1. So (1986)
Peter Gabriel’s fifth studio album is a mesmerizing dichotomy: simultaneously hooky and experimental; timeless, yet completely crystalizing its moment in history. Thanks to its massive singles (the soulful strut of “Sledgehammer,” the wacky bubble-gum funk of “Big Time”) and its crossover visual appeal (the MTV-defining “Sledgehammer” video, the “In Your Eyes” boombox scene from Say Anything), So remains Gabriel’s sole brush with the pop mainstream. But beneath the shiny surface level, it’s deceptively strange: “Red Rain” is an apocalyptic hallucination set to piano raindrops and Manu Katche’s snaking tom-toms; “This Is The Picture,” a collaboration with Laurie Anderson, is spooky art-rock voodoo, built on Tony Levin’s spasmodic bass. Meanwhile, “In Your Eyes” is the heartbeat of Gabriel’s entire career, exploring the African duality of love lyrics (in whose eyes — God’s? A lover’s?) via bottomless, ecstatic groove. It’s a masterpiece.