English Rebel Songs 1381-1984
Just Seeds Blog
A CD, not a book, but well worth a review. To be honest, it feels a little strange to be reviewing music, since I know the world is filled with music fanatics and afficienados, and I’m definitely not one of them. I can’t remember the last time I bought any music, or even listened to something that someone didn’t tell me I should. But, it feels like Chumbawamba is doing something here which much more resembles what I’m trying to work towards as an graphic artist and curator than the modus operandi of your typical band. The subtitle of the record is “In the name of all the poor and oppressed in the Land of England,” and Chumbawamba has done an amazing job digging through the musical history of the island and marshaling that history in the name of the downtrodden. By rearranging and rerecording these thirteen songs, they’ve reinvigorated 600 hundred years of English class war, opening a window to understanding how rebels of the past fought both the monarchy and the development of capitalism, and how those struggles resonate in recent history, from the 80s Miner’s Strikes to the 90s fight against the Poll Tax.
I remember when Chumba originally released this as a 10″ back in 1988. I was a teenager at the time, and punk rock was supposed to be loud and pissed off, so I couldn’t wrap my head around its acoustic textures and a capella harmonies. I’m really glad PM has made it available again, at the very least so ex-angry punks like myself can finally hear what we missed the first time around. It’s a nice package too, a tri-fold cardboard sleeve with archival graphics and a nice booklet with explanations and origin stories for all the songs. Not to be missed!!