Record Review: Scritti Politti – Hypnotize

Virgin | UK | 12" | 1984 | VS 725-12

Virgin | UK | 12″ | 1984 | VS 725-12

Scritti Politti: Hypnotize UK 12″ [1984]

  1. Hypnotize [long]
  2. Hypnotize [short]
  3. Hypnotize [version]

I had come across references to Scritti Politti during their Rough Trade chrysalis period but had never managed to actually hear any of the music. Or see the records easily available, come to think of it. What finally opened my ears was the playing of the video for “Wood Beez” on MTV’s “London Calling” program and I was dazzled by what I’d heard. This was achingly precise hitec synthfunk that didn’t sound like anything else out in the 1984 marketplace. Against all odds, singer Green Gartside managed to grow his lair long in 1984 [just like everyone else] without losing all of his special powers. Sort of like Sampson in reverse. Better still, the mid-Eighties in all of their car wreck glory were barreling down the main highway like a swerve-crazed drunk driver and here was a record that soared above the morass of Post-Punk Big Names shattering and falling like clay pigeons. I loved what I’d heard; to put it mildly.

scritti politti - woodbeezabsoluteUS12AAt the time, US Warner Brothers had signed the band Stateside and had helpfully released a domestic single combining the UK 12″ A/B mixes of the “Wood Beez” single as well as its follow-up, the equally shimmering “Absolute.” I quickly bought my copy. What we Yanks missed out on was the third single from this Imperial Period of the band; the percolating confection that was “Hypnotize.”

By the Fall of 1984, I had the CD of the astonishing “Cupid + Psyche ’85. Virgin had helpfully included four version mixes from the first four 12” singles that orbited this mothership of a release. But the long mix of “Hypnotize” that was included on VS 725-12 was conspicuously absent. I resolved to hit the bins and to correct this glaring omission.

And good thing, too, because the long mix, though only taking the song from 3:33 to 4:24 managed to pack into that extra 50 seconds, the most potent ammunition any 12″ single of the period could pack; an extra verse trimmed from the 7″/LP mix of the same! The excised verse has the wonderful lyric “you hit below the Bible Belt” and clearer thinkers may wonder why this gem was deemed inappropriate for the LP version of the song. Maybe, they wanted the 12″ to retain some value after the CD [which included the version mix] was issued that Fall.

scritti politti - hypnotize#2UK12ASo that ensures that the 12″ of “Hypnotize” retains value even 29 years later since the 2xCD DLX RM of “Cupid + Psyche ’85” still only exists as a dream in my fevered imagination. One of these days I need to obtain the second 12″ of “Hypnotize” [VS 725-13] for the “Scritti Turntable Mix” on its B-side as well as the second 12″ of “The Word Girl [Flesh + Blood]” [VS 747-13] and then I can compile the “Cupid + Psyche ’85” supplement disc that Virgin still isn’t providing, much to my astonishment.

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to Record Review: Scritti Politti – Hypnotize

  1. Echorich says:

    This was as you put it Scritti Politti’s Imperial period. From their ultra Situationist/Post Punk beginnings as a Rough Trade band, through the surprisingly popular Songs To Remember, Green Garstide has followed his own path and a muse whom is invisible to the rest of the world.
    I’ve said it before, but there is something very important and unequaled about Cupid and Psyche ’85 and ABC’s How To Be A Zillionaire. There was a some sort of understanding that both bands had about the studio and use of Fairlight CMI that no other bands of the era really explored. Heaven 17 made a decent effort on How Men Are, but maybe didn’t fully explore the CMI’s full potential.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I’m pretty down on digital sampling. I think it pales next to an analog synth in terms of sounds that give me thrills. But I fully agree with your assessment of Scritti and ABC’s mid eighties efforts. They wipe the floor with everyone else’s. in fact, right now I am remastering the vinyl singles and mixes from ABC for their upcoming BSOG jr. and I’m far from sick of all of those mixes of Millionaire/Billionaire/Zillionaire! To put it mildly! I can never get sick of the material. I think it’s ABC’s richest era and that album constantly vies with “Skyscraping,” whose biggest flaw is that there’s not 90 minutes of associated material and mixes to accompany it!

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      • Echorich says:

        I remember how unbelievably happy I was with Zillionaire! Although I loved Beaty Stab, partly it was because everyone else wrote it off. But the joy, abandon and sheer confidence of Zillionaire! is infectious. From the Keith Breeden graphics to the over the top but wholly listenable remixes, Zillionaire! succeeds. It made it to the Top 30 in America at a time when a band who fell flat on their sophomore album just didn’t recover.
        I can tell you that both Green and David Gamson, as well as Martin Fry and David Yarritu made the rounds of the clubs in NYC when they were recording/mixing/mastering both albums. This was the height of the NYC mega clubs like Limelight and Palladium. There was an electricity in NYC as the clubs were a melting pot for uptown and downtown sounds and I think both bands found energy which made it into these final products.

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  2. chas_m says:

    I remember when this record came out and looking at it (and the video) and thinking “oh shit, Martin Fry’s discovered coke!” Luckily the product turned out good, but yeah the visuals were — as someone still in love with the first album and the Trevor Horn-ness of it all — rather shocking.

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