American Top 40 PastBlast, 11/23/85: Scritti Politti, “Perfect Way”

This was one I liked pretty well as the fall of my senior year in college wound down, but I knew precious little otherwise about Scritti Politti. Outside of “Perfect Way,” there were maybe two things I could tell you: I’d heard about leader Green Gartside’s Marxist leanings earlier in his life, likely from MTV, and Roger from across the hall talked up “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin).” That’s pretty much how it’s stayed across the decades, too.

I did take a look through their Wikipedia article after settling on my choice of track for this post. Cupid & Psyche 85, their most successful album, did spawn five charting singles in the UK, two of them Top 10: “Wood Beez” and “The Word Girl.” The former was a pretty big dance hit over here but only reached #91 on the Hot 100. The latter, with a reggae beat, probably wasn’t released as a US single. I’ve listened to both this week; they’re fine enough, but I wouldn’t expect either to have been big charters.

But as I said, they both were exactly that across the pond. And what about “Perfect Way?” It’s #21 on this show and would fall one spot shy of the U.S. Top Ten. However, it stalled out at #48 in Britain. To me, it’s obviously a better jam/more commercial than either “Wood Beez” or “The Word Girl.”  But would I have felt the same if I lived in London in the mid 80s instead of Kentucky? Makes me think about the connection between the culture and the pop culture of a place and time–what exactly are the dependencies and contingencies? Thoughts worth exploring, but since it’s a holiday weekend, I’m going to leave it at that for now.

Yesterday was very close to a carbon copy of what I did 52 weeks ago (in a good way). We’ve spent the holiday in suburban Atlanta visiting my sister-in-law, and on Saturday I drove over to Greenville, SC, to meet with up with my college friend Warren. Just like last year, we had lunch at a fine Mediterranean place, browsed a used media store (for the second year in a row, I picked up a Margaret Atwood book), and did frappuccinos at Starbucks. And we talked a lot. Much of it was of the catching-up variety, but we touched on national and world events as well. Warren often has a take on things quite different from mine, and I welcome the alternate perspective to help me try to better understand my own thoughts. It was a great afternoon. Thanks, Warren!

Then, on the way back to GA, I caught the front end of this 85 AT40 show. Last year, they played the countdown following this one, so I heard a number of the same songs (“Burning Heart,” “Conga,” “You’re a Friend of Mine,” and “Running Up That Hill,” among others), on the same station (KCPI in Albert Lea, MN). Don’t know what next year will bring, obviously, but I’m guessing there won’t be a show from the same year again…

5 thoughts on “American Top 40 PastBlast, 11/23/85: Scritti Politti, “Perfect Way””

    1. We did not go to 2nd & Charles this year (we did last year)–we went to Mr. K’s instead. The Starbucks was indeed the one near 2nd & Charles, however. (Lunch was at the Pita House on S. Pleasantburg.) Thanksgiving was indeed very good–hope yours was great as well!


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