And I’ll Scratch Yours – Various Artists

Compilation albums that compile a number of various artists have always been an area of music I often miss. I’ve always found it preferable to listen to an artist’s whole album rather than one of their songs mushed into a CD of other artist’s music. In the case of ‘And I’ll Scratch Yours’ though, it is more than just a bog-standard compilation album, as it is the companion piece to Peter Gabriel’s interesting solo album ‘Scratch My Back’. Gabriel has now managed to compile enough tracks to make the companion album with, featuring 12 different covers of his own songs this time. The whole album is much more than the standard compilation album, as well as showcasing some incredibly interesting versions of some classic Peter Gabriel tracks.

Considering the very dark nature of ‘Scratch My Back’, it is enjoyable to see the many artists on ‘And I’ll Scratch Yours’ interpreting Gabriel’s songs into their own different style. The whole album has some incredibly interesting dynamics as it progresses from accessible tracks to experimental ones. The whole appealing element of the album seems to be the unique interpretations each artist offers to the various tracks, with a few changing them around completely, where only the lyrics remain similar. It’s a much more interesting album than ‘Scratch My Back’, as each artist brings something different to the table with their different covers. A few of the covers really stand out on the album, with the particular artist’s style working incredibly well for the track itself.

The only limitation on ‘And I’ll Scratch Yours’ are the odd one or two covers that fall flat and don’t work well for the album. They remain interesting as they come across as unique covers that differ greatly from Gabriel’s own versions. However, some of the artists’ styles don’t work at all for the song, and end up ruining the songs that they try to cover. It’s a shame as it makes the whole album sound awkwardly clunky as it goes from one track to another. Certain artists seems to have accomplished some incredibly strong covers, whilst others seem to just fail miserably with their versions. It’s a shame, as the album should work, with there being a wonderful range of various artists, but due to the poor nature of some of the covers, the overall album just sounds flawed.

As much as I enjoy both Peter Gabriel, and many of the artists on ‘And I’ll Scratch Yours’, I find the whole album to be a little bit pretentious. Not because of the participating artists most of whom do a fine job of covering Gabriel’s music, but rather that the whole initial project by Gabriel just seems a bit silly. It’s an interesting project of Gabriel’s, but it does baffle me why he didn’t organize everything in the first place, and ensure the other artists were on board with the project prior to doing his own covers. In fairness though, now that the project is finished, it has yielded some interesting versions of Gabriel’s tracks, some of which are as good as his own, but the whole project just seems rather contrived.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★☆☆  3/5

Selected Songs:

  • I Don’t Remember – David Byrne
  • Come Talk To Me – Bon Iver
  • Mercy Street – Elbow
  • Mother Of Violence – Brian Eno

‘And I’ll Scratch Yours’ by Various Artists is out now.

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