I Go Dancing In

September 18, 2010

So

Peter Gabriel

(1986)

            Some have declared the 1980’s the decade of Al Franken, really I would argue it was the decade of Genesis.  While their most beloved work was done in the 1970’s, the three main parts of the band—Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, and Peter Gabriel were the Holy Trinity of Yuppie Pop.  Phil was the brooding, middle-aged, divorcee—the guy who realized marriage wasn’t what he thought it was going to be and now he’s lucky if he just get to see the kids on the weekends.  Mike was the happy go lucky one, the one who just needed his lady and a miracle.  Sometimes he and his Mechanics were down about stuff, like Paul Carrack’s dad dying, but in the end, if you believed in synthesizers and good times, you’d be all right. 

            Peter Gabriel was the older brother, the guy who had it all figured out and had weightier things to worry about like the environment, Rosanna Arquette’s eyes, and what was going on in Africa.  He was the artist who actually inspired other artists like Vampire Weekend and Damon Albarn (who was inspired by Mike & the Mechanics, I mean, really?)

            Before So, Gabriel was a favorite amongst the Patrick Bateman’s in the know; his status as a major star began when MTV aired on of the greatest videos of all time—“Sledgehammer.” A fun, funky song and totally out of character for Gabriel.  This was a sign to fans that Gabriel was ready to take it up a notch.  The album is a comment on the 80’s as well as an embodiment of it.  The track “Big Time,” is a great parody of wanting to be and have all things big:  “My parties have all the big names/and I greet them with the widest smile.”

            Of course, Peter does make sure his arty side show through as well—he collaborates with both Kate Bush and Laurie Anderson respectively and the classic “In Your Eyes,” introduced Youssou N’Dour to a larger audience.  (Fun Fact:  I was totally in the audience during the recording of the Jeffrey Gaines version of this song—at the time, I thought that was cool.  Now…I’m embarrassed for all involved…)

            After So, Gabriel got lost in the black hole of Todd Rundgren Syndrome.  He thought computers would take over the world and he wanted to be the first in line to befriend them just in case they enslave us all by 2010.  That didn’t happen so now he’s fucked and now has to live with a back catalog  of a bunch of pretentious, techy  crap that no one cares about (but they all came with enhanced CD ROMs!).  He’s looked back on this terrible mistake and has tried to rectify the situation with a covers album but that just made things worse.  The project was supposed to be him covering others songs and presumptuously these acts would do the same for him.  Except other bands didn’t want to return the favor…oops….Yeah, I think the lesson to be learned here is that artists shouldn’t partake in “projects.” Just make good videos with the Quay Brothers.

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