Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)" by Scritti Politti

Song#:  2610
Date:  02/08/1986
Debut:  97
Peak:  91
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This band broke through on the US chart with "Perfect Way," a single from their second full-length album Cupid & Psyche 85. The tune peaked at #11 Pop while making it to #6 at Dance. This follow-up single was one that had already made the rounds. The song was first released in the UK in early 1984. It reached #10 there. Later in the year it was pushed out in the US as the first single from the album and it did well at Dance hitting #4 in combination with another track titled "Absolute." However, the tune didn't crossover and it failed to make the Pop chart. With the success of "Perfect Way" putting the band in the spotlight in the US, it seemed logical to go back and reintroduce "Wood Beez" to the new audience. Nearly two years after it's original release in the UK, the song finally got on the US Pop chart. Unfortunately, the ploy didn't work all that well and the song only managed a brief stint at the bottom of the chart.

ReduxReview:  I like this song, but I want to like it more than I do. The title is cool and attention getting while the production is top-notch. Even Green Gartside's high pitched vocals were ear catching. So what's holding me back from loving this track? I think maybe I was looking for something with a stronger hook. The song doesn't stay with me all that long. I can hear it a few times and then after time passes I've forgotten the tune. I find the whole album to be like that. I enjoy it while I'm listening to it, but then the songs just kind of disappear out of my head. Really, the best part of it all is Arif Mardin's production. I think it all sounds better than it actually is. Still, both this single and the album are fun listens.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This song in which the singer states there's nothing he wouldn't do to be with the person he is infatuated with also served as a bit of an Aretha Franklin tribute. The subtitle is a reference to Franklin's 1968 remake of "I Say a Little Prayer." That single reached #10 Pop/#3 R&B in the US while in the UK it got to #4 and was Franklin's biggest charting hit there. In a bit of a twist, Arif Mardin, who arranged Franklin's hit, was the producer of Scritti Politti's track. The longer remix of "Wood Beez" labeled as "(Version)" actually featured Franklin's voice. Samples of Franklin's vocals from her 1971 #9 Pop/#2 R&B hit "Rock Steady" (that was co-produced by Mardin) were plugged into the latest hot music tech equipment at the time, the Fairlight. In the mix, sections of the song are punctuated with blasts of Franklin's voice via the Fairlight.


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