"I swear to God
I love the smell of nitro in the morning"
Buy Totally Religious on digital download at Amazon
1: Four Engines Burning
(Over The USA) (3:55)
2: Mega City 1 (4:07)
3: Wall Of Shame (4:11)
4: Nitro (3:18)
5: Big Big Sky (5:13)
6: Watusi Wedding (2:41)
7: Here Comes Lucky (4:31)
8: Gunfight (3:01)
9: Martian (3:19)
10: All Gassed Up (3:00)
Elektra (9 60859-2)
Produced by Howard Gray and Robert Stevens
Recorded and mixed at Sheffield Recording, Phoenix, Maryland. Pre-Production at Miami Sound, Miami, Florida and Alaska Studios, Waterloo, London.
Dedicated to Vic Maile
All songs written by Bill Carter
'Totally Religious' turned out to be the Screaming Blue Messiahs' final studio album. The overall tone of the songs is generally more serious than on 'Bikini Red', taking in such diverse themes as war, religion, westerns, Judge Dredd, martians and getting hitched with African tribesmen! Sadly Vic Maile had passed away, and rightly the album is dedicated to his memory. Howard Gray and Rob Stevens' production resulted in an immense wall of sound and there is an epic feel to Bill's ever impressive guitar work. No singles were released and by December 1989, without a record deal, the band finally broke up.
Totally Religious ~ reviews
New York Times
26th November 1989
By Jon Pareles
"I woke up this morning / Bent on destruction", Bill Carter yowls to open the third album by the Screaming Blue Messiahs, and for the next 38 minutes his band fills the air with mayhem. Mr. Carter uses his guitar as a blunt instrument, slamming out power chords or leads that sound like tires squealing on a blue highway; behind him Chris Thompson on bass and Kenny Harris on drums stomp and bash. In Mr. Carter's songs, speed and violence are the only alternatives to self-deception and despair – a brutal world view, but one that makes for savage, vital rock-and-roll.
By Jason Pettigrew
The phrase "Rock and Roll" has been thrown around so carelessly over the years that its meaning has been diminished. Go to any shopping mall-located record store and ask the sales clerk exactly what REM, Richard Marx, Aerosmith and Depeche Mode specialise in. After he takes his finger out of his nose, he'll grunt, "Uh... rock and roll?"
Somebody kidnapped rock and roll and held it hostage. I'm not so sure who it was; corporate sponsors, record executives, Guitar Player magazine, video directors, image consultants... I'm not pointing the finger at one entity. All I know is that somebody stole rock and roll, and in its place, put in compost.
Now there have been some fine individuals who began to free rock and roll from the indentured servitude of those listed in the above grocery contempt list. However, those individuals fell too, and went down kicking and (ahem) screaming. I'm not naming names because I will never know when one of Paul Westerberg or John Doe's friends may be reading.
TOTALLY RELIGIOUS is a circular saw through the ropes tied to rock and roll's captors. Ten cuts of rotating blades at different speeds. The rhythm section of Kenny Harris and Chris Thompson form the perfect airstrip for Bill Carter's frantic vocals and Telecaster dogfights. The Messiahs take traditional R&B and rock and roll structures and revitalise them with a maniacal energy. I'll use my patented metaphor: "the Screaming Blue Messiahs sound like Bo Diddley babysitting the bastard child of Squeaky Fromme and George Thorogood in a little house located right near the mouth of hell."
The band's patented sense of urgency remains intact. Slower pieces like 'Here Comes Lucky' and 'Wall Of Shame' are chilling in the way Leatherface's family in Texas Chainsaw Massacre were having a blues revival on the back porch between bites of head cheese. Carter's fascination with automobile metaphor ('Four Engines Burning', 'Nitro', 'All Gassed Up') complements his guitar abuse/acumen. 'Watusi Wedding' boasts some lethal slide work, and the absolutely brilliant 'Gunfight' is the perfect soundtrack for a violent altercation (bar fight, high speed car chase, etc.).
Now that the Cramps' psychosis quotient has been diluted by their Las Vegas mentality, the Gun Club's liver gave out, and the Blasters are MIA, it's great to be excited by rock and roll records on a major label. It's TOTALLY RELIGIOUS, alright. Get your ass to church now.
18 November 1989
By Steve Sutherland
While most of us carry Clint away from the corner video shop, walk a little taller for an hour or two, then drift back into our daily slouch, Bill Carter can't shake the vigilante disease. For days, weeks, years he's been waking up in the morning with guns in his head and whenever that guitar winds up in his hands, it turns into a carbine, a Magnum or Colt.
Bill is a sick imaginary psycho American, a man on a fantasy mission from God. Bill sees the apocalypse everywhere, suns explode in his eyes and consequently Totally Religious is the album Sigue Sigue Sputnik would have made if Tony James had ever harnessed the power to match his promises, the record Joe Strummer would still be making if he hadn't gone soft. It's the blues radioactivated, an Arnie OD, a trip to the stalls that went kinda weird when the hero blitzed the villain and he bled all over Bill's suit. Bill's seen 'Repo Man' a dozen times too many. He can't remove the stains. This is the result.
It was Eldritch who got me into The Screaming Blue Messiahs. If ever I thought about them, which was seldom bordering on never, I assumed they were cartoon pub rock. That 'Flintstone' thing didn't help – adrenalised idiocy, a tangent on punk as daft and dumb as Oi. But the man in black insisted Bill Carter was some kind of seer, at very least a man with a wry grasp on his madness and, as usual, Eldritch was right. Totally Religious is pretty much everything everybody else around here is claiming for The Stone Roses or Birdland. It's witty, wild, hot-under-the-collar, spaced-out, dangerous, a blast. It's burning.
Totally Religious opens fire with the mightiest triumvirate imaginable. If travis Bickle had been on the ground crew of flight command at a nuclear airbase when the good lord saw fit to speak through him, 'Four Engines Burning (Over The USA)' is what would have happened.
'Mega City 1' is the best Judge Dredd song ever written, Bill striding down shimmering back alleys with his trusty guitar slung low and cocked, while 'Wall Of Shame' is a desperate repentance over a massive riff on the lam from the Sisters. The horizon's melting as out hero takes a good long look in the mirror and declares to the no one left to listen: "I'd sooner have a hole in my head / Than to be what I want to be." It's awful turned awesome.
The rest of Totally Religious can't quite hack it in the same blistering ozone but 'Watusi Wedding' is the Beach Boys neatly fucked up, 'Here Comes Lucky' is the bleak leading the meek through a towering R&B inferno and 'Big Big Sky', a bombed-out hoe-down, viciously lays into the hopeless American dream. The formula's obsessive, unrepentant, hilarious in its horrific realisation that "Time is winding up..."
Totally Religious is 'Dr Strangelove' on record, a hollow laugh at the void because laughter's all that's left. Bar pointless, gratuitous, glorious revenge. Bill Carter knows full well that the future is finished, washed up, DOA. But, if he has his way, somebody's gonna pay.
By David Hepworth
The last Screaming Blue Messiahs record, Bikini Red, had a distinct undertone of poker-faced humour, particularly to the fore on their first (distant) brush with the charts, 'I Wanna Be A Flintstone'. This was a near as they've got in their five year career to giving the general public a handle on their severely-cropped rock 'n' roll, which currently resides in the not-noticeably crowded terrain between Doctor Feelgood and Captain Beefheart (vintage Clear Spot). Such is the price of not swimming with the tide.
Totally Religious certainly doesn't give an inch on the deeply stroppy approach of their previous three records and tracks such as 'Big Big Sky', 'Gunfight' and 'Nitro' may be the kind of rock 'n' roll it's tempting to get lost in but they're not grounded in a particularly sunny world view. Leader Bill Carter eschews melodies for staccato hooklines and dog-like howls, underscored with razor-edged guitar, metallic harmonica and every vacant space crammed with rousing noise. At their best they have a fix on the dynamics of rock which is all their own and a way of putting frustration to music which ought to be the province of groups who haven't yet begun shaving. Too old and craggy for the moshers, too dour for the metal crowd and too damn noisy for the grown-ups. The Screaming Blue Messiahs have everything but an audience. Totally Religious may not provide them with one but it's to be hoped they persevere.