- Audio CD (22 Oct. 2012)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Real World Productions
- ASIN: B008BSPQ2A
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | Vinyl | Mini-Disc | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,706 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Remastered edition of the classic Peter Gabriel album, released to mark its 25th anniversary. Originally released in 1986, So became one of the defining albums of the era and landed an international array of multi-Platinum certifications. It includes the iconic hit "Sledgehammer".
Summer 1986. A British singer has just knocked his old group off the top of the American charts. Twelve years previously, he'd been performing 23-minute epics inspired by Arthur C. Clarke, naming songs after Labour Party slogans, and dressing up a knight. But this was a different world, and this appeared to be a very different Peter Gabriel.
But once you look past the bombast of Sledgehammer (Gabriel's biggest hit, which pushed Genesis' Invisible Touch off the US No.1 spot), you notice how easily its artful ideas slipped inside the 80s mainstream. Before its well-known salvo of sexual euphemisms, the song begins with a sampled Japanese flute, and a horn figure inspired by John Coltrane.
Elsewhere, the sultry pull of Mercy Street is driven by Brazilian percussion, and references to the life of poet Anne Sexton. We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37), inspired by a controversial set of 1960s electro-shock experiments, could be off the second side of David Bowie's Low. And all this on an album that went triple-platinum in the UK, and five-times that stateside.
But for many, Gabriel's 80s success remains a benchmark for po-faced pretentiousness in pop, while musical soulmates like Kate Bush escape similar criticism. Certainly, time has not withered how special she sounds on the album's greatest track Don't Give Up. But it's unfair how she’s said to soar while Gabriel gets derided, as he gives us so much to enjoy here.
Big Time's satire on 80s corporate excess is as cheeky and fun as ABC's (How to Be A) Millionaire. Red Rain is as powerful and thrilling an album opener as that era can offer. In Your Eyes is as back-of-a-cab-at-2am as big ballads can ever be, but when Gabriel sings, “I want to touch the light / The heat I see in your eyes,” his voice has a timbre, and a tenderness, that can't be ignored.
Hindsight shows this is an album put together with care. It's also worth noting that this remaster beats a 2002 attempt that didn't meet Gabriel's expectations, and that the deluxe box set contains So DNA, a disc exploring the evolution of each song.
Newcomers might also hear ideas that recall contemporary bands like Elbow, who covered Mercy Street as part of Gabriel's covers project Scratch My Back/I’ll Scratch Yours.
It's time innovation in pop was celebrated properly, rather than sneered at. This reissue reminds us how successful such experiments can be.
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Top Customer Reviews
With this in mind, I'm somewhat delighted to say that "So" suffers from none of the above. In fact, it sounds absolutely V A S T. You probably already know that "So" was Gabriel's most commercial record, spawning a number of hit singles in the mid-80s (including the legendary "Sledgehammer"), so I likely don't need to mention that it includes a duet with Kate Bush or contains the fabulous "Red Rain", "That Voice Again" and "Big Time" - but what I will say is that it sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday - it's fresh, crisp, sonically excellent and rhythmically superb.
The inclusion of the live album on 2 additional CDs makes for interesting listening. The songs from "So" are dispersed throughout the live set, so we are also treated to a snapshot of songs which date from before "So" was released - including "Games Without Frontiers", "Solsbury Hill" and "Biko".
I've played "So" some 20+ times now and I can't believe how well it's stood the test of time. This remaster serves as a reminder that it was a well recorded & produced album in the first place, but also that not all remasters suffer from "the loudness wars". It's a superb album which, when played through decent stereo equipment, sounds simply sensational.
Taking the original album alone this is a five star product (with one minor quibble which I will get to). The songs are as good as ever and have been used for varying reasons since. Don't Give Up is as painful a listen as it was back then. It's a beautiful sound with point and counterpoint of Gabriel and Kate Bush expertly deployed. Sledgehammer is as good as ever and Mercy Street sounds cleaner and more haunting on this remaster. The world sensibilities of Gabriel were always somewhere in the mix and whilst he wasn't as overly political on this offering as previous ones (Biko, Games Without Frontiers) he used the influences well on tracks like In Your Eyes and the mood on Red Rain. Big Time is possibly the only track that has dated. It could only be a product of the 80's and whilst almost certainly a piece about the excesses it isn't the timeless single others are. Don't Give Up has as much to say about our austere times now as the time it was conceived. So to the quibble. In Your Eyes is a beautiful track and used to be the opener to side two (as was on my tape). Here it is the closing track. Quite why the tracks have been reordered I don't know and it could have done without it to be honest.
The extras are what really lets the side down. The booklet on this version contains no information other than lyrics and credits.Read more ›
We get the main album twice: CD and vinyl. The massive book in the box states that In Your Eyes was moved to the beginning of side 2 originally as it would not cut satisfactorily at the end of a vinyl side, yet here it is cut at the end of a vinyl side in the box. The LP, by the way, was cut half speed and sounds excellent. It is very bassy, and some may prefer the bass lighter, more open sound of the 80s cut. The CD also sounds good, is not compressed to the eyeballs and is not overbright.
We get Live In Athens twice: spread across two CDs and on one DVD. The stereo mix is not great, the 5.1 mix is near pointless as it seems to be mainly ambience sent to the rears and what information is sent is very quiet. Also it appears that there has been some vocal overdubbing on In Your Eyes as the lip sync isn't great, and a note gets held even after PG has closed his mouth at one point.
The So DNA CD: this is of historical interest, but of limited listening pleasure. Each track (possibly aside from This Is The Picture) is a medley of different versions of the same track showing the changes from inception to nearly completion. What is interesting is just how much change there was in many of the tracks, and how much PG seemed to struggle to get the lyrics straight. While this is at times fascinating, I would probably have preferred complete alternative mixes from later on in the recording with parts that didn't make the final mix. We Do What We're Told contains a modern guess by PG at what was an early version, and then goes into a mix from the sessions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such a pity the Thotch material which inspired him has not been includedPublished 2 days ago by Mikeonfreeserve
Brought 'SO' many memories back from the 80s. A must for all Gabriel fans,even if your not a fan you must add this to your collection. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mark loughran
A timeless album. For me there are a number of moments which are just spine tingling: the moment Kate Bush enters on 'Don't give up' and the frantic drumming in the dying seconds... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer