- Audio CD (15 Feb. 2010)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: EMI Records
- ASIN: B002XZMAJY
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,781 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Scratch My Back
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
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
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
Top Customer Reviews
I honestly wanted to love this album. Peter Gabriel is a national treasure and I am sadly old enough to admit to seeing Genesis at Bristol's Colston Hall in 1973 where Gabriel was mesmerizing. When I saw them next at Knebworth in 1978 he wasn't in the band and I preferred Devo (unlike the majority of the crowd!). Gabriel has always ploughed his own furrow and his development of WOMAD deserves a knighthood. He has a great sense of humour and his recent cover with Hot Chip of "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" by Vampire Weekend is a wicked gem.
"Scratch my back" is not just a covers album it's about song exchange with the different artists covered pledging to return the favour. I had hoped that Gabriel's album could do a "Joni Mitchell". When the great lady revisited her standards the mature reading that she produced through a voice that was no longer angelic but infused with a life of experience and backed by a stirring orchestra was superb. Songs like "Both Sides Now" sounded better than the originals.
Gabriel's covers are certainly well chosen and show impeccable taste (although "My Body is a cage" is a least favourite Arcade Fire song), the problem is that some work incredibly well while other fall flat. Thus Gabriel's version of Bon Iver's "Flume" for instance is workmanlike and misses the mark. His reading of Neil Young's "Philadelphia" never quite captures the quiet desperation and sheer sadness to be found on the original. When we finally get a cover like Radiohead's "Street Spirit" that is so radically reworked that it is almost unrecognizable to the original, you punch the air. The trouble is that it just does not work and is mournful and dreadfully dull. Indeed my dog gave me a dirty look when I played it!Read more ›
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.
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this on impulse because of Peter Gabriel's history. You can't award zero stars - I 've given it a couple of plays but it is one of the dreariest albums I've ever heard.Published 1 month ago by steve
The book of Love is a stand out track. I just didn't like the tracks, depressing.Published 24 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 on 21 April 2014 by Mr. I. Ringstead