Gun Shy

"Suck on that dummy you
                   holiday head!"

Buy Gun Shy on digital download at Amazon

WEA, UK sleeve

Side One

1: Wild Blue Yonder (4:44)

2: Holiday Head (3:58)

3: Smash The Market Place (3:10)

4: You're Gonna Change (2:41)

5: Just For Fun (2:49)

6: Let's Go Down To The Woods (4:34)

Side Two

1: Talking Doll (2:38)

2: Twin Cadillac Valentine (3:57)

3: President Kennedy's Mile (2:56

4: Someone to Talk To (3:36)

5: Clear View (4:00)

6: Killer Born Man (3:32)

Elektra, US sleeve,
signed

UK: WEA (WX41 240 791-1). US:  Elektra (60488-4)

'Holiday Head', 'Smash The Market Place',' You're Gonna Change', 'Just For Fun', 'President Kennedy's Mile', 'Someone To Talk To' and 'Clear View' produced by Vic Maile.
'Wild Blue Yonder' produced by Howard Gray & Pat Collier.
'Let's Go Down To The Woods', 'Talking Doll', 'Twin Cadillac Valentine' and 'Killer Born Man' produced by Howard Gray.

Mixed at Unique Studios, New York, USA by Chris Lord Alge, except 'You're Gonna Change' and 'Someone To Talk To' mixed by Vic Maile.

All songs written by Bill Carter except 'You're Gonna Change' by Hank Williams, and 'Someone To Talk To' written by Bill Carter & Chris Thompson.

Having signed to WEA in January 1985, work on a new album started immediately. Sessions with WEA's choice of producers went badly. The band had wanted to use Vic Maile again, bearing in mind the considerable success of 'Good and Gone'. The band's morale was getting low until eventually Howard Gray was brought in to produce. All previous sessions were dumped. However, owing to other commitments Gray had to quit after making only half the album. Eventually WEA gave in and hired Vic Maile who produced the second half of the album. This was the band's first US release.

Gun Shy ~ Singles

Twin Cadillac Valentine
12"
1985

WEA (YZ 50 T)

All songs written by Bill Carter except 3: by Carter / Moon / Thompson. 4: by Hank Williams and 5: by Carter / Thompson

Produced by Howard Gray

    A-Side

1: Twin Cadillac Valentine (3:55)

2: Good And Gone (1:40)

3: Growing For Gold (3:41)

    B-Side

4: You're Gonna Change (2:21)

5: Someone To Talk To (3:41)

6 Happy Home (3:21)

Tracks 2-6 recorded live at the University of London Union, mixed by Pat Collier.

Twin Cadillac Valentine
7"
1985

WEA (YZ 50)

 

 

    A-Side

1: Twin Cadillac Valentine (3:55)

    B-Side

2: Good And Gone (1:40)

3: Growing For Gold (3:41)

Tracks 2 & 3 recorded live at the University of London Union.

Smash The Market Place
12"
1986

WEA (YZ 69 T)

All songs written by Bill Carter

Tracks 1 and 2 produced by Vic Maile

Track 3 produced by Bob Andrews and Colin Fairley

    A-Side

1: Smash The Market Place (3:06)

    B-Side

2: Just For Fun (2:47)

3: The Power Glide (3:40)

Smash The Market Place
7"
1986

WEA (YZ 69)

All songs written by Bill Carter

Produced by Vic Maile

    A-Side

1: Smash The Market Place (3:06)

    B-Side

2: Just For Fun (2:47)

Wild Blue Yonder 12"
1986

WEA ( YZ 73 T)

All songs written by Bill Carter except 3: by John Lee Hooker

Track 1 produced by Howard Gray & Pat Collier

Tracks 2 and 3 produced by Vic Maile

    A-Side

1: Wild Blue Yonder (4:36)

    B-Side

2: Killer Born Man (3:31)

3: I'm Mad Again (3:00)

Wild Blue Yonder 7"
1986

WEA ( YZ 73)

All songs written by Bill Carter

Track 1 produced by Howard Gray & Pat Collier

Track 2 produced by Vic Maile

    A-Side

1: Wild Blue Yonder (4:36)

    B-Side

2: Killer Born Man (3:31)

Gun Shy ~ reviews

Melody Maker

19th April 1986
By Colin Irwin

OLD, GIFTED AND BLUE

This is the album The Clash meant to make when they recorded "Cut The Crap". No messing... the Messiahs are ugly brutes who don't pansy around with pretty production techniques or shrinking pretensions of art – they have the primitive basics of rock music in sharp focus and they don't take any detours in delivering it. No frills here, just thrills.

There are many allusions to be drawn in their sparse ferocity... Talking Heads on 'Talking Doll', the Stones on 'Wild Blue Yonder', early Clash on 'Smash The Market Place', The Skids on 'Let's Go Down To The Woods', and the thread of modern urban blues binding the rest of it all together.

You don't need to interview them, you don't need to analyse, you just know... the Messiahs understand. They have a gut instinct for the roots of blues and R'n'B and from that sure base they can confidently blast their way through Bill Carter's extraordinarily powerful selection of songs.

Their most arrogant aggression as they pound through the numbingly percussive 'Talking Doll' is astonishing for a band of relative inexperience and there's a perversity about 'President Kennedy's Mile' and 'Clear View' that aligns them as much with oddball American bands like SWANS as with the more obvious R'n'B tradition.

The final track, the truly momentous 'Killer Born Man' even recalls The Fall as Carter hoarsely chokes his way through a veritable barrage of garbled imagery while the rhythm pounds menacingly on. There's something very exciting about a three-piece band with their hackles up and 'Gun-Shy' doesn't even knock at the door before it boots its way into your living room.

With the writing clearly on the wall for the pin-up bands, it needs an album as strong as this to explode the current lethargy of pop music. 'Wild Blue Yonder' and 'Just For Fun' should be enough to jolt some heads, while the true grit of 'Twin Cadillac Valentine' and 'Killer Born Man' on side two should really drop them for the full count.

A great album

Unknown Vancouver newspaper

1986
By Tom Harrison

Socio-political rockabilly? Yeah!

Rhythm and blues with a punk snottiness? Sounds great. Bald white Bo-Diddleyisms? Meet Bill Carter, guitarist and singer for Screaming Blue Messiahs.

Comparisons for this English band have ranged from Dr Feelgood to The Clash and, naturally, I have a few of my own. SBM aren't as boozey and bluesy as a pub rock band is expected to be, nor does it write and perform at the larger-than-life scale The Clash operated on. They fall in line with such mid-to-late '70s bands as The Stranglers (Carter has Hugh Cornwell's sneering demeanor), 999 or The Members. Hard hitting, trim and fit rock and roll energy.

NME

10th May 1986
By Andy Gill

TALLY HO!

The cover of The Screaming Blue Messiahs' first mini-album/EP 'Good And Gone' captures their music perfectly: a posse of WW2 Grumman fighters cruising above the clouds, sleek, swift beasts on the warpath, looking to swoop down out of the sky and devastate. I hadn't realised, until I heard 'Gun-Shy', just how very sleek they've become. The sound on this LP is more compressed, less raucously aggressive than on their earlier records; it's been chopped and channelled to a more streamlined form, a real low rider that looks as good as it moves. On the strength of this album, I'd say the Messiahs are going to be very, very big indeed.

Like ZZ Top, they've learnt their disco lessons well: the majority of the tracks on 'Gun-Shy' chug along at an eminently danceable array of beats per minute, which, allied to their power-trio line-up, successfully duplicates the Texan boogie baron's hit formula. In place of ZZ Top's tumbleweed wit and irony, however, they have a kind of refined anger that's peculiarly post-punk British; they may lack the long beards, too, but singer/guitarist Bill Carter substitutes the Brit equivalent, a shiny shiny pate.

'Smash The Market Place' is the most overt, straightforwardly angry of the songs on offer here. It's where Carter's annoyance most closely approaches that of 'Mad' Joe Strummer, both in terms of subject matter – dig that great rock-dogma title, the envy of even an X-Moore! – and vocal styling, here hoarse and unrefined.

Carter's lyrical concerns can be quite bewildering. "Suck on that dummy, you holiday head / It must be something you ate", he snarls on 'Holiday Head'. The major part of the LP's like that, a diffuse array of discontent spread over ten tracks, culminating in the semi-hard-rock-rap of 'Killer Born Man', a summation of sorts which contains lines as cryptic as "I'm not going to make like Buckminster Fuller". In what way, one wonders? Like Lydon's PiL and Fier's Golden Palominos, there's a reclamation of hard rock going on here, a picking up of the thread that got woven into heavy-metal penile dementia a couple of decades back. More than those two outfits, however, Bill Carter exemplifies the changing role of the guitar in the heavy-rock power-trio format: no longer do we have the solo tour-de-force of a Clapton or Hendrix, which paved the way, ultimately, for HM; today's six-string virtuoso, courtesy improved studio technology, must fulfil, as Carter does here, a variety of textural and ambient functions, as well as provide the instrumental focus. In this respect, he's aided immeasurably by the ability of both drummer Kenny Harris and bassist Chris Thompson to move into any aural space left temporarily vacant, as when the former launches into double-time drums on the mighty, rolling 'Twin Cadillac Valentine'.

In a year in which the goods are coming mainly from overseas – PiL, Palominos, Prince, Chills – The Screaming Blue Messiahs have produced one of the greater British offerings. They've swapped the bludgeon for the stiletto, and they're cutting up a treat. Just watch 'em fly!

Rolling Stone

No. 485

23rd October 1986
By David Fricke

The Screaming Blues guitar of strumming bald Messiah Bill Carter is unlike anything else in Brit rock's current lexicon of popular twang. Compared to Big Country's Celtic reveille and the cathedral clang of innumerable U2 clones, Carter's stabbing leads and the angry rumble of his rhythmic chording sound like a crawl through broken glass. Against the fierce backbeat of bassist Chris Thompson and drummer Kenny Harris, Carter fires bursts of staccato chord fire and accents his haranguing vocals with jet-stream phasing and feedback squeals. In one song, a knockout rocker called "Talking Doll," he plays chiming harmonics over what sounds like a car backfiring before he jolts into harsh chords – all in the first fifteen seconds. What makes Gun-Shy more than just a dynamite sound-effects record is Carter's knack for fashioning solid tunes out of his thrash. His fat, serrated chords and nervous tremolo lines in "Holiday Head" gel into taut, Clash-style rock. "Smash the Market Place," with Harris and Thompson galloping hard behind Carter's catscratch fills, could be a great, lost London Calling outtake. (There's more than a taste of Joe Strummer in Carter's outraged bray.) "You're Gonna Change" is actually a Hank Williams hit from 1949, but Carter customizes the song with a heavy blues stomp and rippling guitar that sound like Captain Beefheart knee-deep in Delta mud.

All this guitar dementia makes it hard to decipher Carter's lyrics, but his six strings speak volumes about the Screaming Blue Messiahs' fighting spirit. Even in "Let's Go Down to the Woods," when he sings, "Let's go down to the woods and pray/Pray, pray for a brighter day," Carter makes it plain with his sunburst chords and the sarcastic cluck of his rhythm guitar that nothing gets done on bended knee. And Gun-Shy is just the thing to get you on your feet.

The Washington Post

18th July 1986
By J.D. Considine

Messiahs: Good Ol' Guitarwork

For all the talk these days about synthesisers, digital samplers and all the other electronic musical marvels, it's still hard to top an electric guitar as the essential rock instrument. Even in Britain, where the pop market often seems hopelessly in thrall to novelty, the guitar remains bottom line for most bands.

The Screaming Blue Messiahs, in fact, seem virtually all guitar. Sure, there's enough drum and bass behind this power trio to give 'Gun-Shy', the band's American debut, plenty of dancefloor punch. But it's Bill Carter's guitarwork that sets the tone and dominates the sound. Carter is basically a rhythm player, not a soloist, and he employs a big, beefy sound reminiscent of Belefegore or Killing Joke. But where the others rely on a stripped-down new wave approach to rhythm guitar, Carter has a taste for rock classics, sneaking country flourishes into 'Twin Cadillac Valentine' and underscoring 'Smash The Market Place' with stinging Bo Diddley licks.

NME

28th June 1986

By William Leith

The Wild Blue Yonder (WEA) This little stretch of contained brutality hardly ever peaks or troughs, but just tears up everything in its path – a consistent volley of kidney-punches and spleen-jabs rather than any flashes or flares. It's a pair of sneering guitars in rather vicious counterpoint with a snare-drum and lines like "When the killing's done". It doesn't really stop, it just gets fainter and fainter, on its way to tear somebody else to pieces.

Blue Heaven

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