- Audio CD (28 Feb. 2011)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: EMI
- ASIN: B003A7I4YO
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,739 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Absolute is the first ever, career-spanning collection of works and music by Scritti Politti – including two new and exclusive tracks. This collection includes tracks from all four albums, Songs to Remember, Cupid & Psyche, Provision, and Anomie and Bonhomie.
The two new, exclusive tracks are “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” and “A Place We Both Belong” – the first to be released/co-written with long-time collaborator, David Gamson, since Anomie and Bonhomie.
As Green Gartside enjoys another lengthy hiatus between albums, this first career-spanning retrospective in Scritti Politti’s 34-year stint plugs a gap, picking tracks from those sparse decades and throwing in a couple of new ones to sweeten the deal. And Scritti were always about sugaring the pill; candy-cute vocals and light-as-air pop-funk arrangements did a great job of smuggling big ideas and smart wordplay into the charts, at least in the mid-80s. But Gartside could never stick around long enough to keep any momentum going.
Unlike Scritti’s own career, Absolute starts with the hits. Five in a row from second album Cupid & Psyche 85, beginning with the fizzing, punning Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin), through the sly lovers rock of The Word Girl and onto US top 10 smash Perfect Way. These are startling examples of immaculate, state-of-the-art 80s pop, produced by soul backroom legend Arif Mardin and honed to perfection by Gartside and then-colleagues David Gamson and Fred Maher, and they opened doors that the Camden squat collective of eight years earlier couldn’t have hoped to barge.
With Mardin’s approval and Gartside’s timing, Scritti found acceptance with the sort of R&B legends they were hoping to ape, leading to writing songs for Chaka Khan and the extraordinary domino effect of having Miles Davis first cover one of their numbers and then guest on one. That song is Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy), a marriage of soft jazz and blue-eyed soul that followed Cupid & Psyche then and here, the first song off 1988’s troubled Provision. Gartside had made outlandish leaps, but recognition was too much for him and he shrank from it, holing himself up in his native Wales for the next decade or so.
Absolute’s odd sequencing jumps straight to his re-emergence in 1999 with the hip hop/delicate pop-soul hybrid of Anomie & Bonhomie, here represented by four tracks that have aged far better than low-key approval at the time might have suggested. It’s strange too that it should have greater presence than 1982’s Songs to Remember, which makes do with three tracks, including the deathless, Robert Wyatt-assisted dub-pop of The ‘Sweetest Girl’ and signature Scritti tune Jacques Derrida, finding romance in philosophical tract.
Absolute has extras to offer the completists, including meaty sleeve-notes from pop scholar Simon Reynolds, who’d already lovingly chronicled Scritti’s formative years in his Rip It Up And Start Again. Two new tracks are worked up with classic-period partner David Gamson: A Place We Both Belong and Day Late and a Dollar Short are a lush ballad and spry funk bounce respectively, and ample proof there’s life in the impossibly youthful old dog yet. As he averages seven years between albums, you should grab any Gartside you can get.
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Top Customer Reviews
What's good is getting the 7" versions of the 'Cupid & Psyche '85' hits and it makes sense to start the album with these. What is not so good is the way it unfolds from then on. Not including 'First Boy...' from 'Provision' is ridiculous. Not including the stand alone 1991 single 'Take Me In Your Arms' is a mistake. Bothering with the diabolical 'Skank Bloc Bologna' does nothing more than show how important it is for artists to be given the chance to develop. The inclusion of 'Umm' & 'Die Alone' from the 'A & B' album and 'Jacques Derrida' from 'Songs To Remember' is a waste of CD space that could have been better utilized by some 'White Bread, Black Beer.' As for the two 'new' (2007) tracks, 'A Day Late And A Dollar Short' is a worthy addition while 'A Place We Both Belong' is pleasant but unremarkable.
Obviously this is a Virgin Records-only release and no deal was struck with Rough Trade to include songs from White Bread, Black Beer (my assumption) even though Songs To Remember was originally a Rough Trade release (now through Virgin) and such a deal could have resulted in added sales for Rough Trade.
Why not a thicker booklet with a photo montage really taking us down memory lane?
Why no liner notes from Green?
Why not an accompanying DVD of the videos?
The answer/s? Virgin Records "don't work that hard, not for love..." and so we Scritti fans are left "drowning in (our) teardrops."
To it's credit it includes the 7" versions of the Cupid and Psyche 85 singles and two 'new' tracks but overall it's a wasted opportunity.
Surely the main group that would buy a Scritti Politti compilation would be fans so to limit it to one CD to lower it's cost is a redundant argument since the fan would fork out much more to get what they really want which is all singles including even the 'early' ones. A large chunk of 'early' stuff, the beautiful 'Faithless', the poptastic 'First Boy In This Town (Lovesick), 'Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me' and 'The Boom Boom Bap' or anything else from the Mercury Music Prize nominated 'White Bread, Black Beer' for that matter are omitted. Perhaps Rough Trade or Virgin didn't want to put any from the last album on it for financial reasons. Lastly, perhaps it would have been best to leave 'Skank Bloc Bologna' off completely because it sticks out like a sore limb let alone a thumb!
The genius that is Green Gartside deserves a 2CD compilation.
Not very well put together.
Starting with the singles from Cupid & Psyche 85, the nice thing is that they are presented as the single versions which is great as I know all Scritti fans know the album versions backwards!
Provision's singles are up next although First Boy In This Town is not here for some reason which is a bit of a shame as it's one of my personal favourites.
Then we are served up several tracks from 1999's Anomie and Bonhomie, two of which were never singles (Die Alone and Brushed With Oil) but still sound great.
Next up are the early singles from Songs to Remember followed by the duet with Shabba Ranks (She's A Woman) and finally the two new tracks. Day Late & A Dollar Short is very current but also at the same time very reminiscent of a Cupid & Psyche era Scritti track. A Place We Both Belong is more mellow but still a welcome addition.
Overall the album demonstrates the versatility of Green Gartside and remind us of what an under appreciated genius he is/was.
My one criticism is a few gems were omitted: First Boy In This Town, Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me and I Don't Know Why I Love You.
Buy the album and search for the other tracks!
I am also disappointed they did not include "Boom Boom Bap" from his 2006 comeback, as that is a real corker, or the classic "Faithless", but resorted to too many tracks from "BonHomie" for my taste.
Finally "Perfect Way" seems very loud compared to its surroundings, as if the compiler hadn't listened to the full album.
That all seems very negative, but I guess you can reprogram the tracks chronologically if you want (with or without "Skank"), and none of this really detracts from the brilliance of the man when on form! Hence 4 stars.
I really hope Green does some more albums, whether more poppy (like the two newer 'demo' tracks with David from 2007) or acoustic like his last album, as he still knows how to write and sing a good toon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent hits of late 80,s and early 90,s some of their not so well known stuff on this,not bad.Published 2 months ago by David Sullivan
The big tunes are great, but the lesser known not so.
I've enjoyed Green Gartside's collaborations with BEF over the years.
If you are an Scritti Politti fan you will find all the hit tracks on this CD. Good valuePublished 4 months ago by David Edwards
Great to hear all their best stuff. Used to have one cassette, which I lost.Published 10 months ago by Mr. David P. Gudgeon
When the definitive history of 80s pop is written, surely there will be place for Scritti Polliti in the pantheon of the greatsPublished 13 months ago by BobMay