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English Rebel Songs 1381-1984

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 19, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

English Rebel Songs 1381-1984 is Chumbawamba's homage to the men and women who never had obituaries in the broadsheets; those who never received titles or appeared as an entry in 'Who's Who'. This album was originally recorded in 1988 when Chumbawamba was determined to stir up a rout in the tiny anarcho-punk community by swapping guitars and drums for a capella singing. The songs were discovered in songbooks, in folk clubs and on cassette tapes, chopped and changed and bludgeoned into shape with utmost respect for the original tunes. Fierce, sweet and powerful, English Rebel Songs contains ballads not included on the original album. It's guaranteed to sway the listener, break hearts and encourage hope...just as those who inspired the songs by changing history.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 19, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Trade Root Music Group
  • ASIN: B0012X6FC6
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,410 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This is a brilliant album, a new recording of their original English Rebel Songs album from 1988. The vocals are tighter now, they are in fact impressively and beautifully tight, a rich cascade of harmony that forms an inspiring and evocative masterpiece touring you through the ages of folk music and social justice struggles in England. Primarily acapella, the songs range from the plaintive and hauntingly beautiful "The Bad Squire" or "Coal Not Dole" to the upbeat "Smashing of the Van" which will have you singing along with the chorus and your feet tapping. This is an album of traditional music across the centuries, emphasizing the continuity inherent in the traditions of both folk music and political struggle. And a plug for buying the physical album here, the liner notes are fantastic with background, information and lyrics for each song...the packaging itself is beautiful and has great graphics, buy the album and not the downloads, this is definitely one you'll want to hang on to!

As far as Chumbawamba goes, they're a great band, known to most as the one hit wonder who produced Tubthumping. But they were a great anarcho-punk band before making their bid for fame, and have continued to be a great anarcho-punk folk band now that fame has been achieved and a great deal of the money given to a large number of important causes. This album and their last live album "Get on With It" are both incredible, and I hear an album of all new music is soon on its way...
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Seemingly an odd idea for an album --- covers of "English Rebel Songs" dating back to 1381 --- works smashingly in the hands, and vocal chords of Chumbawamba. Protest songs were never so beautifully sung!

If you are already a Chumbawamba fan, you will definitely want to hear this one, but be forewarned; it doesn't sound like anything else the group has ever done. Not only due to the theme of the songs --- although this band has certainly never shied away from political or social issues in the past --- but because it's mostly an acapella album and lacks the "normal" instrumentation that the band uses. A bare bones approach, but one that actually fits with the tone of these folk songs of struggle and rebellion.

This collection of songs was originally recorded by the band in 1988. To quote the liner notes, the members of the band "were determined to stir up a rout in our tiny anarcho-punk community by swapping guitars and drums for acapella singing .... fifteen years later, we felt we'd learned enough about our voices to try again, updating and rearranging the songs against the backdrop of US/British warmongering. The songs were discovered in songbooks and in folk clubs and on cassette tapes, chopped and changed and bludgeoned into shape with utmost respect for the original tunes."

That respect and sincerity comes shining through in these brilliantly performed songs. And the voices; oh, those voices. Mesmerizing and lovely only begins to tell the tale as the harmonies soar and float. Listen and learn and appreciate what this band has done. This truly represents a milestone in their recording career. Maybe not their most catchy batch of tunes, and it's relatively short at 31 minutes, but this ranks as one of their most important albums.
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Format: Audio CD
Brilliant. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.
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Format: Audio CD
Chumbawamba are a group who have gone through many style changes over the years - from anarcho-punks to international dance hit sensations to folk artists. This CD finds them in full folk mode. Originally recorded in 1988 the group decided to rearrange and re-record this album to give it a proper release. I must say, they have succeeded. This collection of rebel songs remembering all the poor and oppressed throughout England's history is a powerful but pleasurable listening experience. Many of the songs are performed a cappella with a bright and pristine production. The harmonies are tight and the voice-blending nearly flawless. "Song on the Times" and "Poverty Knock" are absolute gems. For those who are not necessarily fans of "folk" music you should check this disc out and see if it doesn't change your mind. Highly recommended.
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