No guitar, no drums on Peter Gabriel's new album

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From Radiohead to Talking Heads and David Bowie, Peter Gabriel revisits a dozen cover songs in a new album to be released next week that strips songs to their bare essentials -- the lyrics.

(AFP) -

From Radiohead to Talking Heads and David Bowie, Peter Gabriel revisits a dozen cover songs in a new album to be released next week that strips songs to their bare essentials - the lyrics.

"Songwriting is what drew me into music," Gabriel, about to turn 60, says on his website (www.petergabriel.com). "The craft and the process of putting together a good song seemed both exciting and magical."

Titled "Scratch My Back", Gabriel's first studio album releasing February 15 is the first chapter in a two-part project in which the artists whose songs he recorded, will return the favour by each recording a song of his.

Always the revolutionary, to get to the essence of the songs the ex-Genesis frontman uses no guitar and no drums, instead taking chamber instruments, keyboards and brass to accompany his voice.

"Pop introduced to songwriting the idea that sound was as important as the notes, the harmony and rhythm. I wanted to let these songs speak, so I become personally minimal in their presentation," he told The Times last month.

Instead of the beat and arrangements of Talking Head's "Listening Wind", Gabriel emphasises the vocals with strings. He strips away the bounce in the original Paul Simon song "The Boy In The Bubble", with a slower pace and sparse arrangements.

Probably the best known song on the album is the opening number, Bowie's "Heroes", which Gabriel slows right down to let the lyrics speak.

Other tracks include songs by Neil Young, Randy Newman, Bon Iver, Elbow, Lou Reed, Regina Spektor and The Magnetic Fields.

Gabriel will tour from March in Europe and the United States with "Scratch My Back."

Next step will be the release of the second part of the project, "I'll Scratch Yours", with one track already available on the musician's website - an electro-disco version of Gabriel's "Not One Of Us" by Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

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