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Scritti Politti

The last person you would expect to have seen fronting an anarchic punk band is Green Gartside, the Welsh wonder more renowned for highly polished pop-luxury that melts in the mouth like candy floss. Born in Cardiff on June 22, 1956, Gartside, at just fifteen, disatisfied with his common Christian name, decided to pick at random 'Green' after the trees and hills of Wales. Scritti Politti, which is near Italian for "political writing," formed as a twelve piece and released several EPs -- 4 A Sides, Works In Progress, Scritlocks Door and Hegamony -- before launching the full-length Songs to Remember at the tail end of 1982. It landed at number twelve and spawned three singles; the double A-side "Asylums in Jerusalem"/"Jacques Derrida," "Faithless," and the classic "Sweetest Girl" which started a fascination with the female gender in his lyrics and titles (e.g. future singles "The Word Girl," "She's a Woman") A three-year gap and a move from indie stalwarts Rough Trade to Virgin resulted in the exquisite Cupid & Psyche '85, preceded by another classic, the Arif Mardin-produced "Wood Beez (pray like Aretha Franklin)" the year before. It became Scritti's first Top Ten single. Recorded in New York City, with Fred Maher (Material) and David Gamson, the sound became mainstream pop, disco even. Five singles were culled from Cupid including their biggest hit to date, "The Word Girl," a reggae-tinged slice of heaven that shone across the airwaves, reaching number six in May 1985. One that failed in the UK, ironically became their only US hit; "Perfect Way" made number eleven and was in turn covered by legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis who appeared on "Oh Patti," the first track lifted from their third album, Provision (1988), which retained the line-up of Gartside, Maher, and Gamson. In between, Gartside and Gamson wrote and produced for a clutch of artists: Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, and Adele Bertei, among others. Another three years elapsed and in 1991 Scritti (now down to Green) released two ragga-influenced singles. One with Shabba Ranks, a cover of the Beatles "She's a Woman," the other with Sweetie Irie on "Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me." Friend Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 was again compiling a set of songs for BEF (British Electric Foundation) 2 and looked for accomplished artists to pair the songs. He settled on Green for "I Don't Know Why I Love You." Sadly without the Scritti monicker it missed the chart completely. By the time the world heard from Scritti Politti again, it was on the verge of a new millennium. After eight years Green re-emerged with Gamson back on production for his fourth, Anomie & Bonhomie. The album got back to guitar basics, yet still kept up his interest in soul, featuring many stars from hip-hop. Also guesting was the ex-Prince cohort Wendy Melvoin. When asked in an interview what he had been up to, Gartside replied he got, "a profound sense of well being from his own company and only made the album because he was bored with doing nothing!" With an almost phobic reputation for perfection, rivalled by the Blue Nile, who knows how long it will be before Mr. Gartside graces our ears again, if ever. ~ Kelvin Hayes, All Music Guide

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