Let's start with the only negative here, since I'll have to cover it in "The Fountainhead" otherwise. The hiss and crackle and sounds of needle touching vinyl that link the two (because this is the opener to 'Side 2' of Expecting To Fly, see) are a misstep, not so much because they lend credence to accusations of being too reverent of the past as because the album is too long to fit a traditional LP and so there would be no such split! If they wanted to make a classic single album, they should have made it run to less than 53 minutes. Anyway...
This is The Bluetones in imperious form, the kind of song that makes me (briefly) understand people who adore their debut and compare everything since to it unfavourably. Full of youthful confidence, with a playfully freewheeling, just slightly hard-edged bounce, it's an instant shot of everything that was best about their sound at the time. And that's even before we get to probably Scott Morriss' most blissful harmonies ever and a song that turns their oft-projected nice guy image on its head.
See, this is a cruel, bitter song partly disguised as a sympathic arm round the shoulders. Mark Morriss first adresses an acquaintance (friend?) in the spirit of cameraderie: 'Who is she to say to you can't be trusted? And come to think of it how does she know?' with all overtones of a matey 'Yeah, you're damn right to be offended!' Which side Mark's really on becomes abundantly clear soon enough though, as following a series of progressively more ambiguous insights, he takes obvious joy in delivering one of the album's funniest of twists.
'But she just wants to spend some time with you (wa-wa-oooh)
Just a minute, or just a moment (ooooh-wa-wah)
Just long enough to throw one good clean punch'
As if that wasn't enough pain inflicted, he momentarily seems to signal that the vitriol is over, as the rest of the band step out the way for a peaceful 'Now you've reached the point where she sees through you...' before the drums charge in and the knife is twisted again and again. The implications in 'Everything she had she handed to you, and what she didn't give you, you stole' alone are enough to make me wince. It makes sense that Mark appears to end the song by being punched, then, although the whirlwind of sound and tumble of words that come out don't exactly make for the clearest of narratives. Who cares, when it sounds this heart-thumpingly exciting. It also frequently makes for one of the most enjoyable moments of their live sets, when the dramatic pause in the closing 'And all I have to show for my doubts is a cut to the lip..... and some blood on my shirt' invariably leads someone in the crowd to jump the gun and belt out the final line unsupported.
mp3: Carn't Be Trusted (live) with said singing sadly uncaptured.
YouTube: Carn't Be Trusted from Later With Jools Holland in 1996. The intro is "Colorado Beetle".