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Chumbawamba’s final EP, or what you missed out on if you didn’t get it in time

10/04/2013

cover_chumba_thatcher

Rambling Fox is not a political blog, nor does it ever intend to be. I am not a political person and rarely pay attention to it in the music I listen to – if the songs are good, I’m not bothered by any possible conflicting opinions the band might have with my world view. Thus, this post shouldn’t be taken in any way as a celebration of one former British prime minister who passed away a few days ago. I genuinely have absolutely no desire to stir the controversial seas. I may be talking about music made in celebration of Margaret Thatcher’s death, but you shouldn’t mistake the opinions of the EP with my fairly ambivalent, nonchalant stance on the matter.

Rambling Fox is also not a file-sharing blog so people who found this via Google while trying to hunt down this EP, please do not ask about it.

Chumbawamba bowed down respectfully last year after thirty years of great music, but their final release had not yet seen the light of day at the time. Being as politically minded as they were and being so very open about it, it shouldn’t have come at any surprise that they’d have a word to say when Margaret Thatcher died. Thus, the In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher EP was born – written and recorded years before her death, available for preorder until the day she would finally move to another plane of existence, at which point the EP would be shipped to everyone who ordered it and then become unavailable to buy forevermore. The band bid their final farewell before the EP saw the light of day, so somewhat appropriately morbidly the Thatcher EP – released a couple of days ago, as promised – ended up becoming a posthumous final word on someone’s death. It’s officially Chumbawamba’s final release – not recorded the last nor ever planned to be that way, but nonetheless. That’s also the reason why I ordered a copy – not because of any strong feelings for Thatcher.

So, what are the people who didn’t get order it missing out on (presuming that it’s not hanging around on some filesharing site, which to be honest it probably is, but still)?

The Thatcher EP is an enjoyable one but hardly a landmark statement. It’s seven songs and ten and a half minutes long – two interludes/intros, three short song snippets in vein of their 2000 album WYSIWYG‘s short moments and two ‘proper’ songs. All fairly enjoyable, in particular the centrepiece “Waiting for Margaret to Go” – a fully-developed, full-length (colossal four minutes) acoustic ballad that sounds so wonderfully heartwarming and pleasant despite its rather morbid intentions. It’s also much, much less frivolous than you’d expect the EP to be, coming from a band who have always delighted in being openly controversial. It’s not a party EP, it’s not a fully-fledged celebration – it feels like a respectful eulogy to a fallen enemy rather than jester-like giddiness over the demise of a loathed figure. Sure, the words have a sting to them but they’re hardly dripping with the kind of vicious venom you’d imagine when hearing about the EP’s concept. The last song, a short a cappella number “Sleep”, actually sounds genuinely mournful which is something that I would have never guessed to be a part of this EP’s mood.

It’s not an essential release, of course. It was never going to be – the concept screamed ‘curio for fans’ right from the very beginning and when compared to the plethora of other miscallenous Chumba curios throughout the years, it’s leaning towards the less important side of things when viewed strictly from a musical stand point. But I don’t think anyone expected anything more anyway. It’s a good set of songs for the biggest fans to enjoy while they feel a bit special for owning something fairly exclusive.

It does, however, make you properly realise that this is it for Chumbawamba. This was always going to be their final release that was going to be haunting around until that one day in the distant future when it would triumphantly arrive after the big news broke out. And now the distant future is finally here and there’s really no more releases after this from a band who always had something new underway for the past several decades. It makes its own kind of hilarious sense that the band’s goodbye would also be the goodbye to a political figure they’ve clashed with ever since the beginning of their career. For a person who never was all that grabbed by the politics, it’s this sense that makes the Thatcher EP a little bit more special than just a bunch of short, enjoyable songs – it’s the soundtrack to the band finally fully retiring after they’ve had the final word, even if it meant breaking through their own death to get to say it. The final track on the EP is called “Sleep” and yeah, it’s about Thatcher, but it’s such a brilliantly perfect title for the final official song in the band’s chronology (not to mention it works well as a final song musically too). It’s all unplanned of course (I presume), but that somehow makes it even better because it suits this band’s nature to a T.

That is the reason why I’m really glad I seized the chance and managed to grab this while I still had time. Margaret Schmargaret – in memoriam Chumbawamba.

But yes, not uploading it for you. Shoo.

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