Games Without Frontiers (song)

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"Games Without Frontiers"
Single by Peter Gabriel
from the album Peter Gabriel
B-side "Start/I Don't Remember" (UK), "Lead A Normal Life" (USA)
Released 9 February 1980
Format 7"
Recorded 1979
Genre Progressive rock, new wave
Length 4:05
Label Charisma
Writer(s) Peter Gabriel
Producer(s) Steve Lillywhite
Peter Gabriel singles chronology
"Perspective"
(1978)
"Games Without Frontiers"
(1980)
"I Don't Remember"
(1980)

"Games Without Frontiers" is a 1980 song written, composed, and recorded by British singer Peter Gabriel. It was released on his 1980 self-titled solo album and features Kate Bush on backing vocals.

The single became Gabriel's first Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, peaking at No.4, and - tied with 1986's Sledgehammer - his highest-charting song in the United Kingdom; it peaked at No.48 in the United States. The B-side to the single was two tracks combined into one: "Start" and "I Don't Remember".[1]

Title and lyrics[edit]

The song's title and lyrics refer to a long-running TV show in the 1960s and 1970s, broadcast in several European countries, in which teams of residents representing a town or city in one of the participating countries would compete on an outdoor track of games of skill while frequently dressed in bizarre costumes. While some games were simple races, others allowed one team to obstruct another. The British version was titled It's a Knockout which Gabriel references in the lyrics.

The album version of the song includes the line "Whistling tunes we piss on the goons in the jungle" after the second verse and before the second chorus.[2] This was replaced for the single release with a more radio-friendly repeat of the line "Whistling tunes we're kissing baboons in the jungle" from the first chorus. The BBC also censored the video and removed the words "we piss on the goons in the jungle".[3] The whistling is performed by Gabriel himself, along with producers Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham.

Personnel[edit]

Music[edit]

This song features the PAiA Electronics Programmable Drum Set, widely considered the first programmable drum machine. (It is not the Roland CR-78, used by many of Gabriel's former Genesis bandmates on both Genesis and solo albums.) It also features the Moog Model 15 small analog modular system for many of the synthesizer sounds and was one of the first singles to feature the Fairlight CMI sampler, of which Gabriel was an early exponent. A Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 polyphonic synthesiser is also said to have featured on the song.

Track listing[edit]

Single[edit]

English version

7" UK single (1980)

  1. "Games Without Frontiers"
  2. "Start/I Don't Remember" (non-album version—alternate recording)

7" US & Canadian single (1980)

  1. "Games Without Frontiers" (3:47)
  2. "Lead A Normal Life" (3:42)

7" US single (1980)

  1. "Games Without Frontiers (Mono)" (3:45)
  2. "Games Without Frontiers (Stereo)" (3:45)

12" UK single (1983)

  1. "Games Without Frontiers"
  2. "Schnappschuss (Ein Familienfoto)"

German version

7" German single (1980)

  1. "Spiel Ohne Grenzen (Games Without Frontiers)" (4:07)
  2. "Jetzt Kommt Die Flut (Here Comes The Flood)" (4:57)

In other works[edit]

"Games Without Frontiers" was licensed as the title music for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC computer game The Race Against Time,[4] which in turn was the official game of the charity event Sport Aid '88.

The Thirteenth Winter X Games introduced Gabriel's and Lord Jamar's remix of the song, redubbed "X Games Without Frontiers", which became the theme for subsequent games.[5]

The song appeared in the season one finale of the TV series The Americans (episode 13, "The Colonel"), playing over the end of the episode.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers". ultratop.be. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  2. ^ Gabriel, Peter. "Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers - The official Games Without Frontiers video. (includes lyrics)". Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Hewitt, Alan (2000). Opening The Musical Box: A Genesis Chronicle. Firefly. p. 142. ISBN 9780946719303. "censored by the BBC because of its use of children's dolls" 
  4. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJVOCSFo0dI?t=28m28s
  5. ^ "Eventmedia". Espneventmedia.com. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2012-01-06.