Welsh singer-songwriter Green Gartside first formed the band, Scritti Politti, out of Leeds, England in 1977, with the intent to be a punk rock band. This is how the group started before venturing into pop-rock and electro-synth music styles. From 1977 until 1991, Scritti Politti had a solid run as one of the British rock bands who would influence North American pop culture during the 1980s. It wasn’t an easy run at first for Gartside as his anxiety issues, combined with stage fright and an unhealthy lifestyle, resulted in a collapse that would have him return home to recover and rethink the direction he, along with his Scritti Politti group, was taking. This resulted in the genre stepping away from the punk music scene and into something more mainstream.
Scritti Politti Discography
Scritti Politti, despite some of its lineup changes, enjoyed a solid run as a chart-hitting rock band from 1977 until 1991 before Gartside took a much-needed break from the public spotlight. In 1999, Gartside and a new lineup of Scritti Politti returned to recording, releasing, and touring as a more organic group that also dabbled into hip-hop, a music genre more to Gartside’s personal liking. As a group, Scritti Politti has recorded and released five studio albums and three compilation albums. A total of nineteen singles were released where three of them are labeled as extended plays (EPs).
Top 10 Scritti Politti Songs
#10 – Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me (featuring Sweetie Irie)
“Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me” is a dual performance between Scritti Politti and Sweetie Irie, which served as a non-album single at the timing of its 1991 release. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number forty-seven. The playful influence of reggae makes this one of dance by the poolside after enjoying a few margaritas.
#9 – The Sweetest Girl
“The Sweetest Girl” was the first single from Scritti Politti that would realize chart success as it charted at number sixty-four on the UK Singles Chart. It was the first of three singles that came from the group’s debut album, Songs to Remember, which was released in 1981. Both the song and the album served as the official departure from the band’s punk music style. Gartside returned with a change in the lineup of his band so that the punk was replaced with something more melodic, which resulted in The Sweetest Girl becoming recognized as a hit and Scritti Politti as a more respectable band. The song earned Scritti Politti recognition by larger record labels, but Gartside remained loyal to the label, Rough Trade Records.
#8 – Hypnotize
In 1984, Scritti Politti’s second studio album, Cupid & Psyche 85, released its second hit, “Hypnotize,” which charted at number forty-three on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and at number sixty-eight on the UK Singles Chart. Hypnotize, along with much of the tracks recorded on the album, featuring a more synthesized sound, along with a hint of R&B as Gartside was inspired by the hip-hop music scene, as well as soul and R&B.
#7 – She’s a Woman (featuring Shabba Ranks)
In 1991, “She’s a Woman” charted at number twenty on the UK Singles Chart and at number eighty-two on Australia’s Kent Music Report. The song was originally produced by the legendary group, The Beatles, in 1964. The Jamaican influence of Shabba Ranks’ performance added a reggae-style flair to the Fab Four’s classic hit. This would be the final song Green Gartside would record before taking a break from the music scene that would see him out of the spotlight for nearly eight years.
#6 – Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy)
The first of three singles released from the album, Provisions, was “Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy).” Released in 1988, the song charted as high as number thirteen on the UK Singles Chart, at number thirty-six in New Zealand, and at forty-six in the Netherlands. It would be the third and final time Scritti Politti would see a charted hit on the Dutch Charts. Soft and mellow, Oh Patti was one of those easy to listen to singles that also served as a good cheer-up song.
#5 – The Word Girl
For Scritti Politti, “The Word Girl” became the highest-charted single on the UK Singles Chart as it peaked at number six in 1985. It was the third song that came from the band’s second studio album, Cupid & Psyche 85. In the Netherlands and New Zealand, their music charts peaked The Word Girl at number eighteen. The Kent Music Report of Australia charted it at number seventy. The reggae influence that inspired Gartside is heard in the instrumental playout as the soft lyrics made the song an easy-listening favorite.
#4 – Boom! There She Was (featuring Roger Troutman)
The third studio album from Scritti Politti was Provision, which was released in 1988. On the US Billboard Dance Songs Chart, the single, “Boom! There She Was,” peaked at number twelve. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it charted at number fifty-three. The UK Singles Chart peaked the song at number fifty-five while in New Zealand, it climbed to number thirty-one. The pop-rock influence, combined with the softer, melodic lyrics, is what made the 1980s one of the favorite eras of musical history.
#3 – Perfect Way
On the US Billboard Dance Songs Chart, “Perfect Way” peaked at number six, which made it the third time Scritti Politti would crack into the top ten of its list. It peaked as high as eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100 and at number forty-eight on the UK Singles Chart. Although the album, Cupid & Psyche 85 was released in 1984, Perfect Way was not released as a single until 1985. For Scritti Politti, Perfect Way was the most successful hit for them in the United States and still remains their most recognized.
#2 – Absolute
In 1984, “Absolute” would be one of two hits coming from Scritti Politti’s second album, Cupid & Psyche 85. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaked at number seventeen, and on the US Billboard Dance Songs chart at number four. Absolute charted at number seventy-seven in Australia but at number twenty-six in New Zealand. The song did especially well in the Netherlands as it peaked at number ten on that nation’s music chart. Heavy with pop, this song is what defines 1980s music at its best.
#1 – Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)
The BPI-certified gold album, Cupid & Psyche 85, featured the single “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin),” which was released in 1984. It served as a breakout hit for Scritti Politti as it broke into the UK Singles Chart at number ten. This ode to American R&B legend, Aretha Franklin, was also recognized on two US Billboard charts, namely the Hot 100 at number ninety-one and on the Dance Club Songs chart at number four.
In Australia, the song charted at number twenty-five and in New Zealand, at number twenty-six. The sub-title of the song directly references Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit, I Say a Little Prayer. The start of the song’s alien-like audio transmission, combined with the dramatic pop-style beats, made Wood Beez a standout hit on the radio stations as it played.
Feature Photo: Ungry Young Man Follow, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Scritti Politti Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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