I quite enjoy Scratch My Back and love New Blood but, for some reason, it took me years to get around to listening tot he other half of Scratch My Back. But the thing I love about New Blood doesn’t really apply to this project (or Scratch My Back either, really, even though they sound the same). Regardless, given that I write about covers for fun, I am pretty open to this kind of thing.
The Byrne cover is alright – very David Byrne-ish but still similar enough that you can recognize the track.
I quite like the Bon Iver cover, even though I am not really a fan of Bon Iver. (I’ve barely listened to his studio music but I’ve seen him live a bunch and I feel like he’s more engaging live.)
I also think the Regina Spektor cover works pretty well.
I don’t know anything about the Magnetic Fields but the Merritt cover feels entirely too ’80s to me. One of the appealing things about the Gabriel covers (especially of his own stuff) is how he finally moved away from his production style. The last thing I really want to hear in a Peter Gabriel cover is something that tries to sound more ’80s than the original.
The Arthur cover is really different and interesting. This has never been a song I particularly liked but this cover forces me to listen to it in a completely new way.
The Newman cover feels to me like a great idea on paper that doesn’t quite work as well as it should. If there was ever a Gabriel song Randy Newman should cover, it’s this one. Perhaps it just shows that Gabriel doesn’t do this well compared to Newman.
I agree with the consensus that the Arcade Fire cover is dull. Worse, Butler sounds like he’s imitating Gabriel at times which is…like why would you do that? Peter Gabriel is an incredible singer, don’t bother.
I sort of feel the same way about the vocals in the Elbow cover. I don’t know Elbow, so maybe this just how he sounds, but it doesn’t feel too close to the original. But the rest of it is not bad.
Frequent Gabriel collaborator Brian Eno has an idiosyncratic approach to his cover. I’m not sure how well it works in part because this is a song I don’t know well. I seem to have kind of ignored it when I listen to that album. At least it draws attention to itself.
I don’t like the Feist/Timbre Timbre cover particularly. It’s super sedate. At times it feels like they tried to make it a lullaby.
The Reed cover appears to be the most divisive thing here with good reason. He leans even more into his sound than on his amazing “This Magic Moment” cover from the 1990s. Sometimes it feels like he’s taking the piss. And if you feel that way, I can see why you’d hate it. But I do think it’s sincere and I think it’s interesting, certainly one of the most interesting covers here (if not the most interesting). I’m not 100% sold on it yet, but it is growing on me.
Paul Simon is the most obvious person for “Biko” but he is pretty restrained with it. I actually like it more than a lot of the stuff here and far more than I was expecting, given that I don’t like Paul Simon.
Like so many cover albums performed by more than one artist, it’s fairly hit or miss (more like hit or meh) but are more good ones than bad ones, in my estimation.