12 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

WEA.MusicPages.Riaa.Clean Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

WEA.MusicPages.Riaa.Clean Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

Disappointed

MontyPgrrl

I loved “Scratch My Back,” and waited a long time for this follow-up album. There was hardly
a rendition of Gabriel’s songs on here that I liked.

Transformative

Sgenzano

I love Peter Gabriel - I’ve seen him live multiple times, have 90% of his releases, etc., etc. It’s hard being a Peter fan because of his incredibly slow recording/songwriting practices. But he keeps his fans because he is such a true, heartfelt, earnest, original, wonderful musician and songwriter. I preface my review with this because I HATED Scratch My Back. I was so excited to hear Peter cover fantastic songs like David Bowie’s “Heroes” and Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble.” But I came to find on listening that he had turned every single song into a ponderous funeral dirge.

This album, the answer to Scratch My Back, is everything Peter’s covers should have been. The artists on here reinterpret and transform a well-chosen selection of his songs to varying degrees, but every one is a welcome new interpretation. Most of the artists are able to put their own signature so deeply into the song that it becomes their own, and is all the better for that. David Byrne infuses “I Don’t Remember” with his own rhythm-based sensibilities. Paul Simon provides a truly gorgeous rendition of “Biko.” Arcade Fire nails “Games Without Frontiers.” Brian Eno mechanizes “Mother of Violence.”

Some artists provide more straightforward covers, like “Mercy Street.” But as a fan of the originals it’s always nice to hear that as well. The one version that I found disappointing was the slow, deliberate cover of “Shock the Monkey,” which lost much of the original’s driving, tension-filled paranoia. It reminded me of what Peter did in his Scratch My Back album to the songs he covered.

The real standout is Lou Reed’s cover of “Solsbury Hill.” Fans of the original - and who wouldn’t be? - will probably be largely horrified by Reed’s electric guitar-driven, blues-drenched and moaning version of what was originally an inspiring, sunlight-filled song of escape and renewal. I expected to feel the same on hearing the song described. But somehow Reed manages to make the song his own and sing it with truth. It becomes something else, and something beautiful in its own right - exactly what this album was meant to do.

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