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Peter Gabriel responds to ‘open letter’ about the “So” Deluxe Box Set

So Deluxe Box / Peter Gabriel

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Peter Gabriel has this afternoon personally responded my open letter about the forthcoming So Deluxe Box Set. In the letter he admits “we got this wrong” by not including Live In Athens on Blu-ray and adds that “there are no plans, at present, for a stand-alone version” (of Live In Athens). In response to the letter and fan feedback, the download included with the box will now include “a selection of tracks in 720p” which Gabriel acknowledges is “not perfect” but is “the best we can do in the circumstances”.

He also explains in some detail why B-sides and remixes were not included and the reasons for not including 5.1 surround sound.

I would like to thank Peter Gabriel for going to the time and trouble of writing a response to my original open letter. I’m sure his fans would agree that, wherever they stand on the pros and cons of this box set, it’s a great gesture.

The response has been posted on his Gabriel’s website but I hope he will forgive me for including the full text below. Let me know your thoughts on what Peter has had to say. I will post a response on this in the next day or two.

Pre-order the So  Deluxe Box Set here (UK) or here (US)

Peter Gabriel responds to So Deluxe Box criticism
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Peter Gabriel responds to So Deluxe Box criticism
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[…] recall how Gabriel refused to include any remixes or B-sides on his super deluxe edition of So, something he defended , somewhat unconvincingly, at the […]

[…] he got that job done back in 2012. That set, as any longtime SDE reader will be all too aware, was more than a little flawed and it’s still extremely frustrating that all those B-sides, remixes and a 5.1 mix (which […]

Charlie Waffles

It is very nice to see an artist reply to somebody who is not a celebrity. However, when the reply is “luke warm” I smell something fishy in Denmark.

Mr. Gabriel, if you read this, take note. Some of us will pay whatever price you dictate if you include the proper material of a box set by you. You have always been a straight up guy for decades and I have always appreciated that. Your reply to Paul leaves something to be desired. You should have addressed all of the issues or thrown Paul’s letter away. You know and I know it has been fourteen years since you released new music. Currently, I am being subjected to Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez on the airways. I am not happy with that. In those fourteen years, you could have split the So box set into TWO box sets. One that you put out, and the one that should have been put out.

There are not many artists like you in the world and I will not beg Meghan Trainor for a thorough box set of any album she records. I expect you to give the people who love your music and PAY for your music the absolute best. On each box set release. B-sides and remixes would have been so appreciated. I appreciated what your team did. I will appreciate the team more if you authorize a So box set sequel. A redux, if you will. I do not think it is much to ask from a genius like yourself.

Charlie Waffles

P.S. “All the best.” Really? That closer is a lame greatest hits title from a 90’s hip-hop group.

[…] EMI100 centenary from 1997, the 2002 Classic Records audiophile set and as part of the infamous 25th Anniversary box in 2012. The new version will maintain the ‘re-order’ of the track listing, which puts […]

Jeremy

PG’s own website has discounted the SO box set from $164 to $119.99 …

https://store.realworld.co.uk/product-category/deluxe-boxset/

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[…] superb ‘Dance Mix’ of Peter Gabriel‘s Sledgehammer (famously absent from the So deluxe box) gets its first proper mainstream CD reissue and we don’t think the ’US Dub Mix’ […]

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[…] Wer damals den Weg auf den Lykabettus genommen hat, wird Peter Gabriels Auftritt auch ein Vierteljahrhundert danach zu seinen schönsten Konzerterinnerungen zählen. Der Gig war bislang nur als DVD und Doppel-CD im sündhaft teuren 25th Anniversary Deluxe Box Set des Albums „So“ erhältlich, ohne DVD auch in der 25th Anniversary 3CD Special Edition. Der Konzertfilm „POV“ gar war nur in grauer Vorzeit auf VHS erschienen. Weshalb die Blu-ray nicht schon 2012 für die Jubiläumsbox produziert worden ist, erschließt sich nicht; immerhin hat das Gabriel selbst in der Kontroverse um den Inhalt als Fehler bezeichnet. […]

[…] future, further bilking the fans who’d already bought the set.  Peter Gabriel HIMSELF even responded directly to SDE saying he “got this wrong” and that there were “no plans, at present, for a […]

[…] In Athens will inevitably get a Blu-ray reissue”. Not so, according to Peter Gabriel who personally responded to the open letter posted on this blog. He admitted he and his team ‘got this wrong’ […]

[…] and logistical hassle of having two versions of the box (one for blu-ray, one for DVD) or ‘doing a Peter Gabriel‘ as we like to call it round our way, and not bothering to issue it on blu-ray at all (as he […]

[…] believe that’s the track listing!’ and they went back and redid it. I felt the same way about Peter Gabriel’s So, I thought it was a disaster. What a terrible way to represent the totality of that album. Half of […]

[…] Peter Gabriel – So Deluxe Box […]

Claudio Dirani

(please, delete my first post. thanks!)
Paul, needless to say, but now said it again and again, what you do for music is priceless. You should run for president of music world (if that existed, mind you).

Anyway, if there is something that I will never understand is the reason why fab musicians simply DO NOT PUT the whole thing OUT at once. Okay, people will go: “they are saving for later”. OK. That would be an (un) acceptable excuse.

However, if one decides to put a so-called Immersion box set out, there is no reason for an extra disc with the b-sides? Fact is: they had already bee released! These ones aren’t tracks that we believed to exist.,, They are commercial product, in the best sense.
In fact!

So, like Paul McCartney who MISSED A HUGE op to release many Ram outtakes, Queen left off several b-side stuff, like the extended Radio GaGa, (to mention a single tack), our dear Peter also slipped. Not a bad criticism at all. Just a factual balance.

What amazes me about the lack of extra tracks is that our idols..you see, they don’t have to re-record the songs or something similar. It’s just archive material that will remain covered in dust until I turn 50 or 60.

Like you, again, “So” was a teenage album of mine. I didn’t buy all this marvellous things you mentioned because our market here simply didn’t offer back in the day. But I was a huge fan of the all singles and the will always remain in my memory. (Mercy Street, for a start, was the main theme of a cool TV series later on).
I wish we had the complete material in hand at this very moment.
Thanks again!

Claudio Dirani

Paul, needless to say, but now said it again and again, what you do for music is priceless. You should run for president of music world (if that existed, mind you).

Anyway, if there is something that I will never understand is the reason why fab musicians simply DO NOT PUT the whole thing at once. Okay, people will go: “they are saving for later”. OK. That would be an (un) acceptable excuse.

However, if you put a so-called Immersion box, there is no reason for an extra disc with the b-sides. Fact: they WERE already released. They aren’t tracks that we believed to exist. They are commercial product.
In fact.

So, like Paul McCartney that MISSED A HUGE op to release Ram outtakes, Queen (left off several b-side stuff, like the extended Radio GaGa, to mention a single tack), and many other acts, it’s getting harded to get into our idols minds.

They don’t have to re-record or something. It’s just archive material that will remain covered in dust until I turn 50 or 60.

Like you, again, So was a teenage album of mine. I didn’t buy all this marvellous things you mentioned because our market here simply didn’t offer back in the day. But I was a huge fan of the all singles and the will always remain in my memory. (Mercy Street, for a start, was the main theme of a cool TV series later on).
I wish we had the complete material in hand at this very moment.
Thanks again!

Wayne Klein

I’m not torn-I didn’t buy it. It was far from the comprehensive set I had wanted. Including b sides would have made this a must buy. For this price, I expected everything.

[…] regular readers will know, the ‘less-is-more’ approach has also been optimistically applied to the audio content […]

[…] his letter to me in response to criticisms about the forthcoming So super deluxe edition box set, Peter Gabriel […]

John

I’m still torn about the set. The lack of b-sides seems like such an easy thing to have included–even the Achtung Baby set managed to include every B-side and most of the (imo unnecessary) remixes, plus unreleased songs and demo versions. I did manage to get copies of PG’s So B-sides somewhere along the way, but would have gladly paid for a disc of them since they’ve never been released on CD.

The lack of 5:1 mix is also a miss, but I suppose it’s something I would pay for eventually, if they ever release one. The album would seem to be just the kind of immersive experience that would befit a mix like that.

Regarding the duplicate content, though, even Pink Floyd’s famed DSotM set has duplicate content–the DVDs have the same stuff as the Blu-Ray. So in terms of that set, I count 4, not 6 discs that I actually need/use. (One could argue whether disc 1, the remaster, was even necessary, since it’s already been remastered once. An argument could be made that there are 3 essential discs.) The difference is that vinyl MUST be more expensive (and bulky), so the impression is that you’re paying for those two giant discs when you likely don’t need them. You have to figure at least $30 of the set is for those alone, which few fans would need. A separate vinyl box would seem to make sense to me. Other deluxe sets have followed that pattern, allowing vinyl enthusiasts/completists can go that route.

But if there really is no plan for a separate video release, then I’ll probably go for it. I’m looking forward to the DNA and live audio/video, and I never had bought the remasters, so the first CD will also add value. And even if the live audio is the same as the video that’s included, it’s nice to have that as an option for listening on my commute.

In truth, though I’ve enjoyed a number of these other deluxe sets, I’m not sure there are ANY that are perfect. Dark Side and Wish You Were Here have duplicate DVD/Blu-Ray content. The Wall has no 5:1, and the live set had already been released. They all included unnecessary knick-knacks. Achtung Baby included an unremastered Zooropa and the Zoo TV Sydney DVD (which every fan that would buy the set surely already own) for no apparent reason other than to add cost. It’s also missing a few rare videos, and, like the So set, has no Blu-Ray video. Ultimately, even though it’s not perfect, I suppose it’s still worth the money for me, though it’s always a tough equation to work out: what are we paying, and what are we really getting? For me, the Achtung Baby set was the worst offender. There was essentially 1.5 discs of material I really wanted–I had all the b-sides already–and I had to pay for 10 discs to get them. But then, that’s exactly why these sets are released at the end of the year: perfect gifts for music fans….who may be too demanding to pay for these elaborate but flawed sets. This is already on my Christmas list.

Renato

My answer to his answer is still the same: I’m definitely giving this one a miss. All I wanted was the original album and ALL the B-sides and single mixes, and perhaps some unreleased tracks. Again, So disappointing… :(
Who knows, maybe by the 30th anniversary they’ll will get it right – if they do, then I’ll think about buying it.

tim

Here’s how to do it right. All the images in this flickr stream are made by (New Order) fans. You already probably have all the stuff you want, make your own deluxe edition already!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/50poundnote/5849131241/in/set-72157607168692018

david knowles

Maybe Peter should play some SO dates in Europe in celebration/support of the box set !

Drew

Thanks to Peter for the the in depth response to Paul’s letter.

I actually just canceled my order for the box set. I like the 24 bit (sample rate?) files, but the set just isn’t worth the money. To Peter’s point, if people worked extremely hard, why are the contents on old media formats? I’d want my work on the best format available, especially if this is the definitive set.

Blu’s, 5.1 and the included vinyl would have made it worth the price. I guess I’ll stick with my sacd copy.

Danny Graydon

Also: I completely agree with Simon Long above about the Live In Athens tracks being available in hi-def. Given that Eagle Rock now have an aggressive program of releasing concert films/album docus on Blu-Ray and are on their third PG Blu-Ray release, it is absolutely inconceivable that LIA won’t be available on Blu-Ray in the near future, so, with all due respect to PG, he was perhaps being a tad disingenuous there…

Danny Graydon

It’s always pleasing to see an artist engage with their fanbase and I think PG should be applauded for taking the time out to address fans concerns about this set – even if he doesn’t tell you/us what we might like to hear. If nothing else, it’s ample proof that he actually cares about what his audience thinks, which is something of a rarity these days.

I don’t really think that the new SO box could be called cynical or exploitative, as it’s clearly been crafted with care and attention. However, I do think – as is probably the case with all these high-end sets – that there is considerable push and pull between the concerns of the artist(s) and the commercial need of the record company and that the SO box certainly reflects that. It’s very easy for fans to not take this in to account – because we never see it – but I’d be fascinated to see what the original conception of this box was, from the RW side of things.

The duplication of content strikes me as the record companies following the suit of the Film industry – think “Triple Play” Blu-Ray sets – and this is certainly driven by profit as opposed to convenience for the consumer. So, maybe the record company won out on that front. Peter is certainly right on the format of the film material: it absolutely should have been Blu-Ray and it’s disappointing that a higher quality version of the SO Classic Albums docu will be available the same day as this box.

As attractive as this set remains, the lack of B-Sides/Remixes is an egregrious error and a genuinely shocking ommission. If nothing else, the remixes are a valuable historical document because they are essentially provide the basis for the live versions of the songs. I remember listening to Secret World Live and being entranced by the opening to In Your Eyes, wondering where that came from, only to discover later that it was derived from “The Special Mix” that was (then) only available via vinyl. THAT’s the value of such material – it made me appreciate the songs and their creation all the more.

Ultimately, while their inclusion would have made this set absolutely must-get, I don’t see any reason why this missing material could not be made in to a download-only album of rarities. PG must appreciate now that there is absolutely an audience for this material.

Tom Gardner

All credit to him for responding. On the specific subject of the missing B-Sides / Remixes that could have been easily rectified by making them available by download, even in standard resolution.

I suppose that in the course of the next couple of years we will get a B-Sides / Remix compilation. If this exercise has proven anything, its that there is a market out there for the tracks.

Eric

I think Daniel’s making a veiled reference to the ZTT/Sex Mix fiasco; some comments seemed to think Paul wasn’t harsh enough in his opinion. As for So, if Peter Gabriel hadn’t had the decency/humility to reply to the open letter, there would have been nothing more to report; surely we should all be glad that the letter wasn’t treated with contemptuous silence, as could easily have happened?

Mike Fisher

– I don’t see this as any kind of farce at all. I am pleased about the news releases about these reissues and I’m pleased that Paul issues updates about stuff. If I’m not interested in the article I don’t have to read it. I certainly don’t see it as a vanity site. There’s enough of those out there, with one in particular that allows huge bias, ignorance, and bad manners, yet has massive censorship including reasonable and accurate comments.

Hadleigh Ford

Absolutely amazing to have a response from Mr Gabriel and kudos to Paul for running a brilliant website that allows the fans and the artists to connect. From Peter’s letter I understood that he was trying to create something artistic and new that he thought would have much greater value than a few remixes or Bsides. I can totally understand this view and if the DNA disc is successful it will give a real insight into the creation of the album.
The only problem I’ve noticed is that most fans really want ALL the old stuff collected up and housed in one compete package. So often with special edition packages you find that this is not achieved and it’s a real shame. Often it’s for a much lazier reason than the artist wanting to create something new. I hate buying a 2/3 disc set and then find from the liner notes that several bsides are missing. It makes you feel like the special edition is not that special! Most sets include a disc one reproduction of the main album. This is fine but it leaves about 20mins or so free disc space that could be used to include those missing Bsides/remixes etc.
So many opportunities are missed to give the fans what they actually want…the music in as high quality as possible.

Bruno MacDonald

I for one have never regarded this blog/site as “the Paul Sinclair show” – I’ve always regarded it as a means for genuine fans to express their opinions on the releases. The fact that you actually elicited a response from Gabriel only adds to the site’s worth, and deserves all the repeated posts (most of which, to my recollection, have included links to other artists’ releases too).

Regarding the So box fiasco, I agree with most of the posters above: a B-sides and remixes CD is exactly what would have enticed me to buy another reissue of an album that I’ve already bought twice.

As for the So DNA disc, I predict that – in the unlikely event that I ever own it – it would receive very few repeated plays. I barely made it through ten minutes of demos for The Wall and, as posters above have observed, would far rather listen to tracks completed to a point where they could be released. You know: B-sides and remixes!

Anyway, kudos to PG for the response, as unsatisfying as it was, and to you Paul, for your campaigning.

jmm

As interesting as the SO Dna CD may be if done right, I still don’t understand why it is presented to us on this letter as an “either… or…” choice between it and the B-sides, rarities and remixes compilation. Why does it have to be one thing or the other? This boxset could have and should have included BOTH.

There is no valid reason at all to leave the odds & pieces out.

And same for everything else that people’s feedback found missing.

All this letter tells us is why what’s included is there, but not why what’s not there is missing.

JasonB

“…yet another collection of b-sides and remixes…”.

Great that PG actually responded but Mr. Gabriel these “B-Sides and remixes” ARE NOT readily available.

I think I speak for many that these B-Sides and remixes are what the fans *really* want and is what’s keeping many people (including myself) from spending our hard earned money on this set..

Daniel

I follow SDE on Facebook and Twitter because i like CD Box Sets and look forward to news on upcoming releases. What i don’t like is this current Peter Gabriel farce that’s going on. I think enough has been said now about this and yes we have all seen your letter Paul so why do you feel the need to keep posting twitter comments about it all the time? Your views seem a little biased to me and you seem to defend certain record companies/artists but not others. Let the public make their own mind up now whether they want/don’t want to buy the Peter Gabriel release.
This blog is slowly turning into the Paul Sinclair show :)

claudio

…i mean: dvd or BD…

claudio

…dvd ou BD… that’s ok!

claudio

…vinyl, mp3, usb… what for?

claudio

…no b-sides, no remixes, no bonus tracks = no mercy!

Wayne Klein

I appreciate all the effort that PG and his team went to produce this set and the idea to do something different as well but as a fan this isn’t the type of set I,would have been interested in.

I don’t need duplicate vinyl and/or CD and would rather have had a complete set that covered b-sides as well as the DNA disc and high Rez files.

I won’t be buying this set not because the music isnt terrific but because it doesn’t meet my needs as a music fan.

Simon Long

Frankly, it’s a very disappointing response. My main objection to the So box is the amount of duplicated material across multiple formats doing nothing but pushing the price up, and PG’s response conveniently fails to make any comment at all on this.

Not to mention the claim that PG has some of the Athens material available in 720p for download – so he only converted *some* of it to HD, did he? Nonsense – I can’t think of any clearer evidence that a BD of Live In Athens is already in production, ready to be released as soon as a few months has passed.

Kudos to PG for replying, but really, he’s defending the indefensible. This box set is about making money for PG and EMI – it’s not about giving the fans anything they want, or at least, not at a fair price.

PG’s releases over the last couple of years have left a very bad taste in the mouth – multiple formats with exclusive tracks on each, the Live Blood full audio release 6 months after its inclusion in the box set, etc. It’s quite clear he has lost any streak of musical creativity, and is more interested in increasing the size of his pension fund…

Tobias Lotz

Hi,
I may only repeat what others already said, but I think the number of replys count as well:
Thanks Peter for the reply, but the fact that you are not going into detail why the B-sides/Remixes were not added is confusing.
There was a lot of spectacle when Real World announced the box way back then and asked the fans to send in photos of tickets and memorablia from this time (as did I whwith en scanning my old Stuttgart ticket). Why did you not include a poll back then, what we -the fans- would like to see included? I´m pretty sure that a separate CD of B-sides/Remixes would have been on top of all lists, simply because many versions are not available on digital media at all…

Mike Fisher

Thank you Peter Gabriel for for responding and doing so in such a gracious manner. I’ve owned So on both cassette and CD bought from retail and on vinyl second hand. The DNA CD sounds fascinating (Abba did a similar thing for just one track on The Visitors DE) but it is not worth the current box price for me to hear it, or the three additional bonus tracks. I also love 5.1 and appreciate there’s a lot of strong opinion about the format (I’m quite happy with Dolby Digital or DTS personally, and I suspect SACD 5.1 is least supported format. Maybe the right blu-ray music disc wld get me to invest in the format.) But the box is still not for me at this price point and with so much duplicated content too. The remixes and b-sides are a significant and disappointing omission for me like several others. Oh well, money saved and all that…

Dean

Perhaps we tend to forget the amount of work – in man hours – it takes to put these things together. The So DNA disc sounds cool (though as I’ve stated before, I think this is the weakest of the solo PG albums and would have preferred one of the first four albums getting the treatment).

Also, we should take into account the fact that PG spent time on this. As an artist who spends a lot of time looking forward, I’m sure he would have preferred doing something new and creative.

Still, there are two sides to these projects – the artist and the consumer. The consumer seems to have gotten forgotten to an extent, at least in terms of what constitutes a modern day “Special Edition” where things like hi-res audio ought to be a given.

It’s too late to fix the physical package now, so it is what it is. Perhaps it’s easier for me to write off since I have no intention of spending money on So. At least we know what’s in it, and we have a response from PG’s mouth (as it were).

Justin

Nice to hear it from the horses mouth, but it hasn’t changed my mind. Still not buying, and I’m even more annoyed and mystified now that ‘PoV’ or ‘Athens’ might not be getting it’s own release. Ridiculous.

Peti

Hi everyone,

Peter is a very nice guy and all, and he did manage to settle certain points (e. g. the 24-bit FLAC download versions of some material), but he didn’t properly address the most disputed issue of all: the inclusion of b-sides and remixes. While I understand that under the circumstances no other disc can be added to the box itself, I don’t see why he hasn’t considered offering those b-sides and remixes at least as high-quality downloads, thus still including them in the box-set experience at no further charge. I am not a studio guy so I have no idead how much that would cost for them to produce, but I think a lot of people would be a lot happier to buy the set if they knew that somewhere down the line (maybe not instantly), they would have access to at least some wonderful B-sides such as Curtains and Don’t Break This Rhythm etc. That said, DNA sounds like a real treat, but we should convince Peter that it does not compensate for the lack of b-sides (even if only as downloads). Deluxe buyers desire the whole experience as much as possible (and rightly So :-)!), and b-sides form an integral part of that experience, so they cannot wholly be dismissed. I seriously think we should start a petition for at least some b-side downloads included in the package price, such a petition worked in “forcing” the SACD release of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. Peter is the kind of guy who would listen if we make a reasonable request, and politely asking for the b-sides as downloads (perhaps only made available in the future) strikes me as a reasonable compromise.

After all, we all want this because we love the great man and great musician that he is. Nothing in the rock music arena moves me as Peter’s voice and songs do, and a very spiritual friend of mine who knew very little about Peter’s music said, as clear as day, on hearing his voice: “He sings from the heart”. He does, and that’s why we are drawn to his music. With this hunger for anything by the man, I was instantly fascinated by just MP3 snippets of e. g. Don’t Break This Rhythm recently, which I had never heard before, even though I have been a die-hard fan since So, having almost all of his catalogue (previously available) on SACD. I am probably buying this Deluxe edition anyway, so I am not “blackmailing” anyone, but it would really be a nice gesture from Peter and Realworld to treat us hardcore fans to at least future access to some of these B-sides as (hi-rez) downloads.

Whatever eventually happens, I will remain with all due respect to the wonderful man and musician we all admire around these forums, the bard Peter Gabriel :-)!

I hope the idea of such a petition will catch on with other fellow-fans.

Best to you all,

Peter Antonyi (Hungary)

Shaun

It was good of him to respond. Putting aside the extra content issue, I think this whole fiasco underscores the fact that putting an album on every format known to man into one box set doesn’t make it all that worthwhile. Some want vinyl. Some want blu-ray, others dvd. Some want SACD or DVD-A. Some want hi-res stereo. Others 5.1 surround. Doesn’t it make more sense to release these individually and let the consumer choose?