Peter Gabriel: So (1986)
Geffen GHS 24088
- Red Rain
- Don’t Give Up
- That Voice Again
- In Your Eyes
- Mercy Street
- Big Time
- We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)
Before I start about this album, I have to say that this album still ranks as a top ten all-time album in my mind. I loved it in 1986 and love it more in 2019. This is one of the few records that I can listen to without feeling the need to skip a song or two.
The album opens with one of the greatest opening songs ever. Red Rain tells the story of a very destructive world, filled with torture and kidnapping in many parts of the world. Sledgehammer is next. It is a song inspired by Otis Redding and chock full of sexual euphemisms. The next song, Don’t Give Up reflects Gabriel’s growing disillusionment with Margaret Thatcher’s leadership in Britain. Side one closes with That Voice Again, which is a statement about conscience. It is a nearly perfect side of music.
Side two opens with In Your Eyes, a hauntingly beautiful love song made immortal by the film Say Anything. Everyone remembers John Cusack holding a boombox over his head. Mercy Street is a song inspired by and dedicated to poet Anne Sexton. Big Time is another funky hit song skewering Reaganite yuppie values. The original LP ended with We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37). It is an interesting conceptual song dealing with blind obedience people show ruthless despots during time of war. The cassette (which I had) had one more song: This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds).
The record is amazing on its own, but it had two now legendary videos behind it that were innovative for the early MTV generation. The stop-motion videos for Sledgehammer and Big Time were a stroke of genius at a time when not much thought or effort were being put into music videos.
It was one of the few early cassettes I eventually replaced with the CD. I now have the LP, but it is missing that final song, which is a shame, but I can live with it.