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Release Date: September 18th, 2012 Movie Release Year: 2012

Peter Gabriel - Classic Albums: So

Overview -

This release tells the story behind the making of Peter Gabriel’s 1986 album So. It was his fifth solo album and the first one to have a title (all others were self-titled). The album spawned a number of hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic including “Sledgehammer,” “Big Time,” “Don’t Give Up,” (a duet with Kate Bush) and “In Your Eyes” which drove So to multi-platinum sales, the No.1 spot in the UK and No.2 in the US.

The acclaimed Classic Albums series is a definitive collection of the stories behind the albums that form the soundtrack to our lives. Made with the full authorization and co-operation of the artists, Classic Albums: So offers contributions from many of those involved in the making of the album and the landmark videos. Those featured include Peter Gabriel himself, co-producer Daniel Lanois, engineer Kevin Killen and musicians Jerry Marotta, Laurie Anderson, Tony Levin and Manu Katché and many more.

So was very much an album of the MTV generation and the distinctive videos for tracks like “Sledgehammer,” “Red Rain,” “Big Time,” and “Don’t Give Up” were key factors in the album’s success. A special re-mastered version of the classic album So will be released by Real World/EMI in September 2012 on CD, triple CD and a super deluxe box set.

Classic Albums: So offers a unique perspective on the motivations behind – and the actual creation of – this masterwork and contains as Bonus Features over 30 minutes of additional material not included in the broadcast version. This release is not to be missed.

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Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
25GB Blu-ray Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080i/MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English: LPCM 2.0
Special Features:
In Your Eyes
Release Date:
September 18th, 2012

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


In my eyes and ears, Peter Gabriel is a legendary musician, singer, and songwriter. I haven't had the pleasure of seeing him live yet, by I do own most of his solo albums on vinyl. He has such a beautiful and unique sound that combines rock and world music together, with a bit of jazz and classical. The result is a recipe for some of the best music my ears have ever heard. With Gabriel's 'So' album, Gabriel hit the top of the charts and became a household name with his hit single 'Sledgehammer,' due in large part to MTV.

'Sledgehammer' came out a few years after MTV got very popular in the 1980s. And the video for 'Sledgehammer' was and is still today considered one of the best music videos ever made. With its visual FX, animation, and music, 'Sledgehammer' entered the lives of many and made a permanent stamp in almost ever home of that time. This documentary follows a few people close to the making of the album including Gabriel, as they talk about the making of this award winning and yet odd album.

It was great to see how people close to Gabriel talked about the album and the man himself. Gabriel is actually quite a funny guy with a very dry sense of humor. One thing is for sure though, Gabriel and his musicians are very methodical and detailed when it comes to their music. During this album, the musicians would sometimes do several hundred takes on one song. They needed to get it just right. And back then, they did not have the technology to do things at a fast and easy pace. Which means, tons of equipment broke, and it was left to engineers to layer and loop hundreds of instruments and sounds. Some of the songs were even put together on old fashioned tape.

And Gabriel is aware of how slowly he works. Much like Stanley Kubrick, Gabriel would spend sometimes years on one album, therefore he set up his own studio, so he can work at his own space without having to pay someone else. During the course of this very short 60 minute documentary, there are several talking head interviews with writers, musicians, and Gabriel's long time producer Daniel Lanois. Not to mention Gabriel himself gives an enlightening interview.

The documentary is intercut with concert and music video footage from the album, if I hear the song 'Sledgehammer' one more time I think I might have a nervous breakdown. This was a very odd album for Gabriel. It came out at the height of the 80s, but it seems like it is a timeless piece of music, although you can hear some 80's synth here and there. I hoped for this short documentary to be better, and to give us something that is not "by the book", but everything feels very scripted and comes across as a dull promo puff piece. For huge fans of Gabriel, you might enjoy this, however you might feel slighted at the lack of information and poor structure.

Video Review


This blu-ray disc comes with a 1080i (not even 1080p) transfer with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In a few scenes, the aspect ratio was presented in 1.33:1, the original form. The video is typical for a standard made for TV special. The detail looks very good where you can read what is on the dials and sound mixing unit. The colors are vibrant as well, but most everything is shot inside or on a set.

The blacks are deep with some of the archived footage of the old music videos ranging from decent to poor quality. The talking head interviews look good, with the flesh tones coming out natural and smooth. I was hoping to see an up-to-date high definition version of his music videos, but sadly, that's not the case.

Audio Review


Unfortunately, this blu-ray comes with only an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 mix. This is a music documentary, people. Let's get a decent audio mix on here. While this is not a concert film, there are tons of music snippets from Gabriel's library inserted here, and it would have been nice to get the full sound. However, most of this release involve interviews, which sound fairly good.

The dialogue is clear and crisp, which is the only thing that is on this disc, besides some of Gabriel's music making an appearance, but when that does happen, it doesn't sound full. I was hoping for something better here.

Special Features

  • Big Time (HD, 4 mins) -Here is a short little feature that provides some insight on this particular piece of music including alternate ideas and technical difficulties.
  • Amnesty Tours (HD, 8 mins) -Here, Gabriel talks about his work with Bono from U2 to get the world involved with Amnesty International.
  • The Making of 'Sledgehammer' (HD, 13 mins) -A pretty basic making of the famous music video and how they came up with the ideas for the music video and their execution of completing their ideas. Also, here is where you can see some of the brilliance and humor of Gabriel.
  • In Your Eyes (HD, 10 mins) -Here is a little featurette that goes into the creative and engineering process for this particular song. Some of you sound engineers will like this extra.
  • Final Thoughts

    'Classic Albums: Peter Gabriel So' is a neat look at the making of Gabriel's famous album. That being said, it's very short and doesn't provide enough information to satisfy me. The sub-par video and audio presentations along with the lackluster extras, which seemed to just be deleted scenes from the actual documentary made the whole film and release mediocre at best. Even if you are a fan of Peter Gabriel, I suggest you rent this one, it doesn't provide enough content to warrant a purchase.