Nearly Perfect Albums #2

30 Something – Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine

The second record in what I think might be quite a lengthy series is ’30 Something’ –  the remarkable second album by South London’s Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. This is a 9 and a half out of ten kind of album, it loses the half point because I think is a tad too short. Saying that next week I will probably knock a point off because it was ‘too long’. So what I do know…

Falling on A Bruise – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Record, Taken from ’30 Something’)  

About forty minutes into my first ever Carter gig the room went totally silent.  The only light you could see was on the stage and it was highlighting Jim Bob’s face, (he’s the singer in case you didn’t know) and he was singing or rather speaking the bit at the end of ‘Falling On A Bruise’. 

Some you win and some you lose/I’ve spent my whole lifetime falling on a bruise/And if I had the chance to do it all again/I’d change everything

Before that moment, and if you ever went to those ’30 Something’ era Carter gigs, you’ll know what I mean, it had been carnage, absolute carnage, with about 1000 people all stagediving, moshing, pushing, shoving, and jumping up and down in seemingly the same two metre square bit of dancefloor.  There was one guy, I’d say he was a punk because he had a shaved head, Doc Martins and was wearing a New Model Army Tshirt and pencil thin black jeans, who had been going mental on that dancefloor.  During ‘Bloodsport for All’ I saw him pick a younger lad up and actually throw him into the dancing throng, whether the younger lad wanted that, I know not.

Bloodsport For All – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

Anyway, as Jim Bob delivered that poignant line about the mundanity of loneliness and depression I glanced over at New Model Army guy, and he had tears in his eyes.  He was physically welling up. I’d like to think that it was due to sheer beauty of the world beaten poetry that had just been delivered on stage and not because he’d hurt his hand or something.   Two minutes later they’d ripped into ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’ and New Model Army Guy was throwing himself around again so I think my guess was right.

Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

That I think is the beauty of ’30 Something’, its not just the songs that went with it.  It is the way the lyrics ‘spoke’ to a generation of people who felt left down by their luck or who had been touched by the sadness of life but always had that flicker of optimism in the face of adversity.  It is a record that one minute you can throw yourself around a room too, whether it be to the glam rock disco sledgehammer that is ‘Surfin’ USM’ or the tremendous pop sentiments of ‘Shoppers Paradise’ and the next minute can you be at one with your thoughts to tracks like ‘Falling On A Bruise’. 

Shoppers Paradise – Carter USM (1991, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ’30 Something’)

It’s a remarkable record, bold, brilliant and best of all nearly perfect.


  1. therobster71 says:

    Completely agree. I was in the front row at their show at Exeter Uni on this tour and it really was,m as you say, utter carnage. But utterly wonderful too. I just picked up a near-mint original Rought Trade issue of this on vinyl along with a load of Club Carter Charistmas cards and a personal letter to the original owner from Jimbob. A bargain at a mere £25!


  2. JC says:

    It is a perfect album. So much so, that, like Robster, I went out of my way not too long ago to track down an original copy on vinyl.

    The gigs bring back so many great memories. I felt I was that wee bit told old in my late 20s to get down there amidst the real chaos of the Glasgow Barrowlands one night. Mrs JC, some five years older proved to be utterly fearless….emerging after Bloodsport For All a little bit battered, bruised, sweaty but as happy as I’ve ever seen her.


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