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Chumbawamba
February 4, 2009 1:12 AM   Subscribe


 
they got back up again?
posted by joelf at 1:41 AM on February 4, 2009 [4 favorites]




This seems to be one long, defensive rant about how their band isn't as shit as everyone says it is.
posted by broken wheelchair at 2:01 AM on February 4, 2009


Today I learned that Chumbawamba isn't as shit(ty) as everyone says it is. PDM.
posted by emelenjr at 2:40 AM on February 4, 2009


They were no Mekons.
posted by Abiezer at 2:51 AM on February 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Watching the documentary I have concluded that Chumbawumba is the Sarah Palin of crap music:

  • generally stupid, but with some rough charm;

  • lazily adhering to a political screed without understanding what it really means;

  • blaming all harsh criticism on the mean meanyfaces of the Mainstream Media;

  • catering to myopics that think they're succeeding despite said mean meanyfaces;

  • ignoring that limited success is sometimes not a mark of quality but rather an indicator that there are a lot of rather thick people out there.

  • posted by Shepherd at 3:09 AM on February 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


    Jaz
    posted by evil_esto at 3:09 AM on February 4, 2009


    I didn't know they were still around. I still think Tubthumper is a very good album, but then I listened to WYSIWYG. It utterly stunk, and I haven't bothered with them since. Of course, now Wikipedia tells me they recorded an album of traditional English protest songs, and that's intriguing enough that I might buy it.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 3:24 AM on February 4, 2009


    I remember when Tubthumping was blasting out of the jeeps of every mailbox-shaped-baseball-cap wearing shirtless canvas-shorted frat pig who came rolling into the city on weekend nights to get loaded on Jager and pick fights with the locals. That song was their calvary trumpet. You heard it and you knew they were near. And it was a shouty, stupid enough tune to become their anthem.

    Years later, a friend of mine who's a Chumbawamba fan rightly chided me for judging the band by their fans. So the Neander-Pecs like them. Didn't they also like Nirvana? The Beastie Boys? Zeppelin? Alright, fair point, I said. But when I learned they were anarchists, it became even harder to like them. At that point, I had to stop learning more about Chumbawamba before I flat-out hated them.
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:28 AM on February 4, 2009


    Darn. I thought it was a clever lead in to a post about whether the UK should get rid of the monarchy. Very disappointed.
    posted by nax at 3:29 AM on February 4, 2009


    Those Slovenians have awesome voices.
    posted by Pallas Athena at 3:29 AM on February 4, 2009


    They're the blokes that have got that one song, "I've got no job, but I'm an opera fan / somebody throw me a towel!" right?
    posted by adipocere at 3:55 AM on February 4, 2009


    Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: Anyone would think you'd want them nailed to a cross..

    Under their carefully formed facade of smelly, untalented and musically inept protest singers, Chumbawumba are in fact just like every other one hit wonder in desperate need of a shot of PR adrenaline to fuel their album sales and gig bookings.

    They may have stuck it to the man on a couple of corporate deals but from what I gather they're still fighting the miner's strike of '84, still spout the same naff Student Union rhetoric, and still, rather cynically in my opinion, "court" controversial topics as a means to an end.
    posted by MuffinMan at 3:59 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Anyone would think you'd want them nailed to a cross.

    No, not really. I just associate that song with the worst sort of suburban weekend tourist. On the bright side, I remember vaguely some SNL sketch where "Bill Gates" had bought national air time, and was demonstrating his wealth, bragging about the hidden cameras he had stashed in the offices of different world leaders. "Let's see what Fidel Castro is up to," he said, and the screen cut to Castro, cigar in one hand and whisky in the other, dancing to Tubthumping. That I liked.
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:10 AM on February 4, 2009


    Every time I hear Chumbawumba I think about UCB.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:14 AM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


    You can hear the Negativland / Chumbawamba collaboration here. (Warning: browser may resize)
    posted by not_on_display at 4:32 AM on February 4, 2009


    I like how, at the end of the video, the guy says the media didn't embrace Chumbawamba because the band 'were too clever', then it cuts to them yelling the chorus: 'Can't hear cos your mouth's full of shit / Can't hear cos your mouth's full of shit'. Maybe he means no one understood that Chumbawamba were intended as a satire of dull, thick, tone-deaf agit-prop wankers.
    posted by RokkitNite at 4:42 AM on February 4, 2009


    This seems to be one long, defensive rant about how their band isn't as shit as everyone The NME says it is.

    FTFY.

    cos mostly that's what this is — bunch of ex NME/Melody Maker journalists turned newspaper columnists coming out with the same lazy shtick they always did, pulling the same old 'look at me, aren't I all cynical and controversial' pose they always did. Because having to express a real opinion on something might show the cracks in their veneer of cool.

    And when it comes to accusing others of being hackneyed and cliched that's a rather large kettle calling the pot black.
    posted by tallus at 5:02 AM on February 4, 2009


    Sarah Palin has rough charm? "Induces spasms of cringing and embarrassment on behalf of humanity in general and Americans in particular" must be definition #2 of "charm".
    posted by DU at 5:03 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Aww, its kind of sad to hear everybody ragging on Chumba so much! Where are the closet anarchists coming out of the woodwork to admit to their bad taste?! Musically, I'll concede that Chumba, uh, sucks, but they're still a formative part of many a radical activists' life soundtrack.

    (PS, tubthumping is totally not the typical chumba album. Not that you'd probably like the rest of the albums either...)
    posted by serazin at 6:00 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Ahhh monarchy. Hereditary rule is such a fantastic civic.
    posted by Submiqent at 6:12 AM on February 4, 2009


    They are still better than Nickelback and dozens of other bands. That isn't saying much.
    posted by Xoebe at 6:22 AM on February 4, 2009


    I liked them a lot when I was a teenager. Every so often a song of theirs will come on the radio and I'll smile and bop along, and then I forget about them again for the next six months. It's not musical genius, and their politics are a lot less convincing to me now than they were when I was 14, but it is fun and happy and goes well with beer.

    I give them points for having the gumption to combine their politics (usually presented in the most dour, humorless way possible) with poppy, disco-y music. When Emma Goldman (purportedly) said "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution," I think she was hoping for music like Chumbawamba's. What's not to like?

    Someone at the beginning of the documentary piece called the music "jumpy, shouty tragedy," and while I'm not sure about the "tragedy" part, I think that the "jumpy, shouty" part is pretty much what the band was trying to do.
    posted by Forktine at 6:31 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Of course, now Wikipedia tells me they recorded an album of traditional English protest songs, and that's intriguing enough that I might buy it.

    In my music collection this is what I have under Chumbawumba because hearing performances of folk songs that have come down through the hundreds of years is relevant to my interests. It turns out that throughout the hundreds of years all English revolutionaries all sang with the polish of a church choir and not the slightest anger.

    I want to buy them some punk lessons or something.
    posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:33 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    My only problem with Chumbawamba is that they don't repeat their lyrics enough for me to get a good grasp of what they're trying to say in their songs. Maybe if their songs weren't so dense I'd be able to get into them a bit more.
    posted by billysumday at 6:33 AM on February 4, 2009


    (PS, tubthumping is totally not the typical chumba album. Not that you'd probably like the rest of the albums either...)

    When I was a teenager, around the Band-Aid/Live Aid phase of music charity, an anarchist band called Chumbawamba released an LP called Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records. Ten years later, I heard an apparently frosh-friendly tune called "Tubthumping" from a band with a kind of familiar name. It took me a while to connect the two.

    Notwithstanding the lyrics of "Tubthumping" being about working-class resilience in the face of economic and social hardships, Chumbawamba found itself in the unenviable position of bands like Warrant and Green Day: being widely known for an anomalous song, very little like anything else in the band's catalogue.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:44 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    You can hear the Negativland / Chumbawamba collaboration here. (Warning: browser may resize)

    I was expecting the last word to be "explode".
    posted by rory at 6:54 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Where are the closet anarchists coming out of the woodwork to admit to their bad taste?!

    Chumba's not CRASS. I don't see any Conflict in them. And as crowd attractions go, I wouldn't call them Dog-Faced Hermans.
    posted by Smart Dalek at 6:59 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Opinions on music are so weird. They tend to either be negative or hyperbolic.

    I don't like their music but I'd see them live anyday. They're one of those groups, like Gogol Bordello or World/Inferno Friendship Society that are traveling parties.
    posted by christhelongtimelurker at 7:03 AM on February 4, 2009


    Chumbawamba might not hold a candle to Conflict or Zounds, but they're way better than Crass's painful shrieking and intermittent yet earnest drum pounding.

    Sure, the Neander-Pecs might have mistakenly liked that one song because it talks about their favorite activity (drinking) but I have to give Chumbawamba props for combining accessible pop music with anarchist lyrics.

    This anarchist has their whole discography, although I don't listen to them that much anymore. I don't get all the hate for anarchism here, either.
    posted by dunkadunc at 7:11 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    What dunkadunc said. I've got Pictures of Starving Children, and English Rebel Songs 1381-1914, and 101 Songs About Sport, and the 7" cover of Shipbuilding, and a bunch more besides. They've done sod-all worth listening to since the mid-90s, though.
    posted by Hogshead at 8:29 AM on February 4, 2009


    I remember when Tubthumping was blasting out of the jeeps of every mailbox-shaped-baseball-cap wearing shirtless canvas-shorted frat pig who came rolling into the city on weekend nights to get loaded on Jager and pick fights with the locals.

    Probably any band, ever, that started as a niche/genre act, and ended up selling lots of records, has this happen. You just don't get to combine "popular" and "listened to only by cool people just like me."

    There was a link a few days back to a video of a 1982 outdoor concert by the Ramones. Big crowd, and from the limited crowd shots, pretty much all of them looked like, well, late-70s/early-80s normal party kids. Girls in bikinis, dudes with feathered hair and tank tops. Just regular kids, having a great time in the sun. When you make good music that's accessible, people will want to listen to it, and they'll fit it into their existing lives.

    But my real point here is that it isn't a black mark against Nirvana or Chumbawamba or whomever that they had an extended moment of popularity with the party kids. Maybe one or two somewhere listened to the lyrics and were inspired to be less meathead-ish, and most of them just seamlessly went on to listen to whatever came next. Most music that has passed through my life hasn't impacted me all that deeply, either.

    That's the downside to groups like Chumbawamba and CRASS -- that they took themselves so seriously, and wanted their music to have that immediate impact on the listener. But most of the time, it's just entertainment, right up there with sitcom reruns and picking your toenails. So there's a dissonance between their earnestness ("No! You are listening wrong!") and the way that people actually consume their product.
    posted by Forktine at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


    English Rebel Songs 1381-1914 is wonderful. Yes, the band is generally strident and adolescent, but they caused me to do lots of homework running down all their references when I was younger, and so broadened my horizons.

    Now piss off, the lot of you.
    posted by everichon at 8:39 AM on February 4, 2009


    Watching the documentary I have concluded that Chumbawumba is the Sarah Palin of crap music:


    generally stupid, but with some rough charm;

    lazily adhering to a political screed without understanding what it really means;

    blaming all harsh criticism on the mean meanyfaces of the Mainstream Media;

    catering to myopics that think they're succeeding despite said mean meanyfaces;

    ignoring that limited success is sometimes not a mark of quality but rather an indicator that there are a lot of rather thick people out there.


    This is all you need for fame and fortune? Time for a band meeting, I guess.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:10 AM on February 4, 2009


    Ah the hit single, Tubthumping. So catchy and so flawed. Horrendously weak flat backing vocals ("pissing the night awaaay"), awful awkward lyrics ("he drinks a lager drink, he drinks a whisky drink" as if you'd ever phrase it like that). But somehow it's still an enjoyable track despite all the fail.
    posted by w0mbat at 9:19 AM on February 4, 2009


    Truth is, I thought it mattered. I thought that music mattered. But does it bollocks.
    posted by kirkaracha at 9:35 AM on February 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


    Well, my favorite episode of The View (Wait! I've said too much!) included the efforts of Chumbawamba to explain anarchism to Barbara Walters and Co. Despite the fact that Walters had looked up "anarchy" in the dictionary before the show, this did not go well.

    Ever since then I've put Chumbawama on the "OK" side of the ledger.
    posted by washburn at 9:47 AM on February 4, 2009


    I liked them a lot when I was a teenager.

    That there should probably be your first clue as to the quality of their talent.
    posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 AM on February 4, 2009


    I used to wonder why my Chumbawumba loving friend would defend them to stridently to me when I'd make some crack about "that one song." Then one day he asked me about "that one song" by The Flaming Lips and smirked while I stridently defended them. (This was back when "She Don't Use Jelly" was the one song of theirs anyone had ever seemed to have heard.) Now I give a lot more leeway to bands who have "that one song."

    I also bought the English Rebel Songs LP on his recommendation and liked it, so Wes, if you're reading this, you were right. Mea Culpa.
    posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    They were no Mekons.

    Noone comes close to Mekons!
    posted by elmono at 11:05 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    That's it. I'm putting together a post on OMC.
    posted by drjimmy11 at 11:35 AM on February 4, 2009



    They are still better than Nickelback and dozens of other bands. That isn't saying much.


    ....HEY!!!!
    posted by bonobothegreat at 11:47 AM on February 4, 2009


    They were no Mekons.

    Jon Langford played on/recorded Danbert Nobacon's new album last year: The Library Book of the World.
    posted by tallus at 11:49 AM on February 4, 2009


    If you won they'd be the new Mekons
    And you perhaps a myth bygone
    posted by thivaia at 12:36 PM on February 4, 2009


    In fairness, a lot of Americans had no inkling of Chumbawamba's anarchist roots. Our introduction to them was through Tubthumping, and it usually began and ended with that song. That being the debut of this band to us, I wouldn't be too surprised if most of us lost interest then.

    Probably any band, ever, that started as a niche/genre act, and ended up selling lots of records, has this happen. You just don't get to combine "popular" and "listened to only by cool people just like me."

    As I said, I recognized it was unfair of me to judge a band by its fans. But that song is also pretty insipid.
    posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:50 PM on February 4, 2009


    They're no KLF, as far as anarchists with pop hits; the KLF burned a million pounds of the cash they made off their hit. Here's a YT of KLF with the Extreme Noise Terrorists at the Brit Music Awards in 1992.

    Still, I get knocked down, but I get up again... thanks for sticking this song (and the UCB sketch) in my head again.
    posted by not_on_display at 12:57 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Your favorite anarcho punk band sucks.
    posted by cazoo at 1:40 PM on February 4, 2009


    Well, my favorite episode of The View (Wait! I've said too much!) included the efforts of Chumbawamba to explain anarchism to Barbara Walters and Co. Despite the fact that Walters had looked up "anarchy" in the dictionary before the show, this did not go well.

    OMG, can someone find the link?
    posted by serazin at 2:19 PM on February 4, 2009


    I saw them play at a small club in Philly around '92 or so.
    They really put on a great show!
    posted by orme at 3:14 PM on February 4, 2009


    For a very short period of time, our student bar had "The Chumbawumba". $7.00, a shot each of whiskey, vodka, and half-pints of lager & cider.

    I did not get back up again.
    posted by Lemurrhea at 3:16 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    Aww, its kind of sad to hear everybody ragging on Chumba so much! Where are the closet anarchists coming out of the woodwork to admit to their bad taste?! Musically, I'll concede that Chumba, uh, sucks, but they're still a formative part of many a radical activists' life soundtrack.

    Agreed. I mean, its not like Chumba is being forced down people's throats. Tubthumping is like a ten-year old song, and I've never seen Chumba perfume, Chumba fashion, or Chumba dolls.. they aren't judges on American Idol or anything. I enjoy the fact that a musical act can gain fame while professing a belief that counters the business interests that control quite a bit of the media, or at least access to it.

    Say what you like about anarchism. The anarchists were the good guys in the Spanish civil war, and were one of the first groups fighting fascism in Europe and given all the recent news of layoffs, and corporate crimes I suspect that in a few more months working-class politics are going to be more relevant to a lot of us.
    posted by Deep Dish at 4:52 PM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


    The anarchists were the good guys in the Spanish civil war...

    I'm the grandson of those anarchists, who took refuge in Mexico. I don't know if they would've liked this chumbawamba, but I'm pretty sure the band would've liked to hang out with my grandparents and their friends...they told some fantastic stories. Lot's of suffering though, and really, a war between brothers is rather tragic....

    Anynone ever watched "Land and Freedom"? I highly recommend it.
    posted by elmono at 5:56 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


    I'm waiting for the Rytmus Oslany documentary. Now THAT I'd watch.
    posted by originalname37 at 7:49 PM on February 4, 2009


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