Chumbawamba - Un

Yeah, surprised, Chumbawamba are still around and they're more relevant than ever. It may come as a surprise to people who's musical influences could be listed as Justin Timberlake through to Eamon and Frankie, but believe it or not music used to be about people with opinions, people who weren't afraid to say what they believed in and were prepared to stick by it no matter who attacked them along the way. In 2004 the biggest shock is Timberlake whipping out Janet Jacksons baps at the Superbowl, a few years ago it was Chumbawamba singing "New Labour sold out the dockers, just like they sold out the rest of us" to an international audience of millions. A lot of course has passed since then and it's with "Un" that the band deliver their most inventive and musically creative album.

"Following You" perhaps sums up best what the band are about now, for ever and always. An almost rockabilly riff kicks off before acoustic guitar and accordion add to the quirky track which is half traditional folk and half the sort of glorious pop music that Junior Senior seemed to blend together effortlessly. Lyrically it's about social centres and how it breaks down the barriers between the community and activists and politics and having a good time. It's the Chumbawamba ethic in practise and what the band have always been about...for every serious message, there's a jape or a costume which lightens the mood.

"I Did It For Alfie" is the tale of Paul Kellher bringing a cricket bat to the marble statue of Margaret Thatcher. For every sloganeering publicity seeking popstar who utters a casual "Ban Bush" remark in the hope they might gain a few column inches Chumbawamba have always looked outside the mainstream view of politics. Sure, they hate Bush to, but rather than be crass about it and right anti-bush songs left right and centre they also focus on other situations and Thatcher has done more to ruin this country than potentially every other MP in power today.

"Just Desserts" sounds like it could have been an out-take from "WYSIWYG". You can take someone out with a gun or you can throw egg or pies in their face. Lets go for the latter and shame them as many politicians have throughout the years. Only recently Le Pen was the subject of such an attack in Manchester and Blair got the purple powder treatment in the House Of Commons.

"On Ebay" is perhaps the best track musically and lyrically. The world is becoming one big American state and the war on Iraq was just another part of 20/20 and a taste of what is to come.

This is the sort of themes other bands should be covering, but it's all too easy for publications to write a page on a secret Libertines gig or the latest say nothing / do nothing school of indie. Buy this record, educate yourself and enjoy Chumbawamba's most expressive record to take. Taking in folk and world music they fuse it into simply great memorable tunes. What more can you ask for?

Alex McCann

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