Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Scritti Politti - Early

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I was scanning some new music release page on the internets last week when I came across a listing that made me bolt up in my seat - Rough Trade had compiled a bunch of the earliest Scritti Politti recordings from the late '70s and early '80s and released them in remastered form as Early. I snapped up a copy that day at my local shop, and have been playing it every day since. I first encountered the band when I heard The "Sweetest Girl" on the radio, and was fascinated by it's rudimentary drum pattern, killer dub bass lines, gorgeous melody and the remarkably odd voice of Green Gartside. It remains of my faves today. I was sold, and bought up the ensuing 45s (with their ultra-cool covers that parodied product labels like Dunhills and cognac bottles) and LPs, where over the years they turned into a slick, Arif Mardin produced synth funk act. I never got around to buying any of this older stuff though, so for me this compilation is a real boon. Most folks who know Scritti from their super polished and funky mid '80s stuff would probably be surprised to hear some of this earlier stuff. It's raw and ragged, though still full of those funky touches and reggae flavor. "It sounds like some anti-produced labour of negativity, kind of structurally unsound and exposed." is how Green himself describes it in the liner notes on the CD cover. Doubt Beat is a good example of this dynamic - scratchy guitars, dub bass, propulsive post punk beats (all of the drummming is fantastic on this record) and a very catchy chorus. You can definitely hear inklings of where the band's music would end up. My "buy of the week"!

8 comments:

guanoboy said...

Wow. I did not know of this release, I'm going to track it down NOW!

Love his stuff...it's like an everlasting gobstopper. yummy.

guanoboy said...

his voice is great on Doubt Beat...Having never heard it, I never would've guessed this was him.

I love the way he says "I"...it's almost "oi!"

Moko said...

I'm a big fan of Scritti, from this early stuff onwards.

And, as a designer, I also love their covers. This new compliation features a simple photo of an original badge/button from those early days, as the back of jewel case clearly shows.

See hi-res scans at:
http://www.juno.co.uk/ppps/products/168707-01.htm

By the way Scritti Politti's most recent album, Anomie and Bonhomie (1999) is worth listening too for the interesting mix of their slick sound mixed with vocals and beats from hip hop artists like Mos Def. I didn't know who Mos Def was in 1999, but this CD changed all that . . .

Thanks for the great site.

delicious said...

amazing.thank you.

Michael said...

@Moko...

That's the badge image from the cover that I'm using.

Scritti always had some of the nicest cover art around.

I have Anomie & Bonhomie - very enjoyable update on the '80s Scritti sound. Mos Def is great - did you check my Black Star post from a couple of days ago?

Moko said...

I had meant to acknowledge that you did have the right image.

Thanks for the reminder to check out the Black Star track. Not my bag, as they say. But that's the point of sites like this, to try some new stuff and hopefully something will click in a surprising way, no?

More on Scritti:
Listen to UK radio interviews with Green about this reissue at:
http://homepage.mac.com/johnhyde/iMovieTheater256.html

Keep up the good work.

Michael said...

Hey Moko...

I checked out your Scritti site - what a great resource! So much shit that I'd never seen - thanks for putting it together. And you're in Minneapolis! I live in St. Paul, work in Mpls. What a small world...

Grant said...

Thanks so much for the tracks. I hadn't heard any of this kind of Scritti Politti before, and had never really gone for it. Your description got me to try it, and now I can't stop listening to "The 'Sweetest' Girl" at all. Now I just have to find the rest of the record. Thanks again.

Grant