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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and haunting
I have to confess that as a fan of minimalist composers Arvo Pärt and Henryk Górecki I welcome their influence in the orchestration on this album. This is definitely not a pop album. Gabriel clearly is making music for music's sake here, not to top any sales charts but to fulfill his artistic integrity. I believe he accomplished that with this album and has...
Published on Feb. 17 2010 by Derek Barber

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Requires A Few Listens
I'm a big Peter Gabriel fan. But the first time I listened to this, I kept hoping the next song would do more for me. (they didn't really.. ) I will say the more you listen to it, the more you'll appreciate it. But it's a veeeerrrrrrryy understated album. (read "if you're depressed, this will NOT bring you up) He's made every song his own, to the point where you...
Published on April 21 2010 by J. Ravas


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and haunting, Feb. 17 2010
By 
Derek Barber (Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Scratch My Back (Dlx Ed) (Audio CD)
I have to confess that as a fan of minimalist composers Arvo Pärt and Henryk Górecki I welcome their influence in the orchestration on this album. This is definitely not a pop album. Gabriel clearly is making music for music's sake here, not to top any sales charts but to fulfill his artistic integrity. I believe he accomplished that with this album and has really made these well known songs his known and has given me a greater appreciation for them.

If all you know of Gabriel is some of his bigger pop hits, this may not be the album for you as it is a large departure from that. However, for fans of deep artistic expression, this is a real treat.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars August and Austere, the Most Deeply Personal Peter Gabriel Album Yet., Feb. 18 2010
By 
Richard S. Warner "Saraswati-Son" (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scratch My Back (Dlx Ed) (Audio CD)
Peter Gabriel: the erstwhile 'man in the flower', 'the fox in the dress', 'the watcher of the skies', 'Mozo', Gurdjieffian shock administrator, world music pioneer, animal communicator, stage and performance ground-breaker and probably one of the few public figures who truly deserves the title of "World Citizen", here, on this album has reached a point in his personal and artistic life that he is now looking at back across it all with an august mix of insight, nostalgia, a touch of whimsy, and a wryness of humour. And on an album that is so distinctly personal, it is ironic that none of the songs are his.

"Scratch My Back" is a bit of a shocker. It is a complete break from all his previous work. The instrumentation is absolutely minimal - no guitars, no drums, no keyboards or electronica of any kind and not a single breath of anything sounding even remotely african. It is an album of cover songs, an homage that PG has been wanting to do for a very long time. The point of difference is that "SMB" is the first offering in a two-part reciprocal gesture. Later, all the artists he covers here will "scratch his back" too and return versions of his songs that they have covered. The return "scratch" is slated for later release. Gabriel's covers are remarkable and in some cases, distinctly different from the originals. Most of them are extremely well done, getting right to the very heart and spirit of each of the songs. And there is, as well, a strongly directed 'down-tempo-ing' of these tributes in order that the message of each piece is heard clearly and emotively.

The subdued and somewhat melancholy first impression is only the outer court. For inside, with further listenings, there opens a calm, accepting, tip-toed and whispered acceptance of the passage of time and the accumulation of experience. The resulting richness of emotional and poetic reflection exponentially increases with each listen. It then becomes clear that only someone with a lot of life BEHIND them reflects on life in the tenor that "Scratch My Back" so beautifully achieves. PG is now 60 ... 60, and that number speaks of a life for the most part already lived.

Immediately upon hearing "Scratch My Back" I was somewhat taken aback, finding it terribly sad, almost depressing. I actually doubted whether I wanted to listen to the whole thing. I almost stopped it in the middle of its first spin. Now THAT urge made me PAY ATTENTION. I was deeply, deeply intrigued by those feelings and a bit disturbed by them. Why such a strong reaction? ... There is nothing to be distracted by here ... The starkly direct staring right into the face of mortality eloquently given voice here is so entirely honest it's unnerving. At first one fears an endless recital of sombre moods and spartan production as featureless as an unlit night ... until your eyes start to adjust and an entire previously unseen world develops out of the seeming dark. And what a noble and austere world it is. Now I can't stop listening to it.

PG has done it again. He's lept way ahead of the game and his audience and taken us by suprise once more. The very first concert ads for Gabriel's premiere solo tour, post Genesis, warned "Expect the Unexpected". How apropos that's been of his entire career. "Scratch My Back" is just as radical as any of the other major quantum leaps Gabriel has executed in past. Only this time he hasn't gone "outward" and "forward" ... but "inward". Now that "Scratch My Back' has been realized you can clearly see it's been on it's way since "Us'.

Gabriel's choice of material is telling in itself and his treatment of each piece is tasteful and often radical. Bowie's "Heroes" is almost unrecognizable and is, for me, perhaps not as successful an interpretation as his covering of Paul Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble", Talking Heads' "Listening Wind", and Lou Reed's "The Power of the Heart" ( the outstanding emotional highpoint for me ). The 'trilogy' of Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage", The Magnetic Fields' "The Book of Love" and Randy Newman's "I Think it's Going to Rain Today" is breathtaking. John Metcalfe's orchestral arrangements are extremely skillful and never more than they should be. Only piano, a choir and a small orchestra accompany Gabriel's vocals and they couldn't be more perfectly suited to the singer's impeccable interpretations.

Just when we might've been looking to one of popular music's most consistently innovative figures to wow us once again with wonders to see and hear in front of us, he speaks to us with extreme eloquence where we least expected him ... from within.

STUNNING. STUNNING. STUNNING.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gabriel's voice shines throughout... as distinct as ever., March 2 2010
This review is from: Scratch My Back (Audio CD)
Mr. Gabriel has never been one to conform to musical trends, or even follow them for that matter.

So with that thought in mind, eight years after the release of his last album, "Up", he pulls out a bunch of songs by other artists and arranges them for an orchestra to play.

Armed with his singular voice, he proceeds to bring a symphonic exploration of music by artists as diverse as Davif Bowie (Heroes), Paul Simon (Boy In The Bubble), Neil Young ( Philadelphia), Talking Heads (Listening Wind), Lou Reed (The Power of the Heart), Arcade Dire ( My Body Is a Cage), and even Radiohead (Street Spirit).

Yet, this is not any ordinary cover album, it is Peter Gabriel's interpretation of songs by other artists, and that, in my opinion, makes all the difference.

The album is the first part of a project that will see the artists covered here repaying the compliment by producing their own takes on Gabriel's back catalogue over the course of the year.

To help craft his recording, Gabriel enlisted former Durutti Column member John Metcalfe, composer, arranger and the expertise of producer Bob Ezrin to put together the 12 songs.

"Scratch My Back" is an absolute treat that shouldn't be missed.

My Highlights: Heroes, The Boy In The Bubble, Listening Wind, The Power of the Heart, My Body Is A Cage, The Book of Love, Philadelphia.

Enjoy.
Up
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3.0 out of 5 stars Requires A Few Listens, April 21 2010
By 
J. Ravas "MonsterKid65" (Toronto) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Scratch My Back (Audio CD)
I'm a big Peter Gabriel fan. But the first time I listened to this, I kept hoping the next song would do more for me. (they didn't really.. ) I will say the more you listen to it, the more you'll appreciate it. But it's a veeeerrrrrrryy understated album. (read "if you're depressed, this will NOT bring you up) He's made every song his own, to the point where you won't recognize some of them until you've heard the first two or three minutes. It's an interesting listen to hear his interpretations of others' work. If you're a big fan I'd recommend it, but not highly. If you want to listen to Peter Gabriel for the first time, DON'T make this your first purchase. Get Up, or Us, or even better, get Security, his best in my opinion.
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1.0 out of 5 stars PAINFUL dirge, Sept. 5 2010
By 
paul k (Whitby, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Scratch My Back (Dlx Ed) (Audio CD)
I am a huge music fan - I like virtually every genre. I like Genesis; I like most of Peter Gabriel's solo work; I like many of the original songs that Gabriel has done on this album (Randy Newman, David Bowie, Neil Young, Radiohead, and Talking Heads); and, I really HATE this album. It's not that I dislike it - no, I HATE IT. This album is as unlistenable as Elvis Costello's North. Dreary, overly breathy, maudlin in a bad actor way and terribly pretentious. This album should be avoided at all costs.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Very good album...very bad vinyl, June 14 2014
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I'm one of the few that actually realy like this album. Apart from Heroes and the horrible version of Street Spirit (Fade Out), PG managed to reinvent these great songs, and add a very personal touch to them. Unfortunately, this vinyl version is just terrible, and one of the noisiest album I've heard in recent time. Avoid at all cost.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wow, Dec 17 2012
By 
Russ (COLCHESTER, Essex, GB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scratch My Back (Audio CD)
fantastic orchestral take on Peters influences ( some sound better than the original) - what more can I say - genius! I hope he tours in Canada.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Gabriel!!, Sept. 5 2012
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This review is from: Scratch My Back (Dlx Ed) (Audio CD)
Glad Peter ended up leaving "YES". I have bought several of his "SOLO" CDs included this new Double CD! Titled "Scratch My Back!" It's great! For you Gabriel fans out there it's a MUST purchase!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent compilation of covers, March 24 2010
By 
Lawrence G. S. Williams (Ontario) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Scratch My Back (Audio CD)
In short, this album presents a number of classics from various indie rock/lo-fi type artists in an extremely symphony-heavy setting. Peter's voice sounds as good as ever, and the track arrangements make excellent use of varying tempos and dynamics.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of indie rock, fans of Peter's previous releases, fans of symphonic/classical pop music (for some reason, Elfman scores keep coming to mind as an apt comparison), and, obviously, fans of the artists and songs presented here who are open to symphonic remixes
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Gabriel at his Purest, May 7 2010
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This review is from: Scratch My Back (Audio CD)
OMG I was so worried I would not like this CD. I'm 2 tracks in and I'm almost in tears! What I love about him the most is the way his voice touches, no GRABS my soul. What could highlight that more than him singing songs he truly loves, with just orchestral instruments?! It turns out, nothing. It's beautiful. He's beautiful. If you love Peter Gabriel's voice and interpretation of music - you will love this CD. He just can't fail, it seems. Thank you Peter!
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Scratch My Back (Dlx Ed)
Scratch My Back (Dlx Ed) by Peter Gabriel (Audio CD - 2010)
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