What You See Is What You Get  ( WYSIWYG )
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2000
If the only song you have ever heard by Chumbawamba is Tubthumpinng, and if you think the name of that song is actually "I Get Knocked Down", then this album is NOT for you. If you bought the Tubthumper album and hated it, then why the heck are you reading this review?
If you are still here, that must mean you know a little someething about Chumbawamba. This album is pretty typical of previous albums, though Chumba fans will tell you that no two albums are really all that similar. WYSIWYG is a blend of Brit pop and punk, with the occasional violin throw in for good measure. Most of the tracks are 2 minutes or less (enhancing the punk feel of brief songs), and the album plays almost like one continuous shifting tune rather than 22 individual ones. "She's Got All the Friends" is the most Tubthumper-esque song, which explains why it's supposed to be the new US radio hit.
Overall, it's a good album, worthy of a purchase if you're a true fan. It ranks up there with "Anarchy" and "Shhh", but is truly in a class by itself. However, I know for a fact that Tubthumper was not a huge hit in this country and I doubt that WYSISYG will fare much better. That's just because this nation thinks Korn and Limp Bizkit or N'Sync and Britney Spears are the only "listenable" forms of music.
Regardless, true Chumba fans, no matter where in the world you are, will dig this album.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2000
Although many casual radio listeners have written off Chumbawamba as one-hit wonder now that the anarchist ensemble's "Tubthumping" has started to fade from airwaves, movie trailers, and sports highlights clips, long-time fans might recall that the group's artistic apex came more than a decade ago. On albums such as Pictures of Starving Children Sell Millions and Never Mind The Ballots, Chumbawamba combined Crass' art-punk and radical discourse with Peter, Paul, and Mary-style harmonies. Later, the group replaced high-speed drum beats with mellow programmed dance rhythms, and while some cried "Judas" and abandoned it immediately, others decided to wait to see where Chumbawamba was heading with this seeming concession to the mainstream. In interviews, various members of the group explained that they were looking to reach a wider audience, to bring its political ideology into the Walkmans of mall-shopping pop fans rather than continuing to preach to the converted at packed punk clubs. The plan succeeded, as its latest album went multi-platinum while inspiring television shows and magazines to offer its members a forum to share their beliefs. However, with the group's follow-up WYSIWYG, the question becomes: Is anyone still listening? If not, it's their loss. WYSIWYG is an amazing collection of 22 compact tunes that pair caustic commentary and cheery music in a manner reminiscent of The Smiths. The album's first single, "She's Got All The Friends," sees the band unloading on an easy target (popular rich girls), but its abundant pop hooks and ingenious doo-wop interlude make it easy to forget the tune's relatively uncreative subject matter. Fortunately, the rest of the record, which is packed with upbeat horn accents, Beatles-type melodies, and airtight harmonies, is as compelling lyrically as it is musically. Among the highlights are "Pass It Along," a Pet Shop Boys-style dance-floor rant about the sense of isolation created by Internet shopping and home-security systems, "I'm Not Sorry, I Was Having Fun," a perky tune about the riots at Woodstock and Seattle, and "I'm Coming Out," a biting track directed at homosexual celebrities who choose to spend their careers in the closet. Brief diversions such as "Ladies For Compassionate Lynching" and "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Jerry Springer" offer a humorous jolt while contributing to the album's seamless flow. On WYSIWYG, Chumbawamba takes accessibility to new extremes. The victims of these barbs, such as Charlton Heston ("Moses With A Gun") and Florida's wealthy resort-home dwellers ("Celebration, Florida"), could hear these tunes on their favorite easy-listening station and hum along mindlessly, unaware of the venom directed their way. It's been said that music soothes the savage beast, but Chumbawamba suggests that the converse is true -- a sharp-teethed political animal can use melody to charm its way into the homes of an apathetic populace.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2000
With it's chorus of "I get knocked down/but I get up again," Chumbawamba's smash hit "Tubthumping," birthed from the album of the same name, was utilized across the spectrum in 1997 - from sporting events to political rallies, championing the spirit of the underdog every step of the way. It's a shame that not everybody was able to get past the fervor of those ten syllables and savor the tune for what it really was - a spirited ode to a drunken night at an English pub. After all, the rest of that album's cheerful pop was merely an innocuous façade (albeit ho-hum) for the lyrical volleys of an octet of self-described anarchists. The band's new album, "WYSIWYG" (an abbreviated "What You See is What You Get"), is a slightly more successful attempt at marrying pop music conventions with pop culture observations, if only because the oft snickerable diatribes are laced with a bit more lounge-savvy shtick. It's a combo that works well when reflecting on the "white boy bands" of "I'm With Stupid" ("Everything is bland/until the singer gets a habit") or the Happy Meal-lifestyles of "I'm in Trouble Again." Despite coming stocked with the song title of the year ("The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Jerry Springer"), the album's second half is a bit tedious, as the social barbs tend to be better cooked than the musical stylings (see "Jesus in Vegas"), which often come served with the panache of a Denny's side-dish. Still, "WYSIWYG" brims with enough insurgent mojo to keep Chumbawamba from being written off as one-hit wonders just yet - but VH1 is knocking, mind you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2000
From the boy-band skewering "I'm With Stupid" tobegin Chumbawamba's latest effort, to the 21 tracks thereafter, youKNOW this band is evolving and isn't pulling any punches. Even with "She's Got All The Friends" sounding very evocative of "Tubthumper", the album and that song in particular still hold their own very well. Such irreverence makes for some of the best music in ages. I challenge you not to feel the burning acidity against Microsoft in "Where do you want to go today? Somewhere you can never take me" from the track "Pass It Along". The talented lads (and lasses) from Leeds just decided to mix subtlety along with the "club you over the head" messages. The aforementioned "She's Got All The Friends" files as an excellent entry in the latter category. And who can't get hooked on the mad-violin backed "I'm Coming Out" or the unescapably catchy "Smart Bomb"?. And just the title "The Impossibility of Death In the Mind Of Jerry Springer" bears even a casual listen. Another point to note, not all of the 22 file under what most would call "songs"......yet one such short interlude "Knickers", warning "There's a hole in your knickers, dear Calvin", though a very short statement, invites oodles upon oodles of metaphorical comparisons. Definitely not a detractor, if anything, a strong point. I beg you, dear listener....do not expect an album full of "Tubthumper" clones. But DO expect an exceptional album worth all the praise it may receive. An excellent buy, fully worth your money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2007
I have all of Chumbawamba's CDs, and I think this is my favorite of them all (although their overall body of work is consistently strong with no real weak links). WYSIWYG is a concept CD--every song (except one) is under 3 minutes, making for lots of songs aiming at lots of targets. It skewers modern political, social, and pop culture.

Chumbawamba explains the CD concept best in the liner notes: "All power to the Focus Groups! For now Peter Mandelson, spin doctor supreme, gathers around himself a think-tank of buffoons who try to guess what 'the people' would like. What would we like? A huge Dome, with Disneyland inside it. We'd like Pat Boone, Cliff Richard, and Puff Daddy to sing three-part harmonies at the opening. MC Hammer could dance, Britney Spears and a troupe of pre-pubescent girls could sing to old men about sex. We'd like soaps, Titanics, and sliced white bread. We want Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' in a clip frame, and our football goalposts made bigger so we get more goals. And we want our political experiences distilled into three-minute pop songs by Chumbawamba."

If you listen to this, it will be hard not to truly laugh, wince, and feel thrilled that there is still great art being made, by people who really care. In a word, it's special.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Tubthumper, the one Chumbawamba CD that might stick in the general U.S. public's mind, had one excellent song that was a huge hit. The rest of that album, in my opinion, was drab.
"What You See Is What You Get" could very well fade from music history, which would be a shame. This is an overall excellent album where one great cynical tune flows into another; it's not unlike an upbeat anarchic version of a Pink Floyd album like "Wish You Were Here" or "Dark Side of the Moon."
Many of these songs have some good sharp humor added ("Jesus in Vegas," "Moses With a Gun"), which is refreshing since there are massive amounts of "left wing humor" that lacks any wit whatsoever (See almost any humor oriented show on any National Public Radio station---NPR rocks, EXCEPT in the humor department!) And Chumbawamba finds a good balance of humor, good music, and cynicism to make this CD a work that is well worth your while to pick up.
Some of the ideas in these Chumbawamba's lyrics are insightful, some are overboard liberal (even for my taste!). Whether I dig the words or disagree with 'em, they are well put to an awesome soundtrack. Take a chance on this album.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2004
I don't know how Chumbawamba can be considered a 1-hit wonder. They have done many songs that could and should be hit songs. This album has a few examples: "She's Got All The Friends", "Celebration, Florida", "Pass It Along" (which was featured in a car commercial), "I'm In Trouble Again", "Standing Still", and others. Their version of "The New York Mining Disaster 1941" is wonderful. They deserve more recognition in the US of A.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
You gotta love a band where one of the members chooses to regularly sport a tee-shirt proudly boasting "One Hit Wonder" regarding their acclaimed Tubthumper release.
The music on that album and even more so on this release is more than just Ska -- some gems on here teases us with some very jazzy 3/4 timing blending, snippets of reggae, a dash of quasi-eletronica cuts & scratches, 60'ish pop melodies all mixed up in the delicious stew that refuses to be catagorized in any sort of musical genre.
Beyond this -- the song writing shows that there's some serious thinking behind the music. This is art with a message that challenges the attentive listener.
The teeshirt may indeed foretell that Chumbwamba will never have another "hit", but who cares. This release is fun, smart and uncompromising.
I'm passionitely waiting to see what comes next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2003
Like a lot of people, I thought this band was a one hit wonder; that hit being the "drinking song" from Tubthumper. Most people did'nt even bother to listen to the whole CD, which is loaded with great tunes. I found out later about this politically charged band has released several albums. This is the third Chumbawumba CD that I have purchased and it is my third favorite. Most of the tunes are very entertaining but nothing was as memorable as say "Don't Try This At Home". But it is much better than most of the "pop" music pablum that is currently clogging up the airwaves and record stores. Give it a try, you will probably like it better than I did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2001
It never ceases to amaze me how many great bands from UK are unable to jump the pond. Chumbawamba's plight in America is very similar to that of Madness: brilliant musicianship, fun melodies and lyrics, popular at home, one hit wonders in the US (for those that don't remember, Madness hit with "Our House"). If you want an album that gets better with repeated listening, this one fits the bill. The musical range is unbelievable. As always with Chumbawamba, expect social comentary. And to those who say they've sold out .. get real. This is better than 'Tubthumper', and more lively than 'Shhhh'.
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