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Scratch My Back
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Scratch My Back
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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.
Top customer reviews
I am very happy with this purchase. My personal opinion on music covers is pragmatic; if it's not just the same song sung by another artist giving little modified value, than I'm for it. I don't canonize music, I take it graciously in various combinations and styles like various preparations of rice or steak. Mr Gabriel definitely brings a different style and flavor to these songs. They are immediately familiar to many, and thus endearing. They are also have a new style, which is engaging or at least interesting. In the end, he's met my expectations for good cover music, and ultimately exceeds with adding his unique feel.
I realize many will see that this is not the Peter Gabriel they know and love. It's not an entire genre shift, such as if he'd jump to country, rap, or smooth jazz (though the later is closer), but it's clearly a different direction. I'm used to this, being a long time fan of Sting, and Iggy Pop, both who've put out albums of substantial deviation from their roots, one in particular never seemed to find his way back (and arguably has left orbit to places far far away), so for me, I'm happy for some experimentation beyond their known style. Some might feel the need to punish these trespasses with harsher criticism as a sort of negative reinforcement, and perhaps that works. For me, I will prefer something over a tired rehash or nothing at all.
You will only know if you will appreciate this album when you hear it; and there are plenty of places to try this before you buy this. I recommend that for most people. If, however, you see a few songs in the tracklist that you are familiar with and curious about, I really don't think you'd go wrong grabbing this album. It is mellow, it's been great background dinner or work music for me, at the least. At the moment, I'm about to go dig it out of my music collection and see if I still appreciate it as much as I say in this review.
The production values are top notch and you still get to hear some unique "Gabriel" sounds, so this CD is made for headphone listening. "My Body is a Cage" was used in one of the last episodes of the "Smallville" TV series, to wonderful effect. That's where I heard it and sought out this album.
The CD also merits listening due to its mixture of contemporary tunes and oldies like David Bowie's "Heroes." Gabriel could have just sung old songs from his generation, but he didn't. Isn't that what we love about him anyway?
If, for some reason, you are just starting out and collecting Peter Gabriel CD's - or want to get a taste of his style - don't start with this one (I would go with So - but that's just me). For those of us that have followed his career, this is just another stop along the way.