Scritti Politti - White Bread Black Beer

Scritti Politti

The Mercury-nominated album from Green Gartside and co.
Rough Trade: 29 May 2006

Last updated: 20 November 2008

One of the particularly Eighties brand of pop bands on indie labels, Green Gartside and his Scritti Politti crew were top ten artists when that meant something, in the mid-years of the decade.

White Bread Black Beer cover

Tracklisting

  • The Boom Boom Bap
  • No Fine Lines
  • Snow In Sun
  • Cooking
  • Throw
  • Dr Abernathy
  • After Six
  • Petrococadollar
  • E Eleventh Nuts
  • Window Wide Open
  • Road To No Regret
  • Locked
  • Mrs Hughes
  • Robin Hood

Now, more than 20 years have passed since their heyday, Scritti Politti have elicited their greatest critical praise yet. Thanks to the star-making power of a Mercury Music Prize nomination, White Bread Black Beer has gone from being a Rough Trade curio for nostalgists to a genuine hit.

Having mucked about with American rappers and Jamaican ragga artists during the Nineties, this set was essentially Gartside, his Islington home studio and apparently some relgulars from his local pub. Stripping it down to the bare bones, eschewing fripperies and ephemera, seems to have worked.

This is an album of sweet melody but with an acid dissonance that flits in and out of hearing. Gartside has a Simon And Garfunkel-standard of tunesmithery with delicate, high-pitched vocals, but then he can take the melody into fleeting dischordancy.

Keeping the listener on their toes is something that comes naturally to White Bread... Proper pop songs (the Prince-meets-Crowded House-meets-Michael Jackson-meets-erm...-Scritti Politti Throw, for instance), meets slow and considered neo-folk (Dr Abernathy) and the glam-rock-disco burble of After Six, with its country music melody that recalls the Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.

Gartside did his own thing, as ever, for this album. Critics and award panellists have seen fit to reward him. If the public agree, it is to be hoped that another self-imosed, post-success exile doesn't follow.

Words: James McLaren


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