Scritti Politti – White Bread Black Beer (2006): Review

Produced by Green Gartside & Andy Houston
Label – Rough Trade

It seems that Scritti’s Green Gartside lives very comfortably with the world of pop music. Unchanged by 80’s success he lives the life of a regular Joe Normal and his pastimes bear no resemblance to the trappings of many a successful artist. His idea of a fun night is a pint down at the local, and a game of Darts (he even played for a league Darts team). Hardly the Mick Jagger, or Elton John excess, but then Green has never been your archetypal pop star. He rarely interviews, and his recording career has been sporadic to say the least. 5 albums in almost 25 years goes some way to explaining that recording music for him is less of a career, more of an entertaining diversion from a normal life. So when “White Bread, Black Beer”, his follow up to 1999’s Hip Hop influenced (and largely disappointing) “Anomie And Bonhomie” was nominated for a Mercury Music prize it must have come as a surprise to not only his audience, but the artist responsible. With the ongoing increase of quality methods of recording music, “White Bread, Black Beer” is self written, self performed and produced by Green using Pro Tools at his home, and even the album artwork is home produced by wife Alys Gartside.

The album is unmistakably Scritti Politti. Sweet pop, snatching references to influences from Beach Boys harmonies, Paul McCartney upbeat jauntiness, and early Synth pioneers such as Kraftwerk. There is less influence from the American dance music that so powered his 1980’s successes and the melancholic instrumental backing is very low key, emphasizing Green’s saccharine vocals and his love for melody. There are some memorable moments in the opener “The Boom Boom Bap”, the epic “Dr. Abernathy” and “Snow In Sun”. One of the major reservations is the fact that the album sometimes sounds like a typical home demo. Green is a “Jack Of All Trades” musician who, although proficient on keyboards and guitar, lacks the technical ability to develop the necessary individualistic accompaniment to his melodies. The simplistic chord structures and basic rhythms cry out for development using better qualified musicians and the album would have benefited immensely from this approach.

“White Bread, Black Beer” is a refreshing and sometimes intriguing return, but will never be as revered as any of the albums from Scritti Politti’s 80’s heyday

7/10

Track Listing
1.”The Boom Boom Bap”
2.”No Fine Lines”
3.”Snow in the Sun”
4.”Cooking”
5.”Throw”
6.”Dr. Abernathy”
7.”After Six”
8.”Petrococadollar”
9.”E Eleventh Nuts”
10.”Window Wide Open”
11.”Road To No Regret”
12.”Locked”
13.”Mrs. Hughes”
14.”Robin Hood”

The Boom Boom Bap

Dr Abernathy

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