After a strange few days, I'm going to try and now get this show back on the road.
For anyone interested in the stuff I was mentioning the other day about the elections in Scotland, well it turned into a 7am - 6.30 am then a 8am - 11pm shift over Thursday/Friday - in effect 90 minutes sleep in a 40 hour period. I guess it was akin to being a parent sometimes....
But anyway, while much of what unravelled at election counts in Scotland was farcical (and read here if you want more info), it actually went all right on the night in Glasgow, and again over the duration of Friday. It's all done and dusted, and so as I said earlier, back to blogging and mp3s with no distractions.
Can it really now be 25 years since this underrated masterpiece hit the record racks? It seems so...
Scritti Politti, which in effect was really just a vehicle for the talents of Welsh-born singer-songwriter Green Gartside had been kicking around as a band since the late 1970s. Gartside had a reputation in the music press as a left-wing intellectual, which was maintained with the release of the debut single Skank Bloc Bologna which was regarded as a pro-feminist song that attacked the way that much of society expected young women to conform to a lifestyle of dull humdrum work and then raise families.
I never actually liked the debut single and still don't listen to it much today. If there was ever such a thing as free-form new wave, then this was it. The production values were non-existant, the vocals are lost amidst all sorts of sharp and abrupt changes in rhythm and you couldn't really dance to it. So I never thought I'd pay much attention to Scritti Politti again.
A couple of years later, I picked up a free cassette with the NME which featured a Scritti Politti song entitled The Sweetest Girl. It was absolutely gorgeous and as far removed from Bologna as you could imagine. It's not quite a ballad, not quite a full-blown radio friendly pop-song. It was driven along sedately by a piano and a drum machine and a fantastic near-falsetto vocal performance by Green.
It was later released as a single on Rough Trade Records and topped the indie charts. I remember buying the single and after listening to the a-side a couple of times flipping it over to something called Lions After Slumber - a funk/rap number that just blew me away. I spent many many hours trying to decipher the lyric......
Into 1982 and another single came out in the summer. It was called Faithless. And it was joyful, soulful and with a hint of gospel. Three completely different song styles, and every one of them on heavy rotation.
And yet another single appeared later in the summer - a double a-side effort entitled Asylums in Jerusalem/Jacques Derrida - this time there were hints of reggae kicking around as well as a more pop-orientated feel. By now, I was itching for the album to appear.
It was a really brave move to call it Songs To Remember as it left Green (as he was by now calling himself) open to ridicule. It turned out not to to be an outlandish statement. The track listing was:-
01 : Asylums in Jerusalem
02 : A Slow Soul
03 : Jacques Derrida
04 : Lions After Slumber
05 : Faithless
06 : Sex
07 : Rock-A-Boy Blue
08 : Gettin' Havin' & Holdin'
09 : The Sweetest Girl
There's not a bad track on this album. My only gripe at the time was the fact it had only nine songs, of which only four were brand new. The new songs showed further musical talents, especially on the jazz-tinged Rock-A-Boy Blue which was featured a lengthy double-bass solo.
I thought I was in a real minority falling in love with Scritti Politti in 1982 as I don't recall them having any real chart success - certainly none of the singles did anything. So I was surprised to learn in doing a wee bit of research that Songs To Remember sold enough to reach #12 in the UK album charts.
Green was now a man in demand, and he signed a huge deal with Virgin Records. Within two years he was a bona-fide pop star crawling all over the UK and US charts with a succession of pop singles that were typical of that decade - synthesiser-led, big big production sounds and topped-off by expensive videos with Green wearing designer clothes and expensive haircuts. These hit singles, and the subsequent album Cupid & Psyche weren't all that bad compared to an awful lot of the drivel that dominated the charts at the time, but the joy and beauty of the debut album had been left behind.
My vinyl copy of Songs To Remember was pretty much unplayable by around 1990. The only time I heard any of the songs was when they came up on any compilation cassette tapes that I had made up over the years. It wasn't until 2001 that I again got to hear all of the album in its glory when it was finally given a long-delayed release on CD. It still sounded incredible and timeless. And...........it came with a lyric booklet, so I quickly discovered discovered that I had gotten about 85% of the words to Lions After Slumber spot-on......
mp3 : Scritti Politti - Faithless
mp3 : Scritti Politti - Gettin' Havin & Holdin'
I suppose you all know that Scottish popsters Wet Wet Wet took their band name from a line in the second of the above mp3s. Well you all know now....
Incidentally, if anyone has a 12" copy of Faithless, would they be kind enough to turn it, and the instrumental b-side into a couple of mp3s and fire them over to me by e-mail. It was a single that I used to own....but someone borrowed it and never returned it (I know who they are, but I've lost touch with them....).
25 years ago eh? I'm getting on a bit.
PS : thanks to everyone who has left comments over the past couple of weeks - especially the lovely fella/lass who took great delight in saying that The Jam reunion tours sans Weller had gone down well. Read here (you'll need to scroll down a bit to the 10th comment...)
I usually try and reply to each comment, but have struggled recently I promise to spend a bit of time doing so later today...