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Album: Songs To RememberReleased: 1981Charted:
Scritti Politti are a UK group formed in Leeds in 1977 by vocalist Green Gartside, bassist Nial Jinks and drummer Tom Morley. Initially a left-leaning post-punk British rock band, they developed into a more mainstream pop music project in the 1980s, enjoying significant commercial success in the UK and the US. Released on the Rough Trade record label, "Sweetest Girl" became Scritti Politti's first song to chart, peaking at #64 on the UK music chart, and was cited by The New York Times as one of the ten best singles of the year.
At first the song appears to be tribute to a sweet couple before Green goes off on a subversive tangent and croons one of pop history's most curious couplets: "Politics is pride too, vagaries of science/ She left because she understood the value of defiance."
Green originally wrote this Pop-R&B-Reggae hybrid for an unlikely collaboration. He recalled to Mojo magazine March 2011: "It was meant to be a duet between Kraftwerk and Gregory Isaacs. Gregory Isaacs' management were keen. Years later, in New York, I went to see Tito Puente with Ralf (Hutter) and Florian (Schneider) from Kraftwerk, and I brought it up. They said they hated reggae."
Soft Machine founder Robert Wyatt came in to play keyboards on the song, bringing famous English actress Julie Christie with him. Green recalled to Mojo: "Robert and (his wife) Alfreda thought that she and I might make a match. But I was too frightened to talk to her!"
Ska-pop band Madness recorded a cover version for their 1985 album Mad Not Mad. Released as a single the following year, it spent six weeks in the British charts, peaking at #35.