ALBUM REVIEW: Jim Bob – Pop Up Jim Bob (Cherry Red Records)

It’s been seven years since the last set of new songs from Jim Morrison, the man who was one half of indie-dance-punk phenomenon Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

Mixing samples, sequenced bass and drum machines with rock ‘n’ roll guitars and off-beat wordplay, the punk sensibilities and politically-aware lyrics of Jim Bob and bandmate Fruitbat made them one of the most successful acts of the late 80s/early 90s.

They enjoyed four Top 10 albums and a string of hit singles, including Sheriff Fatman and The Only Living Boy In New Cross, before going their separate ways in 1998. Almost a decade later they reunited to play live, and after a few years of sporadic gigging, played their ‘final ever’ Carter USM show in 2014.

Since then Jim Bob has become an author and played some acoustic shows, but he’s at his best with a band around him. As he says: “Much of the world seemed to be going to hell in a handcart/basket/bag and people would frequently suggest what was needed was a new Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine-like album to document or make sense of it all.”

He didn’t go that far, but what he did, with the help of his band The Hoodrats, is come up with an album of songs which puts the way we live and many of modern life’s frustrations under the microscope, for better or worse.

It’s indie-pop-rock with a social conscience, and Morrison’s finger remains firmly on the pulse, whether his subject matter is mundane or life-changing, from milkshaking to the refugee crisis, and social media to gun control.

Jo’s Got Papercuts is about small problems masking the symptoms of far bigger ones, while Kidstrike! admires the young people who are standing up for themselves and showing their concern for the decaying world around them.

Ted Talks addresses the loners who wreak havoc in US schools and shopping malls by going on murderous rampages – “when there’s panic in the hood, the panic feels good”.

Truce concerns people’s right to protest, about climate change, Brexit, racism, or whatever, and produces some of the best lyrics in an album full of words which will produce wry smiles or knowing nods of agreement: “People had spent most of the day milkshaking each other, and shouting the words ‘Traitor’ and ‘Nazi’ across the street/The air was filled with strawberry and vanilla, I never thought that hate could smell so sweet.”

2020 WTF!, is short, sweet and strident, asking: “Your celebrities are stupid, your politicians suck, your promises are empty, 2020 what the fuck?” And that was written before Covid-19…

The self-destructive side of human nature is the subject of If It Ain’t Broke, whether it’s damaging the environment, or hurting other people, while Big Boy is about living in a world where validation by others is everything to some.

Barry’s On Safari (In His Safari Suit) is about the entitled loudmouth you’ve probably encountered down the pub ‘drinking for England’: “Barry likes to speak his mind, on Barry’s social media/Where he does his best to wind up, everyone he meets there.” You know the sort?

Other people’s selfishness inspires the closing You’re Cancelled And We’re Done, but the standout for me is penultimate track #thoughtsandprayers, which namechecks everything from illegal immigrants to sad millionaires, and Black Friday sales to Japanese whales and Albanian bears. We might live in a screwed up world, but it’s one which is much better for having a new Jim Bob album in it. 7/10.

Gary Welford owner