O'Really?

February 23, 2021

Happy 30th birthday 30 something

Filed under: music — Duncan Hull @ 8:41 pm
Tags: ,

Last week, the 18th Feburary, was the 30th birthday of 30 something, the second album by Sarf Londoners Jim Bob and Fruitbat. Better known as Carter USM, their album was released in 1991 on Rough Trade Records, and was a commercial and critical success. Back in 1991, my school friends and I were bracing ourselves for our rapidly approaching A-level exams that summer. To avoid revising and escape boredom we used to go to live gigs. One of the bands we went to see was Carter USM at the Bristol Bierkeller, on their Bloodsport For All tour.

Artists Jim Bob and Fruitbat combined three things to great effect in their work:

  1. Two loud guitars
  2. Samples, drum-machine loops, synthesised melodies and bass
  3. Witty and insightful lyrics loaded with wordplay

The album was made for just £4k on an eight track (according to Wikipedia). Typically classified as grebo music, Carter were really a punk band at heart. That’s punk as in this is a chord, this is another, this is a third, now form a band. Like a lot of music, the live experience trumps the recorded one. What better way to appreciate music than to stage dive, crowd surf and mosh (in the mosh pit) with like-minded souls in your local live music venue?

Carter’s music tackled all the usual themes of love, loss and the human condition alongside tricker and more controversial subjects like racism, capitalism, bullying in the army, drug and alcohol abuse, dodgy landlords and more.

So Happy Birthday, Carter! To pay tribute to the Happy Days of 1991, here are some samples of Carter’s work:

Surfin’ USM

This instrumental was the first track on the album, and used to open sets. It’s memorable for sampling an Arnold Rimmer quote:
When you’re younger you can eat what you like, drink what you like, and still climb into your 26″ waist trousers and zip them closed.
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 f@t b@st@rd.

God Save the Queen, Bloodsport for All!

Stand up and beg, said Sergeant Kirby Lay down, play dead for Di and Fergie Roll up, roll up goes the reveille Abuse the bugle boy of company B The coldest stream guards of them all Sang God Save the Queen, Bloodsport for all

Sheriff Fatman

Well Sheriff Fatman started out as a granny farmer
He was infamous for fifteen minutes and he appeared on Panorama …
Fatman’s got something to sell To the Capital’s homeless
A Crossroad’s Motel For the No-Fixed-Aboders
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

Ground floor, Shoppers Paradise

Spend your money girls on sprays and lipsticks
Tested on bunnies, girls, strays and misfits
Ozone friendly rape alarms For those blinding dates …

We’ve got nothing of value so there’s no V.A.T.
We’re going S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G. …
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls The big shop is open and the world is wonderful

Sealed With a Glasgow Kiss

Love ain’t like the movies
Its blisters and bruises
Knocks you about with its fists
It leaves you a wreckage
All postaged and packaged
Sealed with a Glasgow kiss

Anytime, anyplace, anywhere: there’s a wonderful world you can share


The tequilla sun is rising
And the Harvey’s Bristol moon is sinking
Put the Binatone on snooze
Open up some Special Brews
And start drinking


Second to last will and testament

Give my body to medical science If medical science will have me They can take my lungs and kidneys But my heart belongs to Daphne. DAPHNE!

Loved you to death after the watershed

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday Come home you silly cow
We’ve baked a cake and your friends are waiting
And David Icke says he’d like to show us how
To love you back to life again now


The only living boy in New Cross

I’ve teamed up with the hippies now I’ve got my fringe unfurled
I want to give peace, love and kisses out To this whole stinking world
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

This is how it feels to be lonely, this is how it feels to be small


This is how it feels when your word means nothing at all.
(Not a Carter creation but they do a great cover version, such as this one at the Brixton Academy)

References

  1. George Bass (2019) Carter USM: how we made Sheriff Fatman The Guardian
  2. Jim Bob (2004) Goodnight Jim Bob: On the Road with Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine Cherry Red Books

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