I too was a fan of Pictures of Starving children… and Flux of Pink Indians(just to band name drop) who was surprised by the attention they received in 1997 but not really surprised that the earlier recordings were ever mentioned. I also await the film.
That’s understandable. Their follow-up single wouldn’t have worked as well in the US, as it was a direct attack on New Labour and Tony Blair.
Yeah! It would have been lost on the average listener that wasn’t at least partially politically aware… But it’s also just not a problem for political bands, though. There are tons of bands from Europe and the UK who ended up being one hit wonders in the US, just because of how fragmented the market is here. It’s just far more difficult to get national airplay because there is no real equivalent of someone like John Peel, who was on a national broadcaster. MTV helped, because it was national as soon as cable companies picked it up and early on, it was thepostpunk labels sending in their low-budget videos when the American majors wouldn’t touch it. It’s only when the bands that got play on MTV began to get radio play, that the American industry took notice and began to push out indies…
I’ll be honest – I largely wrote off Chumbawamba in the 1990s because they had that one inescapable hit and kind of fizzled out here in America – and I wasn’t really paying much attention to popular music at the time anyway. In the late 1990s, when I saw that Negativland was doing a collaboration with them, that genuinely piqued my interest. I just had to find out what a radical counterculture group like Negativland was doing partnering with a top 40 one hit wonder band like Chumbawamba. That’s when I started looking into their catalog and really fell in love with the breadth and depth of their work.
From what I have seen, this was very much the case. Much of their proceeds went toward causes they were passionate about. For instance when GM licensed one of their songs to use in a commercial, the band used all the proceeds to fund anti-GM propaganda.
Anyway, I’m a big fan of Chumbawamba and am thrilled to finally see them get some recognition beyond “that one drinking song”.
Indeed – as an American fan, much of the highly Brit-centric social and political references are lost on me, requiring actual research (shocking, I know) to better understand the messages.
It’s whiplash inducing – every album is different. As is typical for artistic collectives, the lineup was ever changing, with different styles, influences, and collaborations in place. You would see stylistic shifts from punk, to more conventional rock, to dance music. Their last album was mostly comprised of largely folk-influenced songs with minimal instrumental backing – including one of my favorites of theirs:
6 posts were split to a new topic: Negativthreadland
30 years later and sadly it is still relevant. It only requires minor changes to be about trans people today. Of course the song was also about trans people in the late 80’s and early 90’s too, back when trans people were seen by the press as gay predators trying to trick straight people.
So, just like today then
Here’s another version with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
Or anti-immigration. Or so many other things. Its message against violence and hate toward others just for being who they are, and hatred as a disease just so damn versatile.
I really wish it didn’t have to be.
Immigration isn’t included in LGBTQ+ though. At the time neither was transgender, although inclusion was only about 5 years away.
Chumbawamba have done other songs that are supportive of immigrants. Just let us have this one.
I was flipping channels one night and landed on them being interviewed on The Tonight Show. Leno goes “so, somebody told me you guys are anarchists!?”
and they were all “yes. and?”
I never followed them but remember the name from reading Maximum Rock -N- Roll in highschool (I mean, it’s impossible to forget that name.) when Tub Thumping came out, I was like “there’s no way it’s that underground punk band, but OTOH, it’s much less likely that a different band independently derived a name like Chumbawamba”
“He drinks a whisky drink
He drinks a vodka drink
He drinks a lager drink
He drinks a cider drink
NEW LABOUR SOLD OUT THE DOCKERS
JUST LIKE THEY’LL SELL OUT THE REST OF US!”
Unfortunately the video doesn’t include the bit when Danbert Nobacon emptied a bucket of ice water over deputy prime minister John Prescott.
Oh, yeah, that’s down the hall, past the Soros health spa, then take a left, 3 doors past Antifa world holdings inc.
To be fair, this was the 90s, and lots of formely underground bands were getting attention.
It has been over a day, and I have seen this comment several times, but I am still dyslexic reading this as Anarchist Gardening Commission and now I want one.
One of my favourite albums growing up. I learned so much about the hypocrisy of adults and the world through this.
You can’t book them, they just turn up and sort everything out