The Classic Albums series of programs and DVDs is one of the best ever for any serious music fan. Each 60-minute episode dissects the creative forces and execution of some of Rock’s most iconic albums with the people who were there. While some of the first episodes struggled in finding their groove, all the recent editions have been simply excellent. Nearly all are must see/owns for any serious music lover.
Produced by Eagle-Rock and distributed by Kayos Productions in the USA, “Peter Gabriel – So” is the latest episode of this British-produced series to land in America. It is terrific, and you should check it out. Better yet go to Amazon and buy it as you might want to watch it a few times.
“So” is the album that took Peter Gabriel from cult artist to worldwide superstar. Before “So” Gabriel was the “weird ex-singer from Genesis!” After this record (and the great videos that accompanied it) – no more! Gabriel came to stand on his own being widely known for both his artistry and commitment to various humanitarian causes.
“So” was a sonic marvel that even today sounds incredible. Rich with nuance and musical detail in every track. “So” is always interesting to listen to and is frequently punctuated with great performances. Tony Levin’s bass. Stewart Copeland’s high hat. Kate Bush’s duet with Gabriel on the haunting “Don’t Give Up.” Laurie Anderson. Wow! What a work!
This was the record that introduced the world to the unique drumming style of Manu Katche who would go on to drum with Tears for Fears, Joni Mitchell, Dire Straits, Robbie Robertson and Sting (among others). His contribution can’t be overstated here in creating this indefinable collection of sonic soundscapes. Just give a quick listen to “That Voice Again’ or “In Your Eyes” – drumming with that kind of power and texture was unlike anything else during the late 1980’s.
Mainly though this is the product of a collaboration between Gabriel and then unknown producer Daniel Lanois. Lanois would go on to do big records with Dylan and U2 (among so many others). Gabriel and Lanois truly came together in the way real artists do: creating something unique that neither expected during the process. They both became better as a result.
One of the best-known fruits of this collaboration was arguably Gabriel’s masterpiece, the song, “In Your Eyes.” ‘Eyes,” which is painstakingly dissected by Lanois in the video sitting at the recording console, is shown how the song was meticulously created layer upon layer to become the song it is.
“In Your Eyes” is a song that would get a second wind from John Cusack’s elevated boom box in Cameron Crowe’s film “Say Anything.” The song would also go on to be the centerpiece of Gabriel’s live show (check out Secret World Live – also on Blu-Ray DVD). Great tune – explained in detail on classic albums.
All the details are here on this great Blu-Ray DVD. Comments from Lanois, Gabriel, Anderson, Levin, Katche, and others – many at the playback board – are great. Critic David Fricke, the most articulate of all the talking heads, again delivers context and insight into what makes this record so great. The only one missing is the reclusive Bush. A minor problem with this otherwise excellent must have DVD.