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Peter Gabriel – So (1986)

May 12, 2013

[Album 182/1001]Peter_Gabriel_So_CD_cover

The 80s.  Often a punch line & widely perceived as the runt of the album litter.  Sandwiched between the more consistently excellent 70s & 90s, perhaps it’s understandable.

However, one year seems to be a remarkable exception: 1986.

Want hip/hop?  Landmark albums by Run DMC & Beastie Boys.

Metal? Master of Puppets might be the finest metal offering there is.  Ever.  Those who disagree may choose Reign in Blood or Peace Sells..., also circa ’86.

Fist pumping anthems?  Slippery When Wet.

Solid arrangements & production?  XTC’s Skylarking.

Simply the best?  The Queen is Dead.

A hint of world music? Graceland.  And So.index

It’s tough to single out ‘highlights’ when the record is packed with gems.

So is more accessible than Gabriel’s earlier work, undoubtedly.  It would be wrong however to suggest a negative correlation here between an increase in audience & a decrease in music quality.  Sometimes it’s not just mediocrity that sells; So is anything but average.

The audio, of course, is only part of the picture.  The innovative music video for Sledgehammer consistently ranks among the top of all time.  On the big screen (a few years later), is there a more iconic music/movie moment than John Cusack + boombox raised above head blaring In Your Eyes?

So before you Say Anything too critical of the era, don’t forget to put an asterisk beside the 1986 calendar year!

From → 1980s

  1. Nice write-up. This was a highlight of ’86 for me, which was a fun year of mainstream music during my sophomore & junior years of college. Van Halen. Boston. Steve Winwood. The Moody Blues. Joe Jackson. GTR. Emerson Lake & Powell. Queen. Paul Simon. Big Country. Bruce Hornsby. Huey Lewis. Pretenders. And of course, Gabriel’s “So.” Not the most cutting-edge era of music, but very listenable…and most of them hold up pretty well (except for some questionable production choices). After years of Gabriel having minor hits and fairly successful albums, it was nice to see him become a pop star. A lot of fans lost interest, but it’s not a drastic departure from his earlier work.

    • Thank you sir – and agreed, it wasn’t really a 180 by any stretch (some earlier songs like Solsbury Hill were even more instantly accessible than this). So definitely holds it’s own, coming up on a few decades later.

  2. The dude finally broke out of his fragile artistic shell and started to dance…nothing wrong with that .

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