Whiteout are the Greenock born rockers who emerged at the same time as a 5 piece from Manchester who had 2 brothers with eyebrows thicker than an average Scottish accent. Today marks the anniversary of the release of the bands highly regarded debut album Bite It. Matt Mead reviews retrospectively for Shiiine On.
Having formed over a love of The Stone Roses, which is overly evident with the band signing to Silvertone records (famed for signing the Manchester band), there were line-up changes before Whiteout settled on the line-up that would go on to record Bite It. Guitarist Eric Lindsey, Stuart Smith on Drums, Paul Carroll on bass and Andrew Caldwell on vocals were your perfect looking and sounding 4 piece. Wearing retro Adidas Stan Smith trainers, Rainbow striped t shirts, classic Levi denim and styling their bowl haircuts to mix in with the likes of Brown and Squire, the band had the impeccable swagger going on, some of which is captured in the liner notes of the album.
The album’s sound was developed on the road over a number of months, most notably co-headlining a tour of the UK with a group of young, dangerous upstarts from Manchester, a little known band at the time called Oasis. Both bands had shown their potential playing live on Channel 4’s weekly TV trash programme The Word. Apparently the rumour goes that after Whiteout appearance the band were swiftly sent to Camden market to be kitted out in some more stylish attire so they didn’t resemble Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.
Recorded at Park Lane Studio in Scotland, Bark and Battery Studios (another Stone Roses reference) in London the album kicks off with The Faces influenced track 38. Eric deliveries a gritty stop start guitar riff until the band all fall into place delivering a groove not too dissimilar with the likes of Teenage Fanclub. Next up is the almighty, all conquering No Time. An anthem for the Menswear Mod generation, but not directly for the Stranglers impersonators, this anthem packs a bigger punch than Barry McGuigan and a lyric that has forever been a positive call to action ‘no time to think for tomorrow, I’ve got to live for today’. With the sort of arrangement that made She Bangs The Drums such a beloved indie anthem, No Time doesn’t disappoint. Ever.
We Should Stick Together is a romantic lullaby, in the same tradition as Love Lies Here by The Faces and Ride A White Swan by Bolan. The composition evokes images of a couple romantically involved, confessing their undying love for each other, forever and ever more. A elegantly emotional day dream ditty for those young at heart and in love. The single Jackie’s Racing is up next with the opening lyric ‘Jackie says that her Sundays are no fun’. Playful in its overall soundscape, the song hints towards The Beach Boys and The Mamas and Papas. The single sleeve featured a young lady draped over her bed with a Whiteout poster in the background. Maybe a throwback to the 70’s music annual Jackie that featured the likes of The Osmonds and Bay City Rollers.
Further highlights across the set include the shimmering Shine On You, with glitchy Spiritualized guitar Andrew sings ‘shake your ass, coz love don’t Shine On You’, the kick back soft ballad of U Drag Me and lastly the acoustic beauty of You Left Me Seeing Stars. This band truly had everything going for them at the time of the release, but as fate would have it Whiteout and Bite It didn’t make the headlines, not as well as Definetly Maybe, but maybe it’s now time for a rebirth and reissue as none of the material from Bite It is currently available on Spotify and iTunes, only second hand copies are available via the likes of eBay.
Bite It still stands up 25 years later as a indie classic, a forgotten gem, in the same forgotten ilk as The High Somewhere Soon, World Of Twist Quality Street and The Stone Roses debut, an album that should be picked up and polished on a regular basis to bring out the best shine on the collection, there are no Fools Gold in this selection.
Live pictures taken by Nicola Smith at Manchester Roadhouse June 1995.