There was no escaping Peter Gabriel’s seventh album in the mid-80’s. Released in May of 1986, you could not turn on Top 40 Radio, and for some songs college radio as well, any given day without hearing “Sledgehammer,” “Red Rain,” “Big Time,” “Don’t Give Up” or “Mercy Street”. And MTV? The phenomenally creative videos for “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time” were like porn for the channel that at one time actually played music videos.
And if we hadn’t listened to that album enough in ’86, three years later, when John Cusack hoisted the tape deck over his head to serenade Ione Skye with Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (from So) the album trotted back into our collective conscious.
Produced by Daniel Lanois and Gabriel, the record was career-defining for the British rocker who was still thought of by many at that point as “the guy who used to be in Genesis”. With So, Gabriel was able to take these cleaver and often beautiful lyrics and merge them with extremely accessibly pop songs, more so than with any of his previous efforts (a feat he was never able to fully replicate after either).
Thanks to EMI and Gabriel’s own Real World label, So has been re-released with two fantastic live records, both recorded in Athens in 1987. The live discs contain many of the artist’s pre-So hits, like “Games Without Frontiers,” “Shock the Monkey,” “Biko” and “Solsbury Hill”.
While we seem to have hit the apex of desperation for major labels, where they are frantically sending interns into the vaults with flashlights to dig up any old albums to re-release to simply keep the lights on (for proof, see Sony’s re-release of the Spin Doctor’s album earlier this year). But So is one of those rare albums that genuinely deserves to be re-introduced to a whole new audience. Millennial meet Peter Gabriel. You’re welcome.
Peter Gabriel – So [25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition]/3 CDs/EMI/2012