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And I'll Scratch Yours

Peter Gabriel

Rock - Released September 24, 2013 | Real World Records Ltd.

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Three years in gestation -- which, in Peter Gabriel time, is a mere handful of months -- And I'll Scratch Yours, the companion piece to the 2010 covers album Scratch My Back, finds most (but certainly not all) of the artists who were interpreted on Gabriel's album returning the favor by tackling the progressive singer/songwriter's back catalog. Not every artist chose to scratch Gabriel's back. Radiohead reportedly were irked by his version of "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" and Neil Young followed his own path away from Gabriel, so Joseph Arthur was drafted to contribute an entirely too moody version of "Shock the Monkey" and, better, Brian Eno dug into the dark, unsettling corners of "Mother of Violence." Eno is a contemporary of Gabriel's -- he contributed to Genesis' masterwork The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway -- and, like on Scratch My Back, the veteran artists provide a better, riskier experience than the younger acts. Generally, the newer artists here -- Bon Iver, Regina Spektor, Arcade Fire, Elbow, Feist; Stephin Merritt is a grand exception with his nervy reading of "Not One of Us" -- favor the moody, foreboding side of Gabriel while his peers prefer to play around. Lou Reed turns the celebratory "Solsbury Hill" into a dirge befitting Magic and Loss (and changes the lyrics to read "my friends would think I was a slut" because, you know, sexual danger), David Byrne seizes upon the new wave disco menace of "I Don't Remember," Randy Newman spins "Big Time" into vaudeville, and, best of all, Paul Simon turns "Biko" into the folk protest anthem it always longed to be. And there are moments scattered among the younger acts worth hearing, too: Arcade Fire retain the ominous, dangerous air of "Games Without Frontiers," Spektor lends a gorgeous shimmer to "Blood of Eden," and Feist retains the delicacy of "Don't Give Up." This doesn't amount to a cohesive record -- although it favors the contemplative, there are too many shifts in mood here from track to track -- but it is without question a worthwhile record, as its best moments are strong, substantive reinterpretations that illustrate just how good a songwriter Peter Gabriel is. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Scratch My Back / And I’ll Scratch Yours

Peter Gabriel

Rock - Released February 15, 2010 | Real World Records Ltd.

This two-fer from Peter Gabriel includes the 2010 covers album Scratch My Back, which featured the pop icon taking on material from the likes of David Bowie ("Heroes"), Arcade Fire ("My Body Is a Cage"), and Randy Newman ("I Think It's Going to Rain Today"), and its 2013 companion piece I'll Scratch Yours, which saw some of those artists offering up their interpretations of Gabriel cuts like "Biko" (Paul Simon), "I Don’t Remember" (David Byrne), and "Games Without Frontiers" (Arcade Fire). © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Scratch My Back

Peter Gabriel

Rock - Released February 12, 2010 | Real World Records Ltd.

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Considering the slow trickle of completed albums he has released since becoming a superstar in 1986 -- just two albums of songs with vocals, paired with two albums of soundtracks and two live records -- deliberate is expected from Peter Gabriel, so the slow, hushed crawl of Scratch My Back is no shock. What may be a shock is that Gabriel chose to follow 2002’s Up with a covers album but, like all of his work, this 2010 record is highly conceptual no matter how minimal the end result may be. Designed as the first half of a two-part project where Gabriel would cover 12 different artists who would then return the favor by recording their own versions of Gabriel’s compositions -- the counterpart album naturally bearing the title I’ll Scratch Yours -- Scratch My Back divides neatly between six songs from his peers (Bowie, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Lou Reed, David Byrne) and six songs from younger artists (Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Stephin Merritt, Bon Iver, Elbow, Regina Spektor). Gabriel doesn’t dodge familiar tunes, choosing to sing “Heroes” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” but he twists each tune to his own needs, arranging everything with nothing more than piano and strings, a change that’s almost jarring on Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble,” yet it stays true to the undercurrent of melancholy in the melody. Indeed, all of Scratch My Back is stark, sober, and spare, delving ever deeper inward, a triumph of intellect over emotion -- a noted contrast to almost all cover albums that celebrate the visceral, not the cerebral. Immediate it may not be but fascinating it is, and after hearing Gabriel turn all 12 of these songs into something unmistakably his own, the appetite is surely whetted for its companion piece. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
From
HI-RES€23.49
CD€16.49

Scratch My Back

Peter Gabriel

Rock - Released February 12, 2010 | Real World Records Ltd.

Hi-Res
Considering the slow trickle of completed albums he has released since becoming a superstar in 1986 -- just two albums of songs with vocals, paired with two albums of soundtracks and two live records -- deliberate is expected from Peter Gabriel, so the slow, hushed crawl of Scratch My Back is no shock. What may be a shock is that Gabriel chose to follow 2002’s Up with a covers album but, like all of his work, this 2010 record is highly conceptual no matter how minimal the end result may be. Designed as the first half of a two-part project where Gabriel would cover 12 different artists who would then return the favor by recording their own versions of Gabriel’s compositions -- the counterpart album naturally bearing the title I’ll Scratch Yours -- Scratch My Back divides neatly between six songs from his peers (Bowie, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Lou Reed, David Byrne) and six songs from younger artists (Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Stephin Merritt, Bon Iver, Elbow, Regina Spektor). Gabriel doesn’t dodge familiar tunes, choosing to sing “Heroes” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” but he twists each tune to his own needs, arranging everything with nothing more than piano and strings, a change that’s almost jarring on Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble,” yet it stays true to the undercurrent of melancholy in the melody. Indeed, all of Scratch My Back is stark, sober, and spare, delving ever deeper inward, a triumph of intellect over emotion -- a noted contrast to almost all cover albums that celebrate the visceral, not the cerebral. Immediate it may not be but fascinating it is, and after hearing Gabriel turn all 12 of these songs into something unmistakably his own, the appetite is surely whetted for its companion piece. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
From
CD€19.49

Scratch My Back

Peter Gabriel

Rock - Released February 12, 2010 | Real World Records Ltd.

Considering the slow trickle of completed albums he has released since becoming a superstar in 1986 -- just two albums of songs with vocals, paired with two albums of soundtracks and two live records -- deliberate is expected from Peter Gabriel, so the slow, hushed crawl of Scratch My Back is no shock. What may be a shock is that Gabriel chose to follow 2002’s Up with a covers album but, like all of his work, this 2010 record is highly conceptual no matter how minimal the end result may be. Designed as the first half of a two-part project where Gabriel would cover 12 different artists who would then return the favor by recording their own versions of Gabriel’s compositions -- the counterpart album naturally bearing the title I’ll Scratch Yours -- Scratch My Back divides neatly between six songs from his peers (Bowie, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Lou Reed, David Byrne) and six songs from younger artists (Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Stephin Merritt, Bon Iver, Elbow, Regina Spektor). Gabriel doesn’t dodge familiar tunes, choosing to sing “Heroes” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” but he twists each tune to his own needs, arranging everything with nothing more than piano and strings, a change that’s almost jarring on Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble,” yet it stays true to the undercurrent of melancholy in the melody. Indeed, all of Scratch My Back is stark, sober, and spare, delving ever deeper inward, a triumph of intellect over emotion -- a noted contrast to almost all cover albums that celebrate the visceral, not the cerebral. Immediate it may not be but fascinating it is, and after hearing Gabriel turn all 12 of these songs into something unmistakably his own, the appetite is surely whetted for its companion piece. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
From
CD€13.99

Scratch My Back

Peter Gabriel

Rock - Released February 12, 2010 | Real World Records Ltd.

Considering the slow trickle of completed albums he has released since becoming a superstar in 1986 -- just two albums of songs with vocals, paired with two albums of soundtracks and two live records -- deliberate is expected from Peter Gabriel, so the slow, hushed crawl of Scratch My Back is no shock. What may be a shock is that Gabriel chose to follow 2002’s Up with a covers album but, like all of his work, this 2010 record is highly conceptual no matter how minimal the end result may be. Designed as the first half of a two-part project where Gabriel would cover 12 different artists who would then return the favor by recording their own versions of Gabriel’s compositions -- the counterpart album naturally bearing the title I’ll Scratch Yours -- Scratch My Back divides neatly between six songs from his peers (Bowie, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Lou Reed, David Byrne) and six songs from younger artists (Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Stephin Merritt, Bon Iver, Elbow, Regina Spektor). Gabriel doesn’t dodge familiar tunes, choosing to sing “Heroes” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” but he twists each tune to his own needs, arranging everything with nothing more than piano and strings, a change that’s almost jarring on Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble,” yet it stays true to the undercurrent of melancholy in the melody. Indeed, all of Scratch My Back is stark, sober, and spare, delving ever deeper inward, a triumph of intellect over emotion -- a noted contrast to almost all cover albums that celebrate the visceral, not the cerebral. Immediate it may not be but fascinating it is, and after hearing Gabriel turn all 12 of these songs into something unmistakably his own, the appetite is surely whetted for its companion piece. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo