To commemorate the 35th anniversary of Scritti Politti’s ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’, the band have announced a series of performances of the album, in its entirety, for the very first time.
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.
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.