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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 shouting starts.

"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