Chumbawamba return with new album and tour
Released March 1st 2010
Seven letters to hint at what Chumbawamba have spent their adult lives doing: fashioning something weird, funny, eccentric and challenging from a seven-note Do-re-mi of possibilities. Or by another name, music.
This, the band’s 17th album, is another concept album (‘concept’ as in ‘idea’. Above all, ideas is what Chumbawamba thrive on), an album full of ideas specifically about music. Music both good and bad, music celebrated and music ridiculed.
Music. Since they’ve been banging away on biscuit tins and twanging bits of string attached to tea-chests for the best part of 25 years, it’s probably about time Chumbawamba turned their attention to this huge, sprawling, hydra-headed monster. Its history, its stories, its heroes and its villains. A sweep through several hundred years of what music means to people and what it means to the band.
ABCDEFG is musically eclectic and wide-ranging, from acapella to pop to folk to jazz, a mix-up of ideas to reflect its subject matter. That subject matter includes a gentle hymn to teenage under-the-pillow discovery of music heard on late-night transistor radio; a celebration of the marching songs written by soldiers in the First World War; the story of how people had to battle against State Communist ideology to play their music; a poke at the folk world’s obsession with collection and authenticity; the story of the concentration camp survivor who disrupted the first playing of Wagner in Israel by swinging a football rattle.
There’s a lot of stuff on this album – both literate (Chumbawamba love to use music to talk about history, politics and philosophy) and funny (Chumbawamba would be the first people to poke holes in the seriousness of this history, politics and philosophy). The stuff on this album is played on a battery of instruments (by the band) and augmented superbly by contributions on various songs from:
Chopper of Oysterband on cello
Jon Boden of Bellowhead on fiddle
Belinda O’Hooley (ex-Unthanks) on piano
… and various others who don’t get mentioned in the press release because they’re not famous enough. It’s the music business, what do you expect? An industry built on the ideas of art and ego, entertainment and communication. Where else other than on ABCDEFG can you hear a song about Metallica’s sanctioning of their music being used as a Guantanamo torture method? About Stalin’s cultural war against Shostakovitch? About the ubiquitous iPod headphone tsk tsk tsk tsk tsk tsk tsk tsk drowning out the birdsong?
As a bonus, the album also features a song written and recorded by (Chumbawamba in conjunction with the No Masters Collective, ‘Dance, Idiot, Dance’ – a response to the right wing British National Party’s decision to infiltrate English folk music and ‘reclaim it’ in the name of racist bigotry. A lovely opportunity to ridicule the neo-fascists while rhyming ‘cold lasagne’ with ‘Britannia’.
Wed 3-Mar KESWICK Theatre by the Lake CA12 5DJ
Thu 4-Mar LONDON Passing Clouds, E8 4AA
Fri 5-Mar HERTFORD CORN EXCHANGE SG14 1AL
Sat 6-Mar PETERLEE Lubetkin Theatre SR8 2RN
Sun 7-Mar DERBY Assembly Rooms DE1 3AH
Wed 10-Mar SOUTH PETHERTON The David Hall TA13 5AA
Thu 11-Mar SOUTHAMPTON The Talking Heads
Fri 12-Mar SHEFFIELD Library Theatre S1 1XZ
Sat 13-Mar YORK Duchess YO1 7NP
Wed 17-Mar ALDERSHOT West End Centre GU11 3JD
Thu 18-Mar BRIDPORT Arts Centre DT6 3NR
Fri 19-Mar BRISTOL Folk House BS1 5JG
Sat 20-Mar LEEDS Opera North, Howard Assembly Room LS1 6NU
Sun 21-Mar LEICESTER Upper Brown Street, LE1 5TE
Thu 25-Mar HEBDEN BRIDGE Trades Club HX7 8EE
Fri 26-Mar BURY The Met BL9 0BW
Sat 27-Mar FAREHAM Ashcroft Arts Centre PO16 7DX