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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Carter's Words Get Lost in Aural Barrage

March 18, 1994|RICHARD CROMELIN

There's nobody named Carter in the duo known as Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, which played the Roxy on Wednesday. The two south London singer-guitarists are known as Fruitbat and Jim Bob, and today's rock world provides no context for their punk-pop broadsides.

So they roam like mad prophets without portfolio, proclaiming not so much from passion and purpose, it appears, as from helpless compulsion--Jim Bob, the tall one with the foot-long top-knot, kept telling the Roxy audience how old and tired he feels. Then he'd launch one more deafening, hyperactive tune.

Carter USM is a last stronghold of punk-forged social-political comment. They name the names of the pop stars and politicians they attack in their cascading, wryly witty lyrics, but you couldn't hear many of the words on Wednesday. Behind their wall of guitar noise, a drummer provided propulsive beats, and they crammed in swelling, swirling recorded keyboard sounds that made it sound a bit like a punk-rock Sparks.

They also neutralized their sentiments with their self-mocking manner, coming off as a sort of Monty-Python-meets-the-Clash. Loony tunes can be a valuable antidote to rock's self-important tendencies, but Carter USM's impact had worn thin by the end of its set.

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