Begins with a subdued drum machine pattern that is far from simple. A big distorted, distant electric guitar strum rings out. Gentle, eerie electric guitar solo wailing far off in the distance over the top of sustained and restrained organ chords that feature a kind of jangling bubbling bell sound very faintly.

The lead vocal enters, with a short delay, perhaps ADT, gives it a small room sound. This first vocal is actually the chorus lyric but sung in a restrained way. Big distorted electric guitar finishes the chorus. Then the verse lyrics follow. The only variation in the verse is electric guitar fading in and out in the background, wailing and yelping.

First chorus features backing vocals thickening the vocal sound, with medium delays repeating the end of each line. Big distorted electric guitar finishes the chorus. Some guitar flourishes continue in the chorus, as well as a high, xylophone like keyboard line.

The next verse starts with vocoder on the vocal, reverse reverb effect fading into it. The rest of the verse features all kinds of vocal effects; vocoder, delays, doubles, harmonies. Plus extra synth pads fading in and out around the vocal.

Big gated reverb drum entrance introduces the final choruses. When the chorus begins a bass guitar riff matches the kick. In amongst all the drum fills there’s bursts of distorted electric guitar, still pushed back in the mix. There’s vocoded backing vocals all through this section.

Fade out is very very long, starting about a minute before the end of the song. During this long fade the lead vocal starts to ad lib melodic variations, reaching a climax.

Overall quite a stunning production. The famous drum break is the climax of the song (although it relies on the bass line and unrestrained singing as well) and it is made so much more dramatic by the gated reverb effect. However, the rest of the song is also full of amazing production especially on the second verse vocals, but also all the background details (electric guitar, keys) which have the space to be heard because of the restrained nature of the main organ and drum machine progression.

Notes: this is the album version. The single version has drums added to the drum machine for the first 3 and a half minutes of the song, somewhat spoiling the impact of the gated reverb drums, in my opinion.

Hugh Padgham invented gated reverb by accident when working on Peter Gabriel’s third solo album on which Phil Collins played drums. The mixing desk they were using allowed for sound to be sent back to the control room through the talkback. It overly compressed the sound, and one day Collins was playing the drums when it was heard in the control room through the desk. You can hear the gated reverb effect most noticeably on the trackIntruder by Peter Gabriel (1980). The drums were recorded in a large reverberant barn, then processed using compressors and gates to truncate the reverb.