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A Singsong and a Scrap

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Album Review

While it's a slimmed-down (four person) and definitely acoustic Chumbawamba releasing their disc on a U.K. folk label (No Masters) with some decidedly folkie guests like melodeon player Andy Cutting and singers Coope, Boyes & Simpson, don't think of this as a folk record. Chumbawamba's pop sensibilities and sly sense of humor remain firmly intact for Singsong and a Scrap, just in a different setting. They're as political as ever — the vocal beauty of "Walking into Battle with the Lord" uses traditional structures to take aim at war in the name of religion, and "The Land of Do What You're Told" fires its shots across the bows of reality shows, for example. But there's an odd tenderness to "When Alexander Met Emma," the story of revolutionary Emma Goldman's great love, and "William Francis," about a friendless aristocrat and landowner. "Learning to Love" stands the old idea of the maid waiting for her man to return from war on its head, and "Bella Ciao" offers new, very relevant words to a traditional Italian song. Yet there's also a glorious cover of the Clash's "Bankrobber" here, the voices soaring on the works and strengthening the notions of poverty and idealism. The band have improved greatly as singers, as the a cappella numbers illustrate well, giving full-throated roars to the lyrics. Never known in the past for their instrumental subtlety, this incarnation of the band actually understates rather than bludgeons, and persuasion works better than force on these songs. Intelligent as ever, and with eyes not jaundiced by fame, the cottage industry Chumbawamba works well indeed.

Customer Reviews

Butchering The Clash

I thought the album sounded ok till the cover of The Clash's Bankrobber. My god, I forgot how much some bands can butcher a great song. Way to go! sounds like it belongs on the Barney The Dinosaur show. Now the rest of the album sounds cheesy as can be.

Bankrobber? Love it.

This album was a huge surprise, and a pleasant one. Very easy to listen to. William Francis and Fade Away are great tunes.

Rejoice - Good Music Still Exists

To counter the review that states that the cover of the Clash is like Barney the Dinosaur, being a Clash fan for many years (actual bought Give Em Enough Rope when first released) I think this is brillant. Rather than trying to do a reggae or dub version they took it to a whole different end of the musical spectrum and pull it off. Having cleared that up, every song here is a gem, no favorites as all great - just like "The Boy Bands Have Won" the harmonies are spectacular.


Formed: 1984 in Leeds, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in a squat in Leeds, England, in 1984, the anarchist pop group Chumbawamba were a most unlikely mainstream success story. After more than a decade in relative obscurity, much of it spent attacking the very notion of stardom, the band signed to a major label in 1997 and quickly scored a major international hit with the riotous single "Tubthumping." The single would prove to the band's commercial peak, even though Chumbawamba continued issuing politically aware albums (many of them featuring...
Full bio
A Singsong and a Scrap, Chumbawamba
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Customer Ratings

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