Tuesday, 30 March 2010

God Like Genius - The 4 Ages of Green

I read today that Scritti Politti are releasing a greatest hits lp soon. A true mark of genius is to keep growing keep changing but keep the quality. So I give you the 4 ages of Green

The age The NME : Everything about the band screamed NME. The left wing politics , the name as an homage to an Italian Marxist theorist, a song named after Jacques Derrida, the living in a squat and the early post punk recordings. The paper included a demo of "the Sweetest Girl" on a give away compilation. However underneath pop songs shone through. This was the hit single that never was and still one of the best things Green Gartside has recorded

Asylums in Jerusalem - from "Songs to Remember" 1982

The age of Smash Hits : By 1983 Scritti Politti had fully embraced shiny pop music but instead of reggae rhythms, underpinned it with hip hop and dance influences. At the same time the student of deconstruction was a fully paid up member of the "what colour socks do you like?" brigade. Although you always felt like he never fully jumped ship (the lp cover for Cupid and Psyche featured raw steak and white chocolate)

Wood Beez - from "Cupid and Psyche 85" 1985

The age of Q : If "Cupid and Psyche" and "Provision" flirted with hip hop and dance, The 4th lp (released a full 11 years after the 3rd) "Anomie and Bonhomie" fully embraced them,with a majority of tracks Green taking a back seat to guest stars such as Mos Def's raps. The cover I did think was a wonder of photoshop with the name of each song branded onto an everyday item. I've since read that each item was especially made - Green not taking the easy route to his art!

The track I've posted below was the lead off single and even now I still can't quite fathom why it wasn't a massive hit. I challenge you to listen to it and not to have the opening sample and the "time keeps slipping"refrain running through your brain for the rest of the day. The track is so confident that after 11 years we don't even hear Green's distinctive vocals for 1 1/2 minutes

The rest of the lp is a bit patchy maybe because of the high set by this and the more "traditional" Scritti track "Brushed with Oil Dusted with Powder"

Tinsel Town to Boogiedown from "Anomie and Bonhomie" 1999

The age of Uncut - Nothing for another 7 years, then out of the blue a new lp of stripped down songs, in a variety of styles that in places echoed among others Brian Wilson. "White Bread Black Beer" found it's audience I suspect with "Word" and "Uncut" readers who had fond memories of the early days. Green finally got some of the recognition that he deserved with the lp being nominated for the Mercury Prize. Like Ian McNabb before him, he was never going to win but the recognition was long over due. It felt right as well that it came with his most consistent lp, not a duff track on it.

Snow in Sun - From "White Bread Black Beer" 2006

You will never be without me
I'm beside you never doubt me
There'll be something good about me soon
Like sun on the London snow
Like snow in the London sun

You can buy all the lps mentioned here

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