Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Maybe you loved it, maybe you hated it, but if you had ears as 1997 became 1998 you remember Chumbawamba's pub chant about drinking yourself insensate and getting up again, Tubthumping. Amazingly, the creators of this novelty turned out to be loud-mouthed English anarchists who'd been making records since they got pissed at Live Aid. But though the Tubthumper album was noisy radical-democratic fun, the single was sui generis, and that looked to be that. Not hardly. Chumbawamba's WYSIWYG (Republic), which stands for What You See Is What You Get, takes their craft up a notch, comprising 22 inescapably infectious send-ups of U.S. and U.K. culture--both pop and political, if there's a difference anymore. From I'm With Stupid to Dumbing Down, the lyrics may insist a mite too confidently on everyone else's idiocy, but that doesn't mean you won't laugh and hum. So though Tubthumping will always be sui generis, I wouldn't put it past Chumbawamba to end up with a few more pub chants on its dossier. If you find yourself totally hooked, spring for the band's pricey but even more entertaining Uneasy Listening compilation (EMI U.K.), which proves they've been writing catchy for a long long time.


"I'm hung like a birthmark/But my brain makes the earth dark/I like to suck toes/Yours secrete fructose." Thus does MC Paul Barman commence the 18-minute pussy-quest It's Very Stimulating (WordSound). A protegee of pace-setting hip hop weirdo Prince Paul, Barman is a nerdy white guy who wishes he could pretend to be a pimp but doesn't have the guts. Instead he pursues hotties with rhymes as unlikely and inventive as any hip hop has seen. Might work, too.

Playboy, Mar. 2000


Feb. 2000 Apr. 2000