Well. I shall try to be objective about this record, but the truth is that this was the soundtrack to my late 20s/early 30s. My “wild period” so to speak. It is without a doubt Peter Gabriel’s most successful album and contains many of his best and most accessible tunes. I don’t think I’m alone, this was the soundtrack in the late 80s for the World!
“Red Rain” begins on a serious note and establishes the rhythmic pulse of what is to come on this incredible journey. The top-40 juggernaut/MTV classic is next, as “Sledgehammer” slays in every way. The use of R&B horns along with the world music beats he had established on the last couple albums is immediately accessible and winning. “Big Time” also features a similar groove and does not disappoint. It was from this album I resumed a deeper appreciation of Motown and the classic soul acts from the 60s and 70s that continues to this day. Thanks Peter.
The stunningly beautiful vocals of Kate Bush are featured on the next song, “Don’t Give Up.” Listen to the song with headphones and listen to the ache in their voices as they vow to strive through their troubles and remain in love. You will get emotional. The CD finds Gabriel in a more pleasant mood from the previous four solo albums and willing to talk more of personal relationships like “That Voice Again” and “In Your Eyes.” One of Gabriel’s all-time classics, “In Your Eyes” was featured in a very popular Cameron Crowe/John Cusak movie, placing it definitely on a soundtrack of the 80s.
Gabriel and Daniel Lanois’ production is just as sweet as can be and milks every ounce of beauty from Peter’s talent. It’s bright and cheerful, displaying a sense of humor at times (like the end of “Big Time”). I personally prefer the darker more experimental third album, where he first began his exploration of world music and African tribal beats and chants. I just can’t deny the sheer “right there at the right time” aspect of this record though. It was a breakthrough artistically as well as commercially. Highest recommendation.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on June 30th, 2011