Lost but not least! Scritti Politti – Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy) (Virgin)
Initially a post-Punk formation, 1977 Leeds formed band Scritti Politti turned into one of the most exciting New Wave acts in the 80’s. Thus blending influences of Jazz, Funk and Soul in their synth-led repertoire around lead singer Green Gartside‘s vibrant interpretations. As many things one could find in smoothies such as ‘Absolute’, ‘Perfect Way’ and ‘Word Girl’. If not ‘Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry’ For Loverboy)’
Taken from their 1988 ‘Provision’ album which they recorded with a bunch of American guests, the smooth and vibrant ‘Oh Patti’ didn’t match the commercial success of its predecessors. This despite the presence of Ray Bardani in charge of the engineering whom you might remember of for his collaborations with Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller. Not to mention the one of Miles Davis on trumpet. With the same applying to the boiling ‘Boom There She Was’ (featuring Roger Troutman) on the same album. Quite far from the recognition they would have 3 years before with their ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ album. An effort which got them 3 times with a UK Top 20 hit along with ‘Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)’, ‘Absolute’ and ‘The Word Girl’. And a US Top 20 hit with ‘Perfect Way’…
– Scritti Politti saw the light in Leeds back in 1977. This soon after the launch of The Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy’ tour at the Polytechnic. With Welsh singer/songwriter Green Gartside convincing childhood friend Nial Jinks and fellow student Tom Morley to form a band.
They eventually first performed live under The Against guise. Then turned their name into Scritti Politti as a tribute to Italian Marxist writer and political theorist Antonio Gramsci. Even though the proper way to translate “Political Writings” in Italian should have been “Scritti Politici” as a matter of fact.
Relocating to Camden Town in London back in 1978, they released their debut-single – ‘Skank Bloc Bologna’ – on their own St Pancras Records label. ‘Skank Bloc Bologna’ eventually got some airplay on John Peel‘s BBC Radio 1 show. Then the band soon after signed with Rough Trade. Eventually releasing their debut-album – ‘Songs To Remember’ in 1982 before switching to Virgin.
Back then, the sound of Scritti Politti had already much evolved. With Gartside obviously more turned towards music he’d heard from Chic, The Jacksons and the likes than British Indie stuff. This givin’ birth to a synth funk led approach one could find in the repertoire of The System Stateside. If not in the one of Endgames (remember ‘Ecstasy’?) in the UK.
By 1983, the original line-up of Scritti Politti had been disbanded and Gartside had found a new home in New York City. Teamin’ up with veteran producer Arif Mardin (Chaka Khan). But also joinin’ forces with keyboardist David Gamson and ex-Material drummer Fred Maher. With this resulting in the recording of the memorable ‘Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)’. Extra gems sonn after completing the series (and by that Scritti Politti‘s ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ debut-album for Virgin). Beginning with ‘Absolute’, ‘Hypnotize’, then the Reggae-styled ‘The Word Girl’.
1986 saw Gartside and Gamson writing and producing ‘Love Of A Lifetime’ as a part of Chaka Khan‘s ‘Destiny’ album. And they also happened to write the title track of Al Jarreau‘s ‘L Is For Lover’ album. And a year after Scritti Politti appeared with ‘Best Thing Ever’ on the ‘Who’s That Girl’ OST.
‘Best Thing Ever’ also appeared on Scritti Politti‘s follow-up album, ‘Provision’, back in 1988. An album that saw the band collaborating with luminaries such as Miles Davis, Marcus Miller and Roger Troutman. Meanwhile spanning gems such as ‘Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)’ and ‘Boom She Was’. Even though they didn’t manage to generate the same following for some reason.
The Hip-Hop inspired ‘Anomie And Bonhomie’ eventually saw the light after a year hiatus. But didn’t manage neither to get Scritti Politti back under the spotlights. This despite the presences of Wendy Melvoin (of the Wendy & Lisa fame), Mos Def and Me’Shell NdegéOcello.
Last but not least, Rough Trade released another album by the likes of ‘White Bread Black Beer’ back in 2006. This with material obviously recorded by some new incarnation of the band along with Green Gartside…
– Considering music not only as a myriad of different styles, but first and foremost as a whole will get us to evoke the existence of artists whose legacies just stand above the barriers. As many geniuses such as, in no order of preference, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and / or Santana. But also U2, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan. If not Serge Gainsbourg with Miles Davis makin’ no exception. But rather than comin’ up with an extensive bio which could be off the subject to a certain extend, we’ll focus on things in relation with our coverage spectrum.
A native of Alton, IL, Miles Davis is so to say to Jazz what Fela Kuti happened to be to Afrobeat. And / or Bob Marley to Reggae. In other words, an innovator, a pioneer. If not a prophet and most definitely an icon who spent his life redefining his art along with time.
As a result, Davis most likely belongs to the category of those we happen to love or hate. With some of us lovin’ him for what the others will hate and vice-versa. With the first objective reason being that he had a natural penchant for takin’ us – beginning with himself – from our comfort zone as a matter of fact. Something so many of us reacted in a negative way. Although it happened to give birth to some of the most unexpected things one could expect at the end. With this being nothing but the proper of free spirits per definition.
Yes, Miles Davis pretty much embodies this idea that first comes to mind when thinkin’ of Jazz… Freedom! This being pretty much how he managed to deliver so many different masterpieces. With the most surprising being the fact they didn’t have that much to do with each other. Although they pretty much had their effect at the end. Beginning with ‘So What’ and its mythic live recording at The Robert Herridge Theater back in 1959. With the latter standing as the definitive highlight of his ‘Kind Of Blue’ album. An effort which remains to date the highest selling jazz album of all time with six million copies sold. This following his recording back in November 1957 of the soundtrack to ‘Ascenseur pour l’échafaud’ directed by Louis Malle.
Exploring all the facets of Jazz brought Davis to embrace groovier territories in the 80’s. From his cover version of D-Train‘s ‘Something’s On Your Mind’ with production work courtesy of Robert Irving III back in 1985. To the recording of the magnetic ‘Tutu’ along with Marcus Miller in charge of the production. Not to mention collaborations with various artists. From Artists United Against Apartheid‘s ‘Sun City’ in 1985 to Sly & Robbie, Cameo and Quincy Jones. Not to mention Scritti Politti‘s vibrant ‘Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy)’.
In early September 1991, Davis checked into St. John’s Hospital near his home in Santa Monica, CA, for routine tests. Doctors suggested he have a tracheal tube implanted to relieve his breathing after repeated bouts of bronchial pneumonia. Their suggestion provoked an outburst from Davis that led to an intracerebral hemorrhage followed by a coma. After several days on life support, his machine was turned off and he sadly died, aged 65, on Sept. 28, 1991.