Fire Note Says: Music here is an easy 5 – the lack of extras holds this version slightly back from taking all gold!
Album Review: I don’t think there should be much argument or even discussion about how great So is from Peter Gabriel. It is a record that took him from being the eclectic front guy from Genesis that had some really great solo records to a MTV hipster and mega pop icon. It was the record that transformed Gabriel from playing 5,000 person venues of followers to 40,000 seated stadiums where the audience knew every lyric to the songs from So.
This popularity helped propel So to another level and still today most people remember the crazy videos from this album. With that said 1986 was a different time (I know the 25th Anniversary math doesn’t add up) but in 2012, So still stands tall. In fact, the version offered here uses the same track listing that Gabriel used on the 2002 remaster which bumps “In Your Eyes” from its original midway placement to the closing spot on the record. An excellent move as the song is not only one of the best of that decade but ranks very high in many best of all time lists.
There are three different versions of this Anniversary Edition which each increases the Gabriel offerings up to the limited edition which includes 4 CDs/2 DVDs/1 LP/1 12″ Box Set. This Special Edition not only contains the remastered album but also possesses the previously unreleased 2 CD set Live In Athens 1987. Some of the footage from this event appeared in a 1990 documentary but now the show has been restored, remixed and remastered. The end result is stellar. You get Gabriel in his singing prime and playing to a gigantic crowd. The live album has the perfect mix of audience and music while featuring Gabriel introducing the band on the opening “This Is The Picture”, giving intros to songs on tracks like “Shock The Monkey” and “Biko” while still diving down into more prog numbers like “The Family And The Fishing Net” before getting huge ovations at the start of “Solsbury Hill” and the hits from So. The recording blows 1994’s Secret World Live out of the water and is equal to 1983’s Play Live with the bonus of having a more popular set list as So is featured front and center.
Overall fans will need to decide if they want to buy another anniversary edition but I would say die-hards will definitely enjoy Live In Athens which makes this set worth every penny. There are no b-sides here which will be irritating to some as I will admit was a little surprising although the integrity of So is still maintained on its single disc and the b-sides would not have worked being added in with the live show. Plus that gives the 30th anniversary edition something to go for! Anyway, you absolutely can’t go wrong with picking up a copy of So and hearing Live In Athens will only increase your respect for Gabriel as one of the great rock icons of our time.
Key Tracks: “In Your Eyes (Live)”, “Solsbury Hill (Live)”, “The Family And The Fishing Net (Live)”
Artists With Similar Fire: Talking Heads / David Bowie / Brian Eno
-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony