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 P&D / Real World 5:28
No Image 1985
Various Artists
So 1986
Real World Productions 0:00
Shaking the Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats 1990 Real World Records 3:57
VH1: Pop Up 80's 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Sanremo Millennium 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:56
07 04 03 - Toronto, ON Molson Amphitheatre 2003
Hit: The Definitive Two-CD Collection 2003 Geffen 3:59
Play the Videos 2004 Rhino