Tuesday, March 27, 2012
BBC's Classic Albums Series Returns With Peter Gabriel's "So"!
BBC recently aired the latest installment of Classic Albums, which focuses on Peter Gabriel's 1986 album "So". As a fan of much of his work, I would have thought his fourth album, "Security", would have been a more interesting subject, as it was one of the first albums to be recorded entirely in digital format and included extensive use of African rhythms.
Within the first five minutes of this behind-the-scenes documentary into the recording of "So", however, it was hilariously obvious as to why this album had been chosen. If you recall, "So" included such mega-hits as "Sledgehammer", "Don't Give Up", "In Your Eyes", and "Big Time". While not a hit on the Singles chart, "Red Rain" garnered heavy rock radio airplay. Did you know that Police drummer Stewart Copeland supplied the rain-like hi-hat intro?
Or that Daniel Lanois (best known for his work with U2) produced the album?
Over the course of an hour, we see how Gabriel and Lanois were able to integrate African percussion with Memphis blues (on "Sledgehammer"), turn a failed duet with Dolly Parton (she turned him down) into a poignant and moving duet with Kate Bush ("Don't Give Up"), and see how Tony Levin came up with each of his iconic bass parts, among others.
That such an artistically innovative album such as this was capable of being embraced by millions around the world stands as a testament to the fact that you don't always have to dumb things down to the lowest common denominator to reach a mass audience. Those who harken back to the '70s, when Top 40 radio made room for acts such as Lou Reed and Steely Dan, the '80s were just as open to artistic statements such as this.
It's incredible to realize that, in just five short years after this album came out, the musical landscape would be reduced to angst and flannel, never to return.