Chumbawamba, Tubthumper

And they say socialists can't dance. Not nearly as tart nor as astringent as their prior post-punk incarnation, they're still topical and they're still barbed, but this time they've got a beat. The rollicky "Tubthumping" got into a lot of people's heads who'd never heard of the term, and the album shoots its wad a little quick by front-loading it with that and their other strong singles "Amnesia" and "Drip, Drip, Drip," but there's still a lot to be said for the zippy remainder. The audio clips between tracks are a little distracting (though I did enjoy the, er, thematic meditation from Rising Damp), but they're all in good fun, and the vox populi extracts really cut to the heart. Still, people dared call them sellouts? Put the pop shift aside for a moment and consider this album brought anarcho-syndicalism to a generation that couldn't even spell it. How about their comparison of a faithless union leader to Pontius Pilate in "One by One" (complete with hymn backing)? How about their sharp-as-knives criticism of lifestyle-oriented lifestyles in "The Good Ship Lifestyle," or the seductive ease of the blame game in "Scapegoat" (with a instrumental callback)? "Outsider" and "Smalltown" may not be as lyrically adept, but they're still standing up for the non-conformist. Heck, even Alice Nutter was saying people could just go nick the album off the shelves if they wanted to. Now, that's commitment to putting the products of production in the proletariat's hands. I wonder if I still have the receipt. (Content: mild expletives with more severe ones bleeped, gleeful Marxism.)