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Peter Gabriel - So CD (album) cover

SO

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

3.83 | 494 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Peter Gabriel's most commercially successful album (as far as I know at least) can be seen in this effort, simply titled So. The roots to this album's sound can be heard actually on the previous studio album (not the Birdy OST) Peter Gabriel 4. So where does So fit into the Peter Gabriel timeline? It was his last official studio album for six years (although he did release a few soundtracks and mixed compilations in the between years) until his return with Us (which I actually rate at the same level as this album). Now, like Peter Gabriel 4, this album has four or five really good tracks, but is riddled with mediocre pieces in between that seem to meander on and are filler at their core. I don't really dislike any song on the album, but there are some that I'm not fully impressed with (and that's why the score is in the middle).

Opening with the stellar track Red Rain, from first glance So looks as if it would be a fantastic album that has no sore spots. The fantastic riffing and the magnificent ethereal keyboard work molds well with the tight rhythm unit of Jerry Marotta and Tony Levin. Sledgehammer follows and it really blows almost every song on this album out of the water. Tony Levin's infectious bass groove and the catchy horn arrangement really help this song become memorable and the exceedingly catchy nature of the piece also helps its case(the music video for this song is also regarded as one of the greatest music videos ever made). Don't Give Up is sort of underwhelming when put up against the stellar first two tracks. Although there are some heartfelt vocals from Kate Bush, the song seems to meander around the same riff for 6 minutes and there's no evolution in the piece. The Voice Again is another song that doesn't really captivate me or match the power of the earlier tracks. Tony Levin's stick line is pretty cool though and he keeps a consistent flow throughout the piece, but other than that nothing is particularly special. In Your Eyes, though, not only matches the opening pieces in terms of emotion and power, but it almost exceeds them. This song (made famous by John Cusack in the movie Say Anything) has some incredibly catchy music to it (the piano and guitar during the chorus is infectious) and an incredible melody that fits well with the superb lyrics and magnificent outro.

Mercy Street is the last of the really incredible tracks on the album, in my opinion. It's a very mellow track that has some dramatic and emotional vocals from Gabriel. The sax interludes offer a mellow and heartwarming dynamic when put up next to the fantastic multi-harmony vocals. Big Time has Tony Levin unveiling his signature Funk Fingers (essentially drum sticks that attach to the fingers to give a more percussive bass line). It's a pretty groovy piece and while not as good as some of the songs I've mentioned, it's still a pretty fun piece that has a nice rocking beat. We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37) is an ethereal instrumental piece (almost instrumental that is), with subtle choral style vocals (before Gabriel comes in with a lead vocal) underneath the spacey rhythms provided by the floating keyboard lines and the melodic and punchy bass grooves. This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds) features collaborator Laurie Anderson alongside Gabriel this time around. Although not a particularly strong song when compared to other pieces on this album, it's a fitting ending to the album with punchy bass lines and a nice percussive beat. It ends the album on a lighter, more spacey and ethereal note.

So overall So is a fitting end to the 80s for Peter Gabriel (at least in terms of traditional studio albums), and while there are a lot of strong pieces on the album, there are some that just don't make the grade in my opinion. Very strong album. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |

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