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Peter Gabriel - So CD (album) cover

SO

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

3.83 | 494 ratings

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russellk
Prog Reviewer
3 stars With this album PETER GABRIEL gained a world-wide audience. But it's an audience he's purchased with a significant change in approach. 'So' is unlike anything in GABRIEL'S back catalogue.

In the four years between 'Security' in 1982 and 'So' in 1986, funk swept across the world, 'browning' much of the music scene. Actually, some western artists had fallen foul of funk as early as the mid-70s (witness ELTON JOHN'S unsuccessful flirt with funk on 'Rock of the Westies', for example), but those with an eye for coming trends knew that PARLIAMENT and their contemporaries would change rock.

Certainly 'So' has the funk. We've moved from the bombastic territory of 'Security' here, where GABRIEL sung about others, to the slick, Lanois-produced funk show of 'So' where the progressive vibe is let go, to be subsumed by world music. No doubt about it, GABRIEL has done a Good Thing here. WOMAD has enriched the world. It's just not my cup of tea.

So ... I find this album uneven. 'Red Rain' is magnificent, 'Sledgehammer' is startling, with its groove (a Chapterhouse boy gettin' down in the groove?) and its manifesto: "I've kicked the habit, shed my skin. This is the new stuff; I go dancing in." 'Don't Give Up' is a satisfying ballad, and 'Big Time' is clever. I can abide 'Mercy Street'; it's a song that creeps up on the listener. But the rest is fluff. What on earth was PG thinking with Milgram's 37? I teach research methods in social science, so my students get to hear about Milgram and his unethical experiments designed to prove we'd act no different to Nazi soldiers in WWII - 'we do what we're told' - but what does the song add to the debate? At best its a backing track to a lecture.

Smooth, sophisticated, but ultimately unsatisfying; 'So' is the latte of the PETER GABRIEL catalogue.

russellk | 3/5 |

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