Scritti Politti - part 1 - Everything’s gone Green

Green Gartside was studying fine art at Leeds Polytechnic and after seeing the Sex Pistols perform at school he decided to form  a band with Niall Jinks and fellow student Tom Morley. Scritti Politti originally consisted of Gartside as the lead vocalist, Jinks as bass player, Morley as drummer and Matthew Kay as their manager who sometimes played the keyboard. Green already knew Jinks from his childhood at grammar school when he lived in South Wales. For their first public performance in 1976, supporting local Leeds punk group SOS, the group went under the name 'The Against'. After they finished school they moved to London's Camden Town to live in a squat.

Matthew, Tom, Green, Niall

 The name Scritti Politti was chosen as a homage to the Italian Marxist writer and political theorist Antonio Gramsci. Officially it would be Scritti Politici in Italian and means politicial writings. They changed the name a bit in order to give it more rock'n'roll like name like Tutti Frutti. They became a post punk band.

"Skank Bloc Bologna" hand-made single cover (1978)

Scritti Politti released a DIY record titled "Skank Bloc Bologna" (a sort of ode to the traditionally leftist Italian city of Bologna on their own St. Pancras label in 1978. The song picked up interest through the John Peel BBC Radio show and they were signed to Rough Trade Records. That made them labelmates with the other Cardiff avant-garde band, Young Marble Giants. They released 2 EP's. One of those songs was "Hegemony" which was inspired by english folk song "Lemady" and also "Confidence" which hinted at the direction to follow.

Hand made single cover of "Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session"
Hande made single cover "4 A Sides" (1979)

They produced the EP covers themselves handmade with detailed breakdowns of production costs, including addresses and phone numbers of record pressing plants, and their own Camden squat address for feedback. They even produced a booklet titled "How To Make A Record" which was a comprehensive guide to recording and releasing a record for other indie artists, based on Scritti Politti's personal experience of putting out their first three singles independently, plus extra research they'd done on the subject. It was released with catalogue number SCRIT 3.

In 1979 they planned to release their debut album but recordings were delayed when Green collapsed after a gig supporting Gang of Four in Brighton in early 1980. Originally they thought is was a heart attack but later is was diagnosed as a panic attack caused by his chronic stage fright and his unhealthy lifestyle. Green had time to think about the new direction to follow and abandoned the strict Marxist philosophy and moved to a style influenced by funk and soul.

In 1981 he recorded a demo for "The Sweetest Girl" with Robert Wyatt on keyboards. The song was released as a single at made it to #64 in the UK. In 1985 Madness covered the song on their album “Mad Not Mad” and released as a single it went to #35 in the UK. After that Green was contacted by many record companies who would love to contract him but he stayed with Rough Trade Records. They released another single titled "Faithless" which reached #56 and a double A-Side single "Asylums in Jerusalem" / "Jacques Derrida" which climbed even higher at 43. The song "Jacques Derrida" was influenced by Gartside's reading of deconstruction and the work of semiotic analysis from the French philosopher Derrida.

Single cover "Asylums In Jerusalem / Jacques Derrida"

Finally in August 1982 their debut album titled "Songs To Remember" was released and the album made it to #12 in the UK. This was a breakthrough in the history of Rough Trade Records. It was the biggest selling release to date. During this time Green also recorded a duet with Annie Lennox titled "Wrap It Up" which was released on the Eurythmics album "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This). By 1983 Niall, Matthew and Tom left the band not being sure of the new commercial direction the sound went. From then on it became clear the Scritti Politti is Green in general.

In 2005 all the first singles and EP's were released on the compilation "Early" including Skank Bloc Bologna (single from 1978), Work in Progress [Peel Session] (EP from 1979), 4 A Sides (EP from 1979) and "The Sweetest Girl" (single from 1981).

Original album cover

Early (2005)
Skank Bloc Bologna / Is and Ought the Western World / 28/8/78 / Scritlocks Door / OPEC–Immac / Messthetics / Hegemony / Bibbly-O-Tek / Doubt Beat / Confidence / P.A.s / The Sweetest Girl / Lions After Slumber

Details Early:
Tracks 1–3 from "Skank Bloc Bologna" single (1978)
Tracks 4–7 from “Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session” EP (1979)
Tracks 8–11 from “4 A Sides” EP (1979)
Tracks 12–13 from “The Sweetest Girl" single (1981) 

Orginal album cover

Songs To Remember (1982)
Asylums in Jerusalem / A Slow Soul / Jacques Derrida / Lions After Slumber / Faithless / Sex / Rock-A-Boy Blue / Gettin' Havin' & Holdin' / The Sweetest Girl


P.a.'s

Confidence
/
The Sweetest Girl

12 inch version of Jacques Derrida

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