The brainiest man in pop (apart from Brian Eno) interviewed in The Guardian. Some excerpts:
“I still look for disorienting moments in pop,” he says. “Sometimes music can still be too powerful to deal with. It might just be an old Motown hit on the radio that is at the same time asking too much of me, and giving me too much. It happens to my wife, too. We’ll have to stop listening to it because we’ll be floored, or we won’t be able to sleep. The Jacksons’ Victory album for instance, the other day – we actually had to turn it off.”
He recorded in New York with Arif Mardin, the pasha of R&B who had produced such premium soul products as Anita Baker, Patti LaBelle and the Bee Gees. To work with such an elite craftsman was an outrageous move for anyone of the DIY punk generation, but Gartside did it anyway. “I wanted to know how it felt to make a record like that.”
In those days you had to declare any previous membership of the Communist party on your US visa application. Though Gartside had helped out at the party’s HQ in Covent Garden (“Interesting times . . . there were letter bombs going off while I was organising gigs with Aswad and Sham 69”), he had never been a full adult member of the party.
“Promoting Cupid & Psyche knocked chunks out of my already fragile psyche,” says Gartside. “I was in a poor state, physically and psychologically. I was living in various hotels and apartments in America. Cocaine was briefly a problem. After promoting Provision, that’s when the complete collapse happened.”