GHS 24088 So
Produced by Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel
Released on May 1986
UK CHART POSITION #1 . . . US CHART POSITION #2 . . . MULTIPLATINUM RECORD
Find it at GEMM
GHS 24088 cover  

P eter Gabriel sums up So in “Sledgehammer” -- “I’ve kicked the habit / Shed my skin / This is the new stuff / I go dancing in…” So is almost a coming-out party, with signs of a newfound confidence evident everywhere, from the album cover (the first to feature his face unobscured) to the genuine pursuit of commercial success. Along with Steve Winwood’s Back In The High Life, So grabbed radio listeners with its sophisticated merging of world music, dance rhythms and English pop. Much of So’s success belongs to coproducer Daniel Lanois, who had honed his art at the foot of Mount Eno and had already worked with Gabriel on the soundtrack to Birdy. Lanois adds exotic sounds at every turn, enabled by an exotic cast (Tony Levin, Manu Katche, Kate Bush, Youssou N’dour, David Rhodes). But the real revelation here is Gabriel as he assumes the mantle of the mature artist: unashamed to be celebratory, compelled to be cautionary, and self-assured in his skills as a poetic diviner of emotional essence. That Gabriel’s emergence from his own chrysalis occurs in tandem with Lanois’ declaration of artistic independence gave So two rockets of propulsion, so no wonder it found itself leagues ahead of its contemporaries in the pop market. Equally important to the success of So, Gabriel was again not pushing merely the musical envelope but the visual envelope as well, courtesy of music videos played on MTV. While videos for songs like “Shock the Monkey” were ambitious by the standards of their time, Gabriel outdid himself on the videos for “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time,” both of which managed to make the artist’s visionary work seem accessible and friendly. It would be tempting to call Gabriel’s third album his best, since it was his first attempt to break free from the conventional confines of Western pop, but the tools at Gabriel’s disposal on So are so much more impressive that it outclasses his third album at every turn. Every song on So is well crafted, a unique and self-sustaining musical world in miniature, balancing between the extroverted (“Big Time,” “That Voice Again”) and introverted (“Mercy Street,” “Don’t Give Up”). Fifteen years later, the music (and the music videos) from this effort are still vital and vigorous. Of interest, the compact disc of So included Gabriel’s duet with Laurie Anderson, “Excellent Birds,” which could also be found on Anderson’s own Mister Heartbreak. It was the second of several collaborations between the singer and the leading ladies of the ‘80s alternative scene.

GHS 24088 back cover GHS 24088 lyric sleeve
GHS 24088 back cover GHS 24088 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. RED RAIN
  2. SLEDGEHAMMER
  3. DON'T GIVE UP
  4. THAT VOICE AGAIN    (Peter Gabriel/David Rhodes)
  5. IN YOUR EYES
  6. MERCY STREET
  7. BIG TIME
  8. WE DO WHAT WE'RE TOLD milgram's 37
  9. (*CD/CS bonus track:) THIS IS THE PICTURE (EXCELLENT BIRDS)    (Peter Gabriel/Laurie Anderson)

    All songs written by Peter Gabriel unless noted

CREDITS

PETER GABRIEL -- vocals, piano, CMI, prophet, linn, percussion, synth, backing vox, CS80, horn arrangements
MANU KATCHE -- drums, percussion, talking drum
DANIEL LANOIS -- guitar, tambourine, surf guitar, engineer, horn arrangements
TONY LEVIN -- bass, drumstick bass
DAVID RHODES -- guitar, backing vox, additional arrangement ideas
P P Arnold -- backing vox
Michael Been -- backing vox (5)
Jimmy Bralower -- linn kick (7)
Ronnie Bright -- bass vox (5)
Kate Bush -- guest vox (3)
Simon Clark -- Chorus CS80, Hammond, CMI, bass
Stewart Copeland -- hi-hat, drums
Djalma Correa -- surdu, congas, triangle (6)
Coral Gordon -- backing vox
Chris Hughes -- Linn programming
Wayne Jackson -- trumpet, cornet, horn arrangements
Jim Kerr -- backing vox (5)
Dee Lewis -- backing vox
Larry Klein -- bass
Jerry Marotta -- drums, drumstick bass
Don Mikkelsen -- trombone
Youssou N'dour -- guest vox (5)
Mark Rivera -- alto, tenor and baritone sax, processed sax
L Shankar -- violin
Richard Tee -- piano
Kevin Killen -- engineer
David Bascombe -- original track recording
David Bottrill -- additional engineering
David Stallbaumer -- additional engineering, studio management
Ary Carvalhaes -- engineer (6)
Jairo Gualberto -- engineer (6)
Bruce Lampcov -- New York overdubs engineer
Trevor Key -- photography
Peter Saville and Brett Wickens -- design

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK May 1986 Charisma LP/CD/CS PG/PGCD/PGMC 5 lyric sleeve
US May 1986 Geffen LP/CD/CS GHS/M5 24088 lyric sleeve
GER 1986 Virgin LP/CS 207/407 587 630 lyric sleeve
YUG   Jugoton LP SCHAR73168 inner sleeve
UK 2002 Virgin CD PGCDX 5 digital remaster
UK 2003 Virgin CD SAPGCD5 super audio cd
JPN   Virgin CD VJCP-68527 digital remaster

 

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