Nov 00

Let me let you into a secret

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Let me let you into a secret – Tom will kill me but he’s at least one hundred miles away now and there is no chance he can catch me with that kind of head start. One of the problems with a team blog is that the other members of the blog could potentially write something rubbish. Tom, the control freak editor that he is, would instantly step in – write something, write anything, or generally link to a lousy Guardian think piece to remove said item from the top of the blog. Well nylpm-ers, the worm has turned. I need to write something to get rid of the abhorant article below.

The rest of the team has been quiet and since late Monday I’ve had to sit there and stare at Tom’s piece on Carter USM. A piece which I both wholeheartedly agree with and wish he had never written. Y’see I was the Carter poster-boy. I own all of the records (more than the Dodgy ones I’ll have you know), the albums, the T-Shirts, the posters. And nearly everything Tom mentions below is one hundred percent correct – except: Carter USM were not a bad band. On paper, on cold hard pixel they are. The puns, the toytown punk, the appaling hairdo’s – they all belong to a bad band. But the combination of all these individual things together, along with the hopeless musical and political apathy of the time made them into something quite special. Rose tinted glasses on – let’s go.

Problem is, people never really understood where the band came from, and this provides an obvious intro to my predilictation for them. For all the supermarket guitars and obvious politics (which after thirteen years of Tory rule were less of a given than Tom suggests), the most obvious direct lineage for Carter was Rodgers and Hammerstein. Sweeping anthemic tunes matched with tricky, intricate – and yes – punny lyrics. Comparing “There Is Nothing Like A Dame” with “Sheriff Fatman” may seem odd, but the strict rhyme, gag, rhyme, gag quotient is in there. Carter stopped being as good when they stopped being as funny, but funny is not appreciated in po-faced rock and indie circles. That said the number of people singing at the top of their lungs to Carter may surprise you. Tom did it in schoolroom, I had a particular spot in the middle of the Parks in Oxford which would receive my renditions of Prince In A Paupers Grave at 2am.

Bottom line here is that Tom is correct, he does not do guilty pleasures. So use of the words blush and grudgingly should be censored. Carter are not a guilty pleasure any more than liking South Pacific is a guilty pleasure. And if you really want, I’ll do a South Pacific Original Soundtrack review if you really want. Including lesbian undertones.


  1. 1
    Brooksie on 8 Feb 2010 #

    While everything you say is true, as you point out; everything Tom said was true, too. I knew a lot of Carter fans back in the day when they were the darlings of the NME. I was never a fan myself. I found myself not taking to them because of the people who did, as much as because of the band themselves. To me, Carter, with their weak politics, puns, witticisms, baggy shorts and forced working class accents, seemed ready made to appeal to one demographic; middle-class kids. They liked the accent, they liked the anti-establishment jokeyness. But these teenagers politics went no further than ‘bigger student grants’/’racism is bad’. Carter’s biggest failing was to appeal to the most insincere fanbase of all; the kind that *think* they’re smarter than they are, and want to be taken seriously. As soon as Nirvana came along, Carter might just as well have been a SAW side project. They were like an uptempo ‘Half Man Half Biscuit’, which made them seem very frothy indeed, especially when they had to compete with the ‘serious’ stuff that was coming out of America. I never disliked Carter, but middle-class rebellion always looks tacky, *especially* when it comes across so tame and unthreatening. Philip Schofield made a comment about their lack of originality when smashing up their instruments at the Brits, and one of them went for him. Problem was; they weren’t tough guys. Why put on a display just for the crowd when it clearly isn’t what you’re about? They weren’t the Sex Pistols, so why pretend? That underlined my issues with them at the time; they wanted to be seen as rebels, but they just *weren’t*. Even a friend (who was a fan) admitted they looked silly at that point.

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