100 Days Project

Michael: Saving the languishing lyrical gems of modern pop

My aim is to trawl through my memory, my "record collection" and quotation references to unearth great pop poetry, drop it in, shine it up, make a comment or two as to its origin and personal impact. Enlighten? Hmm. Entertain, amuse, I hope. 100 times.

Day 12:

25 Million Mornings After? Get Carter!

Carter USM were riding a pretty big wave when I was in the UK in ‘89/’91. Perhaps lumped in with the shoegazers & Madchester that appeared from the Summer of Love (1989) and beyond, (see Candyflip through The Farm and Happy Mondays) Jimbob and Fruitbat were their own crazy little thing. Razor sharp guitars, a drum machine at often insane speeds, an energy that was frightening and the smartest and meanest sets of lyrics to be typed onto a cassette sleeve since punk first reared its spotty head.
Taking irony to new levels their first album (1989) was “101 Damnations”, featuring the hit “Sheriff Fatman” and the maudlin epic “G. I. Blues”. My fave album was “30 Something”, where the pop edge and rapid-fire delivery melded in a fireball of frenzied delight. And the lyrics? If “101” showed clever, this was sublime. There are endless fab examples, but I have to pick “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere”.

The glorious world of 24/7 inebriation is laid out in wonderfully lyrical terms, as Jimbob details the mental anguish and torture of serious alcoholic intake. No doubt championed at gigs by sarf London louts on their seventh White Lightning, it’s far, far cleverer than they might have imagined. Talk about great first lines:

“The tequila sun is rising and the Harvey's Bristol moon is sinking
Put the Binatone on snooze open up some Special Brews and start drinking
To the biggest mess in town, then put on your dressing gown
Screw your head on upside down
Drink yourself into the ground.”

Or, good morning England, for thousands of disenfranchised yoof everywhere. Then there’s a strange, almost mis-step: he’s cleaned up! Surely not…

“The bottles by the sink
they're the softest fucking drinks on the market
Yes sir, the Thunderbirds have gone, the wagon’s rolling on
And I'm on it
And there's no such thing as Dr. Seuss
vodka and tomato juice
Disneyland or dipsomania
pick a flavour

Anytime, anyplace, anywhere
There's a wonderful world you can share"

Unscrew the lid, dial up oblivion. And then, hey, just pick a stem from the bouquet of mental quirks:

“Try agoraphobic, schizophrenic, paranoid attacks of panic
Epileptic fits of laughter twenty five million mornings after

Moonshine, firewater, Captain Morgan, Johnnie Walker,
Southern Comfort, mother's ruin, happy hours of homeless brewing
Galloways sore throat expectorant, after-shave and disinfectant,
Parazone and Fairy Liquid
If it's in a glass you'll drink it…”

You need to hear the lyrics in situ as Jimbob screams and the guitars howl, yet the melody is so sing-along-able…that was their peculiar appeal, the dark content lit up by a sunshine tune.
Clever old Carter: smart, but never subtle. Oh, and USM? Unstoppable Sex Machine. Of course.