Monday, 21 May 2018
Something In Italy
Brian posted Scritti Politti's single Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) a few days ago so I thought it might be worth showing the distance Green Gartside travelled between their first single in 1978 and Wood Beez in 1984. Scritti formed as a collective , operating out of a South London squat, fired up by punk and Italian Marxist theory. They intended to demystify the recording and releasing of records, priting the costs of their single on the sleeve and providing phone numbers of studios and pressing plants. Skank Bloc Bologna came out on Scritti's own St. Pancras label, a pioneering piece of DIY.
The song is firmly post-punk, with scratchy guitar, a melodic dub bassline carrying the tune and percussion dominated by cymbals. It all sounds very spontaneous and freeform. Green's lyrics are full of real life, prosaic imagery with references to Tesco, the Bull And Bush, Harringay, Number 26 (cigarettes) and marmalade, and what I've always taken to be a pop at The Clash ('rockers in the town the magnificent six'). John Peel picked it up and then Rough Trade signed them. Six years later they made Wood Beez (for a major label admittedly). I'm not sure anyone else from that era travelled as far musically as Scritti Politti. Except maybe The Clash (and probably not even them).
Skank Bloc Bologna