Scritti Politti

Scritti Politti was an English art-pop band from Leeds that cut three EPs on self-press St. Pancras Records in 1978/79. The original trio disbanded in 1980 when vocalist/guitarist Green Gartside was waylaid due to health issues. The following year, he reactivated the nameplate for a trio of 1981/82 singles on Rough Trade that culminated in the album Songs to Remember. A string of 1983–85 singles on Virgin formed the basis of Cupid & Psyche 85, released to global fanfare in 1985. Manhattanite Fred Maher (Massacre, Material) drummed for Scritti Politti during this period. The band’s third album, Provision, appeared in 1988. Gartside issued two further albums under the nameplate between 1999 and 2006.

Members: Green Gartside (vocals, guitar), Tom Morley (drums, 1978-81), Nial Jinks (bass, 1978-80), David Gamson (keyboards, programming, bass, 1983-89, 1997-99, 2010), Fred Maher (drums, 1983-89)


Background

Scritti Politti was the brainchild of Welsh-born singer, musician, and songwriter Green Gartside. In 1976, while studying art at Leeds Polytechnic, he caught wind of punk and formed The Against with college mate Tom Morley (drums) and childhood friend Nial Jinks (bass). After finishing school, they moved into a flat in London’s Camden Town and changed their name to Scritti Politti, a modification of Scritti Politici (Italian for “political writings”).


1978–1979

In November 1978, Scritti Politti issued their debut maxi-single “Skank Bloc Bologna” (b/w “Is and Ought the Western World” and “28/8/78”), on self-press St. Pancras Records. The a-side, aired on John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 program, impressed post-punk indie label Rough Trade, which issued the band’s two 1979 EPs: Work In Progress and 4 A-Sides.

“Skank Bloc Bologna” / “Is and Ought the Western World” / “28/8/78” (1978)


Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session (EP, 1979)

A1. “Messthetics” (1:48)
A2. “Hegemony” (2:10)
B1. “Scritlocks Door” (1:35)
B2. “OPEC-Immac” (3:20)


4 A-Sides (EP, 1979)

A1. “Bibbly-O-Tek”
A2. “Doubt Beat”
B1. “Confidence”
B2. “P.A.s”


1980–1982

Although he does not appear on the album, Steve Sidwell played trumpet on the single version of “Faithless”
“The “Sweetest Girl”” /
Released: 9 October 1981
“Faithless” /
Released: 16 April 1982
“Asylums in Jerusalem” / “Jacques Derrida”
Released: 23 July 1982


Songs to Remember

Scritti Politti released their debut album, Songs to Remember, on September 3, 1982, on Rough Trade.

1. “Asylums in Jerusalem” (3:12)
2. “A Slow Soul” (3:16)
3. “Jacques Derrida” (4:58)
4. “Lions After Slumber” (6:09)
5. “Faithless” (4:13)

6. “Sex” (4:20)
7. “Rock-A-Boy Blue” (5:52)
8. “Gettin’ Havin’ & Holdin’” (5:16)
9. “The Sweetest Girl” (6:15)

Recorded late 1980–August 1981
Studio Berry Street Studio (London) Island Studios (London)
Joe Cang – bass
Green Gartside – vocals, guitar
Nial Jinks – bass
Mike McEvoy – keyboards
Tom Morley – drums
Mgotse Mothie – double bass
Jamie Talbot – saxophone
Robert Wyatt – keyboards
Jackie Challenor, Lorenza Johnson, Mae McKenna – backing vocals

UK Albums (OCC) 12
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 36


1983–1985

“Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)” /
Released: 24 February 1984
“Absolute” /
Released: 29 May 1984
“Hypnotize” /
Released: 2 November 1984
“The Word Girl” /
Released: 29 April 1985 


Cupid & Psyche 85

Scritti Politti released their second album, Cupid & Psyche 85, on June 10, 1985, on Virgin (UK) Warner Bros. (US).

1. “The Word Girl” (Gartside, David Gamson) (4:24)
2. “Small Talk” (Gartside, Gamson) (3:39)
3. “Absolute” (4:25)
4. “A Little Knowledge” (5:02)
5. “Don’t Work That Hard” (3:59)

6. “Perfect Way” (Gartside, Gamson) (4:33) [UK/US]; (4:43) [Japan LP – Remixed]
7. “Lover to Fall” (4:13) [UK Version]; (3:52) [US Version – Remixed]
8. “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)” (4:48)
9. “Hypnotize” [Short Version] (Gartside, Gamson) (3:34)

The cassette version contains four additional tracks with “Flesh & Blood” and a loneer “Absolute” appended to Side One and longer mixes of “Wood Beez” and “Hypnotize” appended to Side Two.

“Flesh & Blood” (Gartside, Gamson, Ann Swinton) – 5:35
“Absolute” (version) – 6:11
“Wood Beez” (version) – 5:56
“Hypnotize” (version) – 6:34

Recorded 1983–1985
Studio Minot Sound (New York) The Power Station (New York) Atlantic (New York) Eden (London) Wessex Sound (London) Sarm West (London) Sarm East (London)

Green Gartside – lead and backing vocals, keyboards (3), arrangements (3, 8), guitar (7)
David Gamson – keyboards (Roland Jupiter-8, PPG, Fender Rhodes, Minimoog, Yamaha DX7, Roland MSQ-700, Oberheim DMX, Oberheim OB-X, Fairlight CMI, Roland JX-8P), arrangements (3, 4, 5, 7, 8)[33]
Fred Maher – drums (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10), Roland TR-808 (3, 5, 8), LinnDrum (3, 5, 8), Simmons electronic drums[34]
Additional musicians
Simon Climie – Fairlight CMI (2)
Robbie Buchanan – keyboards (3, 5, 8, 11, 12)
David Frank – keyboards (3, 5, 8, 11, 12)
J. J. Jeczalik – Fairlight programming (3)
EBN (Ned Liben) – Fairlight programming (3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13)
Nick Moroch – guitar (1, 6, 7)
Alan Murphy – guitar (2, 6)
Paul Jackson Jr. – guitar (3, 5, 8, 11, 12)
Ira Siegel – guitar (4)
Robert Quine – guitar (5)
Will Lee – bass (3)
Marcus Miller – bass (5)
Steve Ferrone – drums (3, 5, 8)
B. J. Nelson – backing vocals (1–5, 7–13)
Tawatha Agee – backing vocals (3, 5, 8)
Fonzi Thornton – backing vocals (3, 5, 8)
Ranking Ann (Ann Swinton) – additional vocals and toasting on “Flesh & Blood”[35]

Production
Producers – Scritti Politti (Tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10 & 13); Arif Mardin (Tracks 3, 5, 8, 11 & 12).
Engineers – Howard Gray (Tracks 1, 2, 6, 10); Jason Corsaro (Tracks 3, 5 & 8); Lew Hahn (Tracks 3, 5 & 8); Ray Bardani (Tracks 4, 7 & 9).
Mixing – Howard Gray (Tracks 1, 2, 4–7 & 10); Gary Langan (Tracks 3 & 9); Jason Corsaro (Track 8).
Additional tape editing – Bunt Stafford-Clark
Mastered by Tony Cousins
Edited and mastered at Townhouse Studios (London, England).
Artwork – Art-O-Matic
Design – Keith Breeden
Group photography – Andy Earl
Article photography – Rob Brimson
Management – Robert Warr

“Perfect Way”
Released: 27 August 1985
“Lover To Fall (Remix Version)”
Released: 1985 (France only)

UK Albums (OCC)[41] 5
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[38] 9
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[39] 12
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[40] 13
US Billboard 200[42] 50
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[37] 55
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[36] 59


1986–1988


Provision

Scritti Politti released their third album, Provision, on June 6, 1988, on Virgin (UK) Warner Bros. (US).

1. “Boom! There She Was” (5:00)
2. “Overnite” (4:44)
3. “First Boy in This Town (Lovesick)” (4:23)
4. “All That We Are” (3:31)
5. “Best Thing Ever” (Gartside, Gamson, John Potoker) (3:51)

6. “Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy)” (4:21)
7. “Bam Salute” (4:33)
8. “Sugar and Spice” (4:11)
9. “Philosophy Now” (4:53)

CD and cassette bonus tracks
“Oh Patti (Extended)” – 6:32
“Boom! There She Was (Dub)” – 7:15

Recorded 1987–1988
Studio Minot Sound Atlantic (New York) Hit Factory (New York) Right Track (New York) Sorcerer Sound (New York) Britannia Row (London) AIR (London) Townhouse (London) Sarm West (London) Swan Yard (London)

Producer Green Gartside David Gamson (except “Best Thing Ever” was co-produced with John Potoker)

Green Gartside – vocals, guitar (3), vocal arrangements (3)
David Gamson – Yamaha DX7, Yamaha TX816, Yamaha QX1 sequencer, Oberheim Matrix 12, Sequential Circuits Prophet VS, Roland MKS-80, Roland MKS-50, Synclavier, arrangements
Fred Maher – drums, Oberheim DMX, LinnDrum, timbales (5)

Additional personnel
John Mahoney – Synclavier programming
Raymond Niznik – Synclavier programming
Jason Miles – additional keyboard programming (5)
Dann Huff – guitar (1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Nick Moroch – guitar (5)
Marcus Miller – bass (1, 7, 8, 9)
Bashiri Johnson – percussion (5, 7, 8, 9), timbales (7, 9), congas (9)
Roger Troutman – talk box (1, 8)
Mitch Corn – horns (5)
Joe Mennonna – saxophones (5)
Andy Snitzer – saxophones (9)
Michael Davis – trombone (9)
Miles Davis – trumpet (6)
Chris Botti – trumpet (9)
Kent Smith – trumpet (9)
Tawatha Agee – backing vocals (1, 2, 5, 7, 8)
B.J. Nelson – backing vocals (1-5, 7, 8, 9)
Fonzi Thornton – backing vocals (1-4, 7, 8)
Rory Dodd – backing vocals (3, 4, 6, 9)
Eric Troyer – backing vocals (3, 4, 6, 9), vocal arrangements (3, 6)
Diva Gray – backing vocals (5)
Yogi Lee – backing vocals (5)
Mark Stevens – backing vocals (5)

Production
Producers – David Gamson and Green Gartside
Co-producer on Track 5 – John Potoker
Production coordinator – Susie McKinley
Engineers – Ray Bardani (Tracks 1-4 & 6-9); John Potoker (Track 5).
Drum samples recorded by John Potoker
Miles Davis recording on track 6 by Michael O’Reilly.
Assistant engineers – Claude Achille, Stuart Breed, Graham Meek, Hugo Nicholson and Arabella Rodriguez.
Mixing – Ray Bardani (Tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 & 8); Mike Shipley (Tracks 4 & 6); Julian Mendelsohn (Track 9).
Additional tape editing – Bunt Stafford-Clark and Howard Gray.
Mastered by Tony Cousins at Sterling Sound (New York, NY).
Sleeve design – Keith Breeden, Green Gartside and Juergen Teller.
Group photography – Andy Catlin and Lawrence Lawry
Objects photography – Juergen Teller

“Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy)”
Released: April 1988
“First Boy in This Town (Lovesick)”
Released: August 1988
“Boom! There She Was”
Released: November 1988

UK Albums Chart 8


Discography:

  • “Skank Bloc Bologna” / “Is and Ought the Western World” / “28/8/78” (1978)
  • Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session (EP, 1979)
  • 4 A-Sides (EP, 1979)
  • Songs to Remember (1982)
  • Cupid & Psyche 85 (1985)
  • Provision (1988)
  • Anomie & Bonhomie (1999)
  • White Bread Black Beer (2006)

Sources:

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