With two prog titans such as Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp teaming up, how could Gabriel’s second self-titled album go wrong?
It isn’t a flop, but it doesn’t deliver on the promise of its lineup. The former Genesis singer and King Crimson founder try to strike a balance between their prog ambitions and a pop sensibility with mixed results.
“D.I.Y.” and “On the Air” are standouts, but there are too many stretches in which “Peter Gabriel” – known by many as “2” or “Scratch” to distinguish it from other self-titled Gabriel efforts – doesn’t hit its aims.
This is as arty and ambitious as Gabriel’s solo output has gotten, parts of it matching the complexity and theatricality of his Genesis material. There’s no clear hit, making it something of a vanity project. When Gabriel made a best-of compilation a decade ago, not a single track from “Scratch” appeared.
If the aim was to make an accessible brand of prog – two ideas that aren’t necessarily running on parallel tracks, but have few crossing points – “Scratch” has to be seen as an admirable failure. It’s duly earned its cult status among Gabriel faithful, but to less-attentive fans, it’s inessential.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.