David Byrne, Meet Peter Gabriel. Peter Gabriel, Meet David Byrne.

Real World Records | UK \ CD | 2013

Real World Records | UK | CD | 2013

Various: …And I’ll Scratch Yours UK CD [2013]

  1. David Byrne – I Don’t Remember
  2. Bon Iver – Come Talk to Me
  3. Regina Spektor – Blood Of Eden
  4. Stephin Merritt – Not One Of Us
  5. Joseph Arthur – Shock the Monkey
  6. Randy Newman – Big Time
  7. Arcade Fire – Games Without Frontiers
  8. Elbow – Mercy Street
  9. Brian Eno – Mother of Violence
  10. Feist feat. Timber Timbre – Don’t Give Up
  11. Lou Reed – Solsbury Hill
  12. Paul Simon – Biko

This caught my eye today. If ever there were a candidate for buying a select few song downloads rather than a full album, this is it. Peter Gabriel has not been a presence in my Record Cell in a quarter of a century. I simply pay no attention to the man’s music. It passed me by for whatever reason long ago. When Gabriel released his “Scratch My Back” album covering a dozen favorite songs back in 2010, I noted the cover design and didn’t pay it much attention. A 7″ was released for Record Store Day that year where the A-side was Gabriel covering Magnetic Fields’ “Book Of Love” and the disc’s B-side was given to Stephen Merritt covering Gabriel’s “Not One Of Us.”

“Symmetrical,” I thought and went about my business. As it transpires, that pairing was what Gabriel had in mind all along, and now on September 23rd, the companion volume to “Scratch My Back,” “…And I’ll Scratch Yours,” will get a release. Ten of the dozen artists covered by Gabriel earlier have responded by now with their own covers of songs from within the Gabriel canon. Radiohead and Neil Young were not able to reciprocate, unfortunately, so ringers were substituted in Joseph Arthur and Feist. C’est la vie.

The first and most significant of these that leapt out at my wandering eye was the moment I’ve been waiting for for a third of a century wherein David Byrne covers the song “I Don’t Remember” from the third Peter Gabriel album. When that song first burned itself into my 1980 brain, I thought that it pretty much screamed “David Byrne” in the style and delivery that Gabriel used; only it was a more perfect expression of David Byrne than even the original artist was capable of conveying. I always thought this was the ultimate psychotic David Byrne number, really. The thought of Byrne tackling it now is kind of pointless, since he peaked in 1980 also. But I am curious to hear it and will probably sample it on iTunes; perhaps buying it if by some small miracle it manages to delight me.

Of course, I’m very interested  in hearing what Stephen Merritt did with “Not One Of Us,” another prime Gabriel track. The difference here is that Merritt continues to be an artist that I have the time of day for. Another song from this album I think could be a winner is Randy Newman’s version of “Big Time.” When I hear it in my mind, it makes a lot of sense, and I daresay the song could reach its best expression in Newman’s hands. In fact, it just gets better and better the more I imagine it. This could be another download!

Brian Eno vocal tracks are still as scarce as hen’s teeth, so his take of the brilliant “Mother Of Violence” from album number two is another cut I’ll need to hear and probably purchase. Finally, Lou Reed has taken on the sprightly “Solsbury Hill” in what’s is said to be a irreverently perverse take on the tuneful Gabriel classic. Color me curious.

I’ve never heard: Arcade Fire, Feist, Bon Iver, and Regina Spektor.* As far as Joseph Arthur and Elbow, I have never even heard their names before today. So most of this is likely a big pass for me, but the ability to buy certain songs with surgical precision is normally unrewarding to me. Not this time though. Perhaps as many as four cuts from this have my name on it. And I’m morbidly curious about the Byrne track.

– 30 –

* Regina Spektor performs a voice over on the last Thomas Dolby album, but that doesn’t count.

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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3 Responses to David Byrne, Meet Peter Gabriel. Peter Gabriel, Meet David Byrne.

  1. Echorich says:

    Hmmm…this will either be very interesting or a load of… I’ve sampled the Elbow track – Gabriel by numbers as performed by the most overrated British band of the past 20 years (yes supplanting both Blur and Oasis for that award in my mind). Bon Iver is Appalachian-Alt interesting, but meh. I will let you make your own mind up on the Stephen Merritt contribution. So far, and I haven’t heard everything as you have to dig to find any tracks streaming or whatever online, the Lou Reed contribution really appeals to me.
    I want to hear what David Byrne does with this opportunity…


  2. zoo says:

    I like Elbow. What’s interesting about them being involved with this is that their singer at times sounds almost exactly like PG. There are a few Elbow tunes that immediately bring to mind “Family Snapshot” when I hear them.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      zoo – Since I never heard of Elbow until yesterday, this is all news to me! I think that covers should never bring the original to mind. Sounding like the original vocalist is a bug, not a feature. Randy Newman has some vocal similarities with Gabriel, but his style is miles from Pete’s.


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