Number Ones: #11


  • SCRITTI POLITTI Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) (Virgin)
  • Week Ending April 28th 1984
  • 1 week at #1


My limited knowledge of pop music beyond the confines of the Top 40 was further exposed with the next single to top the chart. Scritti Politti, fronted by Green Gartside, had scored a #12 album in 1982, on the indie label Rough Trade Records, and were feted by the critics for their unorthodox, brainy type of reggae-influenced alternative pop. None of the singles had troubled the Top 40 (though one came very close, peaking at #43), so when Wood Beez entered the UK charts just before Easter 1984 they may as well have been a new band as far as I was concerned.

Indeed, comparing Wood Beez to anything Scritti Politti had previously recorded, it was effectively like a different entity, Green’s trademark helium-sweet vocals notwithstanding. Now on Virgin Records, and presumably with oodles of dosh available, Scritti went big. Big sound (none other than Arif Mardin was enlisted to work his magic), big promotion budget, and big sales; Wood Beez started slowly but rose as high as #10 in the UK (nearly repeating the trick Stateside a while later).

On my chart, Wood Beez made a rather more spectacular impression, shooting up 30 places to #6 on its second appearance and, on the week it reigned supreme, denying the likes of Queen, Propaganda and (albeit only temporarily) Nik Kershaw from getting to #1.


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