15 January 1990
15 January 1990
Important Notice Studios, Mitcham
Carter USM and Simon Painter
Alternative rock, Alternative dance
30 Something, 1992 – The Love Album, Post Historic Monsters, Worry Bomb, I Blame the Government
101 Damnations is the debut album by Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine. Its title is a reference to 101 Dalmatians.
Music and lyrics
101 Damnations establishes the band's style, musically fusing drum machines, samples and "often blasting guitars" and lyrically displaying "empathy for the rejects, go-noshers and losers of the world" whilst "wedded to a fusion of endless cultural references" and puns. Ned Raggett of Allmusic characterised the album's musical style as "brash, quick, punk/glam via rough early eighties technology pump-it-up pogoers" and described the heavy usage of puns as "Carter's calling card as much as anything" and noted that "buried underneath all the one-off lines like 'It was midnight on the murder mile/Wilson Pickett's finest hour' is a huge, beating heart."
"Sheriff Fatman" was highlighted as displaying the album's characteristic sound; Raggett said "the song itself may be about a total rat-bastard of a slumlord, but the name of the game is energy and fun." The band's "tender, soppy side" is revealed in "Good Grief Charlie Brown" which alludes to "the familial screw-ups", and "An All-American National Sport" which is about a "homeless person torched by two strangers." "G. I. Blues" is an unsubtle, emotive anti-war song which closes the album "with a lighter-waving end-of-the-concert sweep."
Release and reception
The album - apparently recorded on a shoestring budget - was widely praised at the time of its release in the music press ("Staggering.." concluded the Melody Maker review for example) as a refreshing antidote - and a kick up the backside - to the drug-infused 'baggy' scene that was prevailing at the beginning of the 1990s. Whilst most of the chart contemporaries were extolling the virtues of ecstasy and loved-up hedonism, Carter USM offered a brutally bleak - but no less sardonic and cutting - worldview of social injustice, moral decay and urban violence, bringing the whole post-baggy party crashing back down to earth. Their twin guitar offensive, played over banks of keyboards, programmed sequencers and a particularly prominent drum-machine, drew comparisons in some critics' eyes to a 'punk Pet Shop Boys'...something which even one of the band members, Les "Fruitbat" Carter, happily agreed was indeed accurate.
One single was released from the album, "Sheriff Fatman" - a barbed social commentary on the unscrupulous antics of private landlords - which became a major indie hit before being reissued again a couple of years later and finally peaking at number 23 in the UK singles charts. A 2011 reissue featured five bonus tracks including the single which followed the release of the album, "Rubbish", plus their infamous cover version [and live favourite] of Pet Shop Boys' "Rent".
In a retrospective review, Ned Raggett of Allmusic gave the album four and a half stars out of five, saying "in the duo's own unusual way, Carter were something of a unique and thrilling prospect at its best, which the highlights of Damnations show." Trouser Press called it a "fully realised debut" and "mind-blowing in the most stimulating sense."
At the end of 1990, NME ranked it at number 29 in their list of the top 50 "Albums of the Year", whilst Sounds included it number 36 in their own list of the year's top 50 best albums. In 1992, NME ranked the album at number 19 in their list of the top 20 "Near-As-Dam-It Perfect Initial Efforts!"
All tracks written and composed by Morrison and Carter; except where indicated.
1The Road to Domestos0:48
2Everytime a Churchbell Rings4:14
3Twenty Four Minutes From Tulse Hill3:27