Number Ones: #133


  • SCRITTI POLITTI Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry For Loverboy) (Virgin)
  • Week Ending 4th June 1988
  • 3 Weeks At #1

I was such a Scritti stan. The summer of 1988 was probably the very height of my obsession with Green Gartside’s unique brand of saccharine pop.

It had been almost exactly 3 years since Cupid & Psyche 85, and its run of imperious singles (Wood Beez, Absolute, Hypnotize, The Word Girl and Perfect Way). The latter had done the business in America, almost reaching the Billboard Top 10, despite flopping in Britain. And it would be Perfect Way, via a cover version by Jazz legend Miles Davis in 1986, which shaped the sound of Scritti’s next single in April 1988.

Before that, a contribution to the soundtrack of Madonna’s Who’s That Girl – the Cupid-esque and lightweight Best Thing Ever – signalled a rather low-key return to the fray in July 1987. And then….nothing…..for more than six months. When the full-scale comeback came along, the results had wisely moved on from that almost over-familiar formula which, subsequently used to ever-decreasing effect on collaborations with Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau, had shown signs of wearing thin.

Oh Patti is undoubtedly a thing of loveliness, even before the swoonsome, distinctive tones of Miles Davis are added into the mix. Cupid & Psyche was notably low on gorgeous ballads, Green preferring to concentrate on the array of studio tricks at his disposal and largely in thrall to the clattering funk he was creating with David Gamson and Fred Maher in the studio. Yet on Oh Patti the tender melody is given a barely-there arrangement, emphasising its prettiness, with just a sympathetic bass drum for company in the verses.

But it’s the contribution from Davis which elevates it from the excellent to the truly sublime. His solo, especially in all its elongated glory on the extended version, is perfect for the woozy beauty of the track, which fortuitously arrived on the scene just as the glossy, chiming synth sounds of Aztec Camera, Danny Wilson, Prefab Sprout and Climie Fisher were riding high in the UK Top 20.

Its 3 weeks at the summit of my own charts were, unusually, not achieved consecutively; a first run lasting a fortnight was then interrupted by the next single in our rundown, before Oh Patti regained the crown for one further week.

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