Peter Gabriel: And I’ll Scratch Yours

Three years after he covered them, a wealth of stars cover him back.

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Okay, not a new Gabriel album per se, but well worth a mention. On his 2010 release Scratch My Back he performed songs by artists including Elbow, Bon Iver, Talking Heads, Regina Spektor and Lou Reed, and this 12-track follow-up features some highly credible artists returning the compliment, giving their own interpretations of Gabriel classics.

There’s no arguing with the talent here. David Byrne’s take on I Don’t Remember is faithful to the original but with a funk/electro production to it, and Bon Iver downsizes the Serengeti-like grandeur of Come Talk To Me, while preserving the song’s sense.

Spektor could hardly have gone wrong with a tune as achingly beautiful as Blood Of Eden but she excels herself with her sparse reading. Randy Newman takes Big Time To Infinity And Beyond, while the metal drone that Reed handed in labelled Solsbury Hill is, frankly, just embarrassing.

Much better is Elbow’s moody, heartfelt Mercy Street, Feist And Timbre Timbre’s fragile, low-key stab at Don’t Give Up and Paul Simon’s acoustic run through Biko. It all makes for a laudable exercise, but will probably end up with you reaching for the real thing.