Still sounds strong, relevant, and even scary
loce_the_wizard | Lilburn, GA USA | 02/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If Bill Carter was not an invincible overlord unleashing a torrent of wild guitar coupled with his distinct vocals that hover between boastful lecturing and rockabilly crooning, then I guess I should surrender my set of Screaming Blue Messiahs CDs. Fat chance. "Totally Religious," the last of the unholy trinity of SBM studios recordings, shows no fatigue or loss of intensity compared with its predecessors. Power chords, plenty of studio enhancements, lyrics straight from the dark side, and an uncanny knack for seeing into the future again show why Screaming Blue Messiahs still sound strong, relevant, and even scary today. Certainly, the MIA Bill Carter earned his share of the spotlight, but his supporting cast of Chris Thompson on bass and Kenny Harris on percussion provide the sort of airtight, on the money precision that allows Mr. Carter to embark on his flights of fancy and rifts of glory. Taking "Totally Religious" for the title certainly throws down the gauntlet, and SBM delivers the goods nearly all the time. A few odd miscues and the brevity of this session (under 39 minutes) are enough to cut off one star from the ranking, but just barely. Copies of the CD are still around on the cheap. If you like songs about jet fighters, muscle cars, gunfights, and driving while DUI, then get a copy and play it real loud."
"It just shows to go..."
Erik Wiklund | Sarasota, Florida | 09/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...that the A&R guys and the suits at even the moneyed record co's generally don't know jack. The Messiahs dropped jaws all over England and put their stuff to vinyl with their startlingly original debut "Gun Shy" -- gifting us in the U.S. with twisted, delirious fun the likes of which no one could really say, "They remind me of..." When they toured the States for that record I was living in L.A. and on a particular weekday night -- this was 1987 I think -- I was jonesin' for some live rock. Saw that an English band (SBMs) was playing the Roxy on Sunset Blvd. The Roxy's one of the world's great small clubs; where many bands showcase for industry folk, and where great bands play just because it's a blast to rock there. It fits maybe 200 people, acoustically perfect... Cool. So I'm at the bar alone as the Messiahs take the stage and I swear to God before 60 seconds passed I was standing at the stage thinking for sure I was dreaming. This was not some band green and learning, hoping they'd be viewed as rockers. No, this was a band who'd been to the bottom of the ocean, to heaven, to hell and all parts in between striding right up there and ripping the place to shreds. Soon enough everyone in the club was rockin' their asses off. This band was so tight, so talented, absolutely sure in their art. They delivered with passion, intensity, joy, and complete togetherness. Took a couple of rocker friends, guy and girl, the next night (I wished they'd played there a whole week!) and then of course we bought "Gun Shy" and cruised up and down Pacific Coast Highway in our convertible, cranking that album over and over and over again -- why on earth would we listen to anything else that week? That month? Okay, so then there's "Bikini Red" and Messiah lovers have gotta be thinking this band's just too good not to get big. But go figure, the records didn't sell all that well (excepting their novelty tossaway Flintstones single) and then not only did their record co give up on 'em (I'm guessing) but no one else -- what's wrong with these people? -- had the good sense to sign them, stick with them and let things happen. The band only got better, and lots better. This record "Totally Religious" is stunning rock and as much as I delighted in "loce the wizard's" on the money review here on Amazon, he sells the SBM's short in saying their stuff's about jet fighters, muscle cars, etc. Yeah, there's that, but there's almost always within those themes an undertow, a riptide taking you to states of mind alarming, skew-viewed, cool as ice. Please put on "Wall of Shame" from this album -- and yeah indeed play it loud -- and dig what Carter's saying about the supremacy of the subversive within himself. "Mega City 1" -- to my mind -- is a merciless boot-stomping on religion, any and all. "Big Big Sky" -- hey, screw it, this curse that we can't get our mortality out of our thoughts. But hey, all of this is the lyrics, the mindset, the underpinning of the thing that matters most: that these guys rock so damn well. What a band. Carter started his rock career on bass, but lucky me he switched to guitar. His guitar ideas seem to spring forth just at the very moment it'd be a good time to play. That and his virtuosity -- blistering rock virtuosity, let's be clear -- indeed that of all three of the guys, make it unnecessary to have more than the three players. They always make a big, full and textured sound. "Hey, those are my guys!" Well, I think I rushed this review, could've said things better, but I'll let 'er go, cause I'm feeling good, "...feel good inside... you and the devil and the deep blue me... all we do is live and die." Meanwhile, though, there IS rock n roll. Thank you Bill Carter, Chris Thompson and Kenny Harris for the music you've made. It is transcendant."
Reconciled to the Faith
Erik Wiklund | 03/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was probably the best work from Bill Carter and the boys. Nothing too difficult or intricate, but the lyrical aspects and the usual yet signature guitar style of Carter makes this one of those lost treasures in rock that was so rare during this time period. I bought it new, and still am amazed."