Follow the link for more information. So is the fifth studio album by See Me In Your Eyes – 38 Special singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel, released on 19 May 1986 by Charisma Records.
Although Gabriel continued to use the pioneering Fairlight CMI synthesizer, songs from these sessions were notably less experimental than his previous material. Nevertheless, Gabriel drew on various musical influences, fusing pop, soul and art rock with elements of traditional world music, particularly African and Brazilian styles. Often considered his best and most accessible album, So was an immediate commercial success and transformed Gabriel from a cult artist into a mainstream star, becoming his best-selling solo release. The album received positive reviews from most critics, who praised its songwriting, melodies and fusion of genres, although some retrospective reviews have criticised its overt commercialism and 1980s production sounds. 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. So was remastered in 2002, partially re-recorded for Gabriel’s 2012 orchestral project New Blood and issued as a box set the same year.
Prior to recording So, Gabriel released four studio albums all titled Peter Gabriel. They received nicknames based on their sleeve art, which were designed by English duo Hipgnosis. An inexpensive studio existed in the house’s adjacent barn, consisting of two rooms, one where Gabriel would produce his vocals and work on lyrics, and another where the music would be assembled. The studio’s basic equipment consisted of “two analog 24-track machines, a Studer A80, and a Studer A80 shell that had been modified by a local electronics wizard, with its own audio cards and transport controls”. Gabriel would record a piano demo on a modified “B machine” and play this to the band.
Gabriel’s demo would also be transferred to the A machine at this stage. Other equipment included the “groundbreaking” Fairlight CMI synthesizer, which Gabriel said in an interview for Billboard meant “more human imagination is involved”. He added, “the creative decision-making process has become more important than technique. You have a wider range of tools, a wider range of decisions”. Towards the end of recording, Gabriel became “obsessed” with the album’s track listing and created an audio cassette of all the song’s beginnings and ends in order to hear how the sounds blended together. So has been described as Gabriel’s most commercially accessible and least experimental album. The songs are highly influenced by traditional world music, particularly African and Brazilian music, with Gabriel using the distinctive drum beat from these styles.
Opening with the shakuhachi bamboo flute, Gabriel uses a prominent horn section inspired by the music of American soul singer Otis Redding. Gabriel wanted the album to “crash open at the front” and despite disliking “metal” percussion instruments, he was persuaded by Lanois to allow The Police’s Stewart Copeland to play cymbals and hi-hat on its opener, “Red Rain”. Don’t Give Up”, was fuelled by Gabriel’s discontent with rising unemployment during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership and Dorothea Lange’s photograph “Migrant Mother”. In Your Eyes” has been described as Gabriel’s greatest love song. Inspired by the Sagrada Família and its architect Antoni Gaudí, Gabriel sings over a drumbeat of only feeling complete in the eyes of his lover. Mercy Street” after “45 Mercy Street”, a poem released in another posthumous collection. Mercy Street” is set to one of several Forró-inspired percussion compositions that Gabriel recorded in Rio de Janeiro.