Leave it to Peter Gabriel to record the prototypical cover record in a totally atypical way.
After all, as it has been some 20 years since he released a full-length solo album, and eight since a CD of any type, you might think he’d want to get some new stuff out there. Then again, that’s not totally fair. Gabriel has actually been quite prolific when it comes to recording new material for movie soundtracks, including the entire musical score for 2002’s often overlooked “Rabbit-Proof Fence” and, more recently, the song “Down to Earth” from Disney Pixar’s “WALL-E.”
For his just released “Scratch My Back,” Gabriel conceptualized a unique musical “give and take” where he would re-record particular artists’ song for this album and they, in turn, would record one of his compositions for a companion “I’ll Scratch Yours” CD. “Scratch” is also quite interesting in that it includes covers of only two hits (David Bowie’s “Heroes” and Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble”) with the rest less known cuts from from both well-known and indie artists. Their efforts, it now appears, will not come in the form of a Gabriel cover CD but, rather, a series of monthly iTunes releases, including Simon’s take on “Biko.”
Add the fact that Gabriel eschews guitar and drums on this new record and it is clear that while “Scratch My Back” may not be wholly original music, the concept, execution and artist embody originality at its finest and are generating “buzz” not typically realized for an entire body of work in these days of single digital downloads.