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Chumbawamba Breaks Up

Chumbawamba
Publicity photo

Do you remember the summer of 1997? If you do, then it wasn’t that good.

Seriously, that was the year the USA was introduced to Chumbawamba and their star fell as fast as it rose.

However, at that time we all learned that:

1.) They get knocked down, but they get up again
2.) They **** the night away.
3.) They drink every alcholic beverage known to man
4.) They sing the songs that remind them of the best times.
And it repeats over and over

Despite the lampooning of the lyrics, it was a fun song. But it looks like Chumbawamba’s 30 year run has ended.

Wait? 30 years?

We all thought they were a one hit wonder. In the USA, they were. (They did have 1 more minor song that still gets used as sports bumper much called “Amnesia”)

So if they have been around for 30 years, why didn’t we hear from them before or after their mega-hit “Tubthumping”?

The reason we hadn’t heard of them before, it pretty simple. Lots of bands take years to develop and gain popularity beyond their home country’s borders. It could also have something to do with their stance as Anarchists and their extremely profanity laced lyrics, which had strong Anarchist overtones, which didn’t sit well in 1982, when the band began. After all, they were British and the Punk music scene faded away with the end of the Sex Pistols.

Then Chumbawamba turned a corner in 1997, when they signed with a major record label and that opened them up to their music entering the United States.  Regardless of their Anarchist peers trash-talking them, “Tubthumping”  hit the radio and most people thought it was a fun drinking song with a bad word in it that went by the censors un-noticed. (Actually, it is a vulgar British word for wasting time.)

And then came their second song “Amnesia” as it was a Top 10 British hit, the USA was just hearing it and learning about what a fun song that one was too…until Alice Nutter (the female singer of the band) was on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher (when it was still on free TV).  Because no one in the USA was onto the band’s political influences (Anarchy), when Alice Nutter was on the show, she urged people to steal Chumbawamba’s album record–but only from megastores. (Mom and Pop stores were ok).

And in one fell swoop, the largest retail chains pulled the band’s album and refused to restock their shelves in fear that the band’s fans would attempt to shoplift the album. That comment resonated across the pond to England, where all the Mega-stores dropped the album, as well. With that move, went the band’s climb up the US Pop charts and the rest of their career went back into obscurity.

Just be aware, Chumbawamba may be have broken up, but according to their website, “reserve the right to re-emerge as Chumbawamba,” so maybe we’ll see them “get up again” sometime in the future.

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