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So, What's Your Favorite Peter Gabriel Album?
on June 24, 2004
There's always one pivotal record that truly makes an artist unique. One for which they'll always be remembered, even after a string of later achievements. Fleetwood Mac did it in 1977 with Rumours. U2 made history and the cover of Time Magazine with The Joshua Tree. And Peter Gabriel's 1986 release So firmly established him as an artist in his own right. In previous years, fans still linked Gabriel's musical identity to the Genesis days, and solo hits like "Shock The Monkey" couldn't quite bring him to the forefront. But So changed all that, capturing the attention of critics and listeners alike. Recognized as Gabriel's first commercial success, the record sold over 3 million copies in the US alone, and soared to #2 on both the US and UK charts. So went on to receive Grammy nominations for Album of the Year, as well as Song of the Year for "Sledgehammer." Probably the best-known of all Peter Gabriel's songs, "Sledgehammer" won the prestigious Video Vanguard Award, and Rolling Stone magazine ranked it among "The Top 100 Videos." Today, So remains Peter Gabriel's most original work, delivering an extraordinary blend of songwriting, vocals, and musical intuition. From slamming tracks like "Red Rain," "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time," to darker-hued corners of the soul with "In Your Eyes" and "Mercy Street," the record is pure genius. One could argue the depth and color in these songs betray the simple monochrome image of Gabriel on the cover. Of course, Peter Gabriel redefined himself in 1992 with the release of Us, followed by the highly-acclaimed Secret World Tour. Even then, his live performance of "Sledgehammer" still held audiences awestruck, proving Gabriel will never outlive the essential timelessness of So. Country superstar Garth Brooks once remarked in 1994 that every musician searches for that one anthem, their career song, which ultimately defines them as an artist. Peter Gabriel certainly uncovered not one, but several career hits in So. When an artist's music refuses to be confined to one decade, when songs manage to stay relevant long past their prime, then what you have is not an artist, but a legend.