Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NEW ALBUM > Scritti Politti "White Bread Black Beer"

“His best material since Cupid? Indisputably. His best album, ever? Looking more likely with every listen.”

— Simon Reynolds (author of the critically acclaimed post-punk history Rip It Up and Start Again)

“All that history is implicit as Gartside--simply ignoring the possibility of 1980s nostalgia—instead unveils a talent as unclassifiable and undimmed as ever.”

— Nick Hasted, Independent (UK)

White Bread Black Beer is the first new album by Green Gartside, the man who is Scritti Politti, since 1999. The album features fourteen new tracks, written and recorded solo by Gartside in a back room in his Hackney, London home. Nonesuch Records will release the album in North America on July 25, 2006 in conjunction with the UK’s Rough Trade Records.

A four-star review in the Observer (UK) calls White Bread Black Beer “a triumphant return from a true maverick.” Gartside’s history—from Camden squat-land post-punk collective to purveyor of “lustrously polished [pop] which earned him the distinction of Miles Davis’ admiration and the right to be considered a founding father of modern American R&B”—is an extraordinary one. And after a long silence, his new album finds him at last reconciling all of the strands of this history, from his intellectual lyrical preoccupations to the seductive pop sensibility of his mid-eighties work. Or, as the Observer concluded, “The best of the songs here might be the work of a post-structuralist Brian Wilson.”

Gartside has also given new life to Scritti Politti as a live band, currently playing low-key shows in the UK with several musicians he recruited from his Hackney social scene. These shows, his first in 26 years, have been overwhelmingly well received—a recent concert earned four-stars in The Independent. Plans for North American Scritti Politti shows, their first ever, are being made and will be announced in the near future.

“Those who have followed the winding path of Green’s music with Scritti Politti—and I count myself as one of his great admirers—have been transfixed for decades by music that I consider some of the most startling and addictive of its time,” said Nonesuch Senior Vice President David Bither. “The great regret has been that there wasn’t more of it. So to have White Bread Black Beer practically fall from the skies is unexpected. But most astonishing is to have this record, in 2006, be, from many angles, the best work Green has ever done.”

Scritti Politti may be best known to American audiences for the mid-1980s pop hits, “Perfect Way” and “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)”, but the Welsh-born Gartside’s career as musician and songwriter spans nearly three decades. Formed in Leeds in the late 1970s as a loose-limbed collective with Gartside at its center, early Scritti Politti espoused Marxist theory and became critical darlings of John Peel and the like. But as praise amassed Gartside battled with the spotlight and succumbed to a panic attacks so fierce he stopped performing altogether after a 1980 concert supporting Gang of Four.

Gartside took a few years away but re-emerged in 1982 with the UK single “The ‘Sweetest’ Girl”. He moved to New York in 1983 and immersed himself in US pop music—especially R&B. The eventual 1985 album Cupid & Psyche boasted the two aforementioned hits and made Gartside an MTV star.

With the success, Gartside again retreated. 1988 brought the studio album Provision (and a collaboration with Miles Davis) and then not another Scritti Politti album until 1999’s Anomie & Bonhomie that included guest collaborations Mos Def and M’Shell Ndegeocello.


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