I met Green Gartside once…at Green Man Festival in Wales…he posed for some pictures I took…I was gobsmacked and could not think of two words to say to him. For me it was a totally overwhelming experience just being face to face with him. I had just listened to him talk about his experiences with Scritti Politti and songwriting and lack of self confidence in his own later work and why he virtually stopped recording his songs after 2006.
So here in a field on the side of a mountain were two people confronted with lack of self believe and a camera in between us. In moments like that though, I go back to music in my head and maybe several albums from that era come to mind, Prefab Spout, The Waterboys might be contenders but for this National Album Day 2019 I have chosen Songs To Remember by Scritti Politti.
The album was a big change in direction for Gartside and the “group” who even at this stage were ever-changing. Gone was the “punk-esque skankings” of early recordings and in its place the most sublime set of songs with beautiful melodies and well thought out lyrics. When I first heard the double A side single of Asylums in Jerusalem & Jacques Derrida I thought it was Paul Simon gone in a new direction, the structure of the songs alone worthy of the comparison.
Songs To Remember is full of musical influences from around the planet from the New York Disco stomp of Sex to the ballad dream reggae pop of Sweetest Girl. I love all the tracks on the album but if I have to go for my favourite it would be Rock-A-Boy Blue and Green Gartside’s early take on himself and the music industry.
I learnt to live with the beats in the bar
Made me sick with repetition
I learnt to love that one note samba
No surprise or definition
I guess I can learn to love what I used to
If you can get used to just getting used by…
Green if I met you now I still would not know what to say to you.. but you have been a big influence on my life. But that is too cheesecake..isn’t it?
Songs To Remember by Scritti Politti, 1982, chosen by Simon Jay Price