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The Screaming Blue Messiahs

This band is very high on the "whatever happened to..." list. At times they played with such ferocity and complete over-the-top abandon that it was easy to proclaim them one of the best English bands in ages. But after three records (all very good) and about five years together (1984-1989), they vanished without a trace -- a mystery that's never been solved to satisfaction. Led by bald, bullet-headed guitarist/singer Bill Carter, the Messiahs specialized in loud, rampaging, rockabilly tinged sonic bomblets of songs. Carter wielded his instrument like a cross between Wilko Johnson and Pete Townshend; he was a deft soloist, but it was his tricky, complex rhythm playing that gave the band sheet-after-sheet of supercharged sound for a foundation. As impressive as his guitar playing was his voice: at times comically bawling, other times mumbling and imperceptible; in the course of a verse, Carter could sound righteously indignant, or suddenly frightened and confused. Add to this terse, highly imagistic songs, mostly about American iconography and popular culture (cars, guns, the Flintstones), and it made for extreme, confrontational, and very, very exciting rock & roll.

There was a significant enough buzz generated from their first EP (Good and Gone) that Elektra signed them for their debut, and Gun-Shy was a compelling debut. With Carter's ferocity barely contained (and even when it is, you can hear him seethe), Gun-Shy practically exploded from the get-go and was a much-needed tonic to the faux-soul and nth-generation synth pop England was delivering at the time. Supporting the record with a series of great live shows didn't hurt either, and the Messiahs were staring next-big-thing-dom square in the face. The sophomore disc, Bikini Red, was even better. Packing a ferocious wallop accentuated by the production of famed English producer Vic Maile (Dr. Feelgood, Motorhead), and the goofy "I Wanna Be a Flintstone" (along with an equally goofy video) made them flavor of the second on MTV. But things seemed to be stalling, and by the time LP number three, Totally Religious, was released, it seemed as though the zeitgeist had passed the Messiahs by. Too bad, because they were as raucous and unpredictable as anything that had come since the early days of punk. ~ John Dougan
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Bikini Red

1. Sweet Water Pools

2. Bikini Red

3. Too Much Love

4. I Can Speak American

5. Big Brother Muscle

6. I Wanna Be A Flintstone

7. Jesus Chrysler Drives A Dodge

8. Lie Detector

9. 55-The Law

10. All Shook Down

11. Waltz

x

Track List: Gun Shy

1. Wild Blue Yonder

2. Holiday Head

3. Smash The Market Place

4. You're Gonna Change

5. Just For Fun

6. Let's Go Down To The Woods

7. Talking Doll

8. Twin Cadillac Valentine

9. President Kennedy's Mile

10. Someone To Talk To

11. Clear View

12. Killer Born Man

Comments

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PS: Along with The Godfathers, one of the two best British bands of the '80s (in my book, anyway).
Report as inappropriate
Had the good fortune to see these guys live twice. I remember Bill's shimmering silvery suit. The three albums were all great. I believe there were a couple of reissues some years ago, and the tracks are all available on Amazon.
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horseflydf
Billy had enuff heard he opened a motorcycle shop
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One of the best live bands I've ever seen loved good n gone album sure do miss sounds like the messiahs
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Where is the "Totally Religious" album? It's their best!!!!
Report as inappropriate
Loved these guys since I first heard "Four Engines Burning" in the Judge Dredd movie with Stallone!!
Report as inappropriate
It took forever to get Gun Shy re-released on CD. I would travel across country to see a reunion tour.
Report as inappropriate
Saw this band when they opened for echo and the bunnymen. I didn't know who they were but then they opened with Sweet Water Pools and my friend and I looked at each other and said WOW! They way he played guitar was a sight to behold.
Report as inappropriate
The few live youtube clips really show the ferocity with which Carter attacked his guitar. All played with fingers except when using the mic stand, bloody marvelous. Flintstone was the weak link IMO but Sweet Water Pools more than made up for it. Gawn the Messiahs!
Report as inappropriate
elfhund
Love this band. What does it mean they disappeared without a satisfactory explanation? Did the band members vaporize or get lifted into a flying saucer?
Report as inappropriate
Start to finish, Totally Religious is one of the best records ever made...and just awesome as a live band.
Report as inappropriate
Man, these guys rocked. "Four Engines Burning" is one of the best rock songs ever - period. That they vanished twenty years ago and the trail has long gone cold is a travesty. At least we have their three-disk manifesto to keep the Messiahs' flame alive. Long live the Screaming Blue Messiahs!! May there be a second coming? One can only hope.

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