The former lead singer and founder of Genesis, Peter Gabriel had been solo since 1976/77. I’d been alerted to him in my childish way, by his 1977 single, Solsbury Hill and also 1980’s Games Without Frontiers.
By 1986 he’d had a further 5 singles – amongst them Biko, but none entered the higher reaches of the UK Singles Chart (I was unaware of Biko until I watched 1987’s Cry Freedom). However, by 1986 MTV was becoming a powerful force, as were music videos generally, so the visual impact of Sledgehammer assisted its undoubted musical virtues to lift it to number 4 in the chart.
Backed by Don’t Break This Rhythm it released in the w/e 26th April 1986 and soon entered the top ten. It was a perennial of the top ten throughout May and June, and I bought it on 6th June. It is claimed that ‘the lyrics are a mosaic of sexual innuendos’ and whilst there are references to bees, pollination, fruit, steam trains, bumper cars and the like, I suppose that it’s only there if you want to see it. Having said that, check the video out below.