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Review by Ali Quaile
Itâ€™s been a while since Peter Gabriel has given us something to really sink our teeth into with his last solo album â€˜Upâ€™ being released in 2002 almost a decade ago. His latest album â€˜Scratch My Backâ€™ which came out today features a selection of covers of various new and old artists encompassing a diverse range of styles. Unlike the standard cover, Gabriel offers an insight into his own creativity by giving us his own interpretations of the songs aided only by various orchestral instruments arranged by John Metcalfe and none of the standard rock band set up. His husky voice gives a sense of raw emotion to each of the songs which conveys new meaning to them and allows the listener to approach them from a different perspective.
The title of the album is so for a reason as Gabriel plans to release another record later on in the year aptly named â€˜Iâ€™ll Scratch Yoursâ€™ where the artists involved in Gabrielâ€™s project will return the favour by covering one of Gabrielâ€™s tracks with The Magnetic Fieldsâ€™ cover of the Gabriel song â€˜Not One of Usâ€™ already available to download.
The result of Gabrielâ€™s interpretation of each of these songs is ambivalent as for some songs it seems to work really well whilst others seem to detract from the poignancy and success of the originals. For example his cover of Bon Iverâ€™s â€˜Flumeâ€™ which is already a highly emotional song becomes rather exorbitant, however, tracks such as â€˜Mirrorballâ€™ originally by Elbow are made beautiful with the addition of strings and his deep, hoarse voice.
There are a few classics in there such as a cover of Bowieâ€™s â€˜Heroesâ€™ and Paul Simonâ€™s â€˜The Boy in the Bubbleâ€™ which are insightful whereas the addition of newer artists such as Regina Spektor, Arcade Fire and Radiohead gives a fresher more modern feel to the album.
An album that could potentially reinstate Gabrielâ€™s musical creativity or see him as â€˜past his bestâ€™ it is one that will see a thorough analysis from critics. Personally I feel that in â€˜Scratch My Backâ€™ Gabriel has presented us with a discernment of his own feelings of todayâ€™s music, hand picking tracks which although may not be the most loved or appreciated of songs truly encompass the spirit of decent song writing reflecting true creativity and emotion. â€˜Scratch My Backâ€™ shows a Gabriel back on form in a society that is constantly changing its opinion of what constitutes â€˜decentâ€™ music and managing to slot itself amongst the contemporary artists of today.
â€˜Scratch My Backâ€™ was released on February 15th on Virgin