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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

They Have not murdered bankrobber !

In response to Judes comments on the above review at the chumbawamba gig in Glasgow last night I can honestly say they have not murdered bankrobber. In fact this album is probably one of their best albums they have released, By and By a tribute to Joe Hill is such a haunting song and never leaves me with dry eyes !. Fade away and the land of do what your told are also excellent and very remminicent of Belle and Sebastian ( this becomes very clear on fade away where a few people ive played it to think it is Belle and Sebastian !). Anyway a very enjoyable album and if you get the chance go and see them live you wont be dissapointed !

truly great album

how anybody can give this album 1 star is just ridiculous. this is a really great album with some great harmonies and really catchy tunes. i'd advise any folk/acoustic fan to give it a go

Chain Makers Festival

I saw this band at the Black Country Chainmakers Festival and their rendition of Ciao Bella was fantastic. Amy band who can sing and without instruments (A Capella) and impress my 11 year old boy with their ability to really sing deserves my vote.


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