1992 – The Love Album, by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine
Suggested by Saira Gorringe
Back in their heyday, Jim Bob and Fruitbat of Carter USM were quite the waggish scamps.
The band had their particular fifteen minutes of fame in the early Nineties. They headlined Glastonbury in 1992, but apparently insulted Michael Eavis so ferociously that they were banned from appearing in subsequent years. Fruitbat rugby tackled the presenter Philip Schofield live on TV in front of millions at the Smash Hit Poll Winners Party 1991 after P-Scho insulted their stage-smashing antics (a result of their performance being curtailed). And of course, there was the massive furore over the band’s use of the refrain “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” in one of their songs, which led to a protractive legal tussle with The Rolling Stones and the removal of said song from the album.
I don’t think these things did much to dent their popularity. Far from it. They fed on the notoriety somewhat, until they managed to fatally dent their popularity of their own accord by, well, being a bit crap.
I was in my late teens when all this kicked off, full of heavy metal, high on piss and vinegar, ready to take on the world (or at least a tiny subsection of it). While I wasn’t one for their alt rock indie punk stylngs, with its sampling and keyboards and jangle-pop aesthetic, I was down with their temperament and anarchic approach, and their deft wordplay-heavy lyricism. And the Ruby Tuesday thing always seemed ridiculous, with Mick and Keith acting as Prime Sharks, wringing every penny from the musical minnows. Who the hell do The Rolling Stones think they are? Metallica?
1992 – The Love Album is Carter’s singular Number 1 Album of their musical tenure, housing their only Top 10 single, my standout The Only Living Boy in New Cross. It’s less punk and more synth-pop, with the title punning on the Simon and Garfunkel track The Only Living Boy in New York. The song gallops along at a fair lick, enthusing the listener and delivering some rather dated lyrics that still manage to feel uplifting. I particularly like the list of cliques: “The gypsies, the travellers and the thieves / The good, the bad, the average and unique / The grebos, the crusties and the goths / And the only living boy in New Cross.” I genuinely smiled on rehearing this today, as I’ve not thought of grebos or crusties for decades.
The other songs on the album follow a similar pattern. It’s all quick-paced and quirky, the Lightning Seeds hungover and squatting in an abandoned warehouse, with Jim Bob’s high and disdainful sneer lacquering everything with a slightly unpleasant sheen. While there are some decent songs, such as Do Re Me So Far So Good, tracks like their pompous cover of Impossible Dream do tarnish their brand somewhat, and the cameo from Ian Dury does little to help either side of the equation.
Based on the strength of their Top 10 tune, 1992 – The Love Album takes home a 6/10 score today. While I’m happy to shuffle up The Only Living Boy in New Cross into my future playlists, I’ll likely leave the rest behind and the project continues apace. And no matter what I do, I’ll always get them confused with EMF. I know, the things I say… Unbelievable.