“Gabriel approaches each of his bow’s many strings with a masterful confidence, delivering a satisfyingly unified whole” – Classic Rock
The first of Peter’s studio albums to have a proper title of its own, So was a watershed release in his career. Although experimentation was still high on the agenda (a mindset still enthusiastically fostered by producer Daniel Lanois), this 1986 record steered itself towards a poppier, more commercial sound, no more so than with huge, meaty hits Sledgehammer and Big Time.
Its marriage of the artistic and the commercial made for an indisputable success, with the album quickly sitting atop the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, its sales went triple-platinum; in the US, it went platinum five times over. It went on to claim the number 14 berth in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Albums Of The Eighties poll.
Aside from some intriguing collaborations – with Laurie Anderson on This Is The Picture; with Kate Bush on Don’t Give Up; and Youssou N’Dour on In Your Eyes – it was the unity of singer, band and producer that made So such a crucial record in the Gabriel canon.
“I think part of the reason So worked so well was that the band was really firing off each other. We had a great sound and production team, and it was sort of compact in the way it was put together. Red Rain is one of my favourite tracks from this record and is a good example of a band playing together with a lot of energy.
“Sledgehammer was obviously a big track from that record and was in part an homage to the music I grew up with. I loved soul music and this was a chance to work with some of the brass players who worked with Otis Redding. He was my all-time favourite singer. It was a fun thing to do around a great groove.”