Green Gartside does not rush into making records. Fact. His productivity has amounted to 5 albums in 25 years, so one could assume that he doesn't feel pressured and therefore can take his time in making each release truly reflect his own quality standards....
Well, in this case, he's hit the jackpot.
As many of the reviewers have highlighted, this is not an instant pop delight, unlike Cupid and Psyche way back in 1985, instead it has a remarkable depth of song that truly devours the listener and wont let you go until the final track ebbs to black.
I'm delighted to say that this album is almost impossible to pigeonhole, instead, rather than chopping into bits, I'll simply say this. It's a beautiful, heartfelt record with a multitude of levels that make it my album of the year by a short mile.
on 20 July 2006
Although I always want to like new albums from old favourites, I'm always let down, at least to some degree. Even Bowie's Heathen may have been good by some standards, but not by those he once set.
But White Bread Black Beer is a delight! I'm in full agreement with the other reviewers who've described it as an album to put on the CD player and set it to 'repeat'. Green's voice sounds as mellifluous as ever, his lyrics are clever to the point of impenetrability - but he never seems up his own arse (which he occasionally did in his youth).
And he can still write a pretty tune, which is the key ability that seems to slip away from most older songwriters.
Yes, the home studio production shows (although it's high quality) but that just makes the whole thing even more lovable.
on 2 August 2006
I never considered myself a fan of Scritti Politti, but I have ended up with all their albums, this is their (his) best. I was worried that because it was recorded at home that the album would be too minimal. Put the production is top notch, and the sound is gorgeous. 14 tracks on the record only two duff ones the rest are sublime. If you're reading this I'm probably preaching to the converted.
This album is crying out to be a hit; too bad fairy tails are only for children.
on 8 October 2006
can't remember the last time I bought an album, played it all the way through and THEN played it again...this is utterly beautiful and utterly personal- a few tracks in, I felt like I'd inadvertently stumbled across someone's diary; a few more, like someone had removed their skin in my kitchen..
don't let that put you off!The best album I've heard this year, without a shadow of a doubt.
Green Gartside returns after the hit and miss 1999 album `Anomie & Bonhomie', which itself had been an 11 year wait follow-up to 1988's patchy `Provision.' Back on Rough Trade for the first time since debut `Songs to Remember', the artist who spent years perfecting `Cupid & Psyche 85' now opts for home-recording (something he shares with peers such as Mark Eitzel, David Sylvian & Paul Westerberg). Relocated from Wales to East London and recently married, Green appears to be in a good place and has even returned to playing live as `Double G and the Treacherous 3' for the first time since a panic attack in 1980.
The 14 songs here are the most diverse of Green's career, there was a sense with some Scritti-material, notably on `Provision', that he was writing the same song over and over - a bit like Scott Walker did on `Climate of Hunter.' A creative ennui suggested, though the hip-hop inflected `Anomie...' isn't as bad as I first thought. The home recorded nature of the work offers the contemporary electronic production style of the Neptunes & Timbaland, but without the grief. Clearly Green was in the mood to make a record and spurred on by his return to Rough Trade and collaboration with Kylie, he's as great as ever.
The single and opening track `The Boom Boom Bap' sounds like the perfect pop song and deserves to be a hit - then again, so did `Tinseltown to the Boogiedown' and `First Goodbye.' It's not alone - I think `Petrococadollar', `Snow in Sun', `Locked', & `Dr Abernathy' could all be hits...if that kind of thing matters. `The Boom Boom Bap' is at once an ode to old school hip hop (a verse devoted to titles from Run DMC's debut) and a declaration of love for his wife. "I love you still, I always will..." is much more certain than the titles of 1981's The "Sweetest Girl", where certainty itself was put into doubt. `Petrococadollar' might have a title not far from early track `opec-immac', but is a gorgeous electro-soul track that demands attention - Scritti have just signed to Nonesuch in the U.S. and I can see this song being a hit there.
"No Fine Lines" feels like one of Scritti's gorgeous soulful moments crossed with Eric Satie and Boards of Canada, which contrasts against the folky R'N'B of "The Road to No Regret", which taps into Green's early influence of folk music. There's a hint of acoustic folk in the intro and outro of `Dr Abernathy', though the main song in the centre veers off into 1960s psychedelia, recalling The Beatles `Dr Robert', The Pretty Things' `SF Sorrow' & The Zombies. It's up there with similarly sixties inflected work by The Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dukes of Stratosphear. "Cooking" is another rockier track not that far from the last album; while `Snow in Sun' sounds like a contemporary take on Brian Wilson - is a `Smile' for the zeroes in the making? (God only knows we need it...)
There are a few patchy tracks here, notably `After Six', which makes OMD's `Sailing on the Seven Seas' sound like a good idea, but I think Green has sacrificed perfection for a kind of DIY/sketched version of his songs. I'm looking forward to their upcoming tour and rumours that Green is already planning the next record - it would be nice to see him become a bit more prolific! One of the highlights of the year and proof that pop is far from dead...
on 31 May 2006
I've been a big fan of the Green for many a year now, and have aways been fascinated by the path his musical career has taken him and his band/musical vechicle Scritti Politti.
From being blown away in 1985 with Cupid and Psyche ( I missed 'Songs' first time around) to the new offering 'White Bread Black Beer'-Rough Trade.
The new album sees Green locked away recording in his own Flat and stripping the sound back to a basic but very tuneful level,
Greens' vocal talent is so strong and harmonic that songs like 'Snow in Sun' which is Brian Wilson influenced and 'The Boom Boom Bap'- explaining his love affair with all that is hip-hop- are in essence fairly sraight forward musical arrangements culminating in a myriad of texture and enjoyment brought out by Gartsides'singing. The songs are a total throwback to the complex arrangements which worked so painstakingly well for him in the past.
It is always a difficult to create a good song by focusing on what is left out rather than what is left in and he has succeeded on very many levels.
He is clearly comfortable with this style of recording which shows in other stand out tracks like 'Dr Abernathy'- a stomp rock tune and 'No Fine Lines' which could have been a offering from the last 35 years.
He has been so at ease with his new material that as many people know he has played live recently and good on him.
Fans will love, others- who knows...?
You never know with Green if this will be the last album, if it is ( and I sincerely hope it isn't) he has signed off in style, gone back to his old label and chilled.
On a footnote- the album packaging and design is excellent and original as always.
on 20 December 2006
All the positive reviews for White Bread are correct. A perfect follow up from the excellent Anomie @ Bonhomie 1999 cut. This time though, we get folked:) On first listening, I hated it but after further listens you will as already stated, find yourself humming along and loving it.
The content on this cd was hinted at with a track from Anomie (Brushed with oil), all in all I think this will become a cult classic. The only track I can't get on with is Dr Abernathy, mainly because I hate the chorus, but seeing as there are 14 tracks in total on the CD, I'll live with it.
Make no mistake, Green has yet again proved that he is the prince of intelligent rock/pop....outstanding.
on 2 June 2006
I must admit to be increasingly astonished by Green's output over the years. In my opinion 'Bonhomie & Anhomie' was a creative peak, with it's jaw-dropping collision of popular genres. I just can't get enough of his subversion of the popular song! I'm always happy to educated by new music and 'White Bread Black Beer' continues to reveal its surprises. It's a lot more 'pared down', almost naive, sonically, but, for me, Green's continued emphasis on high production values (even when things sound 'homegrown' or 'preset') only enhance this simplicity into a dazzling virtue. 'The Boom Boom Bap' gently opens the album in a quiet but infectiously skewed fashion and the slection of , often relatively brief, explorations into rhythm and poetry unfold with a quiet grace. 'Pepsicocadollar', in particular, demonstrates Gartside's amazing talent for subtle, yet hypnotising, arrangement. Like his best work, it hovers with a delicate intensity reminicent of the Cocteau Twins swathes of unashamed beauty. Nods are constantly made to Brian Wilson's vast harmonies, yet the lyrics also allow scope for multiple interpretation and insight. My only disappointment, if it can be called such, is that the in the dying moments of several tracks Gartside introduces a number of highly potent and infectious grooves which only leave me panting for more. Loved the artwork for 'B&A' too and wasn't so sure about this one til I took a good look beyond the 'Stussy/Evisu stylings' and noticed the pale outlines of Green's life in his East London home behind the lyrics. Quite a precious little gem really. Hope this album helps him keep his house!
on 31 May 2006
Are Scritti Politti the most demanding band (artist) to be a fan of? 7 years of waiting after a hit and miss last album,what would Green do next? Well,it sounds like he's dropped the hip-hop stylings of the last album,and been listening to a healthy dose of Beach Boys,Beatles,Dire Straits (honestly!),and returned to the sounds that we fell in love with in the first place.Opening track "Boom boom bap" gets into the brain after one listen,and stays there.Weird lyrics,for sure,but its' gorgeous."No fine lines" is over so quickly,but then the Brian Wilson in Green comes out to play on "Snow in sun".The man hits all the buttons on this track...gorgeous multi-tracked vocals,sumptuous melody."Cooking" is a mid-paced track,but also lovely and insistent."Throw" is very 80's retro,no bad thing,but maintains the albums' strong start."Dr Abernathy" is Beatles circa "Revolver",followed by "After 6",another catchy melody.Then comes the album highlight,"Petrococadollar".Absolutely stunning vocals,gorgeous melody,bizarre words,weird key changes....what more could you want? The weakest song comes next,"E 11th Nuts",catchy but forgettable filler.The next two tracks,"Window wide open" and the beautiful country influenced "road to no regret" pick up the album again."Locked" is Green peaking again on another gorgeous mid-paced track,and then he goes completely Beach Boys on "Mrs Hughes"! Tempo changes,multi-tracked choir-style intro,key changes,odd lyrics (again!),but a truly involving story."Robin Hood" is a fine way to close a superb album that begs to be listened to with a glass of wine on a sunny day.Please don't leave it so long next time Green,music is so much duller without you around.
on 29 July 2006
As a fan of Scritti's earlier work, I was worried that a trip down memory lane might be unwise. To my relief, what I found was Green's best work since Cupid. It sounds contemporary yet nods to The Beatles/Simon & Garfunkel/ and The Beachboys at the same time. Thankfully Green has not hidden his voice behind the, at times, obsessive, over-production of Provision. Instead he has had the confidence to write, sing, play and home-produce this beautiful collection of intelligent songs. Within a couple of plays, I guarantee you will find yourself humming these tunes!