Everett True

Song of the day – 331: Scritti Politti

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I have no guilty pleasures.

If I had any guilty pleasures, the debut Scritti Politti album Songs To Remember (1982) would be one. There was a moment, for several years after it was released, when it was impossible to walk into a charity store without being confronted with myriad vinyl copies all retailing for 99p, tops. So I would buy it, listen to it a couple of times, start guiltily, give it away to a friend or charity store: then, two months later, start the whole process again. It fascinated me, like 80s MTV. I knew it was wrong: it played all the wrong notes on all the wrong instruments with the wrong intonations and phrasing: the falsetto melodies and mock gospel backing singers were entirely alien to this Blurt/Birthday Party-loving boy. The rapping is a disgrace. I knew it was wrong. I couldn’t help but return to it, though. It was about the only time I fell for the sham New Pop Dream of Paul Morley … or maybe didn’t? Or maybe it wasn’t. Oh, whatever. This album made me feel so conflicted, in only a way the Associates have managed since.

When this song first showed up on the NME tape cassette collection C81, it seemed like just about the most perfect pop song yet created. Context. Context! CONTEXT! It ruined Rough Trade for future generations, mind. And it was a vastly superior version to the one that eventually hit the heady heights of #64 in the UK Top 100.

Strange this should be considered such a guilty pleasure, even now: of course, the early days of Scritti Politti, pre-corporate dollar, were marvellous and inspiring, as even a cursory listen to any of the songs from the 2005 collection Early proves. Though their fans would vehemently deny it otherwise, Green Gartside swapped all this imagination and mischief for costly production values, starting right here with Songs To Remember.

I’m reminded of all this, because there’s a new compilation out (their first?), Absolute. Sleeve notes by that man Simon Reynolds. No, I won’t be listening in. Green totally lost me after this one album. No, I won’t. I refuse to. I really do not like slap bass. I really do not like bouffant haircuts and flowery shirts. I really do not want to return to MTV, circa 1986. Of course, if anyone wants to send me a copy … um … I would be interested. No! NO, I WOULD NOT BE!

(I was going to put ‘Asylums In Jerusalem’ as the featured song, but then I gave myself a fierce slap round my head and woke up.)

6 Responses to Song of the day – 331: Scritti Politti

  1. Scott April 25, 2011 at 8:30 am

    SUCH a great song. Was actually trying (still, after 20 years) to get into Cupid & Psyche last week. ‘Perfect Way’ aside, it’s a dry bone as far as I’m concerned. And I say that as someone who joined the Scritti Politti yahoo discussion group a few years back just to get a copy of the lyrics for Early.

    And thanks for not putting ‘Asylums for Jerusalem.’ Puke.

  2. Everett True April 25, 2011 at 9:04 am

    As Wallace Wylie put it on Facebook.

    Post-modernism: The belief that enjoying and producing the products of capitalism will help undermine capitalism.

  3. Princess Stomper April 25, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I don’t really have guilty pleasures in music. If I like a song, it’s because it’s good and if you don’t think it’s good then you’re just plain wrong.

    It’s pretty obvious why you like this song – it’s because it’s good. It reminds me a little of Steely Dan’s Haitian Divorce – one of my favourite songs – because it has that shuffling beat and dubby bass and laidback vocals. There – I just listened to it twice in a row. Nowt to be embarrassed about there.

    Who cares about fashion? That’s how you end up with shite like Babyshambles getting airplay and so many finer bands ignored. It’s not “selling out” that kills a band, but running out of good songs. You have a lifetime to write your first album and a year to write the second.

    Scritti Politti are one of those bands I’ve heard much about and should hear more of. Frilly shirts don’t frighten me – c’mon, they look pretty ridiculous in the pic you’ve used anyway.

  4. David Gerard May 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    And it’s all but impossible to find “Songs To Remember” now. I might have to go so far as to rip my vinyl copy *shudder* (CBS Australia, 1983).

  5. Everett True May 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    (from Facebook)

    Wallace Wylie
    Post-modernism: The belief that enjoying and producing the products of capitalism will help undermine capitalism.

    Pete Oblivion
    Try telling that to that to their hairdressers.

    Kevin Pearce
    Ha not just me that’s been through multiple copies of this LP. Read a quote recently from one of the Rough Trade people who said basic truth was Green’s songs really not very good. Mind you I love Asylums in Jerusalem. It makes me laugh!

  6. Adrian Horrocks January 29, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Bought another copy yesterday. On vinyl. From Oxfam. It cost 3.49. Mint condition. Played it yesterday and loved it, played it today, and already thinking about giving it back to Oxfam. Rock a boy blue is the smuggest, most vilest song ever, and Asylums invents Boy George, when we really didn’t want or need him. So thanks for that Green!

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