Click to return to Dave’s Music Database home page.

Released: February 12, 2010

Rating: 3.586 (average of 6 ratings)

Genre: alternative rock/pop

Quotable: --

Album Tracks: *

  1. Heroes [David Bowie]
  2. The Boy in the Bubble [Paul Simon]
  3. Mirrorball [Elbow]
  4. Flume [Bon Iver]
  5. Listening Wind [Talking Heads]
  6. The Power of the Heart [Lou Reed]
  7. My Body Is a Cage [Arcade Fire]
  8. The Book of Love [The Magnetic Fields]
  9. I Think It’s Going to Rain Today [Randy Newman]
  10. Après moi [Regina Spektor]
  11. Philadelphia [Neil Young]
  12. Street Spirit (Fade Out) [Radiohead]

* Original artist listed in brackets.

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only --
sales in U.K. only - estimated --
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated --


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 26
peak on U.K. album chart 12

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • The Book of Love (1/30/10) --
  • The Boy in the Bubble (3/19/10) –
  • Flume (3/30/10) --
  • Mirrorball (4/22/10) –
  • The Power of the Heart 4/28/10) --
  • Listening Wind (6/26/10) --

Notes: A deluxe edition includes alternate mixes of “The Book of Love”, “My Body Is a Cage”, “Heroes”, and the non-album cut “Waterloo Sunset”.

Scratch My Back
Peter Gabriel
“Considering the slow trickle of completed albums he has released since becoming a superstar in 1986 – just two albums of songs with vocals, paired with two albums of soundtracks and two live records – deliberate is expected from Peter Gabriel, so the slow, hushed crawl of Scratch My Back is no shock. What may be a shock is that Gabriel chose to follow 2002’s Up with a covers album but, like all of his work, this 2010 record is highly conceptual no matter how minimal the end result may be.” STE

“Gabriel describes this as a very personal record with twelve songs performed only with orchestral instruments and voice,” AZ eschewing traditional rock instruments like drums and guitar. “To help craft his recording of the album’s , Gabriel enlisted former Durutti Column member John Metcalfe, composer, arranger and the expertise of producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Lou Reed’s Berlin) and engineer, mixer and producer Tchad Blake (Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Tom Waits).” AZ “Gabriel and his collaborators recorded the album at George Martin’s Air Lyndhurst Studios and the Real World Temple with further editing and mixing at his own Real Worlds Studio in Wiltshire.” AZ

“The idea behind the Scratch My Back project is a song exchange where each artist would cover one of Gabriel’s songs in return for his covering one of theirs; the other artists’ renditions of Gabriel’s songs will appear on a later album entitled I’ll Scratch Yours.” WK

Scratch My Back draws from an “eclectic array of cult favorites and classic tracks,” AZ divided “neatly between six songs from [Gabriel’s] peers (Bowie, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Neil Young, Lou Reed, David Byrne) and six songs from younger artists (Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Stephin Merritt, Bon Iver, Elbow, Regina Spektor).” STE “The album’s richly diverse sounds include the sparse romance of Lou Reed’s The Power of the Heart…and an epic arrangement of Arcade Fire’s My Body Is a Cage.” AZ

“Gabriel doesn’t dodge familiar tunes, choosing to sing Heroes and Street Spirit (Fade Out), but he twists each tune to his own needs, arranging everything with nothing more than piano and strings, a change that’s almost jarring on Simon’s The Boy in the Bubble, yet it stays true to the undercurrent of melancholy in the melody.” STE

“Indeed, all of Scratch My Back is stark, sober, and spare, delving ever deeper inward, a triumph of intellect over emotion – a noted contrast to almost all cover albums that celebrate the visceral, not the cerebral. Immediate it may not be but fascinating it is” STE as Gabriel turns “all 12 of these songs into something unmistakably his own.” STE

Supposedly a new single is to be released following each full moon, each backed by the covered artist’s take on a Peter Gabriel song. WK So far The Book of Love was backed by Magnetic Fields’ frontman Stephin Merritt’s take on Gabriel’s “Not One of Us” and ‘The Boy in the Bubble’ was backed by Paul Simon covering “Biko.” WK Since then, Bon Iver’s take on “Come Talk to Me” has backed Gabriel’s version of Flume and Elbow’s version of “Mercy Street” was paired with Mirrorball. Lou Reed’s rendition of “Solsbury Hill” supports The Power of the Heart and David Byrne tackles “I Don’t Remember” for the flip side of Listening Wind.

“The Scratch My Back release is one of the most creative and engaging records from an iconic artist in a long time. The marketing focus is to penetrate Peter Gabriel s core fan base as well as fans of all genres and in all demographics given the scope of artists being covered as well as its depth of composition.” AZ

Review Sources:

Related DMDB Links:
previous studio album: Up (2002) Peter Gabriel’s DMDB page

The Book of Love (video from finale of TV’s Scrubs)

Gabriel et al discusses “The Boy in the Bubble”

Click on box above to check out the DMDB on Facebook.

Last updated July 24, 2010.