• Record Label: EMI
  • Release Date: Mar 2, 2010
User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 38
  2. Negative: 10 out of 38

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  1. CraigP.
    Mar 10, 2010
    10
    Peter Gabriel never fails to impress.Rewards repeat listening.
  2. StephaneS.
    Mar 2, 2010
    9
    Great great cover album by visionary artist. Thanks once again Peter for this piece of art!!
  3. PeterN.
    Mar 2, 2010
    8
    Needs a couple listens, but very strong overall. Needs a couple listens, but very strong overall. His voice is out front on all tracks and deservedly so. It's still rich and warm and works perfectly overtop of the strings. There are many excellent choices of songs - especially the cover of Arcade Fire
  4. RobB
    Mar 3, 2010
    8
    Gabriel's never recorded an album of covers so it's interesting to see he can actually make the songs his own.
  5. Steve
    Mar 3, 2010
    10
    I was at first skeptical about this release, but upon listening to it about a dozen times I am floored by what Peter has done. He has very carefully extracted the songs' essence and let the words and raw melody do the talking. Listening to the originals of Listening Wind, Apres Moi, My Body Is A Cage and others it is clear the original were way too over-produced.
  6. JetS
    Mar 5, 2010
    7
    An orchestral covers album from an aging prog rocker? Not surprisingly, "Scratch My Back" is, by turns, brilliant and odd. It's a sparse, stark, elegiac album of minimalist compositions that deliberately takes the listener out of his comfort zone. With Peter's cracked, soulful vocals hanging on John Metcalfe's sharp, aural landscapes, "Back" wears its concept like a fragile An orchestral covers album from an aging prog rocker? Not surprisingly, "Scratch My Back" is, by turns, brilliant and odd. It's a sparse, stark, elegiac album of minimalist compositions that deliberately takes the listener out of his comfort zone. With Peter's cracked, soulful vocals hanging on John Metcalfe's sharp, aural landscapes, "Back" wears its concept like a fragile exoskeleton. It's a mournful and sometimes-thrilling performance that sacrifices synth for strings, easy hooks for meditation and gloss for exposure. It's an effect that works stunningly on the album's most transformative tracks -- Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage" and Talking Heads' "Listening Wind." The instruments simmer and soar under, not over, the rhythmic gravel of Peter's voice. In fact, "Cage" probably deserves comparison to Johnny Cash's "Hurt" in terms of passion and performance. No longer a tale of youth-fed angst, the song becomes an explosion of aged apprehension and disquiet. Peter's voice is so clear and fearlessly imperfect that he could be singing in a dark, haunted wood or in your own hallway. Yes, the concept here is tenuous, but "Back's" successes are many. "Mirrorball" and "Book of Love" are gorgeous and lush, and "Heroes" is a wonderful, slow burn. The album's biggest revelation, though, might be "The Power of the Heart." A mostly unknown and beautifully written Lou Reed song, "Heart" was ripe for discovery. Once you've heard Peter's rendition, you'll wonder why you've never heard it before. But the album's imperfections are hard to ignore. It's difficult to sustain an entire disc of mostly-morose chamber music. In fact, I guarantee that many of these songs will reveal themselves most fully when thrown onto a mix tape, shuffled into a playlist or featured among the rock and electronica on a movie soundtrack. And it doesn't help that the last two songs, "Philadelphia" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)," seem less like thread-bare confessions and more like off-key whimpers. Only in the final 8 or 9 minutes of this stunning, one-hour album does the exoskeleton finally start to buckle. For every person who calls "Scratch My Back" moving, meditative and poignant, there will be someone who calls it overwrought, ponderous and contrived. You may absolutely adore these lovely bones, or you might resent them. Just do yourself a favor and shuffle a few of these tracks into your playlist. You might be surprised. BEST TRACKS: "My Body is a Cage," "Listening Wind," "The Power of the Heart," "Mirrorball" Expand
  7. ManuelF.
    Mar 2, 2010
    10
    Gets better and better everytime you listen to it. not just any album of covers, fantastic rendition to an eclectic selection. Masterpiece
  8. RaymondL
    Mar 4, 2010
    8
    Very very interesting spin on many of these songs, superb orchestration.
  9. Oct 24, 2013
    9
    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'reGabriel'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 Expand
Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. 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.
  2. Mostly, it works well. Intriguingly, Gabriel fares better with more recent material.
  3. 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.