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Peter Gabriel

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Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel 2 [Aka: Scratch] album cover
3.06 | 643 ratings | 51 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. On the Air (5:28)
2. D.I.Y. (2:38)
3. Mother of Violence (3:22)
4. A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World (3:36)
5. White Shadow (5:19)
6. Indigo (3:33)
7. Animal Magic (3:29)
8. Exposure (4:18)
9. Flotsam and Jetsam (2:22)
10. Perspective (3:29)
11. Home Sweet Home (4:40)

Total Time 42:14

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Gabriel / lead & backing vocals, piano (2), organ (11), synthesizer (5,7)

- Sidney McGinnis / electric (1,4,8-11) & acoustic (2,3) & steel guitars, mandolin (2), backing vocals (7)
- Robert Fripp / electric (1,3,5,10) & acoustic (5) guitars, Frippertronics (8), producer
- Bayete (Todd Cochran) / keyboards (2,4,6,7)
- Roy Bittan / keyboards (1,3,5,6,10,11)
- Larry Fast / synthesizers & treatments (1,2,5,7,10)
- Timmy Capello / saxophone (10,11)
- George Marge / recorders (6,8,9)
- Tony Levin / bass, string bass (6), Chapman Stick (2,4,9), recorder arrangements (6,9), backing vocals
- Jerry Marotta / drums, backing vocals
- John Tims / insects noises (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Hipgnosis

LP Charisma - CDS4013 (1978, UK)
LP Atlantic - SD 19181 (1978, US)

CD Virgin ‎- PGCD 2 (1987, Europe)
CD Atlantic - 19181-2 (1990, US)
CD Virgin - PGCD2 (1992, Europe)
CD Geffen - 069 493 300-2 (2002, US) Remastered
CD Real World Records - PGCDR2R (2011, Europe) Remastered by Tony Cousins

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PETER GABRIEL Peter Gabriel 2 [Aka: Scratch] ratings distribution

(643 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

PETER GABRIEL Peter Gabriel 2 [Aka: Scratch] reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by daveconn
4 stars Peter GABRIEL cultivated a reputation as something of a crank with his second album, choosing a cover that traded in self-obscurity for self-mutilation and again refusing to give the album a proper title (which must have given folks at the label fits). But the crankiness is most evident in the music, from "A Wonderful Day In A One-Way World" to "Animal Magic". Unlike his debut, which tried its hand at all sorts of things, this album focuses on modern rock, delivered by producer Robert Fripp with all the rough edges intact (a style he would replicate on his own Exposure). There are some quieter moments, achingly sad in the case of "Mother of Violence" and "Home Sweet Home", but GABRIEL's perturbation is still tangible even in these settings. Since it's something of an itchy sweater as albums go, this record rarely comes out of the closet, but I've always had a soft spot for it. Songs like "Flotsam and Jetsam" and "Indigo" generate genuine pathos, while the slicker tracks ("Perspective", "D.I.Y.") make a better case for GABRIEL as a "new" rock artist than "Modern Love" ever could.

Yeah, his voice isn't the commodity here that it once was (and would become again) and the arrangements are stuck in an awkward halfway point between plain old rock & roll and the darker, dire arrangements of the future, but the songs are clearly cut from the stuff of genius. GABRIEL hadn't quite locked into the "vision" thing yet, but Peter GABRIEL version 2 was at least promising. There are some very good ideas here, packaged into confining conventional parcels out of habit, which would explode from their containers and take a more fantastic shape on his next album. Or next installment, depending on how you see these things.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Four crystal stars.....the only reason this does not get a five rating is beacuse of the last two songs , Perspective and Home Sweet Home. Both arguably Gabriels worst songs ever, well the latter for sure! Other than that this album has personality in abundance from DIY, the LLDOB resemblance to ' On the Air'. The oh so sad ' Indigo' and the brilliant ' Flotsam and Jetsom'. ' Exposure' without doubt one of his top vocal performances ever. If you like Gabriel for his voice then don't miss this song.' Mother of Violence' exposes the delicate side of Gabriel that we were used to on ' The Lamia' or ' Harlequin'. If you have a problem with PG2 then revisit it because it is a remarkeable album and equally Robert Fripp does no disfavours in the production suite.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A follow-up album that did not change a lot musically from previous album. However, there was a sign of departure with songs like "On The Air", "DIY". My favorite tracks include: "Mother of Violence" (great voice and catchy acoustic guitar), "White Shadow" (ambient and rocking style), "On The Air" (driving rhythm section), "Home Sweet Home" (mellow). "Exposure" is actually a good track but it tends to flow with similar style throughout the song - a bit boring at the end.

Through this album I knew Jerry Marota (drums) for the first time. Jerry has collaborated with some musicians during punk / new wave era in the 80s with artist like Johny Warman. It's a good album, worth collecting. I have seen the remastered edition of this CD. GW, Indonesia.

Review by Muzikman
3 stars Peter GABRIEL's second release, once again self-titled, is good album. It does come up short in the consistency department in comparison to its predecessor, however. There doesn't seem to be the flow and continuity that was in place on the first album. The same incredible lineup is on hand for Peter, including Robert Fripp and Tony Levin. Even with that kind of support GABRIEL's performance is fragmented.

"D.I.Y." is a clever melody with simple lyrics and its one of the highlights of the album. It really sounds like GABRIEL is in groove. "On The Air" has a harder rocking edge with a pounding piano that I particularly liked. "Exposure" is a prog-rock Picasso; any GABRIEL album would be incomplete without it.

The reason he is able to put this one behind him and move on to more success with his next release is because he is so talented and resilient. The remastered sound gives the entire record a robustness and clarity that will add more interest in acquiring this album than ever before. There are always the subtleties that you missed the first time around that the remastering brings out so beautifully. That fact alone is enough to give this listen, especially if you are a staunch GABRIEL or prog-rock enthusiasts.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Also refeered to as "Scratch" as none of the first four album had titles or numbers. Easily regarded by fans as his most difficult and least accessible , this is still as good an album as Gabriel ever made.

True the first side of the vinyl has some rather weaker tracks than usual bar two exceptions: Mother Of Violence is worthy but White Shadow is the standout track on this side. But the start of the seconmd vinyl side is really where this album comes on its own: Indigo and Animal Magic are good pop tunes that give a little depth to this relatively somber album , but the real gift in this album is Exposure. This track is out to be maybe the most "prog" track (in the ambiance sense of it) and clearly my fave from The Gabe. Too bad the following tracks return to a slightly sub-standart par for Peter.

If It was not for two truly good tracks (Exposure and White Shadow) this album would be inferior to the debut or its follower. But however the songwriting , we still have a very sophisticated pop/rock impeccably produced by Robert Fripp!

Review by Chicapah
4 stars From reading the reviews I get the feeling that fans are split down the middle on this one. I feel that the scales should tip in Peter's favor. He was still finding his way without Genesis here and his experimentations with instrumentations, musicians and producers was a work in progress. The key word being progress. And the result is very interesting and challenging for the listener. "On the Air" and "D.I.Y." are two great uptempo songs to kick it into high gear right off the bat. They seem to be an answer to those who felt his first album lacked soul. These two kick tail. Another standout is "A Wonderful Day.." which is truly infectious and memorable. It should have gotten more airplay and it might have become as popular as "Solsbury Hill" in time. But, alas, the real world wasn't ready for Mr. Gabriel quite yet. For me there is a slight drop off in the quality of the tunes that follow but they still hold you in a certain fascinated, mesmerized spell. Peter was leaving all his options open at this point and was benefitting from a record contract that was allowing him to explore his own musical world unfettered, something that artists of today are rarely afforded. The result is this intriguing and strange journey that will entertain all those who love a creative and mind-expanding adventure.
Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars As a fan of early GENESIS, I also used to enjoy solo works of Peter Gabriel. He was capable of producing very interesting, sometimes avant-garde, sometimes artistically relevant pop/rock albums. But his sophomore effort is not one of my favorites. Excellent "White Shadow" and Fripp-penned "Exposure" aside, the tracks are somewhere in between New Wave and semi-developed art pop rock songs, with some really stupid tracks like "DIY" or "In the Air". And his voice is very muted and probably his worst ever! Gabriel was obviously searching for his proper solo expression, which would surface finally with two masterpieces "3" and "4". This one is really only for devoted fans of his solo career.
Review by Matti
2 stars To me, as to most listeners, this is clearly the worst of PG studio albums. Some say it's underrated and I sort of sympathise that opinion, because at least it is not overproduced like the debut (quite the opposite!), it's very honest in its crankiness, and it does have some fine moments, and like each eponymous peter gabriel album, it has a character different from the other three. But the fact remains, it sounds poor and boring - if not annoying - for the most part, and like Seyo says, PG's vocals have never been worse. Did he have a flu during the recording sessions or what?? 'On the Air' and 'DIY' are quite OK mediocre rockers in PLAYS LIVE but Peter's vocals especially in these opener tracks sound terribly bad. 'Animal Magic' and 'Perspective' are real throwaways - why he ever brought them into a studio album? 'A Wonderful Day' is kinda cute but soon it gets helplessly annoying chorus-repeating little silly song. 'Home Sweet Home' is a sentimental and syrupy slow-tempo closer.

Now the good sides. I like the acoustic and modest songs like 'Mother of Violence', 'Indigo' and 'Flotsam & Jetsam'. Seen the b/w back cover, the miserable figure (PG) head down on a dirty snowy asphalt yard? That reflects well this album - in good and bad. Gabriel deals with poor people & misery and comes up with some touching frankness in his music and words. But he didn't go in that direction deep enough: the album lacks conceptual coherence that I see in his great #3. The ambientish 'Exposure' written with the producer Robert Fripp is an interesting different number (the sound reminds me of Brian Eno with whom Fripp has collaborated as we know) and 'White Shadow' is maybe the best track. These better moments are worth modest two stars. Gabriel himself seems to ignore this album more than any other (I refer to live and compilation albums), perhaps too much, because there are some really potential stuff behind the poor production after all.

Review by Guillermo
2 stars Sorry, but IMO the best thing in this album is the cover design: mysterious, weird. This album is not better than his first album, and I think that in 1978 Peter Gabriel was still looking for his "real" style and identity as soloist after leaving GENESIS. Having Robert Fripp as producer didn`t help him, because Fripp`s musical experiments influenced this album. Maybe Gabriel and Fripp shared some musical ideas, but Gabriel`s solo style and identity were still developing, and in his next album he clearly found them. The best songs in this album, IMO, are "On the Air" (the lyrics of this song mention a character called Mozo which was part of a not used idea for a soloist concept album a la "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway") and "D.I.Y". I prefer the live versions of both songs which Gabriel released in his album titled "Plays Live".
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Peter Gabriel's second album, a self-titled piece (like the first one) that spawned the names 2 and Scratch (based off of the album cover), shows a man trying to find a voice and trying to find what sound suited him best. What you'll find here is a lot of varying pieces in intensity and emotion and a lot of pieces that are completely different from one another. Retaining many of the same musicians from his past album, you can expect high level musicianship from the likes of Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, and Jerry Marotta. It may not be Gabriel's best album, but it certainly is a trying, and overall pretty good album.

On the Air begins with some strong guitar chord progressions and some glam rock tendencies (as did Moribund the Burgermeister on the first album). Gabriel's lyrics are simplistic and the chorus is catchy, but the vocals I'm not terribly impressed with. Usually Gabriel's vocals are superb, but here I don't feel that way. D.I.Y. begins with an infectious stick rhythm and some smooth drumming and keyboard frills. The catchy 5/4 chorus only goes to make this probably my favorite song on the album. It segues into Mother of Violence, which is a more atmospheric piece, with melodic pianos and acoustic guitar arpeggios. It's not a bad song, but not the best on the album. A Wonderful Day In A One Way World begins with some electric piano and has a definite groove to (because of another infectious Stick line from Levin). Gabriel's vocals, once again, aren't really up to measure, though, they are really low in the mix, and the music is more in front. White Shadow begins withn modulated synthesizers and an underlying piano/guitar motif that really comes off effectively. Musically, this song is brilliant, and vocally, Gabriel really goes above and beyond.

Indigo is a piano/vocal piece that features some intuitive playing from Gabriel and some emotive vocals from him as well. Slowly, recorders and other wind instruments are added, giving the song a more wholesome and down to earth feeling. Very creative piece, and unlike other Gabriel pieces. Animal Magic has an interesting bass groove from Levin and has much of the same feeling as On the Air, although it isn't as good as On the Air. Exposure is the most avant-garde piece on the album, and it comes off effectively (and it's later used on Robert Fripp's solo album of the same name, only that time around with a more grating vocal). A rather simple drum beat keeps the song together with another infectious groove from Levin and some atmospheric guitar from Fripp as the word exposure is repeated over and over again. Flotsam and Jetsam is the shortest piece on the album, and it's one of the eerier pieces as well. Some well timed interplay between Levin and Marotta breaks into a primarily vocal led piece that doesn't really do much for me, but I appreciate it. Perspective is another glammish piece that in the end doesn't come across right (even with some cool saxophone). Home Sweet Home ends the album with more somber piano work and some atmospheric guitar. It ends the album on a bit of a bleak yet uplifting note, which is very nice.

In the end, Peter Gabriel's second album would ultimately be his sophomore slump. It is sandwiched between one excellent album in his first and his masterpiece in his third. This album is his one of his more experimental albums, and you can see that in the varying styles and moods. It's not a bad album at all, but it's just not up to par with his other works. 3/5.

Review by russellk
3 stars The music on the album is summed up by the cover image; the uncomfortable sound of fingernails on a blackboard. Here we find GABRIEL at his most contrary. He offers us an album of art rock songs, but makes them largely inaccessible by underdeveloped songwriting and unusual production.

He has an excellent band behind him. Listen to TONY LEVIN'S bass work, and ROBERT FRIPP'S guitar craziness. But, frustratingly, PETER GABRIEL doesn't really harness them, only occasionally letting them loose - and on throwaway tracks like the chilling 'Exposure' or the almost-beautiful 'White Shadow'.

Most significant, PETER GABRIEL is falling into the orbit of other eccentric musicians. DAVID BOWIE, DAVID BYRNE, ROBERT FRIPP and BRIAN ENO were all engaged in similar projects in the late 1970s, and GABRIEL'S was possibly the lest successful - at this point. In fact, these artists shared band members, guested on each other's recordings and cross-pollenated their art-rock sensibilities.

Still, this was a necessary step to get to his next album, a much more complete and successful effort. Stop by and have a listen. You'll enjoy part of this, find yourself becoming annoyed by other parts, and by album's end have a better idea of PETER GABRIEL'S place in rock music.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars From the beggining i rate this one 4 stars, one of the finest Gabriel albums, in my opinion. Peter Gabriel never was or is my favourite singer and composer but i apreciate his music in my own view. I enjoy the albums made over the years and i reach to conclusion that this one and next one is the best he ever realised. I prefer this one in stad of PG 3 because, is here a track called White Shadow that is worth 4 stars alone, of course the rest is amzing but this one is superb. The music to me is art rock with here and there some popish feeling add to. Worth to have in your colection. 4 stars
Review by fuxi
2 stars When this album appeared, I didn't want to be Peter Gabriel anymore.

PG clearly sounds like a man who's desperately running out of good ideas. Some of his new songs are virtually tuneless and plainly annoying, e.g. "DIY", "Animal Magic", "Perspective". To my ears, "On the Air", the opening number, sounds far too shrill and harsh. (Fortunately, it would appear in a much more convincing version a few years later, on PLAYS LIVE, where Gabriel finally realises its potential as one of his 'screamers'.) On other tracks ("Indigo", "Flotsam and Jetsam") Gabriel seems tired. "Exposure" would be performed more powerfully by Terre Roche, on Robert Fripp's excellent solo album bearing the same title. This leaves us with just a few songs that actually pass muster. The reggae-pastiche of "A Wonderful Day in a Wonderful World" reminds me of the comic German rocker Udo Lindenberg, particularly the way Peter sings: 'My name is Einstein, did you know time is a curve?' "Mother of Violence" is a delicate ballad, beautifully accompanied on piano and acoustic guitar. And "Home Sweet Home", finally, is a great way to finish a mediocre album: a sad ballad in which Gabriel treats us to one of those cynical narratives that were his speciality in Genesis days. (Strangely enough, it is another satire aimed at the buying and selling of real estate, just like "Get 'em out by Friday"!)

All in all, it seemed obvious that Gabriel urgently needed a change. And change he did.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Scratching around for inspiration

For his second album, Gabriel moved away from the strong melodies and production present on his first album. Confusingly once again simply titled "Peter Gabriel" (he said he wanted people to see his albums in the same way as newspapers), it has become known among fans as "Scratch", a reference to the sleeve image.

Gabriel himself has stated that in retrospect this was by no means his best album, although he tends to point the finger at the Robert Fripp production rather than his song writing or performance. He does now admit however that the album was hurried (it was completed in 6 weeks), and not given the nurturing it needed.

Tracks like the opening "On the air" and "DIY" have similarities with "Back in new York City" from "The Lamb" (not a personal favourite). The remainder of side one goes pretty much pear-shaped, with repetitive pop and dull melodies, saved only by the softer and more atmospheric "White shadow". Ironically, the keyboard basis of the track sounds very like the type of sound Genesis were adopting around the same time on the "And then there were three" album. The 10CC like "A wonderful day in a one way world", with an offbeat, reggae like rhythm is particularly poor.

Side two has no less than six 3-4 minute songs. These range from the impassioned but wandering balladry of "Indigo" to the politically charged new wave sound of "Animal magic". "Exposure" is the only track on which Fripp receives a writing credit, but there is no doubt about his dominance of the song. The title is repeated no less than 13 times, the only other lyrics being "Space is what I need, it's what I feed on", and "Out in the open".

"Perspective" is similar to the new wave mediocrity being pumped out by Todd Rundgren and Utopia around this time, the addition of sax delving the song deeper in the mire. The lyrics of the closing "Home sweet home" are disturbing to the point of being distasteful. I have difficulty in understanding what Gabriel's intention was here, as the song is lyrically neither satirical or observant, but is entirely superficial in a tabloid sort of way.

In all, a disappointing album, especially in view of the fine initial statement made by Gabriel on his first album. It is not just the fact that he makes it clear here that he is not willing to assume responsibility for keeping the prog banner flying, but that he does not appear to have the strength of material to secure his career in any other style.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Like the first album, "Scratch" has some moments but it is still nothing to write home about. Robert Fripp handles the production here to instead of Bob Ezrin, I don't really hear much difference in overall quality. Pete still seems pretty unfocused as a musician and writer and this collection of songs is not likely to become the one you will play very regularly.

"On the Air" is a boring opener that rocks and the silly keys drive me crazy. "DIY" is this album's most annoying track but even so is much better than "Excuse Me" from the first album. The album's peach is the third song "Mother of Violence." This is classic Gabriel songwriting with his trademark affected vocal and the wonderful piano melody, also the acoustic is a nice touch. "A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World" is another quirky-pop song with a punchy bass but is entirely forgettable. Fripp peels off a nice electric solo on "White Shadow" which features good synth by Gabriel. "Indigo" is another decent piano ballad. "Animal Magic" is a playfully rowdy rocker with good energy. The ending features thumping bass, keys and guitar. Then comes the albums other highlight "Exposure," another hint at where Pete would be going down the road after these awkward first albums. It's really a Levin/Fripp show with Gabriel doing a little singing over the awesome bass and Frippertronics. "Flotsam and Jetsam" is an emotional love song but it ends before it has a chance to develop much. "Perspective" is yet another bouncy but silly rocker that PG seemed obsessed with repeating. I can only imagine how frustrating such material must have seemed to many Genesis fans buying this back in the day. "Home Sweet Home" starts as a sweet ballad on piano before getting unnecessarily dramatic near the end, not much to get excited about save some nice sax work by Tim Capello.

These first two albums were rather below average pop albums with just a few hints of magic. Cherry picking the best tracks from each and combining them would have yielded a more satisfying debut. The photo on the back is pretty interesting showing someone on an icy sidewalk in the city-just what the heck he's doing I don't know. Another album for Gabriel fans only.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Peter Gabrielīs second album is his most obscure and transitional. The songs arenīt as sharp and well arranged as his solo debut. In fact it sounds almost punkish in some ways. All the rough edges are left and most of the time it works. A lot of the stuff here is more tentative than successful, but still it has some high quality, even when you donīt really like it. And some moments are pure beauty (Mother Of Violence, White Shadow).

It is obviously that Peter Gabirel was still trying to find his own sound. Larry Fast steps in as a major player here and would be a key figure in future releases. As usual the team of musicians he chose for this CD is absolutely phenomenal: Robert Fripp, Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Roy Bitter... Wow! Gabriel has to be a great talent not to be overshadowed by such giants. And believe me, he does not. In fact, it is his voice and ideas that guides all through the entire album.

Unlike most of his early solo releases, this one has some flaws, but nothing that spoils the overall effect. Very good, but I donīt think it is really essential. It was an important step for him, but the results for the average listener is mixed. I still have difficulties listening to some tracks like the pseudo reggae A Wonderful Day In One Way World, for exemple. But is still very well done and above average. Trnasitional is the best word to describe it. And, therefore, not the best CD for a newcomer. Start by his first. 3,5 stars.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
3 stars In 1978, one year after his debut, Peter Gabriel released his second solo album, another eponymous title following Gabriel's trend of treating them like they were some sort of periodical. Many fans just refer to this album as Peter Gabriel II or Scratch (from the cover which shows Gabriel scratching through a photograph of himself). Again, he has an all-star cast in his band, most of the same personnel that appeared on his first album. This time, King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp produced the album. His influence is apparent and most notable on the song Exposure which makes use of his legendary Frippertronics technique.

The music on this album is a bit darker than on his debut, but for the most part is very similar. It exhibits some progressive tendencies, but is virtually completely devoid of any influences from his former prog band, Genesis. Instead, they fit more into the pop/art rock mold and probably the best comparable would be David Bowie. There is a good mix of rock styles, ranging from the energetic (On the Air, Animal Magic), to the ambient (White Shadow, Exposure), to just plain stupid (D.I.Y., Flotsam and Jetsam). Overall, it's a mixed bag, somewhat less developed than his debut, and sometimes seeming to lack direction.

Still, it's an enjoyable listen. I often find I like this style of music that feels like an artsy kind of rock just barely touching what I consider progressive. Gabriel still has the voice. It's just a little weird hearing it here instead of on masterpiece songs like Supper's Ready. Three stars for a good, but unessential release. If you're looking for more Genesis, you won't find it here.

Review by ghost_of_morphy
2 stars How could a Gabriel solo project with Marotta, Levin and Fripp go so wrong? Peter Gabriel II is a disappointing album bookended by two of his best. The first was an interesting excursion through various styles to showcase his vocal talents. The third was the album that defined his sound and may have been the best thing he ever put on vinyl. So what do we have on II? The first two songs are very good and very sophisticated. On The Air is a straight rocker, while DIY is a bit more eclectic. Most of the rest of the album is just bland, though (except for Indigo, which hearkens back to what PG was doing on Humdrum.) A Wonderful Day in a One Way World and Home Sweet Home are both guilty pleasures of mine, but I would characterize them as eccentric rather than good. The rest of the album is frankly boring, with little or nothing that challenges the listener.

So I have to say this is a two star album. Only get it after you have heard all of Gabriel's GOOD albums.

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars More similar to its predecessor than its successor, 2/Scratch take the artsy pop and rock arrangements one step further, resulting in that this is perhaps the most commercial-sounding of Peter Gabriel's first four self-titled albums. It's more a tentative test of styles, moods and methods than a uniform collection of related songs. Of course, that could just as well be said about his solo debut, but that album benefited from a lot more confidence and the new-found joy of stylistic freedom. While I initially was kind of negative to its transitional stuck-in-the-middleness, the good things still outweigh the bad ones with repeated listens. Many of the songs seem to struggle with a conflict between cutesy, catchy and a weird form of attitude or even aggression that makes them feel either disjointed or rushed. There's definitely an element of constriction to the flow of music, regardless of whether it comes from a dip in writing or lacking confidence in the material. Cheery bar-piano runs, comedy (whether that's the intention or not) somewhat clumsy riffs and songs made of parts that do not mix well with each other are all shortcuts to disappointment. And on top of that, Peter just isn't his emotionally complex self often enough.

On the whole, the sound of the album is rather twee, even during more rock-oriented passages, and while the instrumentation can be rich, I often find it to be a bit lacking in depth and power. The sparkly, joyful effects of 1/Car is still here, most prominently on the more upbeat tracks like On The Air and Perspective. Expect some playful piano and synthesisers and a thin guitar sound (highpoints of that are Fripp's Crimsonesque naked, screeching contributions). Levin's bass work is as groovy and jumpy as ever.

For me personally, the more sombre and less unabashedly extrovert tracks (which for me are truer reflections of what I expect from Peter Gabriel as an artist) are the most enjoyable, and those that stood out at first. After the initial gloss of On The Air and D.I.Y it's amazing to hear the up-close and personal reflection on Mother of all Violence. Scaled-down, beautiful acoustic guitar and piano opts for one of the more honest performances here.

White Shadow is another favourite, mysteriously clouded and full of atmosphere for five and a half minutes. Excellent keyboard usage, focusing on atmosphere and poignancy. The inconspicuous guitar tip-toes in a charming way, and further enhances the feel that for once on this album, all the players are moving in the same direction and have the same goal. Indigo is another calm song, and a natural step from White Shadow. It benefits from both the more minimal sound of Mother of all Violence and the colourful effects and sounds of White Shadow, but it's all done with less tension and focus.

Exposure is a particularly dividing song amongst fans, with its repetitive drone and experimental nature, but I really like it. The infectious bass-line and linear composition have a way of getting to you. Soaring, spacey effects makes for an interesting ride through a hypnotising beat and various Fripp-isms. Good stuff.

It's easy to listen to this album twice and think "Okay, some good songs, overall the worst of the first four. 2 stars" and leave it at that. But in doing so, you're a bit unfair. This might just be me as a fan talking, but like some other reviewers have noted, this is a grower. I often come back to it for both those songs that were immediate favourites and the sunnier, lighter tracks. It's not as immediate or interesting as many of his other albums, but still features quite a lot of quality music. Still, if you're just a casual fan or someone trying to discover Peter Gabriel's music, this is the last one of his first four you should acquire.

For a transitional, uneven but often enjoyable ride with some top notch music in between.

.3 stars.


Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Peter Gabriel" is the 2nd eponymously titled album release by UK artist Peter Gabriel. Ever the provocateur/innovator Gabriel decided not to give his first four albums any album titles, although some people refer to this second album as "Scratch" because of the album cover (and an angry looking cover artwork that is). The album was released through Charisma Records in June 1978. Robert Fripp (King Crimson) was brought in to produce the album, and Fripp also plays some guitar and provides other effects to the music. The album also features sessions performances by artists like Tony Levin, Larry Fast and Jerry Marotta.

While the 1977 debut album didnīt feature many elements which would remind you of Gabrielīs years with Genesis, this album features more melody and a few more nods towards something which could have been included on "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)", had it been put through a more progressive oriented treatment. "Indigo", "On the Air" (nice Queen influence on the chorus) and particularly "White Shadow" point in that direction (the latter probably THE highlight of the album for those hoping to hear anything resembling progressive rock), without however being full blown progressive rock. Gabriel have obviously tried to distance himself from that sound on most of the material though, and some of the material on the album therefore have more in common with an act like Roxy Music. "Perspective" is the best example of that influence.

Fripp has created a good quality sound production which suits the material well. The use of synths/keyboards work really well throughout the album combined with the more organic sounding drums, bass, and guitars. Upon conclusion this sophomore solo album by Peter Gabriel is a solid effort and overall a good quality release. There are a couple of tracks, which arenīt as remarkable as the highlights of the album (D.I.Y. is for example not that interesting a track), but thereīs nothing here which isnīt at least of a decent quality. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

Review by Negoba
2 stars Low Point of a Brilliant Career

The best thing about Peter Gabriel II / Scratch is the cover art. Where on the debut album, Gabriel explored multiple styles, on the second he chose the weakest of those styles (modern rock of the time) and based the entire disc on it. You'd think a Peter Gabriel album with Robert Fripp producing and playing would be an experimental tour de force, but unfortunately we get PG's most straightforward music underlying some of his weakest lyrics.

Sadly, most of the guitar work here is done by Sid McGinnis, whose major career job was as part of David Letterman's house band. And in fact, much of the music sounds like theme music for late night TV, with vanilla sax sounds, and a variety of interchangeable guest key players. Drummer Jerry Marotta, whose work is absolutely essential to Gabriel's best work, plays here like a session musician. Fripp provides some spacey solos and a few mildly interesting instrumental bits, but the overall result of the collaboration is extremely disappointing. The sound is a bit like Elton John or even Meatloaf ? theatric rock with plenty of 1978 sonic trappings. Most annoying is the delay on Gabriel's voice which muddies the mix and often makes the lyrics hard to hear.

1. On the Air - A staccato guitar rocker, this song takes a Cheap Trick riff and dresses it up a little with a story song about a fellow under the bridge trying to find meaning by broadcasting "On the Air." The phrase is repeated ad nauseum and the verse lyrics are snarly, lacking Gabriel's usual literacy or complexity. The instrumental outro was almost certainly written by Fripp, and is moderately interesting despite playing over an almost drum-machine beat.

2. DIY - More incessant repetition of a not-compelling-enough hook. Again, the lyric is surly and simple, well below PG's standard. One of the few Gabriel tracks I find actively annoying. Mother of Violence ? This slow piano / acoustic guitar piece was co-written with wife Jill Gabriel, and it is one of the better tracks of the album. It is still lyrically and musically straightforward, unsubtle. It is, however, very pretty, and I can actually hear the lyrics clearly. ]

3. A Wonderful Day in a One-Way World - The song starts on what sounds like a Casio keyboard or a video game sound generator. This song nods to Randy Newman, and actually makes sense from a songwriting point of view. A mildly interesting swipe at consumerism, it is a listenable throwaway track.

4. White Shadow - This song sounds almost like an early 80's Genesis track. Tony Levin gets to fuzz up the bass, and Fripp contributes quite a bit of texture to the sound. The song sounds more like prog than anything else on the album, but ironically the chorus / hook is too weak to lift the song. It really feels unfinished, like a track that could have been interesting if it had more parts or better development. Even the lyric is more typical of what we expect from Gabriel, better imagery and some cryptic lines that allow the listener's imagination to explore a little.

5. Indigo - This is a slow intense piano ? vocal song in a style that Gabriel would later use to great effect. A song almost certainly about depression, (indigos = blues, about as good as his metaphors get on this one) the song at least feels sincere and honest. Perhaps this reflects his state of mind at the time and why the well of creativity seems so dry. Again, a listenable but forgettable song.

6. Animal Magic - Starts with a Billy Joel piano riff, we get another 70's rocker complete with disco guitar strumming. The song is about fighting back after a breakup, again displaying an unfocused anger typical of the album. More of the same, sadly.

7. Exposure - the most experimental piece on the record, employing an early example of "Frippertronics." Mainly an example of Fripp and Gabriel playing with all the toys in the studio, the song itself is actually just a very static groove with mildly funky bass and drums, and a single word as a lyric for most of the way. Normally, this would be an enjoyable album track, a textural sidestep to flesh out the disc. Here it just highlights how little progressive music is on the album.

8. Flotsam and Jetsam - This song seems to come from a very similar place as "Indigo," except the melody and hook are much better. The pain again feels more honest, and we get a little more open space. The track is short, but works.

9. Perspective - This feels like a David Bowie throwaway, a "Suffragette City" style up-beat, mid-tempo rock song. (Kiss is also brought to mind, yikes) Sadly we're back to massive repetition and over-production. Fripp's guitar is crazy but extremely out of place. The song is lyrically pointless, but accurately tells us that Gabriel's has lost his way.

10. Home Sweet Home - This song has such a disgusting misanthropic lyric that it makes me cringe. An attempt to capture the capricious hand of fate in the life of a lower-class bloke, this story song misses the mark so badly, that one is reminded that Gabriel was a rich kid who achieved fame straight out of (exclusive private) school. The banal sax in the background honks away the bad end to a poor album.

This album is not totally unlistenable, but I was tempted to give it one star. This is a big step back from the debut and perhaps PG needed a slap in the rear to find his focus. Luckily, he takes an almost complete about face for the next album, finding the voice that would carry him for the rest of his career. But Scratch is the dark before the dawn, and should be one of the last albums of anyone's Peter Gabriel collection.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Peter Gabriel continues his descent toward the pop music world, pretty much headed in the same direction as his former group, Genesis. This release has even less prog credentials than his first album. Sure he mixes up the time signatures on D.I.Y., and, to a lesser extent on A Wonderful Day In A One-Way World , and some of his lyrics are not bad, as in Mother Of Violence. At least he hasn't sunk to stealing world music rhythms, or writing songs with sexual innuendos in order to gain popularity.

I'd give this one two and a half stars, higher than any of his subsequent studio pop albums. It's too bad, he was okay in his previous group.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I have to give this album some credit because I remembered it to be much worse that it actually sounded revisiting it today. My main concern with Peter Gabriel 2 - "Scratch" has always been the fact that there isn't really a single great composition here and although some do come quite close the final product leaves much to be desired of considering the power if his debut album.

Compared to his almost non-existent contribution on the previous record, this time Robert Fripp's presence is much more apparent but as most of his collaborations outside King Crimson the this one lacks an understanding for the artist in focus here. The rock sound that this album was going for must have felt pretty outdated even by 1978 standards where punk was dominating the scene and anything remotely resembling Art Rock must have been looked down upon.

How Gabriel went from this to his masterpiece Peter Gabriel 3 - "Melt" is still a mystery to me, but now I'm definitely getting ahead of myself!

**** star songs: 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) Indigo (3:30) Animal Magic (3:26) Exposure (4:12) Perspective (3:23)

*** star songs: Flotsam And Jetsam (2:17) Home Sweet Home (4:37)

Total Rating: 3,83

Review by TGM: Orb
2 stars Review 2 in a while, Peter Gabriel II

Peter Gabriel II is a spectacular effort to alienate listeners old and new. The series of problems that are the production (Fripp's rather idiosyncratic approach to the material here doesn't really do a good job of emphasising strengths and leaves the busier songs feeling messy), the vocals (Gabriel's voice is always under the same effect in this one, which makes it rather difficult for him to actually express most of the songs very well), the lyrics (now, Gabriel's lyrics past and future were excellent. Here he seems to be on the verge of moving to the more direct approach he'd adopt in the future but with neither the interest nor the powerful central images he so excels with) are mildly redeemed by the quality of a few of the album's better numbers and the sort of cumulative power that all these idiosyncrasies build over a listen. Worth picking up if you're a serious Gabriel fan and have the acknowledged classics; it has grown on me, given time, but in a sort of sideways direction that baffles and bemuses as much as it entertains.

On The Air is one of the album's little highlights, introducing Fripp's production by a little sensitive needling with the synthesiser breaking under the hard guitar/bass riff (some great little embellishments by Levin here). Gabriel's vocals add little more than a general angry buzzing interchanged with some slightly contorted theatricals, thankfully obscuring the rather misfired lyrics. Fripp's solo is rather neat (if a bit undermixed). On the other hand, DIY, the album's second hard rock number is equally dim but not quite so winning... there's an oddly decent version on Plays Live... here only Levin's bass really comes across very strongly and the vocals sound like they've been sung from inside a well-padded box.

Thankfully, that's really the only song that's a bit bland to sit through, and compensated for by the gorgeous Mother Of Violence (an icy little duet between acoustic guitar and piano... something I'm usually not a fan of, but it works here... and Fripp adds his yearning electrics over the top and a couple of interesting insect humming bookends), probably the only song on this one that a Gabriel fan really needs to hear and arguably his most winning acoustic piece.

Thereupon, the album's on its up... possibly the most satisfying section with the quirky bass-driven pop song Wonderful Way In A One-Way World and the thumping orientally-flavoured rocker White Shadow (with some truly superb multi-part riffs, one hell of a Fripp solo and a bit of an unhelpful synth-based introduction). Indigo opens the shorter still side two... a rather inoffensive little piano number seemingly adding a slightly more personal touch to the album's rather thin commentary on commercialism that clumps into a clunky chorus/break then suddenly explodes back in with an unanticipated emotional grip ('All right, I'm giving up the fight/I didn't know when I'd be a stranger again in my own land'). Eventually, it works out as a relatively satisfying piece with some cool side-melodies (listen out for the background guitar and synths... they're not exactly pointed out by the production. Animal Magic is possibly the closest to conventionally catchy the album gets... a slightly odd rock-and-roll inspired piece with Levin in the foreground and some snarly Gabriel vocals, great aggressive guitar, a comparatively convincing lyric. A highlight.

And yes, Exposure is the Gabriel/Fripp collaboration at its most extreme. A hypnotic rhythm, typically entrancing Frippertronics (i.e. a series of guitar loops designed to kill airplay), the first really effective use of Marotta's thick drum style and Gabriel just drawing out every possible idea, syllable and quality of the word 'exposure' before freaking out at the end. It's really something to observe. Levin's bass is also a blast. I'm sure many, many people will be rightly concerned by this; I think it's fantastic.

Flotsam And Jetsam continues in the slightly more experimental vein with a neat vocal yawning and some Marotta/Levin intensity. Almost a shame that Gabriel's boxed-in vocal and the rather persistent but superfluous piano cut away any power I think the song could have achieved. As it is, only the cutesy solo at the end really touches.

Perspective; the padded box is back in vogue for another piano rock song. Don't really feel there's much content in the basic song, though the sax, guitar and so forth are fun and it gives an opportunity for the band's musicianship to blow away suitably. Passable for what it is but really not doing anything interesting. And if you're sort of entertained enough by this point, Home Sweet Home sort of unifies the whole thing in a typically odd and fascinatin' moral 'dilemma' (dilemma isn't the word...let's try quandary?). It's a sort of piano ballad with half a million ambient touches (organ, harmonies, guitar, little rhythm section additions) fluctuating in the background.

Peter Gabriel II is not the finest 42.3 minutes of a very fine musician (and backed by a number of very fine musicians) but, at the same time is mostly enjoyable, has a couple of standouts and a couple of flumps. A fans mostly rating... 2 stars

Rating: Two stars, 9/15 (I have an odd scale, to be honest... 14/15 will usually be a 5, 12/13 will earn a 4. Thereafter it all gets a bit abstract... Favourite track: Mother Of Violence

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars On his second solo album, Gabriel goes all punk. The year was 1978 and the first generation of punk bands had already stormed over the country. Gabriel had his ears open to what was happening around him. Assisted by that other genius, Fripp, he went in a vastly more rough and harsh directions then on the debut.

While the move to left is surely worth some praise, the result leaves much to be desired. Clearly this wasn't the kind of stuff he felt really comfortably with, there are a number of pleasant songs such as On The Air and DIY but they don't measure up to the more adventurous and angry stuff Peter Hammill released in the same year. Mother of Violence is like a lost song from Nursery Crime. It fits awkwardly after the vehemence that preceded but it's a nice tender song.

It's quite hard to make out what the purpose was behind of the remainder of the tracks, most of them sound like weak filler tracks and leftovers. Only the more experimental tracks like White Shadow and Exposure (which also features on Fripp's solo album of that title) are interesting but hardly a compelling listen.

I can not imagine how this album was received back in '78. Maybe the only purpose was to release something that was as remote from prog as possible, something that nobody would have minded had it been good. But really, it's hard to see this as more then a collection of uninspired song writing. 2.5 stars

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars He needs perspective!

This second solo album by Peter Gabriel is usually considered to be weaker than his first, and possibly his weakest ever. Like the debut, this album too lacks direction and Gabriel seems unsure of exactly what he wanted to do at the time. But unlike the debut, this album lacks standout tracks like Solsbury Hill or Here Comes The Flood. The song writing is distinctively average throughout and even the best songs are not really memorable even if they are moderately enjoyable. It is therefore the weakest tracks that stand out from the crowd here, and that is obviously never a good thing. However, I would not say that this is bad music. Just a bit uninspired and quite forgettable in the end.

There are some nice touches of synthesizer (some of which are played by Larry Fast who also contributed to Nektar) but these are outweighed by the presence of saxophone that adds to the jazzy Pop-feeling of the worst songs. The best moments are generally the slow ones that feature only piano and/or acoustic guitars and Gabriel's distinctive vocals. Only here are there any remote resemblances to his old band. Speaking of which, the albums released by Genesis around this time (1976-1980) are extremely much better and more interesting than this or anything else Peter Gabriel did during the period (and ever, I would say). Given albums such as the present one, it is rather funny that Gabriel is often praised around there parts, while post-Gabriel Genesis are often criticized.

I'm not a fan of Peter Gabriel's solo output, but he surely has his moments. But sadly none of those moments occur on the present album. If you intend to investigate Gabriel's solo career, this album is not the recommended point of entry.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I received this album as 'promo copy' via our college radio station--the manager of which was a suite-mate of mine. (He would get a box every couple weeks, listen to them, then let the rest of us play/listen to them. Then, if he deemed them unworthy of public exposure, he'd let us pick the ones we'd like--to 'keep'!) Then, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to see Gabe on this tour while I was living in France. Needless to say, this album has great significance in my life. At the time, I had fallen in love with anything ROBERT FRIPP touched--KC, LEAGUE OF GENTLEMAN, FRIPP/ENO and ENO's solo stuff, even THE ROCHES "Keep on Doing" were constantly rotating across my turntable. So, to hear this album with so much influence from Fripp (producer!) was a treat. (In the concert, he sat on a stool in the shadows behind all of the speakers and other touring boxes and was 'introduced' as "Dusty Roads" I don't know where he was sitting--if he participated at all--during the warm-up group [little KATE BUSH]'s show. As all of Gabe's nearly-bald-headed band members were sitting indiscriminately dispersed throughout the crowd--sitting on the cement floor of the Nancy industrial park warehouse with the rest of us one-to-two thousand die hard fans.) (By the way: Peter was sitting directly behind me during Kate's entire set! I only found out as the band members all turned on the lamps of their miner hats in order to emerge in the dark from their various spots on the floor to climb up onto the stage. "Excuse me," he says as he carefully tried to find flooring to step upon among our splayed and bandied bodies, legs and feet. [I was sitting center stage, about six rows of people back from the steps that allowed Gabe et al access to and from the stage.])

My favorite songs from the album were, and are, "White Shadow" (Surprisingly, young Sid McGinnis [one of Paul Shaffer's 'Party Boys' in the 'CBS Orchestra'--DAVID LETTERMAN's house band--since 1982] played the amazing solo in concert!), "Mother of Violence" (performed with one of the most haunting and memorable finishes I've ever experienced in a concert or film setting.), and "Exposure" (I love all the versions of this song--expecially the one on Fripp's concurrently released solo album.) "Flotsam and Jetsum" and "Perspective" are okay. The rest are not very memorable and I remember even then liking less than all off the songs on Gabe's first solo effort.

This was, however, my first exposure to the amazing instrument, playing and performing of both The Stick (which I later owned and tried to learn to play) and prog's master bass man, TONY LEVIN.

2.5 stars: not-essential. Really more for collectors/fans.

Review by lazland
3 stars Gabriel does minimalistic, plus a bit of punk. This is an album which made quite a few jaws drop at the time of its release, mine included, but, perhaps, should be judged a little more fairly in retrospect.

There is some vintage Gabriel on the album, that much is sure. I love In The Air, which is brimming with energy and anger, set around the time when Gabriel was increasingly admired by the punk/new wave community because many found the character of Rael as one of their own. This vein, and certainly the anger, is continued on DIY. This is just about as far away from Genesis as it was possible for the man to get, and that, of course, was the whole point. Think of a Russian Doll. Gabriel with his debut, and this, was palpably attempting to keep opening the doll until he found his personal musical identity away from the symphonic genre that he had helped personify. Personally, I don't think he fully managed it, certainly not effectively, until the excellent third album.

There are hints of where Gabriel wanted to go. Mother Of Violence is a bittersweet track, dripping with forlorn love, set against a mere piano and acoustic guitar. It is a wonderful track, and one of my personal favourites. Exposure is a fascinating electronic experiment, and by and large is a successful one, although many Fripp fans will, I know, prefer his so called "definitive" version. Flotsam & Jetsam is similar in feel and intent, whilst I adore the final track, Home Sweet Home, with its exceptionally dark lyrics warning the world of the pratfalls of superstardom. In fact, this track can be seen as a definite metaphor for the album itself, and where Gabriel was at the time.

The album, though, is reduced from being an excellent one by two factors. Firstly, the whimsical nature of tracks such as A Wonderful Day In A One Way World and Animal Magic. They are not bad, as such, but feel so out of place musically for such a talented artist that they have throwaway screaming at you. In addition, I have always felt that Gabriel got caught up in the whole Fripp minimalist and "get away from prog" ethos, to the extent where the whole album feels painfully under produced. In fact, this, and the short timespan it took to create the work most certainly led to Gabriel eventually taking the other extreme in album production, that of taking donkey's years to come up with anything. To me, this is most evident in White Shadow, a supremely good piece of music, featuring some incredible synth work, which ends up sounding as if Gabriel and the band are shouting down the end of a phone across the Irish Sea.

Really, this album is a transitional one. It is notable for the extraordinary bass performance of Tony Levin, drums by Jerry Marotta, and programming by Larry Fast. These would gel perfectly on the successor.

Three stars for this. A good album it is interesting to revisit occasionally, but by no means essential.

Review by Warthur
4 stars The production job Robert Fripp did on this album is often slammed, but I think this is misguided - it's exactly the sort of raw and visceral New Wave approach which would come up trumps on Gabriel's next album. No, the problem here is that Gabriel just doesn't bring his top-tier material to the table this time around. Prog afficionados may lament the muscular rock production given to the likes of On the Air, but how could Fripp have seriously been expected to do anything different with these attempts at muscular rock anthems?

It doesn't help that Gabriel seems conflicted as to which direction he wants to go in. Tracks like Mother of Violence or the majestic White Shadow feel at points like Gabriel harking back to the progressive stylings of Genesis, whilst others like Animal Magic point to a quirky art rock direction and the Fripp collaboration Exposure is a stab at Frippertronic avant-rock (which would get a better version on Fripp's Exposure album). The plus side here is that any one of these directions by themselves is pretty good - it's just that the album would do a lot better if Gabriel would just stop vacillating and commit to one (and indeed on his next album he did, to magnificent results).

Sure, maybe this album did get swept away in Fripp's big MOR trilogy idea, and maybe it isn't quite as interesting as the other parts of the trilogy (Fripp's Exposure and Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs). But the album wouldn't have been overpowered by Fripp's ideas if Gabriel had brought strong ideas of his own to the table. And he didn't. What saves it is that this album finds both producer and artist at musical crossroads, so if you want to hear two of the most unfailingly interesting talents in prog workshop ideas with impeccable production and undeniably catchy song ideas, this isn't terrible. Gabriel's next three solo albums, however, would leave this (and its predecessor) in the dust.

Review by stefro
2 stars Released between 1976 and 1982 and each officially titled 'Peter Gabriel', the first four genre-hopping albums from the former Genesis front-man contain the bulk of his essential works before the on-set of the 1980s, continuing worldwide success and changing musical trends gradually orchestrated a movetowards more commercially-orientated material. After quitting Genesis Gabriel sensibly decided to take a short but much-needed break from all musical activities(by the mid-seventies he already had a young family) allowing him to recharge his drained creative batteries and return several months later armed with a fresh new direction deliberately at odds with his progressive rock past. This would lead to a highly-fertile period of creativity, with each of the self-titled albums featuring it's own stylistic hues and individual characteristics and remarkably different from his previous material; gone are the fantastical flights of fancy, the epic concepts and complex symphonic flourishes, in comes barbed new-wave pop, angular art-rock expressions and brazen experimental textures stamped with the vocalist's uniquely gravelly tones. It's an impressive quartet, though it is perhaps '2' - or 'Scratch' as it is sometimes referred to - that finds Gabriel's experimental curiosity at it's most obfuscating, the album falling rather frustratingly between the futuristic electro-pop of '1' and the sparse rhythms and metallic edges of '3'. Despite opening with the jagged, proto-punky synthesized rocker 'In The Air' and featuring the ethereal soundscape pop of the excellent 'White Shadow', this is a thoroughly overcooked album, drenched in a plethora of glitzy electronic effects that jar awkwardly with the poppy nature of Gabriel's compositions. Simply put, '2' features far too many layers, something made even more obvious by the sparse nature of '3' and that albums cunning use of sonic experimentation. It's also overshadowed by Gabriel's vibrant debut. Whereas '1' focused on constructing entrancing melodies as found on the likes of 'Solsbury Hill', '2' seems much more about utilising technology for it's own sake to the detriment of the actual tunes. Still, that said, this is by no means a bad album and, if anything, the approach does showcase Gabriel's unending quest to twist and morph the conventions of rock through his own peculiar experimental ideas, always the sign of a formidable talent at work. Thankfully, '2' would prove a minor blip and a rare example of Gabriel over-stretching his talents. Though undoubtedly his least cohesive early release, this sophomore effort would otherwise lay the foundations for one of the most innovative careers in modern rock, proving that even in his less successful moments Gabriel's music still maintains a vibrant originality few can reproduce. A failure it may be, but '2' is a very elegant one indeed.


Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars The ratings don't lie with Peter Gabriel's second solo release. While there is undeniably a lot of interesting musical moments to be discovered, as a whole the piece is much weaker than his preceding, and following works.

First let's acknowledge a few things Peter Gabriel 2 does well. The songwriting is actually quite good. While not heavy on surprises, Gabriel delivers his characteristic take on art-rock that is energetic, nuanced, and approachable: pretty much exactly what a "crossover" artist should be. His backing musicians do a great job as well, with Tony Levin's personality-filled bass standing out as a highlight for me. The variety of keyboard and piano textures, as well as surprises like a saxophone or Fripp guitar solo are pleasing addition.

The downside is, ironically, Gabriel himself. Lyrically this album is interesting but not impactful. Likewise with Gabriel's vocals, which are interesting but uninspiring. Disappointing given the importance and magnetism of his voice in other albums. The production may be part of the problem, which makes it sound as if Gabriel is singing in a closet with a cheap Radio-Shack microphone while the rest of the band gets the studio hi-fi. Production sometimes may be a quibble, but not this time around.

Peter Gabriel 2 isn't bad, but it's definitely one that fans will get much more out of than new comers or casual listeners. There are a variety of quirky, acoustic, rocking, and soulful songs to enjoy for the occasional listen.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

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Report this review (#2992626) | Posted by sgtpepper | Monday, February 19, 2024 | Review Permanlink

3 stars "Looking for movement within the haze?" Peter Gabriel's second solo album starts out strong but then fizzles. From the anthemic opener, "On the Air," to the resigned and cynical closer, "Home Sweet Home," is quite a fall. That fall is a symptom of the irresolution that haunts this album, whic ... (read more)

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2 stars On to Peter Gabriels second solo effort. "On the Air" - I hear early Bowie very clearly on this track. It's a solid rocker almost in the realm of "Glam Rock". "D.I.Y." - Very strangely structured track which is quirky and which I don't like much although it is interesting. "Mother of ... (read more)

Report this review (#947288) | Posted by sukmytoe | Sunday, April 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Even though Peter Gabriel's 2nd album was released within a year of the first one, they sound almost drastically different. For one, it was produced by Robert Fripp (the credits say "Produced by Robert Fripp for Peter Gabriel"), and it's even considered to be part of a trilogy of albums he produ ... (read more)

Report this review (#867365) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Tuesday, November 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

1 stars After the work that Peter Gabriel revealed to the world, this album could have it taken from him. I was really impressed with the debut album from one of my favorite artists, its sequel, titled "Peter Gabriel 2" (or "Scratch"), scandalized my ears.not heard such crap long.Considering the tim ... (read more)

Report this review (#463505) | Posted by voliveira | Friday, June 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars My least favorite of Peter Gabriel's first few albums. Something is missing here...edge? I'm not really sure, but there is just too much boring material on this release that does not interest me at all. "DIY", "Wonderful Day..", "Animal Magic", and "Perspective" either bore ... (read more)

Report this review (#386905) | Posted by mohaveman | Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars By far the worst album from Peter Gabriel. Boring, not progressive, with lack of inspiration. Nothing to do with his predecessor Peter Gabriel I (Car), for me one of his best works. Maybe Robert Fripp in the production is one of the reasons. But obviously Peter was really uninspired at this ti ... (read more)

Report this review (#283246) | Posted by genbanks | Sunday, May 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Peter Gabriel's most strange work, and his greatest. I really love it, even if it's really difficult to get into. A Wonderful Day In A One-Way World, D.I.Y., Flotsam And Jetsam, Exposure, Indigo, Mother Of Violence, On The Air (my favorite)...All great songs. I understand peaople who says that ... (read more)

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2 stars With this second album Gabriel is still developing his style and like it's predecessor is a bit like a hit-and-miss experience, with some very good songs as well as some forgettable ones. I think this album is more homogenous than its predecessor, sonically speaking, but that doesn't mean that is ... (read more)

Report this review (#129209) | Posted by mistertorture | Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Aside some nice moments we hear a struggling artist indecisive of his musical direction. Less focussing on pop, and more experimental, cetainly compared to his previous effort. Some where along the line he forgot to piece the material together and forge real songs out of the material. Music ... (read more)

Report this review (#94012) | Posted by tuxon | Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I was shocked when I first saw the rating of this album. I thought it would have been a lot higher because it is one of his most progressive albums. No respect for superman in supermarket, indeed. Anyway, this is a very fine album. It is a lot better than his first and that's no knock on his fir ... (read more)

Report this review (#87764) | Posted by White Shadow | Sunday, August 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Itīs a shame that Peter Gabriel hasnīt played for 2 decades any track of this album. Some say PG was still looking for his real direction (that is, world music influences, synths textures, etc.), but PG II is a superb album in his own right. Robert Fripp produced the tracks and, as it happene ... (read more)

Report this review (#83014) | Posted by Jordi Planas | Friday, July 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Peter Gabriel 2 is in my opinion Gabriel's greatest work. His first album had some moments of utter brilliance e.g. Moribund the Burgermeister and Here Comes The Flood but was really quite inconsistent (Modern Love and Excuse Me). This album however sees Gabriel make a much more emotionally pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#79406) | Posted by Psychedelia | Friday, May 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is as interesting as his first album, although a little different. It has a well-balanced alternation between sad and funny songs. "On the air" is one of the best openeing ever made, it rocks, and Peter Gabriel sings in a very particular "hard" voice. The lyrics are well-written. The end ... (read more)

Report this review (#46124) | Posted by Flyingbebert | Friday, September 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is badly underrated on this site - hence this review.... Overall the album has a great feel to it and while not as exotic as his first solo release it is probably more consistent in terms of quality of song. The instrumentation is relatively straight up and down with some nice lashin ... (read more)

Report this review (#23938) | Posted by | Monday, May 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A good job. It's still a little to much rock-n-rolling, but Gabriel manage to insert his genious to transform little songs in remarkable executions. And , Exposure is great!! That's some good '80s sound in 1978 guys!! Gabriel for me was one of the co-founders of the New Wave era. Period. Ah, ... (read more)

Report this review (#23936) | Posted by | Monday, May 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Peter Gabriel released his second solo album, also called "Peter Gabriel," in 1978. It was both less expansive and less inspired than its predecessor. Here, PG worked within more compact song structures -- occasionally developing them into pop gems, occasionally exploding them in artsy anti-pop, ... (read more)

Report this review (#23930) | Posted by | Thursday, July 8, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Really, I think this one is badly underrated. It's even my favourite of him. The only solo album in which you can hear at least something of old Genesis. Just listen to "Mother Of Violence" or "White Shadow". Band is great too with Fripp and Levin. ... (read more)

Report this review (#23923) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 7, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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