Scritti Politti/Shabba Ranks: She’s A Woman JPN CD5 
- She’s A Woman
- She’s A Woman [The Apollo 440 Remix]
- She’s A Woman [The William Orbit Remix]
- Wood Beez [Pray Like Aretha Franklin] [Version]
It had been three years since the curiously tepid “Provision” and nothing had been heard of by Scritti Politti. Since it had taken Scritti four years [an eternity in those devil-may-care-days] to follow up “Songs To Remember” with “Cupid + Psyche ’85” [and another three for “Provision”] we twigged to the fact that Green Gartside might not be in a rush to make these albums. I saw the video on MTV’s “International Hour” and I swear that it was credited to the second B.E.F. album, which had yet to materialize. Of course, when it did, the song with Green was “I Don’t Know Why I Love You [But I Love You]” instead of the Beatles chestnut that I’d seen earlier on a video.
So when I got that second B.E.F. album, I was on the hunt for this non-LP single. Brother, was it hard to source in those pre-internet days. I had to rely on ads in Goldmine or catalogs sent to me and I finally found a source for the Japanese CD5 of this [at the time I never would have bought vinyl!] and mail ordered it for probably on the order of $20 or so. The disc retailed for ¥1400 which was about $14 then [and has only slipped to $13 in the intervening 28 years!] and with dealer markup… yeah. Twenty dollars sounds pretty likely.
This single was a pretty wild teamup between the eternally fey Green Gartside and the earthy masculinity of Shabba Ranks; then an up-and-coming dancehall reggae artist. The music was programmed and performed by Green with production shared by Martyn Ware of B.E.F. [with cohort Ian Craig Marsh also programming]. The music bed was a zingy, electro hip hop melange punctuated by percussive samples of vocal soundbites forming deep hooks within the track. Green carried the lyrics while Shabba daubed his toasting all over the frothy electric confection. It pulsated with electricity and if the track had a flavor, it would be a 9-volt battery on the tip of the tongue. I’m for anything that can rehabilitate the music of The Beatles to make me interested, and the focused single mix at 3:29 was a thing of beauty as it percolated with the sort of hyperactivity that made “Cupid + Psyche ’85” so arresting.
Apollo 440 was a bit of a thing in the 90s. The dance collective was the next group that Noko formed after Luxuria bit the dust in the late 90s. They spent the first few years remixing tracks before making their albums further down the line. Here they produced a dubbed out mix featuring almost none of Green’s vocals; leaving the party to Shabba Ranks. They served up a drone-ier, bleep-ier music bed with drum and tambourine loops high in the mix. The electro elements were excised but the vocal samples bursting like popcorn throughout the track were retained. It was over halfway into the modest 5:54 remix when scant hints of Green’s vocal finally appeared in the song.
While I usually have great love for William Orbit remixes, the one here was curiously flat. I like that he ramped up the electro synth action, but the clattery rhythm track used was a little tired. And the Hammond organ samples were a real turn off. But if you pine to hear the sugary tones of Green Gartside, this one delivers more than the previous mix. The whole thing comes closer to a dub mix, which considering the reggae in the tune’s DNA, seems to make sense on the face of it. But neither of the remixes would stand in the way of the definitive 7” mix up front here.
The design by Keith Breeden leaned very heavily on then new 8-bit paint programs for a decidedly low-res look to the gaudy artwork. It looks like various elements have been composited in Photoshop 1.0 on a Mac; possibly after being generated in an 8-bit Amiga paint program. There are smooth vignettes dropped into low-res shapes that clearly point to Photoshop being involved.
I think that I finally found this single in 1994 or 1994, but even at the time I had no idea that Green had released another non-LP Scritti Politti single the same year with another dancehall reggae artist. It was not until the late 90s that I discovered that there was another cover single of “Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me,” an old Gladys Knight hit. It came in very similar Keith Breeden artwork and the CD5 also featured “She’s A Woman!” This one is so scarce I have still not managed to source a copy in 20+ years of looking.
Since the team on that single is exactly the same on all three of Scritti Politti’s B.E.F. produced cover versions of 1991, I assume that these were all recorded for the “Music Of Quality + Distinction Vol. II” project and the Stevie Wonder cover got the nod for that album and the other two tracks were released concurrently as stand along Scritti Politti singles. Since “I Don’t Know Why I Love You [But I Love You]” and “She’s A Woman” are pretty ace covers, I’m guessing that “Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me” will also pass muster… if I ever find a copy.
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