music, and it was still four years before Paul Simon would make "Graceland." It is easy to say that PG3 had as much to do with these musicians' sounds as "Security" did, but it was Gabriel's "Shock The Monkey" that wedged the tribal sounds onto MTV and out from under the novelty aspect. (Adam Ant anyone?) Also, "Security" is easily the first album that carried the term "world music" out and into the general public. Even a band as innocuous as Starship wound up quoting from "Security": their "Connection" from "Nuclear Furniture" lyrically references "I Have The Touch." (There's a line about needing "Peter Gabriel like contact.")
Still, that almost sounds like I am somehow slighting this album by comparing it to others. I'll even go so far as to say that the "Biko" derivative "Wallflower" makes the album come up a bit short between PG3 and "So." It's hard to do that with an artist as consistently creative as Peter Gabriel, who chose to keep challenging himself even though commercial success had been eluding him for quite some time. "Shock The Monkey" finally gave him the watershed American momentum that would codify with "So."