Friday, April 2, 2010

Covers 5: Peter Gabriel Scratches His Itch

photo by mac filko

Whole albums of covers can be hit-and-miss affairs. Bowie's Pin-ups album was pretty good, but it was arguably done at the peak of his powers, whereas Duran Duran put out their covers album, Thank You, after their comeback album. Both records were probably done to get something out there without the pressure of writing enough new material, but Bowie's was full of fire and passion, while Duran Duran's just sounded tired. Def Leppard put one out not too long ago which was similarly mediocre.

So doing a whole album of cover songs can be a risky proposition. It can seem like the easy way out, especially if slavish imitations add nothing to the original versions. Peter Gabriel recently released Scratch My Back, his own covers album. One would be hard-pressed to argue that Gabriel is at his creative apex, since aside from soundtracks, he releases a pop/rock record every 8 or 10 years these days.

Then again, Gabriel is not Duran Duran or Def Leppard, he's always done things in his idiosyncratic way. Scratch My Back is no different,since he decided to record the whole thing with orchestration intead of stock rock instrumentation - no guitars, no drums, for example. Gabriel has also managed to get the artists he's covered to record a Peter Gabriel song, except for David Bowie, who is busy hibernating (supposedly Brian Eno is going to reciprocate in Bowie's stead). So far, Bon Iver has covered Come Talk to Me, Stepehn Merrit (Magnetic Fields) has covered Not One of Us, and Paul Simon has done Biko. I've heard rumblings that Arcade Fire and Radiohead might not get their songs done, but we'll see.

Track Listing (listen here):

Heroes (David Bowie)
The Boy in the Bubble (Paul Simon)
Mirrorball (Elbow)
Flume (Bon Iver)
Listening Wind (Talking Heads)
The Power of the Heart (Lou Reed)
My Body is a Cage (Arcade Fire)
The Book of Love (The Magnetic Fields)
I Think it's Going to Rain Today (Randy Newman)
Apres Moi (Regina Spektor)
Philadelphia (Neil Young)
Street Spirit (Radiohead)

The Book of Love - Magnetic Fields

Peter Gabriel - The Book Of Love by user543929

Street Spirit (Fade Out) - Radiohead

Peter Gabriel - Street Spirit (Fade Out) by v7nce

My Body is a Cage - Arcade Fire

Peter Gabriel - My Body Is A Cage (Arcade Fire Cover) by seriousstache

Heroes - David Bowie

Peter Gabriel - Heroes by MiK*

Peter Gabriel has even covered the Vampire Weekend tune that dropped PG's name into the lyrics, here's Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.

Hot chip peter gabriel cape cod kwassa kwassa vampire weekend cover by revrev

You can get a free download of Flume here by trading your e-mail address:


zenbecca said...

Speaking of Bowie and Duran Duran...I have a 12" of D2 covering Bowie's Fame that I bought at Records on Wheels roughly 67 years ago. And I'm still on the fence about it.

...kinda like I'm still trying to wrap my head around Peter Gabriel covering Vampire Weekend.

chris yackoboski said...

Duran Duran always worshipped Bowie anyhow, right? But doesn't PG doing Vampite Weekend make sense? PG's been pushing world music forever, and VW are in love with afro-pop.