1997, Music

Tubthumper (1997) by Chumbawamba

If you were alive in 1997 you heard “Tubthumping.” You’ve probably heard it even if you weren’t very old then. It came out of nowhere and, unless you were in the UK, the band then vanished from the public eye soon after.

Many of us were surprised to discover that a “punk” band had made this record because the music here does not sound like punk. From pictures I’ve seen of them performing, they look like a folk punk band, as a drummer is often absent.
But whatever Chumbawumba sounded like before this record is irrelevant to the shittness of this record.

The songs are a bunch of catchy and not so catchy melodies with a bunch of lyrics that are repeated over and over. In fact, you might say the defining feature of these songs is repetition. The lyrics, which are sometimes extremely political, are more like slogans than actual thoughts. They don’t resonate at all. If I’m going to listen to political music, I want more than just some slogans.

But the sloganeering and lack of great material would perhaps be forgivable if it were not for the “oh my god it’s 1997!” arrangements and production. It’s like someone has been listening to a whole ton of Primal Scream. There’s one track that sounds so much like Primal Scream that it’s basically plagiarism. And I don’t like Primal Scream but this is much, much worse.

I’m not sure there’s anything redeeming about this record. And though it’s interesting to read about their hi-jinks when they were briefly popular but none of that makes the record better, and none of that makes their bizarre Manic Street Preachers-eqsque combination of hooks and political lyrics stick.

4/10 feels somewhat kind but I guess it’s deserved.

All tracks written by Chumbawamba.

  1. “Tubthumping” 4:38
  2. “Amnesia” 4:08
  3. “Drip, Drip, Drip” 5:09
  4. “The Big Issue” 4:38
  5. “The Good Ship Lifestyle” 5:14
  6. “One by One” 4:46
  7. “Outsider” 5:09
  8. “Creepy Crawling” 4:04
  9. “Mary, Mary” 4:59
  10. “Smalltown” 3:14
  11. “I Want More” 4:02
  12. “Scapegoat” 5:08
  • Lou Watts – vocals, keyboards
  • Danbert Nobacon – vocals
  • Paul Greco – bass
  • Boff Whalley – guitar, vocals
  • Jude Abbott – trumpet, vocals
  • Alice Nutter – vocals
  • Dunstan Bruce – vocals, percussion
  • Harry Hamer – drums, programming

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