Chumbawamba - Tubthumper (EMI)
It may surprise many pop-pickers, but this is Chumbawambaís 8th album.
From the full-on agitation of "Pictures of Starving Children"
and "Never Mind the Ballots", through the more subtle and
insidious shit-stirring of "Shhh!" and "Anarchy", to
the shouting in the Top Ten of "Tubthumper", Chumbawamba have
(nearly) always produced brilliantly tacky pop music with a brain and a
message. "Tubthumper" is no different.
It opens with a sample of Pete Postlethwaite from "Brassed
Off" (the British film about a minerís brass band during the pit
closures of the Ď90s) firmly establishing their credentials. Then the
"Tubthumping", nuff said. You either love it or hate it, but
thereís a lot more to the album. "Amnesia" is a witty
political satire with vocals that are honey laced with strychnine.
Thereís straightforward anarchy in "the Big Issues", a call
for the homeless to occupy the houses of the rich, sung in sweet harmony
before the dance beats kick in. "One by One" is a vicious
attack on compromising union leaders sung in the style of a church choir.
"Outsider" is a big brassy celebration of difference and unity
among, well, outsiders. "Mary, Mary" starts with a prayer and
an industrial backing, before launching into a big-beat, big brass anthem
for the modern woman. "I Want More" begins the attack on Ďdear
old Englandí, before "Scapegoat" aims a funky boot at the groin
of British prejudice and xenophobia, with echoes of the
"Anarchy" classic "Homophobia".
Itís all done with a fist raised in defiance and a tongue firmly planted
in the cheek. Chumbawamba arenít Crass, you can ignore the politics and
just enjoy the music if you want. But, if you want more, like what the
samples of the Liverpool dockers' wives are about, the whole thing comes
equipped with a jam-packed booklet with quotes from the band and nearly
every revolutionary who ever lived. As a Chumbawamba album, itís not my
fave (nothing will ever replace "Anarchy" in my heart), but
itís still shit cool.
by Donnacha DeLong