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NEW Combo BLUWAVS CD and FLAC FILE
When Chumbawamba--an anarchist musical collective from Leeds--can have a major U.S. hit, this isn't reality--it's more like Utopia. They'd been plugging away in the underground for years, highlighting hypocrisy with wit and releasing a series of brilliant albums before achieving critical mass in 1997. There's the drum & bass ("Smalltown"), and "The Good Ship Lifestyle" where they manage to weld the rhythms seamlessly onto songs. Anything and everything is fair game here, and why not? Chumbawamba have their own voice, and these snapshots of England (Polaroids of Leeds, really) prove that pop and politics can make comfortable bedfellows. --Chris Nickson
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To say the least this is a gorgeous album. The "I get knocked down.." song is what inspired me to get the album in the first place, but little did I know what else was in store for me. So many goodies to discover. I'll name all the gems:
In addition to Tubthumping, there's also Amnesia, Drip Drip Drip, Big Issue, Good Ship Lifestyle, One By One, Outsider, and Smalltown. Since my "free country" had banned the lyrics and the rest of the liner notes, I had to get them from the internet. In my opinion, the lyrics to many of the songs are actually quite abstract. One would have to read the band's explanations in order to fully understand the meaning behind them. Nevertheless, the music is very good. One can actually become so totally mesmerized by it and not even realize that it focused on left wing political ideas like hypocrisy, working-class issues, and overhauling the establishment. It's no wonder the lyrics were deemed "unneccessary". I supposed that's how the Tubthumping song made it on the US charts in the first place.
I will forever cherish this album simply because in 98 it represented the open mind, in addition to a tiny ray of hope among all that awful overprocessed pop and rap crap that they're still playing on my radio today.
Chumbawamba, we miss you.
1. Tubthumping - It should be pretty obvious to anyone that this is by far the *dumbest* song on the album. And given that it's their massive blowout hit, that's about a lead pipe cinch that it isn't in any way indicative of their work as a whole. Nothing wrong with that, of course, just keep that in mind. I don't really care for this one.
2. Amnesia - Fairly easygoing rock number about memory loss. And...ah, those who suffer from memory loss. Listenable and mostly nonserious.
3. Drip, Drip, Drip - One of those non-hip hop talky pieces. Pretty much the same deal as Amnesia.
4. The Big Issue - This, IMHO, *should* have been their breakthrough. Completely mainstream, harmless pop/rock, message notwithstanding.
5. The Good Ship Lifestyle - Okay, this is a style called "drum and bass". If you're not familiar with a club scene, you probably haven't had much exposure to this. It's very popular in some European circles. Pretty much ordinary punk otherwise.
6. One By One - Oh yeah! NOW we're talking! *This* is the unflinching, angry politicizing that makes Chumbawamba what it is, and it sounds downright beautiful, too. A very simple, powerful ballad about a union leader who abandons his responsiblities for personal gain and the terrible consequences. Unquestionably the best song on the album, IMHO.
7. Outsider - Ooh, house! Not much of a message here, but who cares, it's loads of fun.
8. Creepy Crawling - Another talky one. Wasn't able to get much out of this; it's just weird. Reminds me of Five Iron Frenzy for some reason.
9. Mary, Mary - A loud metalish piece about a woman named Mary who, gasp! (yawn) falls a bit short of her biblical counterpart. A bit too repetitive for my tastes.
10. Smalltown - More delicious D&B; actually a lot truer to the style than The Good Ship Lifestyle. Good stuff, good stuff.
11. I Want More - Not a hint of subtletly here, just pure unadulterated punk. Great fist pumping music (whatever that is).
12. Scapegoat - Eurobeat (or a reasonable facsimile thereof)? Man, they're doin' EVERYTHING here! A worthy sendoff.
A little repetitive at times, and doesn't always hang together, but in all, this is a surprisingly well done album. It's definitely worth whatever you paid for it. :-D*
* (Subtle reference to highly questionable activity encouraged by Chumbawamba which I needn't get into here, thank you very much.)