Every once in a great while, the Internet coughs up a head scratching surprise that puts a smile of delight on even the most jaded middle-aged hipsters in Williamsburgh.
That once in a great while became earlier this week when someone named Denis Cullum posted an extraordinary 16mm film clip of a young and scrappy Scritti Politti in the studio circa 1979. The “pop promo” in question is for the track “P.A.s” — taken from the band’s classic “4 A Sides” EP.
Scritti Politti is something of an anomaly, even by the wildly inventive standards of late 70s/early 80s U.K. post-punk.
Formed in 1977 in Leeds by the Welsh singer-songwriter Green Gartside, Scritt Politti started out as — to quote Acute Records head honcho Dan Selzer — “the coolest, most DIY and post-punkiest post-punk band of the era.” The band, driven by Gartside’s creative restlessness, couldn’t stand still. The group evolved into a stylish new wave band with grade A pop song writing smarts. Just listen to “The Sweetest Girl.”
From there, Scritti embraced the mainstream, dabbling in blue-eyed soul, hip-hop and melancholic folk — never standing still.
Over the years, Gartside’s talent has attracted some pretty impressive names to his roster of collaborators, including Miles Davis, Robert Wyatt and Roger Troutman.
But every great artist has to start somewhere, and with Gartside it was those early Scritti recordings. What’s particularly amazing about this inexplicable 16mm clip is it gives us a sense of how those recordings were made. We get shots of the recording process, the record pressing, the packaging — hell, even the kitchen.
Questions abound. Where did this video come from? Who shot it? Why has it been hiding for so long? And does our new friend Denis Callum have any more where that came from?
For now, these questions will likely remain unanswered. But let’s celebrate this stunning discovery now that we have it.