The ’59 2018 #173: 180622
Peter Gabriel – So (1986)
This year, Jem of Jemtunes, born in 1959, turns 59. So ‘The ’59’ celebrates 59 years of cracking tunes with a few albums from each year – 1959 through 2018. Currently we’re at year 28 – 1986.
So was the fifth studio album from Peter Gabriel, released on 19 May 1986 by Charisma Records.
After working on the soundtrack to the film Birdy (1984), producer Daniel Lanois was invited to remain at Gabriel’s home during 1985 to work on his next solo project. Initial sessions for ‘So’ comprised Gabriel, Lanois and guitarist David Rhodes, although this later grew to include a number of percussionists.
Although Gabriel continued to use the pioneering Fairlight CMI synthesizer, songs from these sessions were notably less experimental than his previous material. Nevertheless, he drew on various musical influences, fusing pop, soul and art rock with elements of traditional world music, particularly African and Brazilian. It is Gabriel’s first non-eponymous album, So representing an “anti-title” that resulted from label pressure to properly market his music.
Often considered his best and most accessible album, So was an immediate commercial success and transformed Gabriel from a cult artist into a mainstream star, becoming his best-selling solo release. The album’s lead single, “Sledgehammer”, was promoted with an innovative animated music video and achieved particular success, reaching No.4 in the UK top 40 and winning a record of nine MTV Video Music Awards. It was followed by four further singles, “Don’t Give Up” (a duet with Kate Bush), “Big Time”, “In Your Eyes” and “Red Rain”.
‘So’ was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1987 but lost to Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’. It has continued to appear in lists of the best albums of the 1980s and was included at number 187 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It was remastered in 2002, partially re-recorded for Gabriel’s 2012 orchestral project ‘New Blood’ and issued as a box set the same year.