1985 Scritti Politti – Perfect Way
While an art student in Leeds, Green Gartside attended a concert by the punk rockers The Sex Pistols. Green reacted to the concert by forming the British band The Against with several other students in 1975.
After finishing college, the group moved to London and began performing as Scritti Politti. The name started out as an Italian phrase that translated to “political writings,” changed to sound more like a rock-and-roll name.
As described in an interview, the band then began creating, pressing, and packaging their own records as part of the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement.
After a panic attack at a live performance in 1980, Green moved back to his parents’ home to recover. While there, he became less interested in the group’s past punk recordings and became more influenced by pop and soul music. He cut a demo of The Sweetest Girl in 1981, and that attracted attention from several record companies. A finished version of the song gave the group their first charted record when it reached #64 in the UK.
Impressed by the hip hop music coming out of New York City, Green disbanded the group and moved there. He began working with producer Arif Mardin and recruited two new members: David Gamson on keyboards and Fred Maher on drums.
The first single from this new version of the group came out in 1984. Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) was a top ten single in the UK. While the record barely grazed the US Hot 100, peaking at #91, it found its way onto the US Dance Club Songs chart and reached #4. Several more singles followed, after which the completed album Cupid & Psyche 85 came out.
The group released their most successful US single in 1985. The video for Perfect Way went into heavy rotation on MTV and the single reached #11 on the Hot 100 and #6 on the US Dance Club Songs chart. They even appeared on American Bandstand. Oddly enough, the record did poorly in the UK, where it failed to get any higher than #48. One more single got up to #53 in the US, but that was the end of their Hot 100 charting.
The group’s last top forty single in the UK was a cover of the Beatles’ song, She’s a Woman, that reached #20 in the UK in 1991. The song featured Jamaican reggae/rapper dancehall deejay Shabba Ranks. It’s difficult to believe the video for that song came from the punk group that was creating DIY records in the late seventies.
An album followed in 1999 that included help from rap artists Mos Def and Jimahl. The charts didn’t pay much attention, although one single from the album came close to the top forty in the UK.
In 2006, Green started over with a few new members and recorded a new album. That group is still touring today.
A compilation album came out in 2011 that included old singles and two new songs written by Green and David.
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