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Early

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Jan. 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rough Trade Records
  • ASIN: B0006GN4LA
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 125,826 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

The U.S. misunderstood a lot of foreign bands during the '70s and '80s. Ask fans of Gang of "I Love a Man in a Uniform" Four or pre-stadium Simple Minds, and they'll be happy to bitterly confirm it. Ask the average music fan who came of age during Scritti Politti's mainstream peak and he or she is likely to recall a one-hit wonder (wrong), a Color Me Badd precursor that appeared out of thin air (wrong again and yet again). Cupid & Psyche 85's end-to-end brilliance is another argument, but when that album was on the charts, few stateside listeners knew that Scritti Politti had a history. Several years before "Perfect Way," Scritti were post-punks who made frail political songs with guitars as linear as a balled-up entanglement of holiday lights, a rhythm section as slantwise as it was dubwise, and boyish vocals as sweet as they were hesitant. Though the voice of central member Green Gartside would eventually lose the latter characteristic, it seems to have remained a part of his personality. This disc, a compilation of his group's first four singles/EPs, wouldn't exist if he hadn't been badgered so much. Reading his liner notes that double as a disclaimer, it's not hard to understand why, because he's not off base when he says, "It sounds like some anti-produced labour of negativity, kind of structurally unsound and exposed, by design and default." However, it's these factors that help make the songs unpredictable, exciting, and ultimately thrilling -- hear the lazy lurch and hypnotic spirals in "Skank Bloc Bologna," the barely controlled tangents and tempo shifts in "Is and Ought the Western World," and all the retractions and stammering in "Messthetics," all seemingly happenstance works of sloppy borderline genius. "Hegemony," just as crucial, begins as a sprightly love song to a woman with an exotic name ("The fairest creature that ever I have seen") before turning into a seething rant against, well, hegemony ("You are the foulest creature that set apart a race"). It's not all leftist ideals and prone seams, though, with the inclusion of "The Sweetest Girl" and "Lions After Slumber," two glorious nudges toward the bright-eyed soul that was bubbling under the whole time. The sound of the recordings, mastered from vinyl, is vibrant enough to trick listeners into thinking that the masters were never "lost." - AllMusic

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This is a logically-titled compilation of early Scritti Politti tracks.In the sleevenotes Green Gartside says he finds the tracks on here "winceworthy".Maybe if he afforded himself some distance he would see them the way everyone else sees them:unbelievably good.
Indeed,the likes of Is And Ought The Western World and Opec-Immac are as good as any of the other post-punk anti-anthems by the likes of Gang Of Four or Joy Division, and the opening Skank Bloc Bologna is up there with To Hell With Poverty,Transmission,Poptones,Life During Wartime,Nag Nag Nag etc...
This CD also includes the 'breakthrough' song,The "Sweetest" Girl,which features beautiful keyboards from Robert Wyatt.This is truly an essential purchase,although if you get this you may also want to get yourself the two Scritti Politti album masterpieces Songs To Remember and Cupid And Psyche.
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Format: Audio CD
This release is so long overdue. Scritti Politti, to me, encompass everything that was right and good about 'post-punk' in the UK at the time - the DIY ethic, exemplified by the hand-stamped labels on the first Peel session release, and the detailed sleeve notes regarding the 'means of production'. A fine and unique voice has Mr Gartside, and also a genius for improvised tunes, and innovative production tricks on a shoestring. I love this band like no other, and I glory in their intelligence and musical ability.
This scratchy, intense yet spare music, nodding at dub reggae, nodding at punk at such a tangent...is so fragile, yet it holds together. Lyrically dense, and of course dealing with Marxist themes, related to late '70s Britain - just listen to 'Hegemony'- music, voice, words melded in a unique and intoxicating melange of sonic brilliance. This 'early' Scritti are nothing like the intelligent and uber-slick pure-and-perfect-pop of later Scritti, and all the better for that.
I own all the songs included here on the original vinyl, they are rare apparently, so it's a shame it seems to me that Rough Trade couldn't source and include the second Peel session which featured 'The Humours of Spitalfields', 'Knowledge and Interest', a different version of 'Doubt Beat' (as featured on the 4 'A' sides ep) and '5.12.78' a new version of the instrumental featured on the Skank Bloc Bologna ep. It would have completed the collection. I wonder if this second session was ever released?
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By Martin Smith VINE VOICE on 15 Feb. 2005
Format: Audio CD
Being one of the (very few) proud owners of the original "Peel Sessions" 7-inch, I already knew what to expect with this release. Miniature, gnomic "compositions" which have more in common with improvisational jazz than with the punk/new wave it's often lumped with. Scratchy, skeletal and skillful, resonant with disembodied voices and oddly double-tracked vocals. Highlights for me are "Is and Ought of the Western World" which alternates between skiffle-punk and way-out dub, and "PAs" in which Green warns of impending Nazism and sounds like improvised heaven. The collection also includes "The Sweetest Girls" and it's B-side, "Lions After Slumber", both beautiful songs, but somehow out of place in amongst the scary ramblings of the rest of the material. Perhaps we can better understand the origins of this famous song, but it does serve to illustrate the fact that as Scritti embraced technology and supposed sophistication, they left something behind.
Also, it must be said, my version of "Messthetics" on vinyl ends quite differently to this version - have these dubby reverberations been lost? Still, it's OK, because I know how it sounds-s-s-s-s-s!
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Format: Audio CD
As an owner of the original vinyl of these songs I was suprised that they had made it out into the light after all these years. I bought this album to save me the grief of getting my dusty record player out of the cupboard and i'm glad I did! To anyone who has not heard these tracks before I would say this........these are some of Green's first recordings and as such yes they are slightly experimental/amateurish and rough round the edges. The later tracks are much more musically accomplished (sweetest girl, faithless) BUT, listen carefully and you will find interesting lyrics, catchy tunes and raw passion that is rare these days. The sound is unique, although influences can be identified, yet even 25 years after their initial release they don't sound dated! Green's sleevenotes describe the songs as slightly "winceworthy" but let's face it, no true artist loves their own work!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I feel that this is probably a redundant review - presumably anyone looking to buy this would already be familiar (and therefore in love, because that's how it works with Scritti) with their other releases.

My copy was delivered a few days ago now and I've done nothing but listen to is since, it's a collection of not-particularly polished songs, and they're all the better for it - their rough-edges go in tandem with the songs, I don't think these rough, post-punk and often hyper-political songs would lend themselves well to a remastering...

I'm in love with Scritti Politti and I'm in love with these songs; if you feel the same about Scritti, you'll adore them as I do. If you're a casual fan or an erstwhile admirer, they really are worth a listen, and the frankly paltry fiver they're priced at means you won't regret it even if you somehow take a disliking to them (???).

I'll stop boring you know, though one last tip as a parting gift - the 'add to basket' button is on the top right. You're welcome.
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