1992: The Love Album goes deluxe
If you turn to Chapter 1992 of the big indie music history book, you’ll read about grunge, you’ll read about Rage Against The Machine, about R.E.M. and an angry breakthrough band called Manic Street Preachers. What you are unlikely to read about is a duo called Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine. The South London band’s importance has been swept under the carpet by the likes of the NME but, back in the early 90s, they were a big deal. Whether it was love or hate, everyone had an opinion on their indie/pop/punk/electro output, their social commentary and even their haircuts.
And 1992 was the year when the unassuming band – comprised of singer/guitarist Jim Bob (James Morrison), guitarist/backing vocalist Fruitbat (Les Carter) and a drum machine – went massive. They headlined Glastonbury, had a top ten single and their third LP, entitled 1992: The Love Album, topped the charts, relegating beetroot-faced ginger lothario Mick Hucknall’s Simply Red into second place. Now, over two decades on and with Carter enjoying yearly sell-out reunion gigs at Brixton Academy, they’re releasing a two-disk deluxe version of the record, along with its predecessor, the seminal 30 Something.
The most notable thing about the rerelease of 1992: The Love Album is the inclusion of single After The Watershed. It was originally omitted from record due to legal complications following the release of the song as a single. The Rolling Stones’ lawyers sued Carter over the use of the words “Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday” in its chorus. Happily, the track, now credited to Morrison, Carter, Richards and Jagger, finally takes its deserved place on the deluxe edition of 1992: The Love Album. Its inclusion, on the second half of the record, really gives the running order a more rounded feel and, what’s more, fans will be incredibly excited to learn that the version which appears on the album is notably different to the original.
The inclusion of After The Watershed is the most dramatic difference between the deluxe version and the original. Elsewhere, the tracklisting remains the same but the songs have all been remastered, giving them aural depth and making the whole thing seem more beefy and substantial. After instrumental opener 1993 and the piano-led Is Wrestling Fixed? comes the album’s big hitter. The Only Living Boy in New Cross is a huge marching pop anthem which deals with love and AIDS. “I wanna give peace, love and kisses out to this whole stinking world,” Jim Bob roars. “The gypsies, the travellers and the thieves/The good, the bad the average and unique.”
Side One, as it was in those days, is brought to a close by the furious Suppose You Gave a Funeral and Nobody Came and the downbeat oompah of England: “Forceply removed from the belly of my Ma and raised on milk and Pernod.”
Side Two opens with a This Is Spinal Tap quote “Have a good time, all the time” before bursting into Do Re Me So Far So Good, a damning attack on the music industry through chainsaw guitars, and continues through the themes of war and misery (the album’s title, The Love Album, is something of a red herring) before closing on an uncharacteristically upbeat note. Skywest and Crooked seems to be another painful lament of the doomed ordinary man (“You should have been the talk of the town but the whole place stayed speechless/Your upbringing brought you down.”) before taking a turn in mood. “Don’t kill yourself stupid, this ain’t the dead poets’ society/With love in our hearts, we’ve got it in spades.” Ian Dury’s brilliant spoken-word recital from The Man Of La Mancha brings the mood down again somewhat at the end of the song before a cover of the classic The Impossible Dream ends the record with soaring optimism. Ironically, while they didn’t pen it themselves, this song sums up the band’s outlook perfectly. Love, humour, romance and utter defiance in the face of adversity.
The supplementary disk includes all of the b-sides from the album’s four singles, including a fantastic version of the Inspiral Carpets’ This is How it Feels and a swearier version of Another Brick in the Wall which appeared on a charity album at the time. The bonus material is completed by nine live tracks from the duo’s performance at the Feile Festival.
This new edition comes complete with artwork that takes a trip down memory lane, with press cuttings and promotional material from back in the day and a written introduction by journalist and Carter enthusiast Andrew Collins.
The deluxe version of 1992: The Love Album (and, perhaps even more so, 30 Something) is a must for all Carter completists and for fans of largely overlooked, hip-shaking, foot-stomping indie music with a brain and a heart.