Peter Gabriel

Shock the Monkey

Composed by Peter Gabriel

Song Review by

1982's "Shock the Monkey" ? apparently about electroshock therapy and mankind's inner primal urges, if the artsy but compelling video is anything to go by ? was Peter Gabriel's commercial breakthrough in the United States, where his earlier records had found only cult success. It's clear why the song was a hit; besides the intriguing video, the song's rather gimmicky arrangement, cramming a ton of instruments into way too little sonic space and dominated by that stuttering four-note figure that's the relentlessly repeated hook, sounded nothing like anything else on the radio at the time. It's also one of Gabriel's finest vocal performances, with a palpable urgency that would be missing from most of his later albums. It's still kinda weird and arty, but "Shock the Monkey" is the first step towards Peter Gabriel's mid-'80s cultural domination.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Security 1982 Real World Productions
Plays Live 1983 Real World Records
No Image 1985
Various Artists
So 1986
Real World Productions / Real World Records 6:44
Shaking the Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats 1990 Caroline / Real World Productions 3:58
No Image 1990 Virgin Music Video / Virgin
In Your Eyes [Live] 1992 Red Phantom
VH1: Pop Up 80's 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Sanremo Millennium 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:56
07 06 03 - Montreal, QC Bell Centre 2003
Hit: The Definitive Two-CD Collection 2003 Caroline / Real World Productions 3:59
07.07.03 Mountain View, CA 2003 Real World Records
Play the Videos 2004 Rhino
Big Shiny 80's [Muchmusic] 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
No Image 2011 Immortal
Scratch My Back/And I'll Scratch Yours 2013 Real World Records
No Image 2013
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 5:48
Plays Live: Highlights Caroline / Real World Productions 7:10
blue highlight denotes editor's pick