Peter Gabriel - Scratch My Back  Ill Scratch Yours as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth

This collection is so emotionally laden it leaves the listener stretched, emotionally purified, and wanting for more.

Scratch My Back & I'll Scratch Yours (Limited Edition)
Artist:            Peter Gabriel
Label:            Real World Productions
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Duration:        Discs 1 & 2 -  24 tracks, 1:48:21

Peter Gabriel continues to surprise. At one time bringing new and unique theatrics to the rock stage with Genesis during the The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour, to one of the first to explore world music and incorporating it to modern pop, to heart wrenching contributions in So’s “Don’t Give Up” and “Mercy Street”.

Slow, deliberate lyrics of love and the human condition accented by soft melody and strong strings – here is a towering offering from a well-traveled artist. The limited edition album features Scratch My Back with an all new Gabriel collection shining brightly, and I’ll Scratch Yours a tribute to the artist showcasing many of Gabriel’s song’s by a wide range of artists.

Scratch My Back

With strings and soft voice, Gabriel sets the stage with “Heroes” telling of human want and strength in a soft and extremely memorable song. Note the song’s late crescendo emphasizing the story. Piano seldom leads with such significance as in “The Boy in the Bubble”

“Listening Wind” gives a fine example of the play between string instruments laying a foundation for the cadence of Gabriel’s lyrics. This is classic Peter Gabriel with fine story telling, sensitive vocal inflection, and awesome composition. A soft song of love with strings and horns adorning is found in “The Power of the Heart”.

Can a vocalist hold tonal despair any better than Gabriel in “My Body is a Cage”? The crescendo of strings and vocal difference highlight this story of suffering followed by a mellowing clarinet bridge. Age and a lifetime of singing have given a true emotional edge to Gabriel’s voice as witnessed in “The Book of Love”.

“Apres Moi” is a fine example of how a composition can capture the dramatics of emotion. The piano lead “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” would have been a favorite of the late Dan Fogelberg who loved lyrics of rain accenting human emotion. “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” is an apt conclusion to a beautiful assembly with slow and deliberate vocals. Leaving nothing behind, Gabriel bleeds out every bit of emotion in his vocals.

And I’ll Scratch Yours


  • “I Don t Remember” (David Byrne) -  Bryne’s classic tonal quality does this song well
  • “Blood of Eden” (Regina Spektor) – a fine, gentle rendition
  • “Shock the Monkey” (Joseph Arthur) - every tribute has its down side…
  • “Big Time” (Randy Newman) - …and every tribute needs a comedic moment which Newman aptly captures
  • “Games Without Frontiers” (Arcade Fire) - spot on rendition by the ever-surprising Arcade Fire
  • “Mother of Violence” (Brian Eno) - well what do you expect from Eno
  •  “Solsbury Hill” (Lou Reed) - classic vocal timbre and loud guitar feedback by the late king of New York punk
  • “Biko” (Paul Simon) – a very fitting rendition with Simon’s singular vocals and a folk-like foundation

Scratch My Back is a career highlight for an artist who has had many. This collection is so emotionally laden it leaves the listener stretched, emotionally purified, and wanting for more. And I’ll Scratch Yours not so much.


Scott S Mertens

Scratch My Back – 4nhalftocks
I’ll Scratch Yours – 3tocks