Monday, 1 December 2014

Chumbawamba 'Tubthumping'

Chart Peak: 2
Chumbawamba were initially formed back in the mid-1980s - they released numerous records with varying degrees of success until August '97 and this anthem 'Tubthumping' which crashed onto the chart at No. 2 and was still Top 10 at the end of October.
It was a bit of a split decision (if one person can have a split decision) what to do as a follow-up to Now 14. I considered running with the 4 theme and going to Now 24, which is an interesting one, but I finally decided that Now 38, the last album of 1997, felt more wintry and would be better suited to the turn of the year. I can't actually remember what time of year it was when I bought this, but I remember I got it in St Luke's charity shop Harrow Weald along with a pair of trousers. The trousers haven't lasted as long as the album.

Anyway, we start with a track that is in some ways a curveball, and yet in other ways is totally logical. There was a bit of a trend in 1997-8 for unlikely long-serving acts to break through, and it's hard to think of a better example than the veteran Yorkshire anarchist collective who not only got signed to a major label but found themselves with a massive global hit that even penetrated the US Top 10 and became the theme tune for straight-to-video sequel Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves. Heck, even I bought one (see photo) although with hindsight I probably didn't get my £2:29 worth as I quickly tired of the song. It was a massive airplay hit (apart from a record-breaking drop at the start of September when its upbeat mood was considered inappropriate after the death of Diana, Princess Of Wales, though sales seemed less affected) and never seemed to be off the telly either. At least I did get two B-sides that weren't on the UK CD or cassette singles and it is pretty red vinyl.

Now that it's possible to go as long as a month without hearing 'Tubthumping', I feel I can once again attempt to judge it on its own merits and I can appreciate at least some of what they were trying to do, producing a big defiant anthem out of a song that is actually somewhat pathetic, narrating a tale of a man who sits back, drinks a variety of alcoholic substances and looks back to supposedly happier times. He is, after all, "pissing the night away", obviously a punning reference to booze but also to the time he's wasting. On the other hand, it doesn't sound like there are a lot of other opportunities open to him either. Because of the strong accents this faintly recalls Pulp, although it's not in all honesty up to their highest standards. It doesn't totally convince beyond the fist-pumping, and I'm still quite bored with that, though there is a surprisingly good Flaming Lips remix you can listen to for a change.

Also appearing on: Now 39
Available on: Ultimate Office Party!

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