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Peter Gabriel: And I’ll Scratch Yours

2010 saw the release of Peter Gabriel’s fifteenth album Scratch My Back. The idea behind it was simple. Gabriel would cover songs by artists such as Paul Simon, David Bowie and The Magnetic Fields. In return, they would cover songs of his, which would feature on a companion album entitled And I’ll Scratch Yours.
While the project got off to a great start – Scratch My Back really is a stand out covers album, the executing of And I’ll Scratch Yours proved entirely different. It had been beset with problems from the get-go with some artists refusing to reciprocate (Radiohead for one) while others, as confirmed by Gabriel, delayed the process so much, they had to be replaced.

The result, released a short time ago, is awkward in the extreme. Songs such as ‘Games Without Frontiers’ covered by Arcade Fire or ‘Don’t Give Up’ featuring Feist and Timber Timbre bring nothing new to the table. Arcade Fire’s vocals are so lukewarm, they’re jarring and nowhere near an indication of their capability. Feist and Timber Timbre demonstrate a lovely tribute but never quite pack the emotional punch of the original version.

David Byrne’s ‘I Don’t Remember’ is wonderful. The production is slightly experimental and other worldly – perfect for the festival circuit’s man of the moment. The album gifts us with the dulcet tones of Paul Simon too on ‘Biko’ – an easy listening pleasure.

Perhaps the most shocking version of a Gabriel song, is Lou Reed’s ‘Solsbury Hill’. The guitar alone is grating. Coupled with Reed’s harsh delivery, limited range and ridiculously comical interpretation, it’s offensive.

The suggestion that And I’ll Scratch Yours was a vanity project for Gabriel is unfair and misguided. Had it been released as planned, on time, with the same artists that are covered by him on Scratch My Back then it might have been an exercise in collaborative genius. Bon Iver and Joseph Arthur are welcome additions to the artist line-up, however, when compared with other Gabriel albums (soundtracks included), this is a weak offering. One for the die-hards.

Various Artists – Peter Gabriel: And I’ll Scratch Yours  is out now. Check out Bon Iver’s version of ‘Come Talk To Me’ below.

© The Journalist, by Priscilla Dinan


Bon Iver - Come Talk To Me danielfoxes

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