The 1986 release of Peter Gabriel’s So was, arguably, the apex of an iconic frontman’s idiosyncratic career. Here was an artist taking everything he had offered the audience to date – introspective slice-of-life balladeering, cutting-edge dance-rock, polyrhythmic world music influences – and spinning it into a slickly produced tour de force that caught on with MTV-addled youths as well as an older, more mature generation familiar with his work, either solo or as the original frontman for Genesis, for over a decade.
With a flurry of charting singles and iconic videos from So, it’s no surprise that the album is a big favorite here at Second Disc HQ. From the grandiose opening of “Red Rain” to the hanging uncertainty of “We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)” – or, depending on which pressings you’re enjoying, the quirky “This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)” (a duet with Laurie Anderson) or the romantic “In Your Eyes” – every track is a keeper; like so many other great discs of the era, it’s perfect pop with an ear toward the outside world.
A deluxe So has been the target of much speculation since The Second Disc opened its virtual doors in 2010. The revelation that Gabriel was researching material for a proposed 25th anniversary deluxe package has led us to this fall, when Gabriel and the original band behind the album will embark on the Back to Front tour, playing the album in its entirety along with other surprises. And on October 23, Gabriel’s Real World label will finally release the definitive look at this classic disc.
After much speculation on extra material, Amazon’s product listings have hit pay dirt on what to expect, and a full report is after the jump.
While our modest Reissue Theory look at So included non-LP B-sides and dance remixes, it appears that Gabriel’s package is going to feature material heard by few others, if any. The Pink Floyd-worthy So “Immersion Box Set” features eight discs across various formats. First, there’s the remastered album on both CD and 180-gram, half-speed mastered vinyl. The “So DNA” disc looks to feature unreleased, alternate and early content from the album sessions; the listing promises “a track by track evolutionary process leading you from the early moments when rhythms, melodies and lyrical ideas were discovered through the various stages of song development and recording.” Another 12″ single will, to some degree, complement that CD, featuring two unreleased tracks, “Courage” and “Sagrada,” and an alternate mix of “Don’t Give Up,” the album’s heartbreaking and still timely duet with Kate Bush.
Gabriel reported some time ago his effort to remaster and remix the footage used for POV, a 1987 concert video produced by Martin Scorsese that featured both footage from his world tour and a concert program from Athens. The fruits of this labor take up three discs (two CDs and a DVD) of the So 25 box; Live at Athens is presented from a brand new master from original film negatives and boasts a 5.1 surround mix.
The box closes out with a DVD with a brand-new installment of the ongoing Classic Albums documentary series devoted to the album. This disc features brand-new interviewers from Gabriel and many of his collaborators, including producer Daniel Lanois. A 60-page hardbound book featuring new liner notes and commentary by Gabriel as well as never-before-seen photos. The Classic Albums documentary will be available separately on DVD and Blu-Ray, as will a three-disc deluxe edition of the album.
Amazon’s order page now has a track list confirming the set list for the Athens show as well as the literal track-by-track nature of the “So DNA” disc. Read it all below.
Peter Gabriel, So: 25th Anniversary Immersion Box Set (Real World, 2012)
Disc 1: Remastered LP (originally released as Charisma/Virgin PG5 (U.K.)/Geffen GHS 24088 (U.S.), 1986)
- Red Rain
- Don’t Give Up (with Kate Bush)
- That Voice Again
- Mercy Street
- Big Time
- We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)
- This is the Picture (Excellent Birds) (with Laurie Anderson)
- In Your Eyes
Discs 2-3: Live in Athens
- This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)
- San Jacinto
- Shock the Monkey
- Family Snapshot
- Games Without Frontiers
- No Self Control
- Mercy Street
- The Family and the Fishing Net
- Don’t Give Up
- Solsbury Hill
- Lay Your Hands on Me
- Here Comes the Flood
- In Your Eyes
Disc 4: So DNA (track list identical to LP running order)
Disc 5: Live in Athens (DVD) (partially previously released as PoV – Virgin VVD 626, 1990) (track list identical to Discs 2-3)
Disc 6: Classic Albums: So (DVD)
Disc 7: Vinyl LP
Disc 8: Bonus 12″ (all tracks previously unreleased)
- Don’t Give Up (Alternate Piano and Background Vocals Mix)