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SUPPORT: Alexis Taylor
The album, released in the summer of 1985, was both a pop masterpiece and landmark in music production. Terrifyingly complex technology, embarrassingly expensive studio time and months of intensive work resulted in a brilliant, immaculate sound, described today by singer Green Gartside as “pyrotechnics of pointillist syncopation”.
Overseen by legendary producer Arif Mardin and featuring some of New York’s finest session musicians, Cupid & Psyche 85 took Scritti’s acute pop sensibility to new, glittering heights. It spawned five singles, all hits on one side of the Atlantic or the other: ‘Wood Beez’, ‘The Word Girl’, ‘Absolute’, ‘Perfect Way’ and ‘Hypnotize’. Critics bestowed the album with effusive praise:
“This is pop as it should be: smart, sweet but not sickly, rich and seductive, exotic, teasing…” – Melody Maker
“Stylishly wrought, at times delightfully eccentric” – Rolling Stone
“A music of amazing lightness and wit that’s saved from any hint of triviality by wordplay whose delight in its own turns is hard to resist” – Robert Christgau, Village Voice
“No disco was ever this sublime” – SPIN
Cupid & Psyche 85 provides evidence of an extraordinary musical journey. After witnessing a show by The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and The Heartbreakers in 1976, Green felt as if he had been “given permission” to form a band. Scritti Politti was the result, a Camden-based, squat-dwelling collective who produced what he describes as “scratchy-collapsy” music, all tumbling drums, tinny guitars and breathless vocals.
After releasing a clutch of singles and EPs – including the classic ‘Sweetest Girl’ – the band underwent a tectonic shift, inspired by black American R&B pop of the early 1980s. “Just fantastic, liberating music… A sort of epiphany,” Green remembers. Geoff Travis at Rough Trade introduced him to keyboard wizard David Gamson and drummer Fred Maher, and this new configuration of Scritti began work on what would become Cupid & Psyche 85. It would be followed by Provision (1987), Anomie and Bonhomie (1999) and the Mercury Prize-nominated White Bread Black Beer (2006). It’s a catalogue of extraordinary variety, vitality and beauty.
“The Scritti of Fred, David and I never did play live,” recalls Green. “We had a tour lined up and we kinda reluctantly went into a rehearsal place somewhere in Manhattan to figure out how the fuck this album could be played. If I recall correctly, it became apparent immediately that we couldn’t reproduce the sound. The project was abandoned.”
Today, however, that project has been revitalized by the new-variant Scritti Politti, featuring Robert Smoughton, Rhodri Marsden and Dicky Moore, who have played alongside Green for the last decade. The shows will feature previously unperformed songs from Cupid & Psyche 85, alongside other material from Scritti’s history.
“Gartside still possesses one of the most unashamedly lovely voices in British rock” – The Times
“They don’t make pop stars like Green Gartside anymore” – NME< Back