In 1986, the crazy theatrics and meandering prog-rockery were far behind Peter Gabriel. Post-Genesis, the former frontman delivered four self-titled albums of only sporadic success (Solsbury Hill, Games without Frontiers, Biko).
But as this edition of the always terrific but maddeningly infrequent Classic Albums shows, So sent Gabriel soaring. Stomping innuendo Sledgehammer, boosted by a jaw-dropping video, was massive, but anti-80s hymn Big Time and Don’t Give Up, the touching duet with Kate Bush, also loomed large.
Gabriel reveals he first asked Dolly Parton to perform on that song, while bassist Tony Levin describes using a nappy to damp his guitar strings. Demos and track breakdowns show how the mix of dark pop and African stylings fashioned a classic. It’s an exhilarating study of the creative process.
About this programme
The making of Peter Gabriel's 1986 album So, which featured hit singles including Don't Give Up, a duet with Kate Bush, and Sledgehammer - a song that knocked his former band Genesis off the top of the US singles chart, and was accompanied by an innovative video created by Aardman Animations and the Brothers Quay. Gabriel analyses the album's original multi-track recordings to explain how he created a commercially successful pop record from a diverse array of musical styles, and the programme also features contributions by co-producer Daniel Lanois and Laurie Anderson.
©RadioTimes, by Mark Braxton