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Chumbawamba: Tubthumper

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (11/27/97, p.111) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - "...Chumbawamba employ rousing electronic power chords and have toned down some of the radical rhetoric....TUBTHUMPER may not enlighten the masses, but it'll make them dance."

Entertainment Weekly (10/31/97, p.108) - "U.K. ensemble Chumbawamba hae mastered the fist-in-velvet-glove sucker punch. Any weapon is fair game: jungle, synth-pop, hip-hop--even faux madrigals....Social commentary never tasted so sweet." - Rating: B+

Q (1/98, p.111) - Included in Q Magazine's "50 Best Albums of 1997."

Melody Maker (09/13/97, p.51) - "...fresh songs...positively over-flowing with that bleedin' trumpet and infectiously catchy choruses."

NME (Magazine) (8/30/97, p.53) - "...there is the amusing irony of seeing an anarchist band on EMI. Good attitude, subverting from within and all that jazz, although it will quite clearly end in tears. But let's enjoy the bizarre spectacle while it lasts..."

Album Notes

Chumbawamba: Boff (vocals, guitar); Jude Abbott (vocals, trumpet); Lou Watts (vocals, keyboards); Dunstan Bruce (vocals, percussion); Danbert "The Cat" Nobacon, Alice Nutter (vocals); Paul Greco (bass); Harry Hamer (drums, programming).

Additional personnel: Michael Cohen, Kye Coles (vocals); Neil Ferguson (guitar, keyboards); Chopper (cello); Abbott Sauce Works Band (brass); Geoff Clout, Gutter People.

Recorded at Woodlands Studio, Castleford, England between August 1996 and February 1997.

Rather than opting for the cathartic and visceral approach of fellow agit-prop, anarchist groups such as Crass, Chumbawamba produce cerebral and reflective music on their major label debut TUBTHUMPER. As Gang Of Four's ENTERTAINMENT! was to socialism, TUBTHUMPER is to anarchism. But this isn't the hippie anarcho-ruralism of Gong or sludgy Rage Against The Machine pontification--Chumbawamba knows their theory. TUBTHUMPER mixes textbook anarchism with current musical trends, from jungle and trip-hop to plunderphonics and Britpop.

Throughout this mix of styles, the message is heady. Whether it is union corruption in Liverpool's dockworkers strike ("One-By-One") or anti-Catholic proselytization ("Mary, Mary"), the message is less bomb-throwing Bakunin vitriol and bilious Goldman tirades, and more academic and syncretic. As such, TUBTHUMPER will probably appeal more to the anorak-wearing student type than to members of Class War. Chumbawamba want to use music as a weapon in the war against Capitalism and could become Greil Marcus's next darlings, but if music is just another fetishized commodity in a spectacular society, it will be a while before TUBTHUMPER foments another May '68. Until it does, though, be content to sit back and listen to some enjoyably catchy and thought-provoking tunes.


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