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SDEtv looks back / Peter Gabriel: So 25th anniversary super deluxe box set

The box set that Peter Gabriel wrote to SDE to defend

Peter Gabriels 1986 album So was reissued in 2012 as a (late in the day) 25th anniversary edition. Fans had waited a long time for this but were left disappointed by the lack of any material associated with the many singles (remixes, B-sides etc.) and non-arrival of the hoped for 5.1 mix. Despite this, the box was thoughtfully designed and certainly looked the part, as this SDEtv unboxing video will demonstrate…

If you’d like to look back at the history of the So reissue announcement, the ‘open letter’ from SDE, PG’s response and browse all the related So posts on SDE since that time, then here is a link (scroll down and start at the bottom!).

As you can see below, the box is still available, as is the 3CD edition with Live in Athens. You 33RPM half-speed mastered vinyl is also still around and is a great price when you consider that this comes with a hi-res download.

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Peter Gabriel

So - super deluxe box

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Peter Gabriel

So - 3CD box set

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Peter Gabriel

So - 2016 33RPM half-speed mastered reissue with hi-res download

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In the So box:

  • • Newly remastered So CD
  • • So DNA CD (Audio evolution of So)
  • • Live In Athens 1987 double CD and DVD
  • • Classic Albums: So DVD
  • • 180g So 12-inch LP
  • • 12-inch AA vinyl collectible
  • • 60 page case-bound book

47 responses to SDEtv looks back / Peter Gabriel: So 25th anniversary super deluxe box set

  1. Johan says:

    Great box, but a shame they edited those screams in the Mercy Street performance from Athens. My favorite PG performance. You still need the POV VHS/LD or the SW EP for that complete version. The high res download includes the alternative version of Don’t give up (Piano Bvox mix). That version is not on Flotsam and Jetsam.

  2. Mark Williamson says:

    Quant. Thank you for saying eloquently what many of us “older” fans are thinking.

  3. Toast says:

    I, like a few others posting here, bought the SO box set for £50 at the SO concert at the O2 which seemed like a decent price. I was mainly pleased to have the Classic Albums documentary and the Athens concert on DVD but the book is great too (honestly I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the DNA CD, but probably should now I have plenty of time on my hands…).
    Anyone who was at that concert was probably thinking the same thing: will Kate Bush come on to sing Don’t Give Up, and there was a very strong likelihood she would as the SO concert happened between her announcing her live comeback and the Before the Dawn shows. Surely too good an opportunity to miss and I’m sure Peter Gabriel must have asked her? Anyway, there was a sort of collective sigh that went through the crowd when one of Gabriel’s backing singers stepped up to sing the Kate parts, not disappointment but a feeling of “oh well”. Still a great night and worth watching on the Back2Front DVD.

  4. Wayne says:

    Yikes the 3 Cd set is outrageously priced at Amazon now.

  5. -SG- says:

    Wow, reading about this set is what originally brought me to SDE. What a discovery, thank you Paul for the years of enjoyable delves into the world of superdeluxe editions. Despite all of the controversy, I eventually got it. I think b-sides and fully realized alternate mixes/different vocal takes would have been truly welcome here, but it is what it is. I think it can sometimes be difficult to be objective when being so immersed in a project. Probably going the xtc route with a 5.1 mix, b-sides and an archive of different demos would be the way to go next time. Considering so much was left out, he could actually release a completely different set and it would still be “new”.

    • Alan Blevin says:

      This release was where I first was alerted to SDE.Even if I was disappointed with what they did to one of my favourite albums I should be grateful for it because of all the enjoyment I have got out of SDE in the years since.
      I finished up buying the 3cd version and the Blu-Ray of Athens so at least have a fair amount of the content.
      And by the way just before Christmas Peter’s site sent out an email saying there would be a CD release of Rated PG early this year.Nothing since.I won’t even mention Flotsam And Jetsam.
      Stay safe everyone.

  6. Geoff D says:

    Enjoying these retro reviews Paul – thanks. Like everyone else I am disappointed in this set – an iconic album such as this deserved so much more

  7. Michael Caspar says:

    I’m a great Peter Gabriel Fan. My most loved Album is 3 (Melt). I hear and love it since it was released in 1980 (!). Oh, man!

    Since them I try to collect everything Peter Gabriel released over the Years. The SO Deluxe Set is an exception… Why? It was offered in a time, when Vinyl was not on my list. And I found nothing new in this set. A few years later I found a cheap version with 3 CD’s and the “live in Athens”-concert. This was my choice.

    2016 my old love “Vinyl” was flared up again and I bought all 33 1/3 LP’s including SO with the hires-download Codes. And I’m happy with that.

    Last year I found by coincidence the fantastic collection “flotsam and jetsam”.
    This compilation is a real dream for me as a fan!!! But it is not published as a box set or a super-deluxeedition. It is only available as a stream or a download. No further information, no pictures, no gimmicks. Nothing to put hands on… Is this “brave new world”? It leaves me a bit confused. But also happy, because a long term dream come true: 62 (!) rarities from Peter Gabriel free house!

    I would be happier if it had been released as a box set! You would have more content and the specialist trade would not be left behind. And more would be reported about it. For example from you, Paul…. Instead a report about an 8 year old set. No reproach to you! What “flotsam and jetsam” could have been for a bomb! Hardly anyone noticed it …

  8. Bill says:

    Why was the live version of Red Rain omitted from this Athens show ?

    I saw this tour twice (Madison Square Garden on 12-1-86 and again in 1987 at Meadowlands Arena and Red Rain was the best live song on both nights.

    Very disappointed by this omission.

    • Tom m hans says:

      It was not played in Athens hence the omission. I saw the show in June 87 in Rome, Italy and he did not play it there either.

  9. George Stevens says:

    If you’ve not heard the DNA versions they are not just the demo versions. They are tracks built up from sections of the various versions of songs, to show how the songs evolved over (being Gabriel) many, many versions.
    Imagine 30 seconds tack piano, then 30 seconds beatbox & vocal, then the bass is added in, etc. The quality goes up and down, and the “final version” moves in and out of earshot.
    They’re not something you listen to often, but fascinating for an album we all know inside out.

  10. Mr Smyth says:

    Very interesting again Paul, I’m loving these unboxing videos. It seems like Record labels get a lot wrong so maybe there should be some proper fan input into these SDE’s by the Majors to reduce this fan disappointment. I for one am still disappointed by the missing stuff on the “Street Fighting Years” box thinking about what it should have been so I understand people’s disapointment with this. Anyway, back to subject, I bought the 3 disc version for a fiver ish years back & the thing I loved the most was hearing “Intruder” for the 1st time. What a brilliant song!

  11. Quante says:

    Hi Paul,

    I started this post at the weekend, and was going to post it on the Bill Withers piece, but hadn’t finished it. So, the video on the ‘So’ unboxing seemed the appropriate place to post this having written what I had…

    You’ve written a typically nice piece about Bill Withers, and yes, the greatest hits from 1981, is perfect. The Bill Withers box set can only have jumped in price recently as it was always at reasonable price for many years. Michael Jackson’s cover of Ain’t No Sunshine was a great recording from his childhood.

    I wanted to write a piece about the qualities of SDE and the pleasure you bring to myself and many others. I hope you take great pride in what you’ve achieved over the years?

    I found SDE one Christmas (I think it was 2012) whilst searching for deluxe box sets. It was the Peter Gabriel articles on the So reissue during 2012 that really caught the eye; especially once you had an official response from Peter Gabriel. Your articles and views over the years have always been well thought out, fair, interesting and well written. It isn’t easy being grammatically accurate and far easier to make many mistakes; so I know the time and effort it will take you to write and edit your own work.

    I was lucky enough to win an SDE competition in 2015 for a bundle of Peter Gabriel (him again!) albums. I wrote the following to thank you, which reading it back today saves me writing it all again (good old copy and paste):

    I follow your website daily and spend too much money accordingly. I’m one of the silent people in life, so you haven’t seen me comment, but SDE is one of the few websites that is of any value, and I’ve enjoyed and learnt loads. I love the follow ups by others who do comment and fill in the details on various artists, especially the uber fans of artists. I’ve also smiled when reading the technical discussions on sound quality of re-releases, as frankly I haven’t a clue what’s involved. I buy vinyl and cd’s and have far too much that I’ve never listened to, mainly because of time constraints and because I buy too much.

    The main thing that has changed since then is that I now write and leave comments. It took Kate Bush releasing her box sets in 2018 for me to break forth, write and inflict my comments on SDE. I hopefully take care not to deride others opinions – I’m all too aware that the internet is awash with inappropriate comments that sit there forever. One of the pulls of SDE is the general warmth in the opinions of the contributors’ posts. In comparison there’s too much crap from angry, critical people elsewhere on the glorious WWW. My posts act as a personal memory bank of a time and place that a record or concert that meant something to me; and in effect SDE has created your own life’s musical diary.

    It’s remarkable the reach your articles have around the world and within the industry. What makes it special is that you write from the fans point of view, rather than being a music journalist who needs to make an impact. When you get the likes of Steven Wilson, Roland Orzabal, Phil Manzanera, Paul Young, Trevor Horn, Stephen Lipson etc. interacting so warmly with you, then you know you’re doing something right.

    Some of the content recently has been excellent – the Isolation playlists and SDE videos have been excellent and provide content that brightens up the day when the main billing of Covid 19 is utterly devastating for the world.

    Deals! It’s a word, along with the phrase ‘It’s a bargain’, that has brought out a cold sweat for many a reader, judging by some of the numerous witty comments over the years. Someone brilliantly wrote something along the lines of remembering the day they used to have money was the day before they discovered SDE. It’s true. I’ve bought so much stuff that I’m glad I have, along with other items that even as they arrived I thought, why have I bought this? The good purchases definitely outweigh the average ones and I know there are many things I’d have missed out on if it wasn’t for the alerts you’ve provided on SDE. The signed Debbie Harry book was one thing I was really pleased to get.

    I’m glad to have amassed a wonderful collection whilst it has been available. The pace of change in the industry starting to ditch / diminish the cd for digital has been shocking in the last couple of years. It’s another sign of an industry that doesn’t understand its customers and your articles remind them that they are so wide of the mark on this. Digital is how the youth listen to music. They don’t buy music, they rent it, via streaming. A whopping chunk of the population around my age 53, with disposable income (at least before Covid 19), who intend to be here for the next 30 or so years, love cd. Why the music industry has chosen to start to dismantle the physical market voluntarily is bonkers. I’ve ended up paying for streaming for the family and I want to buy cds. What doesn’t the music industry get that the consumer does? Give us good quality product (music and packaging) and don’t price gouge. The new reliance on vinyl for physical income is misplaced. I buy lots of vinyl, but the market is already plateauing and here we go again with the industry looking to milk what it can with higher pricing for lots of unnecessary rehashed coloured product. Many acts have released some really good product on their own websites at decent price levels; yet the likes of Pink Floyd, a brilliant band, have been led up the commercial garden path by corporate greed – yuk.

    Here are some of my favourite best value purchases:

    Pearl Jam Ten Collectors Edition: €79
    The Beach Boys The Smile Sessions box set: €54
    Frida: Something’s Going On signed box: €43
    Abba: Studio Albums lp box set: €32 (not as cheap as SDE once advertised it at)
    David Bowie: A Reality Tour lp box: €26
    Tangerine Dream: In Search Of Hades: €56
    The Beatles: In Mono lp box set: €278 (the exchange rate was decent in 2014), In Mono cd box: €87
    Kate Bush: Vinyl Box III: The price kept dropping on Amazon Germany, so I kept buying between April to August 2019: €49, €45, €37, €35
    Kathryn Williams: Anthology: €49
    Marillion: Misplaced Childhood lp box set: £35
    Kate Bush: Before The Dawn lp box x 3: £25
    Philadelphia International Classics – The Tom Moulton Remixes cd box: £16; lp box: £90
    LCD Soundsystem: The Long Goodbye lp box: £49
    Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Inside The Pleasuredome: £64
    Prince: 21 Nights book with the great live cd: £3
    Philadelphia International 40th Anniversary 10 cd box set: £16
    Everything But The Girl: 7 x 2 cd sets: £20
    Lynyrd Skynyrd: vinyl box set: £32
    Roxy Music: Complete Studio Albums lp box set: £42; cd box £40
    Genesis: The Charisma Years 1983 -98 lp box: £40
    Genesis: 1976- 1982 lp box: €66
    Can: The Lost Tapes lp box: £42
    Coldplay: 12 x Lithographs at £5 each
    David Gilmour: Live In Gadansk lp box set: £55

    I don’t have many regrets over things I haven’t bought at the time, but two stick in the mind. One is The Clash’s 7” singles box set which was £50 on release, and I passed – it was before my days of engaging with SDE and really collecting. What really got me to start buying product in larger volume was an article in Record Collector in about 2008, which said that purchasing records could be a good investment as an alternative to a regular pension. That’s all the self-justification I needed to buy things I previously hadn’t. SDE completely opened the gateway and the house has been getting filled with music ever since. The other ‘regret’ is the Status Quo 1972 -80 lp box set, which I sat looking at for days when it was £76 on amazon uk. I probably wouldn’t have played it, but I knew it was going to be an expensive one down the line, which of course it is. I was going through one of several phases where I knew I didn’t need it, knew I’d already bought various other items, and so passed. Often at a later date I have caved in and bought various cds and lps that have been sitting in the ‘saved for later’ basket. Truthfully, I don’t have any regrets. My life has been nothing other than enriched by music and SDE has been essential reading for the past eight years.

    I’m finally entering the collection into discogs, which I find tedious but ultimately it will be worthwhile.

    The largest musical gift / recommendation SDE provided me was the introduction to Steven Wilson. It’s amazing that even with a wide and varied musical interest that I’d not heard of him, and then came Hand Cannot Erase. What an album; my favourite in the last twenty years. He has a large back catalogue that I’m working through, and so far so good. Steven Wilson is now firmly in the mainstream (certainly the SDE mainstream) and no doubt the exposure you’ve given him has helped his profile. My favourite albums, at least as of today, from the SDE years that I keep going back to time and again are:

    Brandy Clark: Big Day in a Small Town
    Steven Wilson: Hand Cannot Erase
    Roger Waters: Is This The Life We Really Want
    Lanterns On The Lake: Spook The Herd (it’s new but already so enjoyable)
    Field Music: Open Here

    My self-isolation album today is Mark Knopfler’s Tracker. I worked for Mark Toney selling ice cream (mentioned in the Basil song) for a few months as a student. I ate more ice cream than I sold. Mark Knopfler has a lovely way of telling stories in his songs.

    Finally, in relation to Peter Gabriel’s So album, I agree that the revised album track listing / flow is not as good as the way it was originally released; regardless of how Peter Gabriel wanted it.

    So Paul, thanks for everything so far. Don’t Give Up. SDE is the tops.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thank you very much! And to everyone else I promise I didn’t pay Quante to write such nice things!! Cheers :)

      • John McCann says:

        Im one of the silent people in life!,,,,,,, and then goes on to Write the longest post I can ever remember reading, some very nice words,. quante,hope your well,

    • Kauwgompie says:

      Well said Quante! Thanks for sharing this.

  12. What? Me? Worry? says:

    Wait till 2021 for the “late in the day” 35th where it will be utterly bollocks up again.

  13. Tony says:

    Oddly enough the kids love Peter Gabriel & So is one of the very few albums ( they love Madness too ) of mine they choose to listen to themselves, this box looks fab as it is to me, I got the smaller version, I’m going to have a hunt around for this online. I’m liking this going back unboxing, how about a feature on the build your own box sets that you could make out of CD singles , I used to love going to Woolies and getting them over the life span of the album, my favourite is the REM Out of Time box, for years I thought I had missed a CD single as there was a gap, until I realised that the album went in there too, the INXS little black box with taped artwork was ace too. Thanks for these, a nice break from the real world for a while.

  14. JohnM says:

    Still confused by this – does the 3CD box also include a DVD? Seems to have been conflicting info through the years. Would love the DNA disc (which seems to be the most interesting element of all the variants) but can’t afford the deluxe set.

  15. CJ Feeney says:

    I’ve always been interested in this box, but never enough to buy it.

    I liked the PoV movie that was replaced by Live in Athens. The use of home movies and other footage made it a cut above the typical concert movie. My VHS got chewed up though.

    A have a Japanese mini L.P. edition that gathers most of the b sides, but not the mix of In Your Eyes.

  16. Dave H says:

    The lack of a 5.1 surround mix was a surprise considering 5.1 mixes already existed for the singles on the play dvd.

  17. Steven Roberts says:

    So is the poster boy for how NOT to do a box set.

    • Chris Squires says:

      I think that was Hotel California. Compared to that SO is an indulgence.
      I think SO was just a massive disappointment rather than a failure per se. What it contains would not be so bad if it was a run of the mill album by a run of the mill artist. I won’t be stupid enough to name anyone or anything as someone would get upset.
      BUT this is Peter bloody Gabriel. This is SO! If not his best album then certainly his most accessible and biggest selling (like Hounds of Love vs. The Dreaming). And there is the rub. What it is vs. What it could have been.

      There would be quite a high percentage of people here who if asked what their favourite track by their favourite artist was it would be some obscure b-side or something not readily available, so to miss out an entire set of genres (b-sides / remixes / alternates) is criminal.
      The main redemption is DNA, which I love.

  18. joel ivins says:

    living so far out in the california desert, i never had much access back then to singles, etc, so it would have been cool to have them included…however, i will say i enjoyed the box set (except for the altered track order)…i loved pulling all the stuff out and spending time listening and reading and immersing myself in the art etc

  19. Gisabun says:

    This was a SME – super mess edition.
    Lack of B’sides and remixes and there was a slew of that.
    No 5.1 mix.
    No BR of anything [BR for Athens came after and then they threw in the DVD of Play. Why?].

  20. Mike the Fish says:

    The 2016 half speed mastered vinyl is a different cut (and cutter) to the vinyl in the 2012 set.

    I like that they went for the minimal embossed sleeves for the vinyl in the set with the original sleeve shot taken care of on the book. A lot of repetition in this set, though.

  21. Trash says:

    I think I must be one of the few purchasers of this that actually likes it.

    I really like the content and the thought that went into it. I don’t have 5.1 so I never miss that.
    I love So DNA – as a songwriter (albeit a crappy one) I love hearing demos and hearing the songs evolve in this way is pretty unique. And the whole thing has a good quality to it.

    B-sides would have been nice (Across the River is one of my favourite Gabriel tracks) but the lack of them doesn’t ruin my enjoyment.

    Still can’t get used to the revised track-listing though…

    • Mike the Fish says:

      I agree about the revised track listing. I can’t get into it either. On the 45rpm cut of the album, side 4 is We Do What…, …Picture, and …Eyes and they just don’t flow well for me: three very separate tracks on one side.

  22. Harcourt Fenton Mudd says:

    This box set is available for £50 direct from Peter Gabriel website.

    I was going to buy this box-setat one point, but after a hard think, decided to just hunt down all the 7” singles and cd singles instead, for the same amount of money, a so already had a (signed) please from the original release…and that Athens concert has been on tv before.

    Nowadays there is the flotsam and jetsam set for all the b-sides etc……but of course, this is digital only, alas!

    • Steven Roberts says:

      Safe to say the release of Flotsam and Jetsam has put the kibosh on any SDE editions of the other PG albums for the foreseeable.

      Mind you, it wouldn’t surprise me if FnJ itself were to get a VERY expensive vinyl box edition for some RSD a few years down the road…..

  23. bertielego says:

    Artistry and legacy management are very different; it is very rare to meet people with both capabilities. It is not a surprise; the former has to do with personal expression, the latter with customer centricity.

    Few shine. Robert Fripp / King Crimson come to mind.
    Most fail to please. Hello, Annie Lennox / Eurythmics.
    And some truly disappoint. Yes, Mrs Collins & Gabriel, you do.

  24. Dave says:

    Picked up the 3 cd set ages ago amazon deal a fiver ! Great album .superb hi fi sound production . And then there s the music wow Perfection . Alround .!

  25. Tony O says:

    let me know when you are having a yard sale

    • DonnieBiscuits says:

      Tony, you raise a good point. Paul, where do you keep all your media? I’m picturing a Paisley Park style vault stacked with shelves of vinyl, CDs cassettes, DVDs and supporting material. That would make a video in itself; ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome’!

  26. Kauwgompie says:

    One of the biggest let-downs in the history of box sets and let downs. No remixes, no 5.1, no b-sides, a wasted opportunity if I have ever seen one. It especially hurt because this was one of the best albums ever. Every song is brilliant.

    In Gabriel’s defense, the SO DNA disc was a cool idea and definitely a welcome addition to this box set. To my knowledge no one has ever done anything like this ever since. I ripped the disc from a friend then later bought this box on a giant sale. My box is still sealed because it is so utterly useless. I bought the 3CD box for literally $5 and that gave me a nicely remastered album with a live concert. I’m still angry about this box. And then last year Gabriel released all his remixes and non album material as download only. How out of touch with your fans can you be????? Brutal.

    • Stuart says:

      The second kick in the teeth came about 8 months later when he released the Live in Athens content on a stand-alone blu-ray, that is also missing from this box.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        Which he said they had ‘no plans’ to do!

      • Billy Jinchereau says:

        “The SO DNA disc was a cool idea and definitely a welcome addition to this box set. To my knowledge no one has ever done anything like this ever since.”

        Marillion started releasing demo albums in 1995 and have since released all of their albums as such.

        • Mike the Fish says:

          The difference here is the the tracks are largely compiled from various takes/mixes/works in progress along the way, so they serve as a documentary as to how the track evolved. So rather than a track being a ‘complete’ demo, it could be made up to 2 to x different work tapes edited together. Like what ABBA did with Like An Angel… on the last The Visitors set.

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            Paul Simon did this with the track ‘Graceland’ at the end of the reissue from a few years back.

          • Mike the Fish says:

            Was that taken from Classic Albums or a new thing?

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            New.

          • Billy Jinchereau says:

            I realise I wasn’t clear but in fact the Marillion demo albums do contain an extra cd with “writing sessions” and various works in progress plus complete demos of every songs. I love it when bands / artists do that, we can hear where tracks could have gone and bits that were’nt used! Not for everyone but a great documentary indeed!

    • AdamW says:

      The idea of an entire disc of early versions of the album tracks was not a new idea – at minimum U2 had done it in their Achtung Baby box set the year before. But it is among the best ideas when done right for SDE inclusion, and I think both U2 and PG did it right here.

    • GTR says:

      Whitesnake have done something similar to the DNA disk with the ‘Evolutions’ disk in their recent SDE’s. They’re a bit rough and raw but are enjoyable. The first part of the track may be a tape copy of Coverdale/Sykes playing the track for the first time in a hotel room. It then moves on to a first band demo version, later band demo version etc.

      Wish more bands would do something like this.

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