Search - Peter Gabriel :: Scratch My Back

Scratch My Back
Peter Gabriel
Scratch My Back
Genres: Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

Peter Gabriel s Scratch My Back album project is the first part of a series of song — exchanges in which Gabriel and other leading artists reinterpret each other s songs. — To help craft his recording of the album s eclectic...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Peter Gabriel
Title: Scratch My Back
Members Wishing: 7
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Label Services
Original Release Date: 1/1/2010
Re-Release Date: 3/2/2010
Genres: Pop, Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Other Editions: Scratch My Back, Scratch My Back, Scratch My Back
UPC: 180030000178


Product Description
Peter Gabriel s Scratch My Back album project is the first part of a series of song
exchanges in which Gabriel and other leading artists reinterpret each other s songs.
To help craft his recording of the album s eclectic array of cult favorites and classic
tracks, Gabriel enlisted former Durutti Column member John Metcalfe, composer,
arranger and the expertise of producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd s The Wall , Lou
Reed s Berlin ) and engineer, mixer and producer Tchad Blake (Suzanne Vega,
Sheryl Crow, Tom Waits).
Gabriel describes this as a very personal record with twelve songs performed only
with orchestral instruments and voice. He made the choice not to include guitar or
drums. The album s richly diverse sounds include the sparse romance of Lou Reed s
The Power of the Heart , the powerful musical journey of David Bowie s Heroes
and an epic arrangement of Arcade Fire s My Body Is A Cage. Gabriel and his
collaborators recorded the album at George Martin s Air Lyndhurst Studios and the
Real World Temple with further editing and mixing at his own Real Worlds Studio in
Wiltshire. The Scratch My Back release is one of the most creative and engaging
records from an iconic artist in a long time. The marketing focus is to penetrate
Peter Gabriel s core fan base as well as fans of all genres and in all demographics
given the scope of artists being covered as well as its depth of composition.

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CD Reviews

Scratch Your Head...
ewomack | MN USA | 03/15/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)

""Scratch My Back" will doubtlessly go down as one of Peter Gabriel's most contentious albums. Known for thundering drums and uvula exposing vocal explosions, Gabriel evaded all expectations and instead released a mellow, all orchestral album. Reviews seem very mixed and even long time fans are divided on what to think about this puzzling release.

First off, Gabriel has never recorded a cover album. Sometimes these serve as stop gap distractions while performers prepare new batches of original material (naysayers would probably like to think that such is the case here). Many such albums become throwaways. Instead, Gabriel claims that this motley collection of somewhat contemporary tunes represents his most personal endeavor to date. A deeply personal cover album? Gabriel's oeuvre, burgeoning with passionate political and social statements from his own pen, would seem a more likely fountain of personal expression than orchestral covers. In any case, there it is.

Credit definitely goes to Gabriel for trying on new pants, so to say. "Scratch My Back" is completely unlike anything else the man has ever released. Taking his work as a whole, "So" arguably feels closer to "Foxtrot" than to this album. Here the Gabriel "wall of sound" has disappeared. Innovative cracking rhythms give way to flourishing strings. Vocals float in front of often sparse orchestral and piano arrangements. "Here Comes The Flood" and "Wallflower" approach such sparseness, but everything on "Scratch My Back" outdoes even these quiet ballads in this sense. Sparse, in fact, serves as an apt one word description of this album.

Then there's the song selection. Gabriel definitely mined some of the best: Talking Heads, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Radiohead, Randy Newman, David Bowie, etc. None of his interpretations outdo the originals. No one would replace Gabriel's version of "Listening Wind" on their copy of "Remain in Light," for example. But that doesn't really say much. The original versions of these selections are so entrenched in our collective psyches that any cover faces an obstinate wall of inertia and presupposition. But that doesn't mean these are good covers, either.

Some of the interpretations definitely work better than others. "Heroes" will definitely repulse some on a first listen. It will subsequently grow on some and off others. "Flume" soars with everything Gabriel has to offer. "The Power of the Heart" provides a decent alternate take to Lou Reed's love sonnet to his now wife, Laurie Anderson. "My Body is a Cage" drags along like carcasses on a Bruce Nauman carousel, as does "Street Spirit (Fade Out)." The rest of the album remains a little up in the air. Nonetheless, it delivers some genuine moving moments as well as some awkward moments. The bridge in "Philadelphia" contains some inchoate dissonant wailing. It's unpleasant. "I Think It's Going To Rain Today" falls a little flat, sounding less rich than Newman's 1968 arrangement. Also, Gabriel's voice seems a little unsteady and overly self-conscious at times. "Scratch My Back" is far from his best vocal performance. On the plus side, "The Book of Love," a simple ditty, provides a memorable track, though some may wince at the borderline corny lyrics.

Ultimately, "Scratch My Back" plays better in segments than as a whole. The full ride can get a little tiresome given some of the repetitive arrangements (silent and slow, rise to a crescendo, then silence to fade out). Nonetheless, the album does contain some memorable moments, but far fewer than most Gabriel albums offer."Scratch My Back" is not for everyone, not even for all Gabriel fans. It's way off of the radar from his other work, is often slow and brooding, and provides challenging interpretations of some very familiar songs. But many will appreciate the starkness and find themselves spinning this one in certain moods. Maybe time will reveal whether or not this album turns out as Gabriel's only dud or as an unappreciated masterpiece. In the present tense, it has some fans scratching their heads."
Drumless covers, but still very Gabriel
D. Merk | OH USA | 03/04/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I cannot tell you how exciting this album is to me. I'm a bit shocked to be able to say that - considering that it is, at heart, a covers album and a Gabriel album without the percussion so essential to his other work. We hear only suggestions of the original songs in Gabriel's interpretations (with the exception of "I Think It's Going To Rain Today", which bares resemblance to Randy Newman's original) - and we certainly hear something very much like "Gabriel songs", regardless of the other songwriters and instrumentation.

Scratch My Back is as nakedly painful and loving and fragile and dark as almost anything Gabriel's done - by which I mean his voice, his performance, the brilliantly unpredictable arrangements are just out there between our eyes and in our chest, and we *feel* it. While it goes to a lot of places and sounds, there is no Sledgehammer here (which I don't say to slam Sledge or this album). It's not timid - it gets raucous, but it doesn't rock (it doesn't try to). Though the album may not dance with you, it will alternately hold you, grab and shake you and stare uncomfortably at you.

I could not make it through the album without replaying songs and then parts of songs again - and I'm dying to play the whole thing again as I write. That is a great thing to say (and something I can't pretend I say often). I don't want to take it apart bit by bit - take it in yourself. I do think it's outstanding."
That dreaded itch...
Nse Ette | Lagos, Nigeria | 03/02/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When singers get to a certain stage in their careers, they usually get the dreaded itch and do a covers album. Peter Gabriel's new CD is the first part of an intriguing project. "Scratch my back" comprises covers of 12 songs by 12 different artists. Eventually, a CD titled "I'll scratch yours" in which the 12 artists will cover different Peter Gabriel songs will be released.

Additionally, Gabriel's CD consists of orchestra only; no guitars or drums. Rod Stewart he ain't! Opening cut David Bowie's "Heroes" is a gradually ascending string-swathed piece, while Paul Simon's "The boy in the bubble" is transformed into a melancholic piano piece shorn of all its Afrocentric traces.

The remaining 10 songs comprise mostly more recent fare of which I only knew 5 originals; Elbow's "Mirrorball" (even more sublime here with just strings), Bon Iver's "Flume" (piano and strings unlike the original's folky guitar), Arcade Fire's "My body is a cage" (with icy strings replacing the original's drum/guitar bursts), Regina Spektor's "Apres moi" (a stunning swelling symphonic makeover), and a delicate piano reworking of Radiohead's "Street spirit ( Fade out)".

The other songs are Talking Heads' "Listening wind" (with a Celtic feel), Lou Reed's "The power of the heart", The Magnetic Field's "The book of love" (with some female harmonies - stirring and truly beautiful), Randy Newman's "I think it's going to rain today" (hymnal with a heartfelt quivering voiced delivery), and Neil Young's "Philadelphia".

Dark and forlorn yet beautiful, these already sound like Gabriel originals. It will be exciting to hear what Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Bowie and the rest do with the Peter Gabriel songs they select."