Peter Gabriel (EMI)

“The New Blood tour,” reports his website, sternly, “is Peter Gabriel, orchestra, no drums, no guitars.”

Advertisement or warning? Both, probably. But the album it’s promoting is more of the latter.

Gabriel is describing Scratch My Back as a “song exchange” programme, in which he performs another artist’s song in return for them performing one of his on a future record.

But that’s basically just window dressing. Scratch My Back is a covers album, in which Gabriel performs songs by the likes of Radiohead, Neil Young and Elbow to a slow-motion orchestral soundtrack.

The album isn’t without its successes.

John Metcalfe’s languorous orchestral arrangement is a lovely foil for Lou Reed’s The Power Of The Heart, and the string-driven rhythms of the Magnetic Fields The Book Of Love work nicely.

But even so, all but diehard fans will be disappointed that Gabriel’s second album in 18 years is such an inessential collection.

WILL FULFORD-JONES