Sound — 10
A wonderful trip into the dark mind that is Peter Gabriel, Scratch My Back is something entirely different than anything else Gabriel has produced. What many may notice at first is that this is an album of cover songs; while this is not something new or innovative, Gabriel manages to recreate every track into something entirely his own. As a whole, the album is produced very well. Each track is taken down a new road of orchestration, being driven by strings and brass. This is opposed entirely to the usual formula of drums, guitar, and synthesizers that Gabriel has been known to use in the past. Each track is a masterpiece within itself, taking on a new life entirely separate from the original. This is helped due to the wonderful composition that drives Gabriel's almost sorrow-filled voice; a voice that is spot on throughout the entirety of the album. Although his voice has changed with age, there is no question that it still Gabriel singing. Songs that many may recognize are "Heroes" originally performed by David Bowie, "The Power Of The Heart" by Lou Reed, and "Philadelphia" by Neil Young. Despite the familiar songs titles and artists, each track has little in common with the original outside of the lyrics. In many cases, fans my find it hard to recognize any of the original song in these new compositions. While this may upset some at a first glance, Gabriel's compositions do the songs justice. Each is an almost dark trek into a new world. Some may know, some may not, but this is planned to be the first of a 2 album "set". It's sister album, set to be titled "I'll Scratch Yours", is intended to be comprised of all the artists that Gabriel covers in this album. Each of them is set to perform one of Gabriel's songs in their own fashion. The only gripe I can truly have about the instrumentation is the overall mood. While I personally enjoyed the darker style that Gabriel went for in this venture, some fans may not see it this way. Very little about this album is reminiscent of his old work, which could lead some fans to disapprove. But, if personal feelings are set aside, it can at least be said that the composition was expertly written and executed.
Lyrics — 7
It is very hard to review this album for the lyrics alone. From song to song, the lyrics change drastically in style, but this is due to the various artists that Gabriel decided to cover. Some may find the lyrics to be wonderful on some songs, and terrible on another based on their own taste for lyrics. Overall, I have to say that the lyrics are very solid. Although, this comes from the experience of having all of these songs in their original form. If you found yourself hating the lyrics in the original song, odds are you aren't going to have very different feelings in Gabriel's version; of course, he didn't change any of them.
Overall Impression — 9
While I believe this to be one of Gabriel's greatest albums to date, it is hard to compare it to any of his previous albums. As it takes on a spirit all its own, it is a major step away from where he has ventured before. Depending on what it was that drew you to Gabriel in the first place, this could very well rank rather low in your book. From a personal stand point, I would like to see him produce more of this fashion. The points that stick out for me are Heroes, Listening Wind, My Body Is A Cage, and Apres Moi. Although there isn't a single track that I would consider to be bad, these are just the ones that stick out to me more than the others. I would recommend this album to most people, but it would be a poor album to introduce with if I was trying to get them exposed to Peter Gabriel. Depending on your taste, this album could range from pure bliss, to something depressing and awful. But whichever it be that you feel, at least it can be said that Gabriel tried something new. Unlike many artists today who seem content to produce the same thing over and again, Gabriel took a leap and tried to produce something drastically different that his previous works. For that alone, I can do nothing but praise him on another job well-done.