By Bob Mack
Updated January 11, 1991 at 05:00 AM EST

During the ’80s, many artists discovered Third World beats and various other musical textures, but Peter Gabriel’s forays into African, funk, folk, techno-pop, and Motown are always tempered by the theatrical sensibility he developed as a front man in the ’70s for the progressive rock group Genesis. Which is why the earthy rhythms of ”Sledgehammer” and sweet pop melodies of ”Solsbury Hill” and ”Games Without Frontiers” have the larger-than-life quality of classic rock in Shaking the Tree. Sure, ”Family Snapshot” has some of Genesis’ unfashionable pomp, while ”Zaar” (from Gabriel’s 1989 instrumental album, Passion) and ”Shaking the Tree” (with Youssou N’Dour) are too earnest in their ethnicity. A new version of ”Here Comes the Flood” is uneventful and doesn’t belong here. But it doesn’t matter when most of the tracks are more than ”golden greats” — they’re some of the best rock songs of the post-punk era. A