Carter USM | A Sheltered Life [compact disc]

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3 tracks, 12 minutes total. Originally released 1988.

Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine (frequently shortened to Carter USM) were an English indie rock band formed in 1988 by singer Jim "Jim Bob" Morrison and guitarist Les "Fruitbat" Carter. They made their name with a distinctive style of power pop, fusing samples, sequenced basses and drum machines with rock 'n' roll guitars and off-beat wordplay-loaded lyrics. They reached the height of their fame in 1992. Over the following years the band took on new members, topping out as a six-piece, but struggled to regain their earlier popularity. They initially split up in 1998 after releasing seven albums.


track listing

1. A Sheltered Life (4:03)

2. Is This The Only Way To Get Through To You? (3:40)

3. Granny Farming In The U.K. (4:16)



The duo say the poles of reference for "A Sheltered Life" are the Pet Shop Boys and World Domination Enterprises. The song is about never giving head, taking drugs or stealing for a meal, about not playing chicken on a railway line or having a tattoo or a scar that won't heal. On the B­side is "Granny Farming In The UK", a harrowing story of the spoon­feeding of old people with cruel medicine.
"Yeah, the granny business. All these dodgy people are setting up private care homes and making money, while God only know what's happening to the residents."
Subjects like war, drugs, urban deprivation, inner city violence, abuse, tower blocks and other places that are no place like home recur throughout Carter's songs.
"But we don't live in squalor," they insist. "Not now. That's why we wrote 'A Sheltered Life'. A lot of our songs are observations, things picked up from TV and newspapers. Writing from personal experience isn't always possible, especially when you're dealing with suicide or being burnt to death. But we're optimistic too. In 'Every Time A Church Bell Rings', which is about suicide, the guy doesn't go through with it."
The pair also appear to possess a savage sense of humour. They'd spent the night before our meeting placing stickers saying things like "Sexy Blonde Carter" and "Carter The Unstoppable Spanking Machine" in telephone boxes throughout central London, alongside those of prostitutes advertising their services. The phone numbers beneath Carter's enticing phrases are for record companies. The band hope one or two executives may find themselves dialling their own offices.
"We can be humourous but we're not like The Housemartins, seriously depressing songs sung in a jolly, happy, cheery chappy way. What Carter are can be told in either two minutes or three days. We're nothing and everything. We're not trying to convert anyone to any philosophy. The whole point is we haven't got a clue what we're doing. We're manic depressives with another A thrown in – maniacal – and strong circles around however many A's that makes it." 
- from Melody Maker interview by Push, 6 August 1988.