""Rather than make a traditional covers record, I thought it would be much more fun to create a new type of project in which artists communicated with each other and swapped a song for a song, i.e. you do one of mine and I'll do one of yours, hence the title - Scratch My Back - And I'll Scratch Yours." Peter Gabriel
While numerous new wave artists in the early '80s tried to imitate David Bowie, Peter Schilling went a step further. In 1983, Schilling released "Major Tom (Coming Home)," a synth pop retelling of Bowie's 1969 classic "Space Oddity." It became Schilling's first and only entry in the U.S. charts, a song that eventually stigmatized him as a one-hit wonder in America. Schilling was born in Stuttgart, Germany, on January 28, 1956. As a teen, Schilling couldn't decide on whether to be a soccer player or a singer. He chose music and his debut album, Error in the System, appeared in 1983. The single "Major Tom (Coming Home)" wasn't just popular in the U.S., it was a worldwide smash.
You can't argue with a great concept: Songs sung by Frank Sinatra are interpreted by a slew of indie rock and punk bands. A great concept, but one that makes for truly (and gloriously) unpredictable results. Chairman of the Board is, of course, not a perfect record, but it offers up some true gems.
When it comes to the coffeehouse circuit, the singer/songwriter is someone who takes himself or herself very seriously, and for listeners to really get what the singer/songwriter is about, they must approach the artist's work with the same seriousness. Otherwise, all of the focus on life, love, and the meaning of it all falls flat. Peter Mulvey understands this, and undercuts anyone who might label him a navel-gazer on one of Notes from Elsewhere's livelier cuts, "The Trouble with Poets."
SCHUBERT: SONGS WITHOUT WORDS is an elegant recital by pianist Daria Hovora and cellist Mischa Maisky that allows us to hear Schubert songs, beautifully rich as they are with the texts as sung by many of our finest singers, here solely for the instrumental line. Somehow the interplay between melody and accompaniment (always an equal partnership in Schubert's hands) is heightened by this experience. Not that the entire album is appropriated by the cello standing in for a vocalist: the opening work is "Sonata for Arpeggione and Klavier" and is one of the highlights of the CD. But just listen to the performances of 'Standchen', 'An die Musik' and 'Du bist die Ruhe' and hear the extraordinary marriage between the piano and cello, singing as beautifully as any other version. This is one of those CDs that bears keeping out for multiple listenings in the late evening.