Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gabriel's Orchestra

A covers album from Peter Gabriel has to be an interesting idea, but this is, well, Peter Gabriel; he's not one to take the entirely obvious route. Scratch My Back features a dozen interesting songs (some of which I was familiar with, some not) - all accompanied by modernist orchestral arrangements by John Metcalfe, and generally slowed right down to the point where Gabriel's singing occasionally approaches simple speech.

So it ain't exactly rock and roll. But it's good, in a self-consciously searing sort of way, and well worth a listen. It did occasionally remind me of Peter Sellers reciting the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night" in the manner of Laurence Olivier's Richard III, though.

There's apparently also going to be a CD made by the various people whose songs Gabriel covered, covering some of his songs in return. That may be interesting - it should feature David Bowie, Paul Simon, the Magnetic Fields, Randy Newman, and Neil Young, among others.

The "Special Edition" version is well worth the extra money, incidentally, less for the second CD (which has remixes of three of the tracks, plus definitive proof that "Waterloo Sunset" is an absolute poetic and musical masterpiece which can withstand absolutely any sort of assault) than for its inclusion of a code that gives a free three-month subscription to the Society of Sound - which means free downloads of high-quality versions of a clutch of varied but often very interesting albums.

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