Peter Gabriel, also known by its Fan Nickname Scratch, is the second Self-Titled Album by the English Progressive Rock musician of the same name. It was released through Charisma Records in the United Kingdom, and Atlantic Records in the United States, on 2 June 1978.
Like the album before it, Scratch primarily continues the style of Progressive Rock that Gabriel had specialized in with Genesis. At the same time, however, it starts to lean into more aggressive, experimental territory influenced by the then-new Post-Punk and New Wave Music movements, effectively picking up where The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway left off.
To consolidate this change in approach, the album was produced by prior collaborator and former King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, who envisioned the record as part of a trilogy of albums that deconstructed the idea of pop music. The other two albums, Fripp's solo debut Exposure and Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs, were made concurrently but released one and two years later, respectively. Gabriel and Hall both provide guest vocals on Exposure (which also features new versions of Gabriel's "Here Comes the Flood" and, appropriately, "Exposure") to return the favor.
Recorded in Hilvarenbeek, The Netherlandsnote , the album's sound serves as an early and formative example of "post-progressive", a new form of Progressive Rock that explored influences outside the Classical Music and jazz elements that defined the genre's heyday in the early '70s. Both Gabriel's next self-titled album and Fripp's first album with a revived King Crimson would in turn build upon this album's elements to further codify post-progressive's hallmarks.
The album was supported by one single: "D.I.Y.".
- "On the Air" (5:30)
- "D.I.Y." (2:37)
- "Mother of Violence" (3:10)
- "A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World" (3:33)
- "White Shadow" (5:14)note
- "Indigo" (3:30)
- "Animal Magic" (3:26)
- "Exposure" (4:12)
- "Flotsam and Jetsam" (2:17)
- "Perspective" (3:23)
- "Home Sweet Home" (4:37)
T.I.Y. (Trope it yourself):
- '70s Hair: Gabriel sports a bowl cut on the Hipgnosis cover.
- Anti-Love Song: "Flotsam and Jetsam" describes a dysfunctional relationship through the metaphor of a sinking ship.
- Bizarre Instrument: Robert Fripp was credited in "Exposure" for "Frippertronics", which is a tape-delay system that would go on to be a fixture in his later work.note
- Death Song: "Indigo" is narrated by an old man just about to pass on, contemplating the end of his life.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The album artwork is in black and white, a trend that continue through most of Gabriel's career.
- Double Entendre: "Animal Magic" uses magician imagery as a metaphor for joining a paramilitary group to fight in The Troubles.
- Downer Ending: The album closes out with "Home Sweet Home", a song about a marriage that ends in tragedy.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Much like Car before it, Scratch is an experimental continuation of Gabriel's work in Genesis, prior to the worldbeat sound introduced in Melt.
- Face on the Cover: As with Gabriel's first album, this one's cover art depicts a manipulated photo of Gabriel (courtesy of Hipgnosis) scraping out portions of the image. The print ad for Atlantic Records' US release poked fun at this, joking that "at least you can see his face on the cover this time" (referencing the cover photo for Car, where Gabriel's face is obscured by glare and raindrops).
- Fading into the Next Song: The ending of "On the Air" hard-cuts into the start of "D.I.Y.", which in turn segues into "Mother of Violence".
- Genre Deconstruction: Producer Robert Fripp envisioned the album as one to the entire concept of pop music itself, together with his solo album Exposure and Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs. Fittingly, the songs on the album contrast seemingly accessible concepts with leftfield structures and subversive lyrics in order to challenge common assumptions of what popular music entails.
- Ironic Episode Title: "Home Sweet Home" places a dark spin on its title at the end, when Bill is able to buy a lovely country home to live in, but only thanks to the insurance money he gained from his wife and child's Murder-Suicide.
- Light Is Not Good: "White Shadow" revolves around a angelic figure that emerges in the middle of the night, glowing in a bright white light. However, rather than being seen as a blessing, her presence is portrayed as immensely foreboding and terrifies everyone around, including the narrator, who points out how "light can be deceptive with her rays."
- Limited Lyrics Song: The words to "Exposure" consist primarily of Gabriel uttering the title lyric, plus the brief bridge "space is what I need/It's what I feed on" and the outro line "out in the open."
- Longest Song Goes First: The album kicks off with the 5:30 "On the Air", which beats out "White Shadow" by a quarter of a minute for the position of the album's longest track.
- Murder-Suicide: "Home Sweet Home" sees Josephine jump out the window with Sam in tow. The only motive she gives is "we've got to get out of here, Bill, I've been saying it all the while," leaving it ambiguous whether she committed murder-suicide due to passing the Despair Event Horizon (being trapped in poverty after being forced into a Shotgun Wedding) or if she aimed to let Bill collect the insurance money from their deaths and free himself from debt.
- New Sound Album: Gabriel starts leaning into Post-Punk and New Wave Music for the first time, aided by producer Robert Fripp's fascination with both genres and his copious use of tape effects.
- Numbered Sequel: The initial US release retitles the album Peter Gabriel II to differentiate it from its predecessor.
- One-Word Title: "Indigo", "Exposure" and "Perspective".
- Pyrrhic Victory: "Home Sweet Home" revolves around Bill's hopes to settle down and live a good, stable life. He eventually achieves this at the end, but only via the insurance money from his wife and child's Murder-Suicide. Bill spends all the money at a casino out of guilt, and even though he wins enough to buy a nice country house, his accomplishment doesn't alter the song's melancholy tone, having lost his family in the process.
- Radio Song: "On the Air" describes Gabriel's character Mozo (previously the lead figure in "Down the Dolce Vita" and "Here Comes the Flood") running a pirate radio station in secrecy, traveling through the radio waves themselves in the process.
- Self-Titled Album: The second of four in Gabriel's studio discography.
- Shotgun Wedding: Bill's recollection of his marriage to Josephine in "Home Sweet Home" implies that the two of them got married solely because he impregnated her during what was supposed to be a one-night stand. This ends up having dire consequences for the pair: they're chased out of town and are unable to make a sustainable income when they finally settle down, leading Josephine to kill herself and her child.
- Special Guest:
- Title-Only Chorus: "On the Air", "D.I.Y", "Exposure".
- War Is Glorious: The narrator of "Animal Magic" openly believes so, stating that he wants to join the fighting in The Troubles in order to become a man.
- The X of Y: "Mother of Violence"