- Audio CD (15 Feb. 2010)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: EMI Records
- ASIN: B002XZMAJY
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,688 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Scratch My Back CD
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Eighth studio album by the former Genesis singer. The album comprises cover versions of 12 songs by various artists, featuring only an orchestra and Gabriel's vocals. Tracks include: 'Heroes' (David Bowie), 'The Boy in the Bubble' (Paul Simon), 'The Power of the Heart' (Lou Reed), 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)' (Radiohead), and many more.
"It feels so unnatural / to sing your own name," sang Peter Gabriel last year, lending his voice to Hot Chip's cover of Vampire Weekend's Gabriel name-checking Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa. The point seems to have extended to singing his own songs, as he starts the new decade with a collection of beautifully recorded covers that renege on guitars and drums in favour of an orchestra arranged by The Durutti Column's John Metcalfe. Indeed, the ads for Gabriel's two nights at the 02 boast "No guitars! No drums!"
It seems he doesn't need them – the results here are stunning.
Scratch My Back is the first offering of a two-part project. The second will be released later in the year and, as you might have guessed, will be called I'll Scratch Yours. On it, the artists featured here will return the favour on Gabriel tracks. It's a pop swap shop.
The result of this is that many songs here, like Elbow's Mirrorball, are fairly modern, and Gabriel rarely dips into the obvious rock canon (Heroes aside). And the sparseness of the arrangements around the singer’s tender vocals makes this a thing of beauty. During the chorus of Bon Iver's Flume he sounds close to tears as he wrings the words out. On Paul Simon's The Boy in the Bubble – originally an upbeat song – Gabriel takes the lyrical juxtaposition of poverty/modernity and milks the sadness that Simon had hidden.
Metcalfe's arrangements are stunning, too – they mirror Gabriel's mix of whispers and howls on Arcade Fire's My Body Is a Cage and create a sense of loved-up optimism on the best track here, a woozy take on The Magnetic Fields' The Book of Love. They make everything sound movie-score epic – not too surprising given Gabriel's recent work on Wall-E and Rabbit Proof Fence. It also makes certain that's there's plenty to discover in each track even if, as is the case with songs like Street Spirit, you've heard them thousands of times in their original form.
The pop world has finally caught up with the WOMAD-founder's open-minded approach to music from near and far and, as such, it's surprising, fitting and pleasing that one of the most essential albums of early 2010 is his. Wonderful. --Will Dean
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the highlights here is "Heroes" as it provides a majestic opening to the album with a full blown orchestra and powerful strings. "The Boy In The Bubble" is much gentler and emotionally intense with a simple piano and a gentle soothing cello playing in the background. This contrast of classical arrangements works in the context of this release. "Mirrorball" is another beautifully constructed song with intense and captivating string arrangements providing exciting variation in the melody. "Flume" represents the quiet before the storm with soft vocals from Peter in the verses and the use of his more plaintive tone in the chorus, helping to build the song to a crescendo. "Listening Wind" is very dark and sombre, adding magic and an element of bitter sweet passion so present in Peter's own compositions. "The Power Of Your Heart" has a very sentimental and spine tingling orchestral arrangement which suits Peter like a glove and is another highlight. "My Body Is A Cage" is another dark and atmospheric track which builds into a a mini symphony of sounds combined with deep hypnotising vocals. "The Book Of Love" is very endearing with a sweet melody and arrangements and ends up being the third highlight. "I Think It's Going To Rain Today" is a very quiet and gentle piano led ballad focussing on the beauty of the lyrics and melody.Read more ›
This is by far the most dissappointing Gabriel release of his entire career in my opinion and I'm a big big Gabriel fan - I'm now pissed off with him for two reasons - his stubborness to reform the classic line-up and this, what is in the main "very depressing durge!"
The worse thing is I've paid the £150 to see him live at the O2, so have to sit through 2 hrs of this and the soundcheck too!
I played the album a few days later. "The boy in the bubble", and "Mirrorball" sounded quite nice, I then heard "The Book of Love" for the second time and my knees went weak, what a gorgeous song, it makes me feel so good. Every time I play the album it seems to get better. Flume is beautiful, "The Power of the Heart" "Philadelphia" lovely. There is not a bad song on the album. "Heroes" and "Street Spirit" are probablly my least favourites. But i'm sure i'll get to like them eventally. I have since bought "69 songs by Magnetic Fields (The book of Love) on the strengh of this Album- But thats another story.
Iv'e never written a review before, but I love this album so much. Please ignore the poor reviews, If you have given the Album a poor review Listen to it again, and again. You wont be sorry.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book of Love is a stand out track. I just didn't like the tracks, depressing.Published 12 months ago by Albert Reilly
On initial listening this album is a bit hit and miss, but stick with it and it grows on you.It is like Marmite you either love it or hate it , but is worth coming back to.Published 21 months ago by Mr. I. Ringstead
Thankfully, this is no carbon-copy cover-song album. Gabriel has stripped each song down to its bare bones, banned guitars and drums, and made his vocals as raw as possible. Read morePublished on 24 Jan. 2014 by Nicholas Casley
Have been a fan now for 44 years, but this classical challenge confirms that Peter Gabriel is innovative and brilliantPublished on 30 Dec. 2013 by springfox13