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As an early fan of linguistic structuralism, Jacques Derrida, art school-to-music converts and shoulder pads little wonder that aged three I was so delighted by the release of SCRITTI POLITTI‘s third LP offering, ‘Provision’. Actually in 1988 I was still eating soil in my garden and watching willow the wisp. However now I’m a full grown man way past 21 I have come to love the Politti. Imagine, if you will, that aliens are playing articulate in space and they have ten seconds to express the clue ‘epitome of 80s’ post-punk-synth-pop’. Bang. Scritti Politti.
The story goes thus: welsh valleys produces two boys, Green Gartside and Tom Morley, they become friends through shared love of music and leftist politics (as is so oft the case in one’s teens), go to art school in Leeds, drop out, move to NW1 squat, start band, teach friend bass in 3 weeks, self release debut EP ‘Skank Bloc Bologna’ three months in, Rough Trade pricks up ears, signs them, debut LP ‘Songs to Remember’ emerges in 1982 and is an eclectic experimental-come-discordant-come-soulful sound of jangly guitars, sometimes programmed beats, philly basslines, sometime rockabilly-sometime not, sugar sweet vocals, catch people’s attention, then (making bigger steps from accolade to accolade here) go on to release two era defining albums of the 1980s – Cupid & Psyche 85 (198-er-5) and Provision (1988). These yielded synth pop weapons like ‘Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)’, ‘Absolute’, ‘Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)’, ‘First Boy in this town (Love Sick)’ and ‘Boom! There She Was’ and see the band find their feet as guardians of experimental pop wonderstuff. Of other things, too – superb songwriting, sparkle, imagination, heart, soul, studiocraft, production! hello!
Fast forwarding again, the story hastens toward the present with gusto - In the late 90s with the release of ‘Anomie and Bonhomie’ (1999) and, in the new millenium, ‘White Bread, Black Beer’ (Mercury nominated in 2006, don’t you know). To this day Green Gartside remains an enigmatic, reluctant star. Though don’t those seem to be, unfailingly, the best sort, really? But a songwriter synonymous with enduring quality and great talent. The name should be screamed from the Brecon Beacons, printed on sweaters, seen on bumper stickers and, more importantly, etched onto your consciousness.
So there. If you want a fuller cup size of a story (not just a gushing homage by someone who was still in short trousers by the early 90s) then let wikipedia or some other web logger take you by the hand and lead you down through the fabled annals of the group’s history. If you want a more instant sort of gratification then the videos below call you. As does this tailor made spotify playlist. Go on. It may be the smartest thing you do all day.
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