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Peter Gabriel - So CD (album) cover

SO

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

3.84 | 681 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "Confessing all the secret things in the warm velvet box"

Back again on good form after a lengthy break, Gabriel presents one of his most commercial collections to date, while still managing to come up with a great diversity of music. For this album, he brings in noted producer Danny Lanois to work with him. Lanois, who is best known for his work with U2 but who has also produced many other artists including as Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson, brings out the best in each song through his unique talents. Gabriel also calls upon an array of noted artists to support him, the familiar names including Nile Rodgers, Tony Levin, Kate Bush P.P. Arnold and Youssou N'dour.

"So", the first time Gabriel has called an album anything other than simply "Peter Gabriel", includes a couple of his biggest hit singles, namely "Sledgehammer" and "Don't give up". The success of the former was boosted in no small part by a ground-breaking video which was constantly shown on MTV. The song itself is a beat laden piece of pure pop rock.

"Don't give up" is a complete contrast, with Gabriel performing a duet with Kate Bush on a delicate ballad. While the video for this was rather too wet for my liking, the song itself works well, the emotionally charged atmosphere being emphasised by what appears to be genuine chemistry between the artists. The track is completed by some fine bass playing by Tony Levin.

"Big time" also brought further chart success being little more than a clone of "Sledgehammer". In reality, pretty much any of the tracks here could have been selected as a single. The opening "Red rain" for example puts some acidic lyrics to a catchy melody.

My personal favourite here is "Mercy street", a wonderfully delicate number with a haunting atmosphere.

What comes through clearly is that Gabriel was just as much focused on commercial success as his former band mates. It is just as likely that Genesis would have explored pop territories even if Gabriel had stayed on. He certainly enjoyed what was arguably the most successful period of his career around this time.

As a prog album, "So" barely scratches the surface. This is sophisticated pop from the 1980s; great to listen to and fun to sing along to. The production and performances are impeccable, bringing out the best in a fine selection of well written songs. As long as your not looking for anything too challenging this is a worthy acquisition.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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