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4.5 out of 5 stars
45
4.5 out of 5 stars
White Bread, Black Beer
Format: Audio CD|Change
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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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 June 2017
Green Gartside seems to work at a pace only rivalled by the equally sumptuous Blue Nile with this, his first album in seven years. Dating from 2006, Black Bread, White Beer is simply an undiscovered gem. Recorded entirely at home using an Apple Mac with Gartside the sole performer this is a fabulous collection of alternatively stripped back and luxurious tunes, many of them seemingly introspective, though you'd be hard pushed to interpret many of Gartside's oblique lyrics which add a sense of mystery. The whole album hangs together well, though standouts here are opener The Boom Boom Bap, detailing Gartside's almost unhealthy obsession with rap; and the almost impossibly gorgeous Petrococadollar. This is music to sink into, deservedly nominated for a Mercury music prize. A far more substantial and even work than predecessor Anomie and Bonhomie, the whole is a lovely journey. Of all the Scritti Politti albums this is the one I come back to repeatedly. A strong album.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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VINE VOICEon 5 September 2006
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.

Truly remarkable.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 2 July 2006
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...
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on 8 June 2006
Green Gartside - possibly Britain's most unappreciated musical genius - does it again. White Bread, Black Beer is a beautiful, stunning album that would sell as many copies as Coldplay's X&Y were there any justice in the world.

Anhomie & Bonhomie probably knocked the average Scritti fan for six with it's hip-hop beats and appearance by Mos Def and the like. Of course, those that stuck with it would most likely have adored it after a few plays. The same happens here...

First listen, it seems like a letdown after Anhomie. But then, as with every album that Green's ever recorded, it grows and grows on you. I'm now at the point where I jump out of bed in the morning and listen to as much of the album as I've got time for before heading into work. If Anhomie was beautiful mixed with hardcore, this is just beautiful.

The standout tracks for me are The Boom Boom Bap (perfect opening track), Locked (probably the most traditionally Scritti song - Green's voice will melt your heart on this one), Robin Hood (just tremendously catchy), Mrs Hughes (one of the most creative tracks I've ever heard) and Dr Abernathy (which matches any up-tempo song ever written by The Beatles, although, of course, there's much more to this six minute epic than just "the rock/pop part in the middle").

I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford to buy a large number of CD's every month. I've a feeling that most will remain unplayed for some time to come, though, as I just can't take this out of my player.

If you're on the fence on this one, I urge you to take a leap and buy instantly. Whatever your taste in music, you'd have to have a heart of stone not to fall in love with this stunning album after a couple of plays.
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on 4 June 2006
I wasn't too sure of this on first listen. But give it a few listens and you will be playing it all summer. Like many I grew up with the highly polished multi-hooked burping dub rock and soul of Cupid and Provision. These albums will always represent a kind of pinnacle of urgent yearning youth, a deliciously subversive mix of muscular funk and delicate falsetto. But Green finally seems perfectly at ease with letting the music take him where it wants to go and I think he pulls off another triumph with this album. The songs are simple, and yet edgy and unpredictable. There are glimpses of the pop-a-bam-bop Scritti of old, but its mixed with the kind of sensibility and warmth that comes with the years and tears.

First rate.
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on 24 June 2006
Green Gartside is back, and my God, isn't he just. Having spent seven years away from the limelight following the eclectic 'Anomie and Bonhomie', an LP fused with rock, rap and hiphop (something which burst clean out of the blue and may still leave most SP hardnuts who didn't sense it coming still shaking in surprise), the bearded balladeer with the voice as soft as silk interrupts a huge hiatus with 'White Bread Black Beer'. Is it a return to form? Is it a further notch to Green's already overnotched genre bedpost?

WBBB is most definitely a callback to Green's first three albums (Songs to Remember, Cupid & Psyche 85, Provision) - incorporating the bizarre, lush lyrical dexterity of STR (remember 'Lions After Slumber'?), the cool, calm and collected whispering of Provision, and the dynamic commercial punch Cupid managed to deliver so well. It's a huge melting pot, which may not be immediately likeable musically, but is certainly admirable lyrically upon first glance.

WBBB is perhaps Green's most adventurous album lyrically (see 'Cooking', 'Dr. Abernathy' and 'Mrs. Hughes' especially), yet in terms of what we receive in terms of music, it's yet another area Scritti Politti can have said to have encompassed ~ minimalism. WBBB is a simple, gentle jog, through minor-key chords, slow acoustic strumming, choral arrangements and tunes so simple that, unlike some of SP's most hi-eclectica moments, you'll have no problem humming to yourself days and weeks after hearing them. Green's voice, most admirably, still coos and serenades as cute and as bodiless as ever, with the added bonus that, this time around, it's more audible than ever - cast above his relaxing, downtempo compositions as if he is, somehow, gently floating above his own instruments.

WBBB is a remarkable showcase for both Green's song-penning ability and his musical aptitude (he recorded everything on the album himself in his own house!), yet may be a little lightweight for those who enjoyed SP's last three albums for their uptempo dynamism - this is clearly a step down in tempo, but, for the other lobby in the Scritti Politti debate, a step down in terms of kitsch.

Notably, not only was this album was released on Rough Trade, where SP's first line-up saw their fortunes take flight, but Green also takes it upon himself to thank David Gamson and Fred Maher, the duo who made up SP's lineup during Cupid and Provision. If, by any chance, this happens to be Green's final escapade (and knowing Green, it hopefully won't be), I myself would be extremely happy with the now firm, complete repetoire that WBBB has helped seal. Not one to match up to Cupid or Provision, but a very, very nice collection of songs that all 'serious' followers of Green cannot afford to idly dismiss.
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