1986, Music

So (1986) by Peter Gabriel

I haven’t gotten into solo Gabriel yet really, this is only the third album of his that I’ve heard. But back when I was a Gabriel-era Genesis obsessive I listened to a lot of Gabriel-fronted music. I have always been a little wary of his solo music in part because it is so clearly different from his music with Genesis, even the earlier albums. That being said, I don’t mind his late ’70s stuff, at least that which I’ve heard.

But I have some real qualms about this album: it is a very clear attempt to sell more records. That isn’t always a bad thing – though it often is – and I think in this case it is executed reasonably well, for the time, but it just doesn’t float my boat.

Even though I was a little young, I think “In Your Eyes” has a real resonance for people slightly older than myself but much of the rest album doesn’t have that resonance. It’s also pretty scatter-shot stylistically which, in this case, does not feel like a virtue.

But the worst thing of all is the “It’s 1986!!!” production. I know that’s a fault of the vast majority of pop music from this era, but there are few things I hate more than mid- and late-’80s mainstream pop rock production. At least Gabriel brings in his token world music touches – and I have always felt this influence has been overstated – so they make it a little less horrible. But I would love to hear what this album would sound like had it been recorded in, say, 1979, not 1986.

That being said it’s all quite catchy, competent and way more creative than the average pop rock record. But it’s just not my thing.

6/10

All tracks written by Peter Gabriel, except where noted.

  1. “Red Rain” 5:39
  2. “Sledgehammer” 5:12
  3. “Don’t Give Up” (featuring Kate Bush) 6:33
  4. “That Voice Again” (Gabriel, David Rhodes) 4:53
  5. 1. “In Your Eyes” 5:27
  6. 2. “Mercy Street” 6:22
  7. 3. “Big Time” 4:28
  8. 4. “We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)” 3:22
  9. 5. “This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds)” (Laurie Anderson, Gabriel) 4:25
  • Peter Gabriel – lead and backing vocals, Fairlight CMI, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 (all excep
  • t tracks 5, 9), piano (all except tracks 7, 9), Linn LM-1 (tracks 3, 7), synthesizer (tracks 5, 7), percussion (track 4), Yamaha CS-80 (track 6), LinnDrum (track 9), Synclavier (track 9)
  • Tony Levin – bass guitar (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), drumstick bass guitar (fretting only) (track 7)
  • David Rhodes – guitar (all except tracks 6, 9), backing vocals (tracks 1, 5)
  • Jerry Marotta – drums (tracks 1, 8), additional drums (track 5), drumstick bass guitar (drumming only) (track 7)
  • Manu Katché – drums (tracks 2, 3, 4, 5), percussion (tracks 3, 4, 5), talking drum (tracks 5, 9)
  • Chris Hughes – LinnDrum programming (track 1)
  • Stewart Copeland – hi-hat (track 1), drums (track 7)
  • Daniel Lanois – guitar (tracks 1, 2, 4), tambourine (track 2), surf guitar (track 7), 12-string guitar (track 9)
  • Wayne Jackson – trumpet (track 2, 7), cornet (track 7)
  • Mark Rivera – tenor saxophone (track 2, 7), processed saxophone (track 6), alto and baritone saxophone (track 7)
  • Don Mikkelsen – trombone (track 2, 7)
  • P. P. Arnold – backing vocals (track 2, 7)
  • Coral Gordon – backing vocals (track 2, 7)
  • Dee Lewis – backing vocals (track 2, 7)
  • Richard Tee – piano (tracks 3, 5, 6)
  • Simon Clark – Yamaha CS-80 chorus effect (track 3), Hammond, Fairlight CMI and bass (track 7)
  • Kate Bush – vocals (track 3)
  • L. Shankar – violin (tracks 4, 8)
  • Larry Klein – bass guitar (tracks 5, 6)
  • Youssou N’Dour – vocals (track 5)
  • Michael Been – backing vocals (track 5)
  • Jim Kerr – backing vocals (track 5)
  • Ronnie Bright – bass vocals (track 5)
  • Djalma Correa – surdo, congas and triangle (track 6)
  • Jimmy Bralower – LinnDrum kick (track 7)
  • Bill Laswell – bass guitar (track 9)
  • Nile Rodgers – guitar (track 9)
  • Laurie Anderson – vocals (track 9)

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