Green Gartside, enigmatic auteur of such ’80s dance-floor hits as “Perfect Way,” makes his brilliant pop-symphonic return, with influences/references ranging from Brian Wilson to Run-DMC. The New York Times declared, “It's hard to imagine how he could have made a better album.”
“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 14 new tracks, written and recorded solo by Gartside in a back room in his Hackney, London, home. Nonesuch Records released the album in North America in 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.”
“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, which included guest collaborations Mos Def and M’Shell Ndegeocello.
Written and performed at home in East London by Green Gartside
Recorded and mixed at home in East London by Andy Houston and Green Gartside
Mastered by John Dent at Loud
Design by Glory Hall, Alys Gartside, and Green Gartside
This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.