Peter Gabriel entered my life in 1986 when his video for Sledgehammer was on TV every 5 minutes. I was 9 and I hated the song and the video. The stop motion filming of Gabriel’s head and the chaos going on around it gave me a headache. This was all I knew of the man and I was not impressed.
It wasn’t until years later I discovered Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and I remember being shocked after hearing my parents play Phil Collins‘ Genesis for so long. This was about the time I came around and realized this Peter guy had some talent.
Now, decades later, I appreciate the man for the musical genius he is. I wouldn’t put him as far up the pedestal as Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen or even David Byrne…but he’s still a major force in modern music and a huge influence on a lot of artists I listen to today. That’s why it’s exciting to hear his voice again, even if it’s not original material.
It has been 8 years since his last album, Up. Almost a decade has gone by, but now Peter is back and he is giving tribute to some of the artists (newbies as well as veterans) that have touched him. These artists range from Bon Iver and Arcade Fire to David Bowie and Lou Reed (no Vampire Weekend, despite their namedrop). He really strips these songs down to their bare essentials and makes them his own. This is not only a showcase of great songs by great artists but also a showcase of Gabriel‘s voice…and he still has a great voice!
Highlights are Flume by Bon Iver, The Book of Love by Magnetic Fields and Apres Moi by Regina Spektor. The only misstep is closer, Street Spirit by Radiohead. The arrangement of that particular track is off in some way.
There will be a follow-up album, called I’ll Scratch Yours, where some of the artists covered on Scratch My Back will cover classic Gabriel songs.