Scritti Politti tonight. Favorite memory: listening to The Word Girl/Flesh & Bone, cranked up to max on my Walkman while my flight took off from JFK in 1985. One of those moments where music and image were in complete sync with each other. It may never happen again. But Scritti Politti were a very interesting and engaging band who tapped into a lot of resources and were gifted at turning musical phrases inside out, and they were good at creating musical images that stuck in your head. Maybe it only happened to me, but I always thought they were one of the few bands who did a seamless melding of electronica and aspects of blue-eyed Soul in an 80s setting.
Upon closer inspection, I am realizing the 80s were a much more interesting decade than first believed – a lot of musical ideas were floating around, being plucked out of the air and mashed into a song. And even though this was the decade where MTV came of age, and mainstream music became an image factory, there were pockets and movements springing up that flew under the radar that signaled a healthy atmosphere for the future.
As with many of the bands during this period, Scritti Politti were much better known overseas than they were in the U.S., being considered something of a one-hit wonder via their 1984 single Wood Beez, featuring Aretha Franklin, which climbed to number 4 on the U.S. dance charts.
This session, their last for John Peel, was recorded on May 15, 1982 and comes around the time of of their debut Songs To Remember album, which came out in September of that year. This also comes ahead of a major style change, and the band became more involved in Black Urban music and hip-hop, which became a major influence on them over the coming years.
Still together, but with only founding member singer/songwriter Green Gartside still in the lineup, Scritti Politti are still continuing to work on it, still polishing it, putting it out there.