Scritti Politti

Songs to Remember

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One needn't look much further than the song titles on the back of Songs to Remember to be struck with the thought that Scritti Politti had changed their scheme. Gone were the days of "Bibbly-O-Tek" and "Skank Bloc Bologna," replaced by brow-raising titles like "Gettin' Havin' and Holdin'" and, er, "Sex." Then there's the photo of Green Gartside -- he looks chipper! And at what point did his shoulders get so big? Oh, those must be shoulder pads. During a lengthy recovery process necessitated by a physical meltdown, Gartside found himself rejuvenated with a new agenda to become less like the Pop Group in favor of being more like a pop group; young communism would now be replaced by young romanticism. Influenced heavily by R&B and lovers rock reggae, Gartside opted to aim his group at the pop charts. After cajoling his returning mates to go with the flow, Gartside took advantage of producer Adam Kidron's rare availability and went about recording Scritti Politti's first LP with most of the material far from realization. With the addition of a saxophonist and a trio of backing singers, Scritti resurfaced with a rather scatterbrained record. Sometimes it sounds like T. Rex in miniature form ("Jacques Derrida"); sometimes it sounds like wannabe Dirty Mind-era Prince ("Sex"); sometimes it sounds like wannabe Young Americans-era David Bowie ("A Slow Soul"). Despite the well-intended but overt appropriations, there are moments of full-on glory that aren't sunk in their influences. The infectiously naïve "Asylums in Jerusalem" matches sunny reggae with '70s Stevie Wonder; the blue-eyed soul of "Faithless" is simply good, not simply red; and then there's the closing dessert of "The Sweetest Girl," a peerless block of lovers rock-inspired synth pop. In sum, there's as much to love as there is to skip.

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