SONG OF THE WEEK: Tangled Man by Green Gartside (week beginning 27/6/20)


OUT: now

Folk singer Anne Briggs may seem a curious choice to cover for the first solo single by Scritti Politti lead singer Green Gartside.

  • Read on for reasons including why Green chose folk for his first new release in years

He picked her songs Tangled Man and Wishing Well and explains: ‘Recently, in an interview for a forthcoming book about art and music in Leeds in the 70s and 80s, the author asked me, as an aside, if it were true that I was wearing Morris dancer’s leg bells at the 1976 gig there by the Sex Pistols, Clash, Damned and Heartbreakers as other interviewees present that night had reported.

‘My DNA was reconfigured that evening, so my memory is hazy, but it is very likely that I WAS wearing the leg bell pads made for me by a school friend some years before. In fact, I may well have gone to the gig straight from the evening Morris dancing lessons I attended at Leeds University.

‘Because before punk gave me the liberty and license to make my own music I was geekily obsessed with folk.

‘The beautiful melodies Anne sang unaccompanied were profoundly affecting, her unornamented voice a precursor to the anti-professionalism of DIY. For a long while I walked about dressed like a 19th century farm labourer (with a bit of eyeliner) in a kind of hypnagogic reverie to an inner soundtrack of Northumbrian pipe tunes, Wassailing songs and Morris dances. Jesus.

‘Forward some 40 odd years, and my friend and Scritti Politti bandmate Rhodri Marsden had been contacted to do an arrangement of an Anne Briggs song for a project with which he was involved. Knowing I was a fan he suggested maybe I’d like to take on the task.’

We’ve only seen Scritti Politti live once at the Apple Cart Festival in 2012 in east London’s Victoria Park (watch above) but we loved album Cupid & Psyche 85 and think the band’s best tracks are the disco friendly Absolute and Perfect Way plus the jazz friendly Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy).

Green’s folk enthusiasm came as a surprise but in many ways you can hear the melodic influences in some of his best work. Tangled Man isn’t one of Green’s best tracks but it’s just a pleasure hearing him releasing new music again.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Scritti Politti. Tickets
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