Early portrait of the band before significant line-up changes.

Scritti Politti were a post-punk band formed in 1977 in Leeds, UK consisiting of Welsh songwriter Green Gartside (born Paul Julian Strohmeyer) (lead vocals), Nial Jinks (bass), Tom Morley (drums) and Matthew Kay (keyboards).

Their early material evinced a spiky yet melodic tendency: this latter facet developed further in the mid 80s, leading to chart success in both the UK and USA with tracks such as 'Oh Patti (Don't Feel Sorry For Loverboy)' and 'Absolute.' The name Scritti Politti was chosen as a homage to the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci, with Gartside changing the original 'Scritti Politici' (political writings) to 'Scritti Politti' as he thought it sounded more rock and roll, like 'Tutti Frutti.

Links To Peel

“I would tape record his (Peel's) show on a Saturday, and for want of anything else to do, I would listen to that tape every day until the following weekend. And what I discovered was that the music you found most challenging on the Sunday, by the next weekend had become your favorite.”
(Green Gartside on listening to Peel’s show while growing up in Wales. Simon Reynolds interview, Uncut magazine, 2005.[1]

Peel gave significant airplay to the Scritti Politti self release on the St. Pancras label, 'Skank Bloc Bologna' (made with £500 borrowed from the drummer's brother): in this form, it sold 2,500 copies. The band were then signed by Geoff Travis to Rough Trade in 1979 and their debut amassed another 15,000 sales. They had a do-it-yourself attitude to their recordings: their hand-made record sleeves contained detailed breakdowns of production costs, including addresses and phone numbers of record pressing plants, and even their own Camden squat address for feedback.

They were added to the Gang Of Four and Joy Division UK tour, but Gartside suffered a heart attack exacerbated by stage fright and anxiety, and rested the band for a year after finishing the dates.

Their DIY approach was something which seems to have to have appealed to John: he read out a letter he received from them on his 19 May 1980 show. However, their new, more commercial sound did not (they seem to have been marketed as a kind of thinking man's Duran Duran), and he appears to be rather dismissive of repeat Festive Fifty votes for their first UK hit, 'Sweetest Girl,' despite the track featuring Robert Wyatt on piano. Nonetheless, the band found fame and massive success with the Cupid & Psyche 85 LP and several more big hit singles until Gartside retired again late in the 80s. Scritti Politti's last LP to date ( a solo effort by Green) was White Bread Black Beer in 2006. In 2009 Gartside took part in a tribute concert to former Peel favourites The Incredible String Band and in 2012 appeared at a similar event devoted to the songs of another Top Gear regular, Sandy Denny.

Festive Fifty Entries


Scritti Politti - Peel Session 1978

Scritti Politti - Peel Session 1978

1. Recorded 1978-12-05. First TX 13 December 1978, repeated 11 January 1979, 20 March 1979. No known commercial release.

  • The Humours Of Spitalfields / Knowledge And Interest / Doubt Beat / 5/12/78 [2]

2. Recorded 1979-06-20. First broadcast 04 July 1979, repeated 24 July 1979. Available on Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session (Rough Trade / St. Pancras) and Early (Rough Trade). Green appeared to have later disowned this, although Peel feared he had been misquoted [3].

  • Messthetics / Hegemony / Scritt Locks Door / The New One

3. Recorded 1982-05-15. First broadcast 24 May 1982, repeated 07 July 1982, 12 August 1982. No known commercial release.

  • Asylums In Jerusalem / A Slow Soul / Jacques Derrida


  • 12 December 1979: Bibbly-O-Tek (12"-4 A Sides) (Rough Trade / St. Pancras acetate)
  • 18 December 1979: Doubt Beat (12"-4 A Sides) (Rough Trade / St. Pancras acetate)

See Also


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