Peter Gabriel fans heard the "So" album and sneered "sell-out." However, with "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time," the album was not only Gabriel's most uptempo, it was also his most accessible. Like several performers, Gabriel's music crossed Rock's path and did so in a compelling way, but Rock was not necessarily what he was about. Rather, as a musician and performer, Gabriel's ability to blend and bend styles was where his talent lied.
Gabriel started with the Art-Rock Genesis but as the group's popularity grew, thanks largely to "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" album and tour, Gabriel feeling confined, left.
Gabriel's '70s solo career was eclectic to say the least, employing numerous musical influences, including worldbeat. These albums built a following but not a massive one, which was, at the time, probably all right by Gabriel. However, the '80s brought change. First, "Peter Gabriel - Security" featured his first real commercial break through with the innovative "Shock The Monkey." Then "So" rolled out. But no performer of Gabriel's ilk can stay in a niche very long. By the '90s Gabriel had tried his hand at movie soundtracks (not very successfully) and returned with a softer, more worldly sound.
But Gabriel's soundtrack luck turned. He worked with Thomas Newman on songs for the '08 film WALL-E. "Down To Earth" earned a Golden Globe nomination but lost to Bruce Springsteen ("The Wrestler"). However, it won the Best Original Song from a Motion Picture award at the '09 Grammys.
Another honor came when Gabriel received the 2014 Prog God Award during a ceremony at the Underglobe, beneath Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
1977 Peter Gabriel (Car)
1978 Peter Gabriel (Scratch)
1980 Peter Gabriel (Melt)
1982 Peter Gabriel (Security)
2010 Scratch My Back
2011 New Blood
2013 And I'll Scratch Yours
1983 Plays Live
1994 Secret World Live
2012 Live Blood
2014 Back To Front: Live in London
"So" is the album. It's as close and consistent as Gabriel comes to Rock. "Shaking The Tree: 16 Golden Greats" does a good job of capturing the Gabriel's significant work. For those with a taste for world music or art rock, Gabriel's self titled late '70's releases (all titled "Peter Gabriel") should be considered but his '90s releases "Us," "Secret World Live" and "Revisited" are better options.