Archive for February 5, 2020

Great Rock Albums of 1986: Peter Gabriel- So

Posted in Uncategorized on February 5, 2020 by 80smetalman

So_(album)

Thinking back to 1986, I realise that I wasn’t always as open minded about music as I tended to think. Peter Gabriel’s 1986 “So” album supports this. The thing was that I was so caught up in my quest of all things metal, that anything that sounded too commercial or synth pop got rejected without further investigation. My first thought when the single, “Sledgehammer,” came on the radio was that Peter was selling out and going commercial. Fortunately, I see things more clearly thirty plus years on and while I agree with those who say that “So” was Peter’s most commercially successful album, it was not a sell out.

The weird thing was that I never disliked that single, “Sledgehammer.” It does have a catchy tune and I can hear an electric¬† guitar in the background. Therefore, I have to admit that I think the song is pretty darn good. I am also familiar with the other two of the first three tracks on the album. “Red Rain” proves that he hadn’t strayed too far from the formula which brought him so much success with early Genesis back in the 1970s. It also proved that, along with GTR and ELP, that 70s style progressive rock had not totally gone away.

Track three, which I didn’t get to experience until I got to England towards the end of that year, “Don’t Give Up,” was a pretty good one. Kate Bush lends her vocal talent on the chorus and makes things more interesting. Reading a little of the history, Peter wrote the song in reaction to the rising unemployment under the Margaret Thatcher government in the 80s. It’s a good progressive ballad.

katebush

Kate Bush

Now for the rest of the album, don’t worry, I don’t think the rest of the album sucks. In fact, it’s quite good but saying that, I don’t think the remainder of the album is quite at the level of the first three songs. While not filler, Peter puts effort on each and every one, but none of these tracks have me standing up and shouting, “This song kicks f*ckin’ ass!” Of the six remaining songs, “Mercy Street” is the best of them and “That Voice Again” is done quite nicely. What you do get on those tracks is some good progressive rock that was right for the 80s, while not going synth pop. It’s a fine effort from Peter Gabriel but I still prefer his previous album, “Security.”

Track Listing:

  1. Red Rain
  2. Sledgehammer
  3. Don’t Give Up
  4. That Voice Again
  5. In Your Eyes
  6. Mercy Street
  7. Big Time
  8. We Do What We’re Told
  9. This is the Picture
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Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel- lead vocals, Prophet synthesizer, synthesizer, percussion, piano, Synclavier

Kate Bush: vocals (track 3)

Tony Levin- bass (tracks 1-5 &7)

David Rhodes- guitar, backing vocals

Jerry Marotta- drums (tracks 1, 5 & 8), bass (track 7),

Manu Katche- drums (tracks 2 & 5), percussion

Chris Hughes- electronic drums

Stewart Copeland- hi hat (track 1), drums (track 7)

Daniel Lanois- guitar (tracks 1,2 & 4), tambourine, 12 string guitar (track 8)

Wayne Jackson- trumpet (tracks 2 & 7), coronet (track  7)

Mark Rivera- tenor, alto, processed and baritone saxophones

Don Mikkelson- trombone (track 7)

Richard Tee- piano (tracks 3,5 & ^0

Simon Clark- keyboards, backing vocals

L. Shankar- violin (tracks 4 & 8)

Larry Klein- bass (tracks 5 & 6)

Djalma Correa- surdo, congas, triangle

Bill Laswell- bass (track 9)

Nile Rodgers- guitar (track 9)

Laurie Anderson- synthesizer, vocals (track 9)

P.P. Arnold, Coral Gordon, Dee Lewis, Youssou D’Nour, Michael Keen, Jim Kerr, Ronnie Bright- backing vocals

And no sign of Steve Lukather!

Once again, I think back to all the cool progressive rock that I missed out on. Still, I was on a quest for metal so I have no regrets back then. But it was good to know that there was some great prog rock compliments of Peter Gabriel with “So” to be had.

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