Okay, I haven't listened to this album, nor plan on owning it, but as a fan of Gabriel and other artists whose songs are covered on this album, I have a few things to say about it without giving an unnecessary review.
First of all, the whole project sounded just weak-minded and arrogant: 'scratch my back', as in 'do me a favor by playing a song of mine so people can hear it and I'll return the favor of publicity'?
That sounds like something maybe a handful of garage bands or country singers might attempt, not something such a worthy musician such as Gabriel should stoop to. I mean really, he may not be the big-shot he once was many years ago, but this to me is clearly an uninspired experiment in mainstream marketing.
And with all the reviews I see of people's utter disgust rivalling the rest who are really just giving it an 'it's not THAT bad' kind of review I feel my initial disappointment in the very idea was on the mark.
I'm not ready to say whether or not I like this album yet, but I don't agree with your analysis. It's not marketing. It's a concept that Gabriel wanted to try. He certainly doesn't need to stoop to a marketing gimmick in order to sell more music. Besides, when the companion volume comes out, it's not as if Paul Simon or Radiohead fans are going to be discovering Peter Gabriel for the first time. Most likely, it will be Gabriel fans buying both CDs.
I can't imagine anyone not liking this. The songs are all strong and suit Peter graciously. The instrumentation is awesome. He could sing the phone book with a ukulele and kazoo and it would be better than most of the crap that sells. Listen closely.
REALLY? As a Peter Gabriel fan, I would think that you already have a broad musical horizon, obviously not! What is being displayed here is talent! A huge portion of it! Its called using talent to expand horizons, to explore new concepts, arrangements, vocals, musicianship and a whole host of other delightful things! "Scratch my Back" is a sharing and collaboration of artists! Think outside the box for heaven's sake! Mr. Gabriel explains that in his introduction at the show. He borrowed other artist's music and arranged it according to his interpretation. He lent his music to artists and they arranged it according to their interpretation, hence "Scratch my Back"! If you want what you consider "Peter Gabriel" then purchase his older albums. If you want to see an outstanding group of musicians perform music that will inspire, thrill and yes entertain you then, go see the show before you accuse a fine artist like Peter Gabriel of "stooping so low"! Shame on you for speaking without having the tiniest bit of information to back it up!
I just saw Peter's show this past weekend with the New Blood orchestra. WOW! An absolutely jaw dropping and mesmerizing show. Truly exceeded our expectations. He did a few of the covers from Scratch My Back, and some of his classics. His vocals are still as strong as ever, but what really blew us away (and practically stole the show from under him) was the New Blood Orchestra. The orchestral arrangements that were put together for these songs were fantastic. And you could really tell the the players were digging it too.
Lately I've been reading a lot of questionable, and downright negative (and disrespectful) reviews of Peter's music over the last few years. But there is an inherent problem with reviewing Peter's music and having so called Peter Gabriel "fans" give their opinions, and that is - from the beginning his music has traversed so many soundscapes - Techno, Avante Garde, World Beat, Pop Rock, Ska, Orchestral Dance, Religious, African Beat, etc, etc. The problem is some "fans" want, and expect, more ""Big Time" songs, some expect more "Mercy Street", some "Suppers Ready", or "Return Of The Giant Hogweed". Some may even be expecting more Orvo ! But with Peter you never know what to expect. And that's half the excitement of his music! He has NEVER stuck to a sure fire "formula" of what will work with the general public, and what won't. If that were the case, we would have had 30 years of "Shock the Monkey" songs. Or 20 years of "Big Time" songs. You get the point? So, if you're going to call yourself a PG fan, you better have a very wide scope of musical appreciation and acceptance, otherwise - shut up!
Oh, and as far as him doing covers and some saying he has run out of ideas - keep in mind you'd be very hard pressed to find ANY famous musicians/bands that haven't done covers throughout their careers, including.....ummmm......let's say some little bands like.....The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Lead Zepplin, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, U2, Jimi Hendrix.....I can go on and on and on. Would those same people say that these artists were also "out of ideas"??