Posted: June 14, 2013 in Music
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Most people know only one song by Chumbawamba, and they’re sick of it, or they think the band name is goofy, and they judge the band and their 30-year career by their name and that one song.

Huge mistake.

I’m not sure why I did it, but I managed to push past Tubthumping (which I still actually like) and listen to more of their music.  At first, it was just the rest of the Tubthumper album, which I found to be quite cohesive and quite good.  It may be a time capsule of 1997 British pop, but I’m OK with that.  What many don’t know, I’ll wager, is that Chumbawamba started out as a punk anarchist band in 1982 (one year after R.E.M. started).  They remained in relative obscurity until 1997, when they had their one hit.  Then they fell back into obscurity as quickly as they had left.

Yet they continued to make music for 15 more years, disbanding in 2012 (one year after R.E.M. disbanded).  They were a folk quintet at the end.  Imagine the journey it must have been from punk-anarchist to folk.  And in between, they put out albums with flavor and diversity, and no album in the catalog sounds like the one before or after it.  Their harmonies were spot on tight by the end, and I’m willing to bet that there’s a Chumbawamba song for everyone.  They never took themselves very seriously, but they took their music seriously, and the lyrics were generally very well put together and clever, usually with a veiled bite.

If you think Chumbawamba was just 30 years of getting knocked down but getting up again, head on over to their last album, called ABCDEFG, and try any song on there.  If you’re not thoroughly surprised and impressed, then you are deaf.


  1. Suspicious Chihuahua says:

    Agreed. I, too, was surprised at their diversity and awesomeness, and ABCDEFG is an excellent record that quickly became one of my favorites.

  2. Jan Chavis says:

    Thanks Dan! I think I’ll check it out.

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