Thursday, April 28, 2005

music: Scritti Politti, B-sides and other hidden gems

I post a lot about overlooked music from the 70's, but everybody knows music peaked in the 80's.

I found and joined the Scritti Politti group on Yahoo to try to track down a quote about Green and David Gamson having the microscopes turned to 100x for "Cupid & Psyche 85" and "Provision", but only to 10x for "Anomie and Bonhomie". Unfortunately no one came through, but it's interesting to follow the upswing in interest on the 20th (gulp!) anniversary of "Cupid & Psyche 85".

Another topic that came up was "World Come Back to Life", my favorite B side of all time. There's no experience finer than discovering a hidden gem. I always wonder what other songs got away, transcendant songs I'll never hear because I didn't buy the 12-inch import single or the rarities compilation or whatever. It's easy to get obsessive and track down obscure tracks just in case one turns out to be the one; in the case of Scritti Politti I bought Al Jarreau's distinctly average "L is for Lover" album just for the Green/Gamson track, and it's not that good despite Nile Rodgers production.

In no particular order, here's a list of killer B sides and rarities. These are why God and Roy Gandy created the Rega Planar 3 turntable, so you can flip the vinyl over and unearth buried treasure.
World Come Back to Life, Scritti Politti
B side of "Boom! There She Was". The nastiest kiss-off lyrics Green ever wrote, probably why it wasn't on "Provision".

(Don't) Turn Me Away, Rexy
I heard it twice on Radio One, I had to special order it. The saddest strangest song, ending with the chant "It's a fact. that I live. with" Their album has another great song, "So you wanna be alien too".

Love's Taboo, Cube
An Italian 12-inch. Amazingly atmospheric

The Yearning Loins, Prefab Sprout
I got this as an extra track on the USA CD of Two Wheels Good (aka Steve McQueen). Buy that record! for Paddy McAloon's songs and the masterful Thomas Dolby production, then keep listening for this insanely syncopated and energetic track. And it's from 1984, the high point of Western civilization.

Don't Throw My Love Around, Cooly's Hot Box
This is on a fine compilation of acid jazz tracks, "Giant Steps, Vol. 1". The funkiest percussion (timbales?) I've ever heard. I've bought several really average acid jazz compilations since, hoping for the same magic.

Radio Arabesque, Arabesque
Goofy, vaguely atmospheric song, I heard it once on the radio and it stuck in my mind. I think it's by Arabesque, but there's no clip available.

The sad thing is that no extant rating system can find these songs. By definition they're unpopular because of their rarity, meanwhile Amazon has degenerated into 90% 5-star ratings from rabid fans, 5% 4-star ratings from honest fans, and 5% 1-star ratings from people who never liked the artist or have a grudge.

The sweetest sounds you've never heard... sounds like a Green lyric.

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  • Well, maybe World Come Back to Life is the best Scritti track in all time. It's really odd that it wasn't released on the Provision album. I have also another great David Gamson produced album that you maybe havn't heard yet, Tony Lemans from 1989. Great tracks and a stunning production. You can mail me if you want to know more about that album.
    Dan it2ceda[at]ituniv.se

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 05, 2006 4:11 AM  

  • David Gamson worked on a lot of other stuff, but as I said, obsessive completionism isn't a guarantee of quality. So thanks for the recommendation, I ordered a copy from an Amazon seller!

    A Moto Guzzi, an' a Gaultier pants
    I got a reason girl, was Immanuel Kant's (and I like it)

    By Blogger skierpage, at May 06, 2006 4:38 PM  

  • I recently read that indie-pop band Le Concorde has new material in the works that was co-written and co-performed with David Gamson. Apparently Ken Stringfellow from the Posies sing on one of the tracks as well.

    Pretty exciting, folks. Their last release on March Records was effin spectacular. Fans of Prefab Sprout will surely adore. There are some MP3s from that release on their website and on their MySpace page.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 13, 2006 2:21 PM  

  • Thanks. I heard about Le Concorde on the Yahoo Scritti Politti mailing list, but influences don't make you equal. (I've been influenced by James Gosling, Jesus H Christ, Steve Howe, and Norman Rodgers, but it hasn't made me worthy :) .) Here's how I replied on the mailing list:

    They will not only record with David Gamson, but then mix by John Potoker ("Best Thing Ever").

    I feel like I'm being marketed to by Rupert Murdoch, but if name checks made songs this is the greatest band ever :-) From Le Concorde's MySpace page:


    Prefab Sprout, OMD, Stephen Duffy, Talk Talk, Psychedelic Furs, 10cc, Scritti Politti, Go Betweens, Simon and Garfunkle, Nick Drake, Todd Rundgren, Emitt Rhodes, Stevie Wonder, Arcadia, Blue Nile

    Sounds Like:

    The Stars, The Delays, Sondre Lerche, Kings of Convenience, The Boy Least Likely To, Postal Service, Ken Stringfellow, Belle and Sebastian, Keane, Imogen Heap, Tegan and Sara, Badly Drawn Boy, Kevin Tihista, Stereolab, Dream Academy, Stephen Duffy, OMD, Tears for Fears, Prefab Sprout, Go Betweens, Smiths, New Order, Electronic, Pet Shop Boys, Scritti Politti, The Byrds, Cocteau Twins, Leonard Cohen, Julian Cope, The Left Banke, Love, Haircut 100, Robyn Hitchcock, Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, Teenage Fanclub, Brian Wilson, Robert Wyatt, XTC, The Zombies, and any band whose goal is to make it rain flowers, fight emocore crimes, vibrate in alignment with their desire at a cellular level.

    By Blogger skierpage, at November 14, 2006 4:51 PM  

  • I just found this site that is currently giving updates on Scritti Politti, and plus they are letting everyone get a chance to hear the full versions of the B-sides of the Scritti politti music, including "World Come back to Life" Go to this site: bibbly-o-tek.com and chack it out! :)

    By Anonymous Mike Stone, at May 10, 2007 6:52 PM  

  • @ skierpage

    Please put me out of my misery, can you point me in the right direction to purchase a copy of "You Can't Turn Me Away, Rexy"?

    I've seen it listed other places as "Rexy : (Don't) Turn Me Away", but I can't find anywhere! You can get me at Optical10@Hotmail.com

    Cheers Optical10

    By Blogger optical10, at October 20, 2007 6:18 AM  

  • optical10, thanks for the correction, it's "(Don't) Turn Me Away" on the single or just "Don't Turn Me Away" on the album. I fixed my post.

    The album and single are available, you just have to pony up $$$ for them.

    As I've remarked to others who've asked, my stereo is 40 feet from my computer, so it's not practical for me to rip songs from my turntable.

    By Blogger skierpage, at December 23, 2008 9:16 PM  

  • optical10, Google revealed Wiel's Time Capsule's post on the single, with a link to a download. Even his high-quality download doesn't sound as good as vinyl.

    By Blogger skierpage, at December 25, 2008 1:40 AM  

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