• Record Label: EMI
  • Release Date: Mar 2, 2010

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. The result of this is that many songs here, like Elbow's Mirrorball, are fairly modern, and Gabriel rarely dips into the obvious rock canon (Heroes aside). And the sparseness of the arrangements around the singer’s tender vocals makes this a thing of beauty.
  2. He slows the songs' tempos and sets them to string arrangements that range from filmic and lush to something approaching the icy screech essayed by John Cale on Nico's Marble Index.
  3. 80
    But perhaps the most effective retread is Talking Heads' "Listening Wind": Gabriel removes the funk, parks the dance, and leaves the words to do the work.
  4. 80
    Drum and guitar free, with stark string orchestration, this imaginatively selected and sequenced collection achieves such a haunting consistency of tone that its spell lingers long after the speakers fall silent.
  5. Mojo
    An album to make you happy feeling sad, Scratch My Back gets better with each play; it might just turn out to be the best surprise present of the year. [Mar 2010, p.88]
  6. Q Magazine
    As a covers album, this is about as good as it gets. [Mar 2010, p.104]
  7. No individual rendition improves ?notably on its source material, ?but taken together they form a nicely melancholy suite.
  8. These songs deserve Gabriel's serious consideration, as do all of his choices--there's not a dud among them. Yet it's impossible to not pine for some rhythm here and a chance for this outstanding ballad singer to also show off his intact talent for soulful whooping and wailing.
  9. It may take listeners a while to wrap their heads (and ears) around Scratch My Back, but it will undoubtedly polarize an audience that has long awaited something new from Gabriel.
  10. In spite of the lack of original material, Scratch My Back is as rewarding an experience as a brand-new studio album could be, as it stands as a potent display of Gabriel’s power as a performer.
  11. Mostly, it works well. Intriguingly, Gabriel fares better with more recent material.
  12. Ultimately this is not the artistic disaster it could have been, for despite some uncertainties it is clear Peter Gabriel has plenty of original thoughts to add to these songs.
  13. It's a decent enough, darkly-shaded mainstream pop album, but the concept is distracting.
  14. His voice, still a dynamic instrument that can leap from meek to menacing, is very much out front, prowling over spare, sometimes lugubrious reworkings. At the album’s best, the results are head-spinning....At its worst, a few songs feel plodding and insular.
  15. Gabriel’s decision to pay homage to the core essentials underpinning these songs is a noble one, he also sacrifices many essential ingredients: rhythmic drive, dynamic surprise, harmonic and textural variety. As experiments go, Scratch My Back ranks as a well-intentioned dud.
  16. Much of this material feels beneath him. What doesn't initially is brought down to that level by an absence of any real idea of how to give these songs a distinctive cast.
  17. Scratch comes off like a ponderous exercise in re-branding--an uncomfortable place to be for one of pop’s great innovators.
  18. This tribute to 12 of Peter Gabriel's favorite songwriters is a cool idea that turns into a stone bore.
  19. Is this the groundbreaking work we'd perhaps hoped for during the album's initial release, an effort worthy of that preliminary giddiness? Sadly, no. Is it an interesting mix of tracks that confronts listeners with reimaging of songs so deeply tied to our heart strings we have no choice but to carefully imbibe and evaluate each note? Sure.
  20. Every song on Scratch My Back, regardless of its original tone or meaning, is flattened out and turned into this one melodramatic and depressing thing, often with Gabriel whispering half the words to go with the ultra-slow tempos.
  21. As with all covers records, the crucial issue is whether these renditions bring anything new to these songs. The answer is a resounding no.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 38
  2. Negative: 10 out of 38
  1. ManuelF.
    Mar 2, 2010
    Gets better and better everytime you listen to it. not just any album of covers, fantastic rendition to an eclectic selection. Masterpiece
  2. Oct 24, 2013
    Gabriel's redo of the eclectic Stephin Merritt's "The Book of Love" stands out as one of those "wow, I didn't know that song could go there"Gabriel's redo of the eclectic Stephin Merritt's "The Book of Love" stands out as one of those "wow, I didn't know that song could go there" moments. This same artistic genius rears its head in a hauntingly beautiful and richly-imagined remake of Lou Reed's much-noisier "The Power of the Heart". These two stand out as songs that make this album shine. In the long run, yes, they're orchestra+Gabriel remakes and some people won't like that as a concept. For those who take the time to hear the instruments wonderfully layered with PG's more pensive voice, most songs will be a new treat Full Review »
  3. K0O
    Jan 11, 2011
    As a long-time Gabriel-fan, I am very disappointed with this album. Extremely boring arrangements. The feeling of the original songs are notAs a long-time Gabriel-fan, I am very disappointed with this album. Extremely boring arrangements. The feeling of the original songs are not there, not even in another form or shape. PG, please make a real album with good arrangements and your own songs. Full Review »