1978, Music

Peter Gabriel [Scratch] (1978)

Because of the nature of the collaboration – my favourite guitarist, Robert Fripp, produced this record – I had sort of viewed this record as the holy grail of early Peter Gabriel records, in spite of the lukewarm reviews. I had just assumed that, whenever I got to it, I would discover this incredible mixture of Gabriel’s songwriting and Fripp being Fripp. But, much like other Fripp appearances on Gabriel records, Fripp is rarely noticeable as Fripp (except for on “Exposure”). And, more importantly, much like Gabriel’s debut record, it’s pretty clear that he hadn’t quite figured out what he wanted to be as a solo artist.

It’s certainly more consistent than the debut, as he attempts less stylistic diversity and what he tries he does more successfully (more often than not) than on the first record.

But this is still not the greatest set of songs by a long shot – Gabriel would improve as a songwriter by even the next record – and he still hasn’t found that sweet spot where he manages to combine strong-songwriting with the right balance of musical innovation and weirdness.

It is well-performed, as you would expect (check out the backing band) and I guess it has enough quirks to keep things relatively interesting. But I don’t find it very memorable and, frankly, I’d rather listen to Fripp’s solo album he released around the same time (on which Gabriel guest stars).

7/10

All songs written by Peter Gabriel, except where indicated.

  1. “On the Air” 5:30
  2. “D.I.Y.” 2:37
  3. “Mother of Violence” (Peter Gabriel, Jill Gabriel) 3:10
  4. “A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World” 3:33
  5. “White Shadow” 5:14
  6. “Indigo” 3:30
  7. “Animal Magic” 3:26
  8. “Exposure” (Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp) 4:12
  9. “Flotsam and Jetsam” 2:17
  10. “Perspective” 3:23
  11. “Home Sweet Home” 4:37
  • Peter Gabriel – vocals; organ on 11; piano on 2; synthesizer on 5, 7
  • Robert Fripp – electric guitar on 1, 3, 5, 10; acoustic guitar on 5; Frippertronics on 8
  • Tony Levin – bass guitar on 1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11; Chapman stick on 2, 4, 9; string bass on 6; recorder arrangements on 6, 9; backing vocals on 1, 4, 7, 10, 11
  • Roy Bittan – keyboards on 1, 3, 5, 6, 10, 11
  • Larry Fast – synthesizer and treatments on 1, 2, 5, 7, 10
  • Jerry Marotta – drums on all except 3; backing vocals on 1, 4, 10, 11

Additional musicians

  • Sid McGinnis – electric guitar on 1, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11; acoustic guitar on 2, 3; steel guitar on 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11; mandolin on 2; backing vocals on 7
  • Bayete – keyboards on 2, 4, 6, 7
  • Tim Capello – saxophone on 10, 11
  • George Marge – recorders on 6, 8, 9
  • John Tims – insects on 3

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