Song Lists: Scritti Politti

The Song Lists return and finally it is the turn of Mother Wales on the national day specials and I don’t mean Moby Dick’s mum, no I refer to the country that technically isn’t one unless you happen to come from there or have a very large affinity for it. But I digress, to recap I did The Blue Nile, Cocteau Twins and Simple Minds for Scotland’s St Andrew’s Day, then it was Perry Blake and U2 for Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day and now we commence the St David’s Day trilogy.

He may have been guided by several others but the band’s main engine is Welsh. Every band or artist has their favoured colour palette and Green’s talent for blending pale hues of blues, browns and greys is incredible! Kind of the master of egg shell subtleties – especially during the Provision era. In a way Scritti have a musical camaraderie with not only the funk which they are known but also folk, jazz and prog – some of it isn’t dissimilar to Steven Wilson in terms of how they both write. In terms of lists, alongside Mr Mister, this is one of the most difficult I’ve ever produced. As always I hope this is both interesting and thought provoking. *please note I don’t list all the songs, just enough to give an overview and sadly due to the colour constraints of WordPress the PDF version of this looks much better, so apologies if it hinders your enjoyment somewhat. 

WHITE

LIONS AFTER SLUMBER (difficult to discuss this one as it’s pretty much a free improv however there are shifts to other colours. Here goes… intro in apricot followed by Green’s text which is backed by white, around 1.08 the bass wanders to maroon – this pattern repeats throughout the track before coming back round to apricot for the end)

HYPNOTIZE (there are occasional shards of yellow in the guitar throughout the ‘down on the beach, out in the bay’ parts, the middle ‘heart keeps rockin’ part is in red – switching to mint green around 3mins for the outro)

PRINCE AMONG MEN (it isn’t far off being a more gritty Jacques Darrida and is mostly a dirty cream/red colouration with the bass playing in apricot. Otherwise the usual – as you will see – Scritti play with colour is well exercised here with its chorus: red-white then rose with a brief nod between 1.39 and 1.44 to orange, while the middle at 3.10-3.33 is in yellow)

MINT GREEN

SEX (not sure what that metallic intro guitar is but the verse when it bursts into life on 8secs – no pun intended – is mint green, chorus in maroon, and that’s almost as simple as Scritti get)

THE BOOM BOOM BAP (some one line shifts e.g. ‘bar room belles..’ to yellow in the verse, middle yellow, at 3.05 it changes to purple/pale pink/purple then on 3.25 pale pink, which slides into cream/red then pale orange, pale pink and red then back to mint green on 3.55)

PALE YELLOW

BEST THING EVER (this one has a magical forest green synth flourish – first one on 45secs – leading to its crimson bridge, the chorus alternates between rose and crimson for the ‘best thing that I know’ and ‘still hurtin’ lines, middle also in rose followed by one last ‘flourish’ which leads into the final chorus to fade)

SUGAR AND SPICE (verse in pale yellow and white, followed by another synth-flourish, this time  in cobalt blue leading to a chorus and middle in the couplet of dark blue/yellow)

YELLOW

JACQUES DERRIDA (as with much of his/their work there’s an array of colour shifts within its wandering chord structure e.g. ‘in the reason, in the rain’ in dark blue/yellow – latter ‘rap’ part in the Scritti favourite of cream/red though I think the bass is still playing in yellow)

SNOW IN SUN (opening harmony a cappella in grey/blue/grey/pale pink/violet before song opens up in yellow on 15secs – two minor shifts to dark blue/yellow and light green in this section of the song – to round off the a cappella is reprised after which the latter ‘you’ part from 2.49 alternates between white and mint green with the ‘you’ in question being in red)

APRICOT

THE SWEETEST GIRL (intro mid blue, bridge is white, middle at 2.41 in dark blue which at 2.54 escalates into dark blue/orange which in turn flows back into apricot and then things get complicated for the chilling Hitchcockian finale between 5.20 and 5.50. This 30 second stretch is probably the hardest section of music I’ve had to decipher in ALL the lists so far. The best I can surmise is it comprises a three octave shift upwards in half or quarter tones; this means its somewhere in the olive/alt-green/alt-yellow spectrum of colours. In addition are the piano notes which seem to be in a rust red or raw sienna so it’s a cross section of things which make a fascinating and intoxicating ride. I’d love to ask Green what made him take the track in that direction!)

WOOD BEEZ (now I could just list this under yellow but to go into finer details the verse is a mosaic made up of an apricot base while the guitar chimes are in yellow then white, but the chorus is in definitive yellow)

SHE’S A WOMAN (‘she’s a woman who understands’ parts in bright blue and a few shifts to red e.g. between 2.10 and 2.15)

COOKING (alternates between apricot, white and maroon, bright blue on 1.43 then briefly ‘through an avenue of lime trees’ to light blue and back to the apricot/white/maroon circular)

ORANGE

ROAD TO NO REGRET (verse is orange with frequent shifts to light blue until red takes over at 3.03)

RED (varying shades)

A SLOW SOUL (B SIDE VERSION)

ABSOLUTE (intro is an alternation between red and mint green, likewise the bridge shifts between bright blue and fiery red with the middle on 1.51 being apricot)

ROBIN HOOD (bridge dark green, ‘woo-hoo’ bits in cream middle another shade of red, with the final refrains of ‘I’ll never go back’ part in dark green)

GREY BLUE

LIGHT BLUE

SMALL TALK (chorus has shades of mid blue)

BRIGHT BLUE

THE WORD GIRL (the first ‘poppy’ part of this is relatively easy to discuss; the verses are in the summery blue and the bridge in red, the chorus is in pale orange and gives a hint of what is to come, the line coming out of the chorus ‘oh how your flesh and blood..’ is in white so that’s the easy bit, the latter half is a little more complex; much like Hypnotise above, its base continues in white some keyboard notes in cream/red and others are in mint green – notably in the high pitched twinkly keyboard motif, while the concluding piano part on the longer album version is also in red)

‘PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE’ BLUE

TINSELTOWN TO THE BOOGIEDOWN

MID BLUE (varying shades)

GETTIN’ HAVIN’ AND HOLDIN’ (a precursor of Born to Be only with some shifts to pale grey grey/blue and dark blue)

BOOM! THERE SHE WAS (bridge bright blue)

BORN TO BE (some minor shifts within the blue-scape, and from 2.27 repeat washes of the same mid blue)

AFTER SIX (some minor shifts to grey/blue)

DARK BLUE

A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE (cream/rose at 1.14 and 2.35)

DARK BLUE/YELLOW

A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT (chorus dark blue)

DARK BLUE/ORANGE

LIGHT GREEN

*green and pink run together through the colour spectrum e.g. mint green/pale pink, light green/pink and dark green/maroon – so differentiating them can be very difficult! It all comes down to nuance

DARK GREEN

WINDOW WIDE OPEN (a song with a wandering chord sequence to maroon, crimson, pink, and brown on 1.28, then to light green and back to dark green for the guitar solo, truly amazing!)

PALE PINK (not this shade but it’s the only one on here.. tut)

THROW (bridge alternates between red and yellow, ‘get me out of here’ parts in deep pink)

MRS HUGHES (another with repeating a cappella, the first of these takes up around 45secs and as a rule goes through many subtle hues of grey: pale grey/grey/blue/warm grey/tan-brown and several shades in the red sphere too, the verses alternate between pale pink and grey, the chorus is red/deep red then crimson and a mini-a cappella is trailed at 3.45 by a yellow acoustic piece after which follows another twist in the road this time to crimson – around 3.54 a third a cappella is suffixed by Green’s only black!! His writing is totally unique and quite remarkable)

PINK

FAITHLESS (much of the verse is cream/pale pink ‘but she does it’ and ‘oh look at the girl’ lines, intro and outro in deep pink, the middle weaves in and out of deep pink, it has a brief flirtation in cream/red around 2.10 to white on 2.20 and another brief tilt toward orange before returning to deep pink for the latter half of the middle on 2.30 – all in all another complex arrangement for this intriguing band)

DON’T WORK THAT HARD (bridge crimson, chorus is in yellow then light green)

BAM SALUTE (intro and middle in deep pink with some of the lower notes in grey/pink verse alternates between pink and deep pink, the chorus is a miniature Best Thing Ever in its chord wandering pale yellow and rose)

MYSTIC HANDYMAN (intro and ‘girl that drove me crazy’ lines in deep pink, followed by grey, middle delves into a few colours in quick succession but the most defining one is red)

LOCKED (verse has an element of pale pink, latter stage from 2.42 alternates between red and deep red)

ROSE

HERE COME JULY (like some of fellow Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers work this is at breakneck speed with multiple key changes which makes my job extremely difficult however, as far as I can gauge the chorus on 40secs is in yellow/crimson/yellow/red, middle ‘it doesn’t mean nothing..’ part in rose/maroon then yellow briefly to white and back to rose)

CRIMSON

LOVER TO FALL (very pretty and very complex! the whole thing is built around shades of crimson with some of the verses like the first in rose, the first bridge is in deep pink, then it’s pretty much mix and match with each verse or bridge shifting e.g. the second verse in crimson, second bridge is in a lower register of crimson while the chorus switches up a gear to the higher reg of crimson, the one thing that stays consistent is the grey coming out of chorus, third verse back to rose, outro also in deep pink – it’s a bit like trying to describe a sunset sky!)

MAROON

NO FINE LINES (a brief switch to grey/blue on 1.10 then red and to crimson for the ‘what matters now though’ line and finally an effortless slide to orange/grey for the ‘windowsill’ coda – quite a lot for a song of only 1.42)

PURPLE

GREY (varying shades)

A SLOW SOUL (ALBUM VERSION)

BRUSHED WITH OIL, DUSTED WITH POWDER (this is super-subtle drifting in and out of its pale grey mainframe while the ‘officer asked..’ parts are in another pale grey, the ‘Highbury fields/westside highway‘ parts exude a pale green waft, then back to pale grey for the ‘Hollywood hills’ lines, ’it was love, no matter what..’ bathed in pale orange with the tail piece being more or less in orange/grey – one thing is a dead certainty, it’s one of the defining moments on that album)

A PLACE WE BOTH BELONG (middle grey/blue)

WARM GREY

OVERNITE (chorus is in two halves mid blue then warm grey/tan-brown, middle in cream/rose, then very briefly to grey/blue ‘..show me a way’ to the chorus and fade)

FIRST BOY IN THIS TOWN (bridge grey/blue and rising to warm grey/tan-brown chorus orange/grey, middle pale orange)

OH PATTI (such are the subtleties of this it’s tricky to track the changes but loosely speaking it’s a more chilled Perfect Way. The intro alone goes through several tonal shifts mostly in the same palette of pale greys, blues and tan-grey as above and below. The real oddity here though is the chorus doesn’t stray too far from the colours in the verse, while Miles Davis trumpet part is in another mid blue)

PHILOSOPHY NOW (bridge mid blue and pale grey, chorus warm grey/tan-brown)

WORLD COME BACK TO LIFE (some mid blue in the intro at 36secs which reprises throughout the track in the bridges, the chorus is an alternation of orange/grey and warm grey/tan-brown)

FIRST GOODBYE (intro and chorus mid blue, bridge orange/grey)

ORANGE/GREY

ALL THAT WE ARE (chorus tan-brown, middle pale orange)

WARM GREY/TAN-BROWN

PETROCOCADOLLAR (middle on 1.34 in pale orange then briefly grey, following the same orange later is pale grey)

BROWN

ASYLUMS IN JERUSALEM (there is a slightly extended grey part in the middle but other than that the whole thing pretty much alternates between brown and grey)

PERFECT WAY (intro and chorus light blue bridge goes through a multitude of quick changes white/light blue/white then to chorus, middle has two parts the first is the chiming guitar part in cream/pale pink then the piano motif part in pale pink)

UMM (intro, post first chorus, rap part and outro in grey/blue, verses and chorus brown, second chorus violet)

THE WORLD YOU UNDERSTAND (IS OVER + OVER + OVER)(chorus is brown verse and middle from 1.06-1.15 in grey, middle in deep pink latter part from about 2.11 in the grey but this time imbued by pale orange – you can hear this more so in the flourishes beginning at 2.50)

DEEP BROWN

BLACK

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