Thursday, March 04, 2010

Peter Gabriel - Scratch My Back

Peter Gabriel
Scratch My Back
Real World/Virgin

For the most part, this tribute of Gabriel's is an itch better left unscratched. As a huge admirer of the man with the remarkably unremarkable yet amazing pipes, I was disappointed from the get-go with the knowledge that there were no guitars on the album. The pleasant surprises don't come often enough.

Scratch My Back kicks off with its most well-known track and probably its best in "Heroes," originally by the inimitable David Bowie. The vocals and instrumentation are very low in the mix to start and gradually builds like the character of the song steadily gaining the confidence to become the hero, at least for one day.

What starts so meek and builds to a crescendo begins to fade instead of continuing to soar. The majority of the album could be funeral processionals. Gabriel's voice normally excelling in sadness and shining through it is instead weighed down by the moroseness of the arrangements, which are beautifully performed but would work better as the soundtrack to the largest budget Lifetime movie ever. Among these dirges, there are a few signs of life. His take on Arcade Fire's "My Body Is A Cage," occasionally awakes Gabriel from his slumber. "The Book Of Love," sounds as if The Magnetic Fields could have intended it for Gabriel.

It is my hope that this is not the last we will hear of Peter Gabriel. He has done some amazing works and is one of the finest talents in rock in the last 40 years. If this is his time to reflect on his place among his idols and his contemporaries, let him get through it. There is yet a gem for him to uncover, but Scratch My Back is not it.

Track Grades:
  1. Heroes - 8.9
  2. The Boy In The Bubble - 6.3
  3. Mirrorball - 7.0
  4. Flume - 7.8
  5. Listening Wind - 7.2
  6. The Power Of The Heart - 6.5
  7. My Body Is A Cage - 8.0
  8. The Book Of Love - 8.8
  9. I Think It's Going To Rain Today - 5.3
  10. Apr├Ęs Moi - 7.5
  11. Philadelphia - 6.7
  12. Street Spirit (Fade Out) - 6.4
Overall Grade = 7.20

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