Peter Gabriel Scratch My Back (Virgin Records) The former Genesis frontman has made a career out of confounding fans and critics. Only in the 1990s when he leaned towards bog-standard blues on his Up and Us did he seem to be settling into middle age gracefully - the cardinal sin for such a talent. Scratch My Back - an album of covers set to minimalist Erik Satie-style orchestral arrangements - has him back at odds with himself and music; his vulnerable vocals adding new depths to a collection of hits and rarities by the sort of artists you'd expect someone of his ilk to admire. More often than not this low-key approach lends the songs a melancholy not apparent in the originals. Paul Simon's charmless Boy in the Bubble becomes a heartbreaking lament, Bowie's Heroes an unfolding prayer. It's thrilling, and often uncomfortable, stuff. For so many artists of Gabriel's vintage, an album of covers is usually an indication that they have run out of ideas of their own. Scratch My Back shows that even the best ideas of others can so often be improved.