'Peter Gabriel: So Classic Album' [Blu-ray]
(Peter Gabriel / Blu ray / NR / 2012 / Eagle Eye Media)
Overview: The latest addition to the acclaimed and award winning Classic Albums series tells the story behind the making of Peter Gabriel's 1986 album So.
Blu ray Verdict: Some of the things you will learn from this fantastic new Blu ray release is that So was Peter Gabriel's fifth solo album - and the first one to have a title! Indeed, the others all had just been called Peter Gabriel up until that point! I know, who knew?! Also, the album spawned a number of hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic. The biggest was, as we all do know the infamous, and dancefloor infectious 'Sledgehammer,' and also 'Big Time,' 'Don't Give Up' (a stunning duet with Kate Bush), and 'In Your Eyes' - which drove So to multi-platinum sales. Which meant the #1 spot in the UK on their albums chart and the #2 spot in the US.
Indeed, it was Gabriel's second album produced by Canadian artist Daniel Lanois. The previous year, the two of them had worked together on Birdy. Lanois had been previously known for his ambient collaborations with Brian Eno as well as producing U2 since 1984. As he had with the soundtrack to the film Birdy, Lanois brought many of his own ambient sensibilities to this recording. Many of the tracks also continued to showcase Gabriel's interest in world music, with Gabriel commenting: "I think this album is nourished by so many varieties of black music, and not just soul and blues: there's stuff from Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica."
A monster on the MTV video circuit for the longest of times, especially the innovative 'Sledgehammer,' this new program features contributions from many of those involved in the making of the album and the videos. Luckily that includes Gabriel himself, and also co-producer Lanois, engineer Kevin Killen and musicians Jerry Marotta, Laurie Anderson, Tony Levin and Manu Katché, among other.
As Gabriel himself says early on in the documentary about So, "I knew it was good. I think we all knew it was good," and Lanios adds that he thought the "songs were more revealing, more naked, and included more risk taking." They were housed in a brand new studio surrounded by equipment that none of them knew how to operate, but that they had to make evolve; sonically and emotionally. They also discuss the time spent with Kate Bush ("musical royalty") for the recording of 'Don't Give Up,' and Gabriel's desire to get 'Sledgehammer' onto the close-to-being-finished-without-it record!
On a side note, for its 25th anniversary, So has just been re-released as the So 25.½ Special Edition. The limited edition box-set contain 4 CD's, the original album remastered, the double live album Live in Athens 1987, So DNA CD, where the original album tracks there re-recording on Work in Progres; and 2 DVD's, the concert film "Live in Athens 1987" and this very same documentary "So: Classic albums"; the original album on LP version and the 12-inch AA Vinyl single; this version contains the unreleased tracks 'Courage' and 'Sagrada,' and an alternative version of 'Don’t Give Up.'
This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Features of over 30 minutes of additional material not included in the broadcast version.