Thursday, 4 December 2014

Peter Gabriel "So" (1986)

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Gabriel, now 64, perform this record in its entirety at what was an impressive show, especially considering his age. "So" is my personal favorite, and his most critically acclaimed work that was made hugely successful with the help of the innovative and legendary stop motion music video for the single "Sledgehammer". Gabriel was once the vocalist of Progressive Rock band "Genesis", when he parted ways with them in 1975 he had little trouble establishing his solo career through a string of self titled albums, proving his talent as a musician as well as vocalist. 

"So" is Gabriel's most accessible album, in between its gentler, soothing tracks, this record is ripe with finely tuned pop numbers that are layered with subtle instrumentation adding together to create strong hooks that get stuck in your head. The percussion has a worldly feel, strong influences from foreign cultures can be felt at times, it brings these tracks an edge that help define their unique vibe. Even with brilliant instrumentation Peter's voice is the main attraction, he has an authenticity and range to his style that takes hold of the moment and leads the narrative to dramatic peaks. His highs are grabbing, and his lower range has a slight gruffness that keeps these songs grounded with a humanistic touch. 

My favorite track "Big Time" has a pulsating, jiving baseline that rocks and rumbles its way through this number where Gabriel chimes through egotistical musings mocking his own success. His soaring vocals inspire awe as he delivers some brilliant lyrics "I'll be stretching my mouth, to let those big words come right out". Its an riveting track that comes between some gentle tracks, which are equally engaging. Its a varied track listing that shifts the gears often, and it works well, jumping from sombre ambiance to an energetic thriller in its own design. The production is typical of the era, sounding slightly flat in some areas but overall it captures well, impeding nothing. "So" is an album I was raised on, its punchy hooks and dramatic moods have been enjoyed for years, its a fantastic record, one that is still a benchmark in the artistic dimension of mainstream music.

Favorite Songs: Red Rain, Sledgehammer, That Voice Again, In Your Eyes, Big Time
Rating: 8/10