AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #229 : CARTER USM (2)

ICA 50 was a joint effort by SWC and Badger in which they pulled out a perfect 10 from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. I’ve thought for a while that a Volume 2 is long overdue, but shied away on the basis that so many of the very best tracks had featured first time around. But then again, this is a band that, over a period over much of the 90s managed to record and release six studio albums together with sixteen singles/EPs, meaning that there are still plenty of first-rate options available to compile a further ICA.

I say all this knowing full well that Carter USM are a band that divides opinion. I think much of this is down to the fact that they enjoyed mainstream success for a short while, seen by other bands and their fans of from the era as being too gimmicky, while some of their own long-standing fans turned on them quite viciously with the ‘I much preferred the older stuff and the live shows before they got the hits’.

They were also of their time, and the limitations posed by two men, two guitars and a drum machine making noisy agit-pop was always going to stifle any development in terms of their sound. It was, however, great while it lasted and looking back on it now, you can detect that the duo themselves quickly got bored and tired with the trappings of success and in a sense, they ‘did a Pulp’ and sabotaged their careers by writing and recording tunes that were to all intent and purposes, verging on commercial suicide. But then again, as the songs that make up the middle of this ICA can testify, Carter USM were no strangers to death/murder ballads.

Anyways, with all of that as a preamble, here now is ‘This Is The Sound Of An Electric Guitar – A Second ICA from Jim Bob and Fruitbat’

SIDE 1

1. Rubbish (single, June 1990)

Let’s face it, no Carter USM compilation worth its salt is going to open up with anything other than Surfin’ USM, the opening track from their very best album, 30 Something. SWC and Tim nailed it when they said:-

“This one took us about eight seconds to decide upon. In 1992 I went to see Carter with my friend Rob –it was his first ever gig. To this day I have never seen someone grin as much as he did when that Red Dwarf sample starts up, then the crowd start chanting ‘You Fat Bastard’ at the (starry eyed?) bollock naked guy on stage and then the guitars fire up. This was why we all loved Carter. The amazing lives shows and the sense of belonging you got at one of them.”

With it being otherwise unavailable, I’m going for the first song of theirs that I can recall ever hearing, and it came courtesy of its inclusion on a compilation tape lovingly out together by Jacques. It was the band’s third single, but the first after the release of the debut album 101 Damnations. Fast, furious, funny and fantastic….it provided the template for so many of the earliest songs in which the DIY ethos of manic 100mph punk guitar gets crossed with the Pet Shop Boys on speed with lyrics written and spat out by a South London version of John Cooper Clarke.

2. Rent (b-side, June 1990)

I don’t think I’ve ever had two sides of a single open up an ICA before. Jacques had the decency to have this on the same tape as Rubbish, a deviation from the norm as he never put two songs by one singer/band on the same C90. If you don’t know it, it’s the cover of the rather beautiful single by the Pet Shop Boys. Only it’s nothing like the original.

Neil and Chris sang happily of life being so easy, with the music matching that carefree and chilled feeling. Jim Bob and Fruitbat on the other hand are cracking up under the pressures of modern living, finding it impossible to love a system in which something as basic as having a secure and safe roof over your head becomes a logistical nightmare. It’s an incredible take on the song, and it’s a damning indictment on UK society that nothing has really changed over the past 30 years.

3. The Only Living Boy In New Cross (single, 1992)

Carter USM thrived on puns and lyrics that reflected the late 80s and early 90s culture. Their biggest hit single clearly gave a knowing wink to Simon and Garfunkel’s ballad, The Only Living Boy in New York.

For the uninitiated, New Cross is an area in south-east London, in the community from where Carter USM had emerged. It was on the unfashionable side of the river in the capital, poorly served by public transport and in the late 70s and early 80s had become somewhat notorious as a place where far-right and racist politics were thriving, albeit the majority of local people were appalled by such developments. London is a city which has long inspired songwriters to compose words and music to fit in with their surroundings, but few, if any had previously celebrated life in the SE14 postcode district. Until now.

4. Young Offender’s Mum (single, 1995)

The meteoric rise had been accompanied by near-unanimous positive media. The album 1992 went straight in at #1 which was almost heard of for a band that had such indie-roots. The only problem was that 1992 – The Love Album wasn’t anywhere near as accomplished and realised as its predecessor. The album closed with a cover where, in the past, these had been confined to b-sides. Most of the Carter covers were decent affairs, but not so their take on The Impossible Dream, and to compound matters, the band thought it would be a good wheeze to release it as a single to further promote the new album and to have a stab at landing the Christmas #1. It didn’t work and many long-term fans squirmed in embarrassment. The band never really recovered from this misstep.

Fot the most part, the tracks on Post Historic Monsters (1993), Worry Bomb (1995) and I Blame The Government (1998) aren’t as immediate or memorable as the earlier material, with a sense of weariness creeping in.  This single, lifted from Worry Bomb, was something of a throwback, albeit there’s a touch of the Britpop sound in the tune.

5. Midnight On The Murder Mile (album track 1990)

Down In The Tube Station at Midnight re-imagined and relocated to the streets of South London. Worth mentioning in passing that Carter USM covered The Jam classic as a b-side in 1992.

SIDE 2

1. The Road To Domestos/Everytime a Churchbell Rings (album track, 1990)

The opening track on the debut album. It’s about suicide. It’s quite a heart-wrenching lyric when you listen closely, with tales of young people who decide that there is no longer anything worth living for. AS with the best Carter USM sings, there’s an underlying element of anger about it all.

I’ve just looked up some stats….and I’ve read that in 2017 the UK male suicide rate of 15.5 deaths per 100,000 was the lowest since figures began to be collated in a certain way back in 1981. It certainly doesn’t feel that way with so many tragic stories to be found across social media channels, with friends left behind paying warm and heartfelt tributes.

2. My Second To Last Will and Testament (album track,1991)

I, James Robert Injustice
Being of unsound body and mind
Hereby bequeath all worldly goods
To anyone who wants’ em

The worldly goods consist of debts, arrest warrants, bills and the deadly bullet that led to his demise. There’s also a set of instructions on burial arrangements. It’s all rather fast, furious, funny and fantastic (again!!) and far from serious. Guaranteed to get you sweating profusely down the front at the gigs.

3. After The Watershed (Early Learning The Hard Way) (single,1991)

The summer of 1991 had seen Carter USM reach new heights, with huge acclaim given to the album 30 Something and their live performances, particularly at all the outdoor festivals where they could be booked for a fairly low fee as there were low overheads and in return deliver something that was just different from anyone else at the time. These shows created a sense of almost uncontrolled euphoria and proved to be a real problem for those bands above then on the bill with their performances inevitably feeling leaden, dull and slow-paced in comparison.

The next single was always likely to be a hit. Carter USM decided it would be the one that addressed child abuse, taking a very taboo subject matter into the Top 20, while sampling a lyric from a Rolling Stones song that led to legal action. It was an astonishing, audacious and ambitious thing to do. Don’t ever expect to hear this one covered by anyone on a Saturday evening talent show.

4. Anytime, Anyplace Anywhere (single, 1991)

There were a couple of earlier reference to the Pet Shop Boys and the opening of this always reminds me of the first few notes of It’s A Sin…..

The phrase ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’ had been the advertising slogan of Martini in the 1970s.  Carter USM used it as the title of a hard-edged songs about the perils of alcohol dependency.

Moonshine, Firewater
Captain Morgan, Johnnie Walker
Southern Comfort, Mother’s Ruin
Happy hours of the homeless brewing
Galloways sore throat expectorant
Aftershave and disinfectant
Parazone and Fairy Liquid
If it’s in a glass you’ll drink it….

5. Falling On A Bruise (album track, 1991)

A big big big ballad. One that Mike Skinner of The Streets was surely inspired by……..

Jim Bob and Fruitbat were the most unlikely of pop stars.  They weren’t spring chickens when the hits arrived and they weren’t really well placed to deal with the amount of success that came their way.  They attracted a devoted following, many of whom still go along to Jim Bob’s solo gigs where he is always happy to play songs from the days of old.

Those gigs are, understandably, a tad less subdued than those heydays of the 90s when Carter USM were, without any question, the most exciting live act on the planet.

JC

 

HE WAS INFAMOUS FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES AND HE APPEARED ON PANORAMA

SWC and Badger, as part of this rather wonderful ICA on Carter USM that appeared back in November 2015, made the observation that Jim Bob wrote such wonderful lyrics that he had to become an author. As ever, the dynamic duo were bang on the money, with him now being the proud author of six books, two of which are autobiographical from his time with the band, and four highly readable and enjoyable works of fiction.

Jim Bob (real name James Robert Morrison) has long been a social commentator, with his lyrics, (and in later life his novels), making all sorts of observations about the unjust world we live in. He’s enjoyed chart success covering dark matters such as racism and bullying in the British Army, alcoholism and child abuse; he’s also targeted the rich, the pompous and the pampered, and on one occasion weaving all three attributes into a none too thinly disguised attack on the pop music industry.

Twenty years ago, he came up with one of his best – a blistering attack on slum landlords and the way they exploit their poor and vulnerable tenants in sickening and despicable ways,

Sheriff Fatman started out in business as a granny farmer
He was infamous for fifteen minutes
And he appeared on Panorama
Then he somehow got on board a Starship Enterprise Allowance Scheme
With a Prince of Wales Award
For pushing valium and amphetamines

Moving Up on Second Base
With Nicholas Van what’s His Face
At six foot six
And 100 Tons
The undisputed King of the Slums
With more alias’ than Klaus Barbie
Master Butcher of Leigh on Sea
Just about to take the stage
The one and only – hold the front page

Fatman’s got something to sell
To the Capital’s homeless
A Crossroads Motel
For the No Fixed Abodeless
Where you can live life in style
If you sleep in a closet
And if you flash him a smile
He’ll take your teeth as deposit

There’s bats in the belfry
The windows are jammed
The toilet’s ain’t healthy
He don’t give a damn
Just chuckles and smiles
Laughs like a madman
A born again Rachman
Here comes Sheriff Fatman

With his valium, amphetamines
Sicknotes and his phoney prescriptions
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the kitchen
Dead heads and cracked heads
Bunk beds and breakfasts
Wake up you sleepyheads
Check this

Moving up on second base
With Nicholas Van Whatshis face
At six foot six
And 100 tons
The undisputed King of the Slums
With more alias’ than Klaus Barbie
The Master Butcher of Leigh on Sea
Just about to take the stage
The one and only hold the front page

It’s a lyric that will, in all likelihood, make more sense to my domestic audience than those of you who reside overseas, so here’s a few wiki links to help with the background should you wish to explore:-

Panorama
Enterprise Allowance Scheme
Nicholas Van what’s His Face
Crossroads Motel
Rachman

The really frightening this is that nothing has changed in 30 years – indeed in many parts of the UK , the situation has got worse. It is estimated that more than 10,000 rogue landlords in England and Wales are collecting ridiculously high rents and offering sub-standard and cruelly inhumane conditions and the laws in place seem inadequate to prevent it happening time after time after time……

mp3 : Carter USM – Sheriff Fatman

The single was initially released in November 1989 when Carter USM were just beginning to come to the attention of an audience that went beyond the London pub circuit. It enjoyed a re-release in June 1991 and this time, despite most fans already having the song via the 101 Damnations album, it reached #23. The artwork and b-sides were the same on both the 89 and 91 releases, although they do have different catalogue numbers:-

mp3 : Carter USM – R.S.P.C.E.
mp3 : Carter USM – Twin Tub With Guitar
mp3 : Carter USM – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays

The first of the b-sides is another of the social commentary lyrics. Here in the UK, we have the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Birds (RSPCB) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (RSPCC). Jim Bob combines all three to invent the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Everything and has a dig at ivory poachers, factory farming and sadistic parents.

The second of the tracks is an instrumental – a genre which Carter USM were particularly adept – and takes its name from a 1981 piece of Modern Art which is most often on display in the Tate Gallery in London but is presently on loan to the Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle in Berlin.

The last on offer is a cover of the Buzzcocks single. The Carter USM version has its tongue very firmly pressed into its cheek, with the emphasis very much on life being an illusion……..

JC

RUBBISH

Only it’s anything but:-

mp3 : Carter USM – Rubbish

It’s actually quite astonishing to look back and realise how Carter USM did something so basic yet made themselves one of the biggest (certainly in the UK) and most exciting live bands of their time. It was, when you boil it all down, just two blokes who made a lot of noise with guitars together with some pre-programmed keyboards and drums as background to shouted out lyrics in the most London of accents. On paper it all sounds a bit naff. On record, it was hugely engaging listening – pop music with a social conscience – but live it was just a crazy communal sing-along and pogo-fest. The early 90s gigs were among the most frantic, energetic and fun I’ve ever experienced.

Rubbish was the band’s third single back in June 1990. It was, like their previous two singles, a flop but within a year they had cracked the singles and album charts. Rubbish was re-released in January 1992 and reached #14.

It’s b-side was and still is one of the greatest ever cover versions:-

mp3 : Carter USM – Rent

The Pet Shop Boys beautiful love song turned completely on its head; samples galore and added lyrics to detail the misery of depending on the welfare state to provide the most basic and essential of life’s needs. The final ninety seconds or so are among the angriest bits of music you will ever listen to as Jim Bob screams out the questions contained in the complicated paperwork that needed to be filled in to get a housing allowance while Fruitbat sarcastically croons ‘it’s so easy’. A reminder of the fact that the Thatcherites and her successor Tories were utter bastards to those who were poor.

JC

SAME SONG CONVEYING DIFFERENT EMOTIONS

This song, and indeed its cover, have both featured on the blog before. But a while back it hit me that the two versions deal with very different feelings and emotions and in the case of the cover raises highly relevant social issues that have been with us for as long as I can remember and which nobody in power has ever made it a priority to tackle. But then again, that would require imagination, resources and a willingness to support and empower those who are most removed from the everyday norms.

mp3 : Soft Cell – Bedsitter (12″ version)
mp3 : Carter USM – Bedsitter

Where the original brought home the emptiness of living alone in the single-room within a multiple occupancy flat, the cover is an angrier and rawer version. Where the protagonist in the original goes between the highs of being the party animal and the lows of another night alone in a cold and damp space, the protagonist in the cover is bitter at the way life has given him a bum deal but resigned to his fate as there’s no prospect of escape. Where Marc and David had fun but knew it was a false front, Jim-Bob and Fruitbat feel nothing but utter misery.

As for the politicians:-

mp3 : Chumabawamba – Mouthful of Shit

JC

IN PRAISE OF 30 SOMETHING


Postpunkmonk, in commenting on today’s ICA from Carter USM, has asked which album he should start with.

I’ll throw in my opinion with a repost (with updates) from the old blog, back in December 2011, complete with the comments left behind at the time.

While recently re-reading the excellent Goodnight Jim-Bob : On The Road with Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine (a highly recommended book available from its publishers here), I was struck by the following passage:-

On May the 10th backstage at the Carlisle Sands Centre we received a phone call to tell us that 1992 The Love Album had entered the charts at number 1. That surely should have felt a lot better than it did. I was cock-a-hoop head over heels as happy as a sandboy’s dog with two tails called Larry when 101 Damnations went into the Top 40 and even more so when 30 Something went to Number 8. Straight in at Number 1 should have killed me. But for some reason it was a bit of an anti-climax. Maybe it was because we expected it. All the planning and marketing and not releasing it the same week as Iron Maiden’s new album. I don’t know. We opened a couple of bottles of champagne on stage that night and sprayed them all over the audience like the Schumacher brothers but it should have meant a lot more. And yet that Sunday evening in Carlisle I was almost disappointed.

Maybe the unsaid thing from Jim Bob is that he knew the band’s poorest LP to date had been the one to take them to the pinnacle and it left a bit of a sour taste.

The band had come a very very long way in a short period of time. Late 1989 had seen the release of the critically acclaimed 101 Damnations on Big Cat Records. An LP that wiki describes perfectly as a critical account of life south of the River Thames, full of black humour, cynicism, wordplay and puns – as indeed was so much of Carter USM’s output over the years.

February 1991 saw the release of 30 Something on Rough Trade Records. It was at this time that I got my first ever live experience of the band with an incredible performance in the tiny space at Glasgow Tech Students Union (Jacques the Kipper was with me that night). I caught them live again later in 1991 and again was amazed by the show. They were energetic, lively and hugely entertaining. And in 30 Something, they were promoting what I reckon is one of the best and most overlooked LPs in critics lists – one that has stood the test of time almost 25 years on.

It got them a move to a major label – to Chysalis Records – and 1992 was the year when the UK and much of Europe went bonkers for Jim Bob and Fruitbat, much of it lovingly recalled in the book. There were headlining slots at festivals and just over a year after not selling out a student union, Glasgow was treated to two nights at the Barrowlands – they could just as easily have packed the 12,000 capacity SECC. But the songs on 1992 The Love Album seemed for the most part a bit dull compared to what had appeared on the first two records.

Reputedly costing less than £4000 to record and produce, 30 Something is a masterpiece. From the opening snatched and oh-so accurate dialogue lifted from an episode of Red Dwarf:-

“When You’re younger you can eat what you like, drink what you like and still climb into your 26-inch trousers and zip them closed. But then you reach that age….24, 25…your muscles give up, they wave a little white flag and without any warning at all you’re suddenly a fat bastard” ….

all the way through to the melancholy and sadness of the closing track The Final Comedown, there isn’t a wasted moment across its entire 41 minutes.

There’s great passion, energy and humour in the lyrics even when they are dealing with really dark and serious issues such as alcoholism, racism, bullying, domestic violence and depression. There’s a great warning of the perils of consumerism which include the use of a sample of the voice of Joe Strummer and so many attacks on the state of UK society with the have and have-nots thanks to Thatcherism. For me…..it is the most punk of albums with an electronic twist. And as I say, one that today still hasn’t lost its ability to have me jumping around the room like an idiot (even if nowadays I do it in my head rather than in reality….)

It’s an Immense Record. At and more than 50 something it still speaks to me.

Comments

The Robster said… Brilliant piece, JC. There’s not a word I disagree with in there. I too loved Carter and first saw them on that 30 Something tour (Exeter Uni). One of the roughest gigs I’ve ever been too (rougher than UK Subs, Stiff Little Fingers, Therapy?) – covered in bruises I was – but it was worth it. Their subsequent records never quite reached the heights of those first two and 30 Something really is a great lost classic. 12:51 pm, December 15, 2011

Anonymous said… Carter forever! likewise at 45 this music is still talking to me , there were great and they are still amazing Filip 12:52 pm, December 15, 2011

Simon said… Will And Testament is my favourite Carter track, although I do like the whole album, but that one has always stood out for me, one of my favourite songs of that whole era pre-grunge, post Roses. Still one of my favourite bands for lyrical content too, in fact I sometimes think their music wasn’t always good enough for their lyrics, which I can read on their own and still enjoy. 1:47 pm, December 15, 2011

Anonymous said… Love this and 101 Damnations. The Final Comedown is destined for my funeral. ctel 2:45 pm, December 15, 2011

Rigid Digit said… Saw Carter in the fleapit that was The Carribean Club in Basingstoke in 1990. 101 Damnation s was a fine, fine album (“GI Blues” anyone?), but 30 Something was the defining album of my late youth. The key house party mosh track were “Surfin USM” & “Shoppers Paradise”. Still played fairly regularly, usually as a Sunday morning wakener. 1992 was good, but it would’ve taken something extra special to surpass 30 Something. I wasn’t quite 20-Something when it was released, and being 30 Something was a lifetime away. I’m now 40 Something and that album will remain in “My Top Albums Ever” List 7:10 pm, December 15, 2011

Push said… Good piece. I interviewed Jim and Fruitbat loads of times back in the day – including their first ever interview in the national music press (Melody Maker, 1988). You can read that and also another Carter interview (from 1993) on my website if you’re interested. All being well, my name should be a link. Cheers! 8:32 pm, December 15, 2011

Anonymous said… Fruitbat! I have worn my cassette of this and the 1992 album to a stretched out mess. Dark and humorous in a way not many bands can actually pull off. 12:45 am, December 16, 2011

—————————-

Means a lot when I get praise like that from The Robster…..and Ctel’s comment about The Final Comedown being destined for his funeral brought a wee lump to my throat.

JC : 16 December 2011

 

And here’s the cover version I would have to include in any Carter ICA.  Don’t ask me though to remove any of the 1o that S-WC and Badger came up with.

mp3 : Carter USM – Rent

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #50 : CARTER USM

Just two guys messing around (part 7)
An Imaginary Compilation (of Sorts) by SWC and Tim Badger

carter_USM

“Do you know” said Badgerman as we sat at his computer and waited for the computer program to load. “It would be quicker, to just pick a name out of a hat”. Obviously, he is right, although personally I enjoy typing the names of 168 different football clubs into a spreadsheet, then watching him type a massively long and vastly complicated formula into it and then gawp in delight as half a second later the machine brings back a number. Seriously if the FA Cup draw was half as exciting as this it would get 50 million viewers. I might write to Gary Lineker.

We’ve decided to do another little trip – this time we have included the Scottish teams – and have a vague plan to meet up with JC and half of Glasgow should we get a Scottish club. Saying that I was looking at the location of some of Scottish clubs and secretly am now praying that we don’t end up in Forfar or Stranraer.

The results are in….It’s Rochdale.

I’m not sure I can quite describe how underwhelming this is. We have literally the whole of England, Scotland and two places in Wales to choose from and the stupid computer chooses, Rochdale. One of the dullest places on Earth. It is a well known fact that Rochdale has been voted the Britains most boring town 715 years in a row. It’s so boring that its twinned with the small Scottish village of Dull.

There is usually a get out jail card with these things – the team we pick has to be at home on the day we are going (November 7th).  Sadly for us, Rochdale are at home, it’s also the cup. I start researching Rochdale and what there is to do there in case we are massively early– the polite answer is not much. There is a museum, but not only is it closed its also dedicated to Nigel Mansell.

Rochdale are playing Swindon. As a Gillingham fan, I am supposed to hate Swindon, I have no idea why this rivalry exists, Swindon is nowhere near Gillingham – I would imagine that in 1974 the teams played out a close 0-0 thriller and the Swindon fans cruelly mocked the Gillingham fans for living in caravans or something. I therefore immediately start to warm towards Rochdale, and besides it can’t be as much of a dump as Crewe.

Later that day I tell JC that we are going to be in Rochdale – it turns out that JC is actually president of the Scottish Rochdale Supporters Club (president by the fact that he is actually the only known Scottish Rochdale Fan) and that his good friend Jacques the Kipper is a Swindon fan (I make a mental note to mock Jacques should we ever meet). Sadly they are going to watch Auchernauldy Utd vs Fort William Reserves in the Irn Bru Challenge Cup (or something) so he and Jacques can’t make it.

The day of the trip arrives, and again Badger and I decide to do a compilation on the 11th track that comes on the iPod. As its Badger’s birthday on the Monday I let him use his iPod and I drive. I also offer to go first. I’ll point out here that Badger secretly loaded up his iPod with Radio 2 friendly pop music the other day on the off chance that one of them would come up as my 11th track. “The risk of me getting one of them is worth it for the look on your face” he said. The sixth track on the way up is by Savage Garden and the ninth (now that is close) is by M People. I so hope this is going to backfire on him on the way home.

We drive past Bridgewater Services this time, deciding that despite the fact we are hungry, desperate for a piss and a cuppa, we’d rather eat the crumbs off of my daughter car seat, piss our trousers, and then wring them out and drink that than ever set foot in that place ever again. The 11th track comes on somewhere near Highbridge, delayed slightly by the 12 minute Underworld track that came on as track 8. We both grin – its Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. A band universally loved – I have never ever met a single person who didn’t love them. This is a band that I have thought about doing an ICA on before and one that JC reveals to me later in the week that he too has one planned for them.

For the next hour Badger and I discuss our favourite Carter tracks and gigs – he mentions at length one he went to in London at a tiny place called The Venue in New Cross it was a secret gig – which celebrated the release of Rubbish. I chose a gig at Shepherds Bush Empire in 1996. Weirdly we were both at the same Carter gig on the ‘Post Historic Monsters’ Tour in Tonbridge – we didn’t know each other at the time. Of course our favourite moment was the time that Fruitbat twatted Phillip Schofield live on telly.

I was wrong about Rochdale – it is worse than Crewe;  Crewe looks like Beverley Hills compared to Rochdale. We find the only pub in the area which doesn’t have blood stains on the pavement outside, a place called ‘The Albion’ and try to compile our Carter Imaginary Compilation. After two pints, a couple of lukewarm burgers and some rubbery lettuce, we have decided on four tracks (the first three and the last one). We spend most of the time debating whether or not we should do a Carter covers compilation or a B Side compilation or a mixture of the lot. We could actually do all three but decide on a mixture. We also decide to limit it to four singles and try to include tracks from at least four different albums.

Side One

Surfin USM (from 30 Something) – This one took us about eight seconds to decide upon. In 1992 I went to see Carter with my friend Rob –it was his first ever gig.  To this day I have never seen someone grin as much as he did when that Red Dwarf sample starts up, then the crowd start chanting ‘You Fat Bastard’ at the (starry eyed?) bollock naked guy on stage and then the guitars fire up. This was why we all loved Carter. The amazing lives shows and the sense of belonging you got at one of them.

Sheriff Fatman (from 101 Damnations) – Another obvious one, and for many, still their best song, and easily their most recognisable. The first Carter song I actually owned, having got it on Happy Daze Vol 1 (I think) – which was a Christmas present from my brother in 1990.  At Reading 1991, I bought a Sheriff Fatman TShirt which had the words ‘ YOU FAT BASTARD’ on the back of it. I wore it to sixth form college about two months later and promptly got marched back home by Kent’s finest officers about seven minutes after leaving the house. I still have it – it doesn’t fit anymore – but I just can bear to part with what is my last remaining item of teenage rebellion

Shoppers Paradise (from 30 Something) – My favourite Carter track. Essentially a pop song with wonderful lyrics which make you realise why Jim Bob had to become an author….Here’s a snippet…

“Ground floor Shoppers’ Paradise; habit-dashery, needles, spoons and knives; knuckle-dusters, glass jaws and wooden hearts. Spend your money girls on sprays and lipsticks; tested on bunnies, girls, strays and misfits; ozone friendly rape alarms for those blinding dates – another summer of hate”

I genuinely could listen to the lyrics of this for hours on end.

Skywest and Crooked (from 1992 the Love Album) The Love Album is in my opinion the weakest of all the Carter albums, yet this is the standout track from it. I love the range on this – it almost slightly operatic in its style and the inclusion of the late great Ian Dury on it is just magical.

Ceasefire (from Worry Bomb) – Clocking in at nearly nine minutes long I think this is the longest track Carter ever recorded. Its also one of the most emotional and poignant. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in 1996 I saw Carter start a gig with this – 5000 people were so up for it and Jim Bob came on alone and did the first three minutes acapella. 5000 people stood there fixated on the stage – but nothing happened, no fireworks, no explosions, no lights, just Jim and that voice shouting ‘Bang Bang’ – it was brilliant.

Side Two

Sheltered Life (Single) – Chris, my former friend (he of the Dubstar argument – and just in case, it’s Halifax you donkey brained knobjockey) bought this for me ‘as a present’ in 1991. He then three hours after he gave it to me charged me a fiver for it, claiming he’d never said present at all. I got revenge though as I once spilt tea all over his copy.

Bedsitter (B Side to Bloodsport For All) – When Bloodsport for All was originally released it was at height of the war in the Gulf – and radio stations started to get very twitchy over playing songs about war, the army etc. Radio One in all its wisdom played this track instead, until they realised that at the end, you can hear Jim Bob shouting ‘Fucking Arsehole Bastard’. Between us Badger and I have 17 Carter cover versions, we only have room for one – so we listed them with the best at the top. On both our lists, this came top. Its brilliant and in my opinion miles better than the original. Badger also put their version of Trouble by Shampoo in second place.

Re Educating Rita (B Side to Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere) As well as the obligatory B Side cover version, there were some B Sides that were just as memorable and incredible as the singles. For me ‘Re Educating Rita’ is the archetypal Carter song – the clever pun in the title, the relentlessly sing a long nature of the chorus. It really should have been a single, particularly as its miles better than the track that it was stuck away on the B Side of.

Bloodsport For All (From 30 Something) – When I was 15 I nicked a fiver out of my dad’s wallet, I then walked four miles to Chatham and bought this on 12”. It was my first ever 12”. Ironically I bought it from Our Price – the same shop that I would later meet Our Price Girl in. I told my dad two days later about the fiver – he grounded me for a week. It was worth it – every second.

G.I. Blues (from 101 Damnations) – The perfect end perhaps – one thing that Carter always did when they ended a show with this was changed the words to this the ‘I wish I was in….’ bit usually became whichever town you were standing in at that moment – it seems clichéd now, but when you were there, it made you feel like you were in the most important place in the world. Apart from if you were in Croydon. When you felt like shouting back, ‘No, no you don’t’.

mp3 : Carter USM – Surfin USM
mp3 : Carter USM – Sheriff Fatman
mp3 : Carter USM – Shoppers Paradise
mp3 : Carter USM – Skywest and Crooked
mp3 : Carter USM – Ceasefire
mp3 : Carter USM – Sheltered Life
mp3 : Carter USM – Bedsitter
mp3 : Carter USM – Re-educating Rita
mp3 : Carter USM – Bloodsport For All
mp3 : Carter USM – G.I. Blues

So there you go – Carter. Essential listening.

Rochdale won the football – 3 goals to 1 and this was largely thanks to a hat trick from one of their guys, the obvious class act on the pitch. We are aiming to do this again – in early January for Round 3 of the FA Cup. Please let us know if anyone else wants to meet up, we’ll do the science, and let you all know where we will be.

S-WC and the guitarist out of The Badgers

WRITTEN BEFORE THE OUTCOME IS KNOWN

519IYKFtLIL

The title track of the 1998 LP will sum up the views of many folk today, no matter if we have voted ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

mp3 : Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – I Blame The Government

The Saturday series and Moz singles will be in their usual place over the weekend and come Monday, normal service will hopefully have been resumed.

Thanks for your patience.