Peter Gabriel: “Sledgehammer” (1986)

[Kronomyth 6.99]
It’s Hammer Time.

Let’s face it, “Let’s Dance” was a bit of a letdown. “Sledgehammer,” on the other hand, simply crushed it. This was the new stuff: Gabriel came dancing in, and we followed him like rats after the pied piper. The song featured a sort of slowed-down, funked-up highlife rhythm that sounded like nothing before it. In a month or two, Steve Winwood would release Back In The High Life, and “Higher Love” was probably the closest comparison for a while. A groundbreaking video for “Sledgehammer” put Gabriel at the cutting edge of video and audio. Thirty years on, the video still makes the shortlist for greatest videos of all time. The flip side on the single was the non-album “Don’t Break This Rhythm,” which includes a further and funkier exploration of the futuristic primitivism first revealed on Security. As long as we’re throwing accolades at the foot Mount Sledgehammer, I would add that “Don’t Break This Rhythm” is the best of Gabriel’s bonuses. 12-inch versions of the single also included an extended mix and extended dance mix of “Sledgehammer” that are both surprisingly different and surprisingly good (I generally don’t have much use for remixes). John “Tokes” Potoker does the mixing, and he brings a fresh perspective to the material that actually out-rocks the originals in a few places.

Original 7-inch single version
A1. Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel) (4:58)
B1. Don’t Break This Rhythm (Peter Gabriel) (3:50)

12-inch single version
A1. Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel)
B1. Don’t Break This Rhythm (Peter Gabriel)
B2. I Have The Touch (85 Remix)

Limited edition 12-inch single version (PGS 113)
A1. Sledgehammer (Dance Mix)
A2. Don’t Break This Rhythm
B1. I Have The Touch (85 Remix)
B2. Biko (12-inch Extended Version)

12-inch single version (US/CAN)
A1. Sledgehammer (Extended Dance Remix) (Peter Gabriel) (7:20)
A2. Sledgehammer (Extended Mix) (Peter Gabriel) (5:40)
B1. Don’t Break This Rhythm (Peter Gabriel) (3:50)
B2. I Have The Touch (85 Remix) (Peter Gabriel) (3:43)

CD single version
1. Sledgehammer
2. Don’t Break This Rhythm
3. I Have The Touch (85 Remix)

The Players
Produced by Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel. Extended Dance Remix engineered by Kevin Killen; remixed by John Potoker. Extended Mix engineered by Tokes (John Potoker).

The Pictures
Photography by Trevor Key. Design by Peter Saville and Brett Wickens, Peter Saville Associates, London.

The Plastic
Released on 7-inch single, 12-inch single and cassette single on April 14, 1986 in the UK (Virgin, PGS1/112/113) and the US and Canada (Geffen, 7-28718/0-20456), Brazil (Charisma, 1008 075), Germany and Spain (Virgin, 108/608 038), Italy (Virgin, VIN 45186) and Japan (Virgin, 07VA-1039/14VA-9011) with picture sleeve; reached #4 on the UK charts and #1 on the US charts (charted on May 10, 1986 for 21 weeks). Also released on three-track CD single in 1986 in Germany (Virgin, CDT 4).

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