Scritti Politti - Early

For the Scritti Politti completists amongst you (and I'm assured you're out there) this is an essential purchase. These are the very first recordings Scritti Politti ever made. It's not the best quality as the earliest masters have not been recovered, but there's intriguing material from the original vinyl which has been transferred to CD with care and precision.

"Skank Bloc" is a mix of jazz, funk and 80s indie music. Green Gartside sounds nothing like the blue eyed, white soul boy we've been used to experiencing when he troubled the charts and stole the hearts of young impressionable girls at the bands peak. His voice is uncannily like late 60s David Bowie at his mockney finest. It's gloomy, introspective and intriguing, but almost unrecognizable from the polished productions which made the later bittersweet songs so memorable.

"Messthetics" is exactly that, a mess. There's probably a reason why this hasn't seen the light of day for quite a while as it's conceptual art school leanings don't do it any favours whatsoever. Experimental, yes, listenable, no. It's shambolic, half baked and mercifully short at just under two minutes. This would try the patience of the most fanatical enthusiast of Scritti Politti as this odd curiosity is most baffling.

Remember the jangle guitar sound of the Railway Children? Scritti Politti obviously do as "Bibbly--tek" is a homage to that style of playing except the improvisational, free style interpretation becomes ever so tiresome resulting in a track which sounds like two songs playing continuously. My finger has never used the skip button so much in one sitting.

"Lines After Slumber" showcases the talents of Nial Jinks on bass and Tom Morley on drums and drum machines. Green's vocal quavers in a most theatrical fashion as he lists his likes and dislikes quite decadently. It's a song with noticeable similarities to early Talking Heads as the quirkiness and literal references are hard to ignore.

"Early" is such a strange and startling assortment of songs from Scritti Politti, which will make fans of the band happy while the rest of us will be content to rediscover the more well known albums and leave it at that.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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