Original post here on Artrocker A Beginner’s Guide to Carter USM
A Beginner’s Guide to Carter USM
Festival bans, wrestling rubbish TV presenters…only two reasons why you should love Carter USM argues Mark Cousen
Who are they?
Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine are South Londoners Jim (Jimbob) Morrison and Les (Fruitbat) Carter. The duo were the songwriting team from critically acclaimed indie pop band Jamie Wednesday, until 1988 when the band disbanded. The story goes that at the time of their split, Jamie Wednesday had an outstanding commitment to perform at a charity gig at London’s Astoria. Not wanting to let people down, Jimbob and Fruitbat put some backing tracks together to make up for the lack of a full band and the gig went ahead. The format went down brilliantly, and Carter USM were born. Their first release was ‘Sheltered Life’ on Big Cat records, but it was ‘Sheriff Fatman’ that laid out the template for the unmistakeable Carter sound and got industry tongues wagging. The following year the band’s debut ‘101 Damnations’ was released to huge critical acclaim. In 1991 the band released ’30 Something’, an album that reached the UK top ten and spawned several hit singles. The next few years saw the band achieve a number one album with ‘1992 the Love Album’, a string of top forty singles (14 in all) and several festival headline slots including Glastonbury in 1992. However all good things come to and end, and in 1997, almost ten years after they formed Carter USM, Jimbob and Fruitbat were chatting in a coffee shop in Baltimore when they both came to the conclusion that the band had stopped being fun and decided to call it a day.
Being punk rockers at heart, Carter USM had more than their fair share of trouble and controversy.
Single ‘Bloodsport For All’, a scathing attack of racism and bullying in the army, was banned by the BBC because it had the misfortune to be released at the start of the Gulf War.
Follow up single ‘After The Watershed (The Early Learning Years)’ saw the band giving all the royalties to The Rolling Stones after they sued them for the use of line ‘Goodbye Ruby Tuesday’ in the song’s chorus.
Later that year the band played the Smash Hits Poll Winners during which Philip Schofield was stupid enough to mock the boys stage antics. The next day the tabloids were full of pictures of Fruitbat rugby tackling Schofield to the ground in front of a live TV audience.
The following year Fruitbat earned the band a lifetime ban from Glastonbury after he threatened Michael Eavis for shortening their headline set due to previous bands overrunning.
Why you should love them
A whole generation of students can’t be wrong! With their trademark sound, a fusion of fast punk rock guitars against a backdrop of samples and drum machine sequences with Jimbob’s acerbic, pun-laden lyrics (song titles include ‘The Only Living Boy in New Cross’ and ’24 Minutes From Tulse Hill’), Carter USM quickly became one of Britain’s most endearing student bands. Their songs, including Glam Rock Cops, Sheriff Fatman, Let’s Get Tattoos and Shopper’s Paradise were like musical pacemakers – within seconds they could get your heart pumping as you sang along to every single word, and that was just listening to the records.
The legendary live Carter USM experience was something else altogether. The spectacle of thousands of young students in ’30 Something’ t-shirts, moshing, crowd surfing and singing every word back at Jimbob and Fruitbat as the music exploded from million watt amps and a billion lightbulbs drained the national grid, was something very special indeed. And the adulation hasn’t waned in time. Those young students, now adults with children and proper jobs, still pack out Brixton Academy when Carter USM do their occasional reunion tours,and though the t-shirts may have gone up a few sizes and the moshpit might be a little smaller, when Jimbob and Fruitbat walk onto that stage the chants of ‘You Fat Bastard’ ring out as loud as they ever did.
Where Are They Now?
Since 2007 Carter USM have occasionally got back together for reunion gigs, though they haven’t recorded any new material. They recently played triumphant shows to a sold out Brixton Academy and Leeds Forum, and last week EMI released remastered editions of their two most successful albums, ’30 Something’ and ‘1992 The Love Album’, each coming with an extra CD containing B sides and a live concert.
Fruitbat plays with his punk Abdoujaparov and is currently putting the finishing touches to their third studio album.
Jimbob has released two albums as Jim’s Super Stereoworld and 6 as a solo artist. Most recently he has become a novelist, recently releasing his second novel ‘Driving Jarvis Ham’.
Further updates on the antics of Jimbob and Fruitbat can be found at http://www.carterusm.co.uk
Songs to Learn and Sing
Let’s Get Tattoos
Bloodsport For All
Glam Rock Cops
The Only Living Boy In New Cross