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Monday, December 05, 2016

Peter Gabriel -- So


It's tough to be objective when reviewing a voice that has been in your head for 30 years. Peter Gabriel is my favorite vocalist, and his album, So, is now 30 years old. I'm not going to even pretend that this is a fair review. In fact, I am going to review the version of this I am most familiar with, the original vinyl, because that is the one ingrained upon me, and I struggle to even think about this album any other way. So, if you're still there, here is a song-by-song breakdown of Peter Gabriel's breakout album (yes, I began this sentence that way on purpose). He recorded plenty albums before this (including the ones he did with Genesis), and I have heard them, and they have some good songs, but they're also too weird for their own good.  Gabriel also did some good work after this, which I'll actually review, but his artistic and commercial peak occurred in 1986, with So. Wait, I forgot, it's time to break it down!
Wait, no its not. I can't do it. I can't be objective, so I can't write a review. Gabriel's vocals sound like the Earth itself is singing--they are ancient and full and wise and comforting and discomforting, cut from well-aged stone, but shifting and changing. The synths in "Red Rain" sound like seismic shifts. The percussion on this album, African and South American in origin, Motown and British in origin. sounds like it has existed and will always exist for all eternity. Gabriel's harmonies on "Mercy Street" are so healing, cleansing, and painful. The way he satirizes 80's over-indulgence in such a timeless way on "Big Time" reminds me of America's currently most popular twitter account. The way he is so vulnerable throughout, voice full of emotion, "I come to you, defenses down/with the trust of a child," "Without a noise, without my pride/I reach out from the inside," isn't like anything else I've ever heard. The way, after he describes so much much humanity throughout the previous seven tracks, then makes you question everything by casting all of human behavior as an act of preprogrammed obedience in the closer, "We Do What We're Told," is a final contradicting stroke of genius. I love this music so much. Here's all of the videos from the album. He made one for all but two of the songs.

1986 Geffen Records
 Side One
1. Red Rain 5:39
2. Sledgehammer 5:12
3. Don't Give Up (featuring Kate Bush) 6:33
4. That Voice Again 4:53

Side Two
1. In Your Eyes 5:27
2. Mercy Street 6:22
3. Big Time 4:28
4. We Do What We're Told (Milgram's 37) 3:22

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