Music Discovery: “Games Without Frontiers”

In today’s previous entry, I mentioned that Standish/Carlyon’s Deleted Scenes reminded me of Peter Gabriel’s early solo work. Fans of FX’s outstanding TV series, “The Americans,” will have noted that the season’s finale made fine use of Gabriel’s hit single “Games Without Frontiers.” That is, if those fans were already familiar with the song. I was not.

As I watched the tense closing scenes, with Ms. Little falling asleep beside me, I was struck by the song, its groove, mood, strange voice and lyrics, and the way it so perfectly complemented the show’s quiet action. The song was excellent, immediately gripping, and completely new to me.

And, so, as the show’s credits ran, I ran to the computer, typing into my YouTube search field the words she’s so popular. Up popped the official music video for Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers,” and, though the file had been uploaded in 2009, the many new comments revealed that I was not alone—neither in tracking down the song nor in mishearing those catchy words. Often mondegreened, the actual words I heard were jeux sans frontiers.

I also now know that the song was taken from Gabriel’s third eponymous album, often referred to as Melt, released in 1980, when I was three years old. Take a look at the video, which is completely radical, then compare the sound of the song to that of Standish/Carlyon’s “Yono/Nono,” from the band’s fine upcoming album, Deleted Scenes.

I had already planned on purchasing Deleted Scenes. Now I also have to find a copy of Melt.

I love it when that happens.

Axiom05's picture

Don't neglect to check out his other early solo works (pre-"So").

ken mac's picture

Way back in the 70s Peter Gabriel was a radical, wonderfully weird character, right up there with Japan's David Sylvian, and the respective casts of Can, Amon Duul, Neu, Cluster and Harmonia. The music sounds even spookier now somehow, all analog, pre click track, and influenced by everything from Ley lines to Mahler and Albert Ayler. Gerat find.     

Axiom05's picture

It's amazing to me that people are "discovering" Peter Gabriel's early solo works. I thought that his music was quite ingrained into our culture. "Games without Frontiers" was a big hit (or so I thought), how can people not know this song? It just shows that I am older than I thought. His first solo album is one of my favorites. Happy discovering...

Stephen Mejias's picture

"Games Without Frontiers" was a big hit and much of Peter Gabriel's work is a part of our culture, but I was too young to be aware of the song upon its release, and I somehow still missed it later in life. It's just one of those things.

The first of Gabriel's songs to capture my attention was "Sledgehammer," which was released when I was 9, and I clearly remember being drawn to it but also disturbed by it. 

Glotz's picture


The Rhythm will have your soul.... err... so to speak. 

Stephen Mejias's picture

Ah! I know the song "Shock the Monkey."

2_channel_ears's picture

Wait'll you check this one out:

or for great entertainment:

garysi13's picture

and discover Genesis with Gabriel.  Leaving that band after the masterpiece The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was a move that should have been expected as they could not have reached a higher artistic peak.   

spinsLPs's picture

Produced by Steve Lillywhite it was the first album to feature the gated drum sound that Phil Collins later used on his album Face Value.  Also note that no cymbals were used throughout.

Truly a masterpiece right up there with Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden.