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 Polittici' to 'Scritti Politti' as he thought it sounded more rock and roll, like 'Tutti Frutti.'
Links To Peel
Peel gave significant airplay to their 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
- 1981 Festive Fifty: 'The Sweetest Girl' #22
- 1982 Festive Fifty (All-Time): 'The Sweetest Girl' #27
- 1982 Festive Fifty (Annual): 'Asylums In Jerusalem' #18
- 1982 Festive Fifty (Annual): 'Faithless' #18
- The Humours Of Spitalfields / Knowledge And Interest / Doubt Beat / 5/12/78 
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 .
- Messthetics / Hegemony / Scritt Locks Door / The New One
- Asylums In Jerusalem / A Slow Soul / Jacques Derrida
- 28 September 1978: Skank Bloc Bologna (7")' St. Pancras
- 02 November 1978: Skank Bloc Bologna (7”) St Pancras
- 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)
- 08 January 1980: Confidence (12"- 4 A Sides)' (Rough Trade / St. Pancras)
- 17 January 1980: Scritt Locks Door (7"- Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session) (Rough Trade)
- 21 January 1980: Hegemony (7"- Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session) (Rough Trade)
- 22 January 1980: OPEC-Immac (7"- Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session) (Rough Trade)
- 28 January 1980: Bibbly-O-Tek (12"- 4 A Sides) (St. Pancras)
- 11 February 1980: Bibbly-O-Tek (12"- 4 A Sides) (St. Pancras)
- 19 February 1980: Messthetics (7"- Work In Progress 2nd Peel Session) (Rough Trade)
- 04 March 1981: The "Sweetest Girl" (cassette – NME / Rough Trade C81) NME / Rough Tapes COPY 001
- 02 November 1981: The "Sweetest Girl" (7") (Rough Trade)
- 16 November 1981: The "Sweetest Girl" (7") (Rough Trade)
- 28 December 1981: The "Sweetest Girl" (7") (Rough Trade) (1981 Festive Fifty #22)
- 14 April 1982: Faithless (7") (Rough Trade)
- 19 April 1982: Faithless (7") Rough Trade RT 101
- 03 May 1982: Faithless (7") (Rough Trade)
- 24 August 1982: Lions After Slumber (LP-Songs To Remember) (Rough Trade)
- 31 August 1982: Gettin' Havin' And Holdin' (album - Songs To Remember) Rough Trade ROUGH 20
- 22 December 1982: The "Sweetest Girl" (7") (Rough Trade) (1982 Festive Fifty (Annual) #27)
- 27 December 1982: Asylums In Jerusalem (LP-Songs To Remember) (Rough Trade) (1982 Festive Fifty (Annual) #18)
- 28 December 1982: Faithless (LP-Songs To Remember) (Rough Trade) (1982 Festive Fifty (Annual) #13)
- 07 May 1985: The Word Girl (LP-Cupid & Psyche 85) (Virgin)