|1. On The Air|
|3. Mother Of Violence|
|4. A Wonderful Day In A One-Way World|
|5. White Shadow|
|7. Animal Magic|
|9. Flotsam And Jetsam|
|11. Home Sweet Home|
This second album released in 1978 has a very raw production courtesy of Robert Fripp who likes to record quickly and is so raw in production that it almost does sound like it was being recorded live in one's basement or bedroom straight to tape yet it turned out to be an excellent album, even thought it's nowhere near the terrifying heights of the scary classics "PG3" and "Security" nor is it near the sophistication of 1986's "SO". How Fripp, Gabriel, and company managed to turn what could've been a disasterous dud of an album into an eccentric musical adventure completely eludes me. Gabriel is total genius. There is very little polish on the music on here. This is almost like a live recording in some spots. In a lot of ways, the "Scratch" album is regarded as his second outing where he was still trying to find his place on the musical map but on here, it was getting more apparent where his music was heading towards. The back of the album cover with the snowy urban landscape perfectly portrays the album's mood. In a lot of ways, this is a dark album but nothing compared to the black-and-white mood of PG, nor the intense industrial punch of "Security" but more of a cloudy, snowy afternoon dark.
This album was recorded in six weeks flat and Gabriel himself claims that he never really liked this album because of the way it turned out when finished and that it never turned out that great but I beg to differ. Although I respect his opinion on "Scratch" being somewhat average, I think that it is a fabulous album in it's own merry and eccentric way and is a great album to check out. This is a great album and is in fact, quite a lot of fun to listen to and the album sounds great with it's crisp and raw production.If you're looking for 70s disco-rock or are looking for something that would be in the vein of "Sledgehammer" or "In Your Eyes" or even "Solsbury Hill", you might find "Scratch" to be a difficult album to immediately enjoy but I strongly recommend checking this album out anyway just to be able to listen to Peter Gabriel sing in the raw, a style and personality that you have never heard him on any of his other albums, nor will anyone ever hear again. The more adventurous audiences though will love this album just like I do and "Scratch" is a highly recommended album.
I love all of these songs on here but the best songs that really stand out are the opener "On The Air" with it's late 70s polish and slightly punk rockish sound, the dreary wintery bliss that is the acoustic ballad "Mother Of Violence", the semi-dark "Exposure" which kind of marks the approaching darkness of PG3, The fun and funk of the excellent "Animal Magic", the fabulous track and one of my favorites "Wonderful Day In A Wonderful Worlds" which is a fun yet odd track to listen to, and finally the magnum opus closing track "Home Sweet Home" which is the most disturbing track on the album. Musically speaking, it's just a very mellow and jazzy track but it's subject about a woman jumping out a window with her baby to their deaths makes the song a bit chilling combined with Peter's high-pitched singing. This is only the tip of the iceberg. This makes an excellent warm-up to the far darker atmospheres of "PG3" and then the innovation of "Security".
If there was any album that desperately needed an audio clean up job, it's arguably this one. The older CD edition I had sounded atrocious with it's highly lowered quality and one often had to turn the stereo up to nearly deafening volume to be able to hear the songs clearly. Those days are no more and the newer remasters vastly improve the audio quality and while the songs were still good despite the poor volume, they sound fabulous on the remastered edition particularly "Mother Of Violence", and "White Shadow". I am so happy to be able to own this forgotten gem of an album on it's remastered edition and be able to use the atrocious older edition of this album for an art project. The limited edition of this re-issue is made of a flimsy CD packaging called a digipak that offers nothing new when compared to the regular jewel case edition. Another major problem I had was when I got this album as a graduation gift (along with "SO"), the packaging broke apart and unlike the plastic jewel case, I could not be able to replace it in a new packaging and it really was a pain in the neck. Thankfully it seems like the digipak edition is now hard to find, as there is no point in wasting time in getting it. Stick with the regular jewel case edition. In either case though, the remastering is just incredible. You won't believe how much better this album sounds in it's remastered edition!
The album cover may seem to symbolize Gabriel dismissing this album as dry and unimaginative but instead, this is such a great album and showcases a side of Gabriel that never shown before and never showed again after this album's era had wound down. Gabriel never toyed with such raw production the way he did with this album and while everything he has done since is far superior, this album is a highly rewarding listen and while it is extremely dated, it still has it's own timeless appeal that truly shows defiance against it's age. Buy it today.
I've always loved 'On The Air', from the opening guitar sonics to the line 'I want everybody to know - that Mozo is here!', it's a true classic, except I've always thought the recording sounded like mud. Flat as a board. Until now. The SACD (important note: this SACD is Stereo, NOT 5.1) is clean and bright, with all Larry Fast's 'wires', Fripp's guitar, and Levin's bass up front and in your face. The other instruments are there too, but these are the key players. Mother of Violence, White Shadow, and Exposure sound very detailed and you can easily hear things you never heard before. Robert Fripp's guitar on White Shadow is mesmorizing.
There are some throwaways, such as Indigo and Home Sweet Home, and the SACD offers them little improvement, but all-in-all this is a great album by a great artist.