100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #27 Scritti Politti – Absolute

Released : 1984

There’s a certain conceit to putting the year of release into an album’s title, but if Green Gartside cared, Cupid & Psyche ’85 seemed happy enough to mark the beginning of a new era in British pop, one in which afterwards it would look across the Atlantic for inspiration after a long period of cultural self-sufficiency in punk’s wake.

Gartside had begun Scritti Politti in that fevered explosion of ideas in 1977, but by the middle of the following decade the once band had become more or less a solo project. After falling ill and a period of recuperation spent at home in Wales, the deep-thinking singer then returned professing a new found passion for funk and breakbeats.

What emerged was an apex predator of Paul Morley’s new-pop, a studio-as-artist box of tricks which valued structural purity and software as much as the sometimes peripheral contributions of musicians. If it felt anathema to many, when it worked, the results were stunning. Absolute and Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) for example were so jammed full of leading-edge boffinery it would’ve been easy to make that the point, but Gartside’s voice was pure honey on both – and whilst any resemblance to the soul music the latter referenced was coincidental, they still proved that great songs live in no single time.