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SO PETER GABRIEL

TRADING THE ECCENTRIC FOR THE ECLECTIC, WITH SO, PETER GABRIEL’S MULTICULTURAL MUSICALITY TOOK ITS CUES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE, THE ALBUM’S UNIVERSAL INCLUSIVITY TRANSFORMED ITS CREATOR INTO A STAR ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE AND A MUSIC VIDEO MAVERICK
So was Peter Gabriel’s fi fth studio album and released on 19 May 1986 © Getty Images

While his former bandmate Phil Collins was enjoying his moment in the sun in 1985 as the continent-hopping star of Live Aid, Peter Gabriel was ensconced in the creative hub of his country estate crafting So, the funky hybrid of brash pop, R&B and World music which shot him to global superstardom and saw him emerge as an unlikely poster-boy for MTV.

A decade earlier, Gabriel had left Genesis, the band he’d co-founded and helmed to the pantheon of prog-rock royalty.

Regarded by many as the creative linchpin of the group, Gabriel was renowned for translating the mythical mysticism of their lyrics into their stage shows by donning a variety of outlandish get-ups which saw him wearing fox heads or pyramids, dressed as a sunfl ower or a succession of historical or fi ctional characters.

His shock departure from the band, due to him being frustrated at having his life planned for him in two-year cycles and his newborn daughter developing an infection which saw her life hang in the balance for her fi rst six months, led to him seeking solace in his country house and tending to his vegetable patch. He then slowly manoeuvred himself back into music, only releasing the results when he was confi dent he could do so on his own terms.

What followed was a series of eponymous albums brimming with ideas and eclecticism, which allowed Gabriel to experiment with sounds, textures and lyrics.

Punctuated with the odd hit single – Shock The Monkey, Solsbury Hill and Games Without Frontiers – each album was followed by a retreat to his country pile where he was free to be as creative and experimental as he liked without deadline or expectation – the antithesis of his Genesis days, where the relentless cycle of album-touralbum- tour zapped him of drive and creativity.

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About Classic Pop

In the latest issue, we have an exclusive interview with synth pioneers Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark as they celebrate 40 years of marrying art with pop. Elsewhere, we welcome back Simply Red – Mick Hucknall talks us through new album Blue Eyed Soul and Classic Pop speaks to Prince’s inner circle as the Purple One’s wonderful 1999 LP gets a revelatory boxset treatment. Our classic album this month is Peter Gabriel’s iconic So, the perfect union of pop and World music that made the former Genesis frontman a global star. There’s a dash of Acid Jazz funkiness as we meet Incognito and The Brand New Heavies plus we hear from Bruce Hornsby about how Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon has given him some latter-day hipster cachet. We take an in-depth look at the solo back catalogue of George Michael in our Album By Album feature and also hear from Midge Ure about his 1980 Tour and brand new career retrospective compilation. In our extensive reviews section, we put new albums from the likes of A-ha’s Magne Furuholmen, Anna Of The North, Alphabeat, The Wonder Stuff and David Hasselhoff under the microscope and there’s a bumper crop of reissues including that huge Prince boxset, Rick Astley, The Police, Sparks, David Bowie, Simple Minds, Factory Records and much more. Our books special includes reviews of Prince’s autobiography The Beautiful Ones, Andrew Ridgeley’s George & Me plus Debbie Harry’s Face It and more. For live reviews, we head to Hyde Park for Radio 2’s Festival In A Day – headlined by Pet Shop Boys – and elbow our way down the front for shows by xPropaganda/D:uel, Tanita Tikaram, The International Teachers Of Pop and Morten Harket.