What Went Right With… Scritti Politti?

A caricature of Green Gartside from the band Scritti Politti

Music stays with you, even after years or decades have passed. On occasion, you’ll completely forget about songs or entire albums until you hear an intro or a bar, and you’re instantly transported to the time you first heard it. Along with Prince’s Purple Rain and Michael Jackson‘s Bad, Scritti Politti’s album Cupid & Psyche 85 formed part of my pre-school years, and upon hearing it today, it takes me right back to those times, at least in my mind. In a similar way, Scritti Politti’s cover singles “She’s A Woman” (featuring Shabba Ranks) and “Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me” (featuring Sweetie Irie) take me back to the period surrounding the second Summer Of Love. We may not have a time machine but music along with scents are the closest ways we have to recalling the past, in a way that a still or moving image cannot.

Cupid & Psyche 85 is a classic short album (one track less than Illmatic and Takin’ Mine) but sometimes a small meal can be satisfying if all the ingredients are complimentary. Speaking of food, when I was old enough (and therefore allowed to handle the vinyl) I remember looking at the artwork and starring at a slab of meat wrapped in a shirt with star-shaped studs (an image that streamers will never see which is an unfortunate side effect of the ongoing cheapening of music). I didn’t know what any of it meant and I was too young to know about Greek mythology to understand the album’s title but I knew I liked what I heard and saw. Green Gartside’s vocals were so unique and the production so upbeat, that this was an album that made me instantly happy. This is undoubtedly a classic LP that seems to get overlooked when younger people trawl through the 1980’s searching for throwback gems. Unlike lots of overused albums, tracks from this haven’t been played in modern films or TV shows so the tracklist remains lost until someone popularises it.

Later in in 1999, Scritti Politti made “From Tinseltown To Boogiedown” featuring rappers Mos Def and Lee Majors. Hearing the Hip-Hop slang words “Do Or Die” (Bedstuy, Brooklyn) and “Boogiedown” (Bronx) from the same soothing, effeminate voice that comforted me as a child was great to hear, after all; if a musician I liked as a kid has moved on to the exact genre of music I enjoy in my late-teens, I must have been right to like them. So even though the follow-up albums never quite reached the masterpiece-status of Scritti Politti’s Cupid LP, that album will forever be…

Part Of My Psyche.

An unpublished and unfinished article and caricature from 2020. I wasn’t happy with the caricature’s likeness so I never completed the article. Since I’m now publishing it, I’ve added a new Spotify playlist below…

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