The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 25, 1994 - 9
*Carter's spirit is 'unstoppable'
By ANDY DOLAN
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine could be easy to
dismiss as just another novelty act with a silly name and
an off-the-wall musical approach. But if you look a little
deeper, you'll find a band that isn't afraid to take stabs at
any and all political, societal and musical institutions,
holding nothing sacred.
If this attitude reminds you of a certain musical genre
that exploded in the late '70s with bands like The Clash
and The Sex Pistols, it should. After all, in this age of
escapism and complacency in the music world, Carter
USM is one of the few bands to capture the original punk
energy, in spirit as well as in sound.
Throughout their four albums, which have
experimented with practically every form of pop music
from the last two decades, Carter has been comprised of
lyricist and vocalist Jim Bob and guitarist Fruitbat. On
their albums as well as during live performances, a
sequencer and drum machine provides their rhythm section.
According to Fruitbat, however, this was originally not
intended to be a permanent arrangement.
"Jim Bob and I were in another band, and one day Ijust
got bored and decided to break the band up," Fruitbat
explained. "There was a gig booked in a couple of weeks
... so we decided to form another band, but we didn't have
time to get any band members, so we decided to use a tape
machine. It was meant to be temporary, but it worked so
well that we just decided to make it a part of our sound."
Almost too conveniently, this sound added rock 'n'
roll purists to the long list of people that Carter USM just
seem to constantly annoy. However, the most obvious
rebelliousness in this band is in their pun-ridden, cynically
:scathing lyrics that attack any institutions that the band
feels are in need of a good jabbing. As Fruitbat explained,
this philosophy has gotten them into some trouble in their
home country of England.
"We like causing trouble," he stated mischievously.
"The Catholic Church didn't like the fact that we had
condoms on one of our posters; we've had trouble with the
Rolling Stones, with stealing some of their lyrics and
we've had trouble with the government about writing anti-
army songs, things like that."
Even when Carter aren't writing songs that get them
banned from commercial radio in England, their lyrics
still stab at mainstream attitudes as well as more specific
targets. Songs such as "Cheer Up, It Might Never Happen"
sum up the band's attitude, with lyrics that attack overall
ignorance and complacency. "Cheer up! It might never
happen / drive-by shootings on the streets of Clapham,"
Jim Bob sings over Fruitbat's manic guitar riffs, "It might
never happen, but I think it probably just did."
"The period that each album was written in is really
obvious, I think," Fruitbat said. "The albums are very
topical, so whatever's going on at the time gets put on! It's
quite good in a way that our albums usually only last a year
because some subjects might become out of date."
Whatever Carter USM happen to be doing at any given
time, they do it with a lack of inhibition that is, always
refreshing to hear. "When we formed the band, we said we
wouldn't set any limitations as to what our music should
sound like," Fruitbat explained. "Sometimes, when I
come up with an idea for a song, Jim Bob might say, 'Can
we write a song about that?' and I'll say, 'Of course we
can! We can write a song about anything!"'
Maybe Carter USM should spread a little of that spirit
around - there's a lot of bands that could use it.
"Look, Batman, I'm the star. Andrew Lloyd Webber picked me to star in 'Sunset Boulevard,' so I don't want any lip."
By MELISSA ROSE BERNARDO Marty's fearofmotherhood,Bernie's
The question burning in the mind prostrate or Alicia's financial
of journalists everywhere regarding problems aren't interesting - they
Ron Howard's new movie "The simply detract from the excitement of
Paper" is undoubtedly: Is it realistic? the collective goal of the characters,
CARTER THE UNSTOPPABLE SEX MACHINE
perform at St. Andrews Hall with special guest Lotion
on Sunday,March 27. Tickets are $7.50 in advance,
doors open at 8 p.m., 18 and over. Call 961-MELT.
The Ramones play al the hits and more
By MATT CARLSON
Gather around boys and girls, and
let me tell you a tale of an era when
grunge meant the yellow grime around
the rim of a toilet bowl and MTV was
still a dream in some enterprising
young sap's noggin.
Once upon a time, in the mid-
1970s, popular music was in a state of
utter disrepair. Sure, the New York
Dolls had just formed and Aerosmith
was still on smack, but the Stooges
and the MC5 were fading away and
Sid Vicious was a middle-class prep-
boy with a comb in his pocket. All of
the hippie bands had blown their minds
out on LSD retiring to mountain
communes to discuss the ramifications
of the universal quotient of love
multiplied by the number of bong hits
they had taken in their heyday.
Everywhere you looked, kids were
listenin' to either the gutless, whiny
cock rock of Led Zep or the early
forms of emotionless disco. People
were wearin' bad clothes, smokin'
bad dope and dancin' to bad music.
But then, when it appeared as if
Robby Plant would actually climb
that ol' stairway to heaven and rule
over us with an iron fist and screeching
voice, four gallant young lads from
New York City took the stage to battle
dull music. The Ramones may not
have been dashing, but their energy
and relentless guitar frenzy was strong
enough to shatter the ear drums of
unsuspecting folk everywhere.
It's been exactly 20 years since
the Ramones first played to a live
audience, and the band is still blasting
away full speed. And during this time
of the great alternative music hubbub,
many a good band is praising the
Ramones as an influence (Nirvana
and L7 to name a couple).
"We think that the state of music
today is better than ever, but it still
isn't that great," said drummer Marky
Ramone. "But it's better than the shit
that was coming out in the '80s, that
crappy, third-rate, rehash Led
Zeppelin, heavy metal crap like
Cinderella and Whitesnake. Yuck. But
I think things are getting a little
raunchier now due to grunge stuff."
Rock music has the Ramones to
thank for that. They were at the
forefront of bands like the Heart-
breakers, Blondie and Television that
began around 1974 to challenge the
rock power establishment.
"You had yourElvis, you had your
Beatles, you had your punk," he said.
"Out of that extended all of the speed
metal, hardcore and grunge. But she
Ramones were really the epitome of
the street sound in New York City."
That sound is a ferocious, buzz-
sawing three-chord bliss that supports
songs with titles like the classics "Beat
On The Brat," "Now I Wanna Sniff
Some Glue" and "I Wanna Be
Sedated," as well as recent tunes like
"Heidi Is A Headcase." Perhaps the
Ramones greatest attribute, however,
is that they play with more intensity
than any band performing today.
"The intensity of the Ramones is
very hard to (characterize)," said
Marky. "We're one of a kind in no
category. Idon'tmean to be conceited,
butIdon'tseeitanywhere. The Seattle
sound was good in the beginning, but
now all those bands sound alike. I
have respect for some of them, but
they all start out soft, then they get
loud, soft, and it's overindulging."
But for such an influential and
intense band, there has been relatively
little radio support for the Ramones
and no Top 40 hits despite pleas from
Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, an appearance
on "The Simpsons" last fall and a new
biography, "The Ramones, An
American Band." The lack of respect
from the media doesn't bother Marky.
"It doesn't matter because we've
survived this long," he said. "If there's
some brave DJ out there who's willing
to give us a shot at something like
that, then we'd be very happy. But we
don't worry about it.
"We should get played on the radio
more," he continued. "We have a lot
of good songs. I don't know what the
problem is but maybe it's because in
the '70s when we started out stations
didn't want us rocking the boat. They
didn't want us to knock off the
Fleetwood Macs, the Foreigners, the
Journeys or the Disco Ducks."
Marky and the rest of the Ramones
-- Joey, Johnny and C.J. - are
attempting another shot at radio play
with their latest release, "Acid Eaters,"
which is ironically an all-covers album
featuring a scorching slab of
psychedelic and garage-rock hits from
the '60s. Most are of course redone in
typical Ramones fashion like Ted
Nugent and the Amboy Dukes'
"Journey To The Center Of The Mind"
or Credence Clearwater Revival's
"Have You Ever Seen The Rain." But
some are done with surprising subtlety
such as The Animals' "When I Was
Young" and The Seeds' "Can't Seem
To Make You Mine."
The album, one of their best in
recent years, features guest stars like
Pete Townshend on The Who's
"Substitute" and "film" star Traci
Lords on the Jefferson Airplane's
"Somebody To Love." The project
came about when the band was
working on covers to accompany The
Doors' "Take It As It Comes" (from
'92's "Mondo Bizarro") on an EP.
"We weren't influenced by these
bands," explained Marky. "The
Amboy Dukes sucked, we never really
liked Bob Dylan and we hated the
Jefferson Airplane. But the songs were
good so that's why we covered them
- for the fun of doing them."
As for a new studio album, Marky
expects one to be released this fall.
But until then, you should enjoy the
"Acid Eaters" trip and catch one of
the most revered live bands ever as
they play the State Theater in Detroit
THE RAMONES wsg. Frank Black
play Saturday March 26 at the State
Theatre in Detroit. Tickets are
$18.50 and showtime is at 7 p.m.
Written by David and Stephen
Koepp; directed by Ron Howard;
with Michael Keaton, Glenn Close,
Marisa Tomei and Robert Duvall.
The answer is yes. And no. What
Howard has created comes close to an
accurate 24 hours in the life of a New
York daily newspaper, but is
ultimately undermined by subplots
and sentimentality. The result is
patchy, but thoroughly enjoyable.
Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton)
is the Metro editor of The Sun ("It
Shines for All"), the sixth-largest daily
in the nation. His very pregnant ex-
reporter wife Marty (Marisa Tomei,
whose stomach looks like a beach
ball) wants him to take a cushy nine-
to-five job at the Sun's uptown rival,
The Sentinel. But Hackett is obsessed
with getting to the bottom of a murder,
so much so that he steals a juicy bit of
information right off the desk of the
Of course, he has to battle Alicia
(Glenn Close), his bitchy managing
editor from hell,not to mention Bernie
(Robert Duvall), the editor with "a
prostrate the size of a bagel." Throw
in columnist Dan McDougal (Randy
Quaid) as a reminder that yes, reporters
are involved in putting out a paper.
Along the way this colorful bunch
goes through the expected twists,
turns, emotional breakdowns and
hospitalizations. But on the way to
print this film (probably the fault of
the Koepp brothers' script) takes a
few too many diversions.
Just when things are getting heated
in the newsroom, the plot shifts to
someone's personal life. It's not that
which is to put out the paper.
All of the subplots come to a climax
simultaneously, which makes for three
on-the-edge-of-your-seat minutes, but
('The Paper') comes
close to an accurate
24 hours in the life of a
daily newspaper, but is
by subplots and
that is followed by a mellow lull in
which you can imagine Howard
reclining in his director's chair,
smoking a cigarette. And he throws in
some sentimental moments-Hackett
looking at his newborn child, Bernie
seeing his estranged daughter - to
make sure it ends on a good note.
The film has some golden
moments. Keaton and Close's
characters go to hand-to-hand combat
over what front page to run (though
Close's character is a reprehensible
display of misogyny); Jason
Alexander makes a nice cameo as a
psychotic city parking commissioner;
Spalding Gray plays a stuffy Sentinel
editor to perfection.
And can we really fault a film
which takes such good-natured stabs
at the New York Times? The Sentinel
newsroom (clearly a parody of the
Times) is decorated with roll-top
desks, brass lamps, stuff-shirt waspy
editors and reporters who cry when
they can't get a story.
The faults of "The Paper" can't
really be attributed to Howard. The
characters are too caricatury to be
dramatic, too broad to be comedic;
the story is too cute to be a drama, too
deep to be a comedy and too talky to
be an adventure.
It wants very badly to be realistic
- to promote the film, Universal has
made up newspapers which contain
inter-views with the characters, a
preview of the film and even a
crossword. It is realistic - in parts.
But the film wants to be more than the
script allows it. So it winds up being
fun. And what's so bad about that?
THE PAPER starts today at
Showcase and Briarwood.
On State Street at Liberty
Adults $5.00: Students $3.00
24 hr INFO LINE - 994-4024
"RIVETING AND EROTIC!"
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