Tubthumper is the eighth studio album by English rock band Chumbawamba. It was first released on 1 September 1997 in the United Kingdom by EMI and on 23 September 1997 in the United States by Universal and Republic Records.

Studio album by
Released1 September 1997
StudioWoodlands Studio, Castleford
  • Chumbawamba
  • Neil Ferguson
Chumbawamba chronology
Swingin' with Raymond
Singles from Tubthumper
  1. "Tubthumping"
    Released: 11 August 1997
  2. "Amnesia"
    Released: 1998
  3. "Drip, Drip, Drip"
    Released: 1998

The album was the band's first major commercial success, and remains their most successful album, having sold 3.2 million units in the United States alone. It spawned three singles, including the UK top-ten hits "Tubthumping" and "Amnesia", and received positive reviews from critics upon its release.


The album catapulted the group into the mainstream, released by EMI in the UK and in the US by Universal Records, and was noted for its departure from the group's typical style of outspoken punk rock in favor of a more mainstream sound.[1][2]

The cover for the album's US release was designed by Michael Calleia[3] at Industrial Strength Design[4] in New York City.

The album was released as a CD,[5] and on cassette[6] in select regions.

Accusations of selling out

Following the success of their previous two albums (Anarchy and Swingin' with Raymond, both of which reached the Top 75 on the UK Albums Chart),[7] Chumbawamba signed to EMI Records in hopes of reaching a larger audience. The move caused a huge upheaval in Chumbawamba's fan base, with many of their older fans feeling the band had trivialised all that they had stood for in signing to EMI.[8] The band was targeted by many as being sell-outs and hypocrites, after having been sternly do-it-yourself for their fifteen-year history up until that point.[8]

The band's actions were made the subject of a compilation EP released in 1998 titled The Anti-Chumbawamba EP, featuring music from other English acts. One of the songs from the EP was once available to download on the Chumbawamba official Web site, with accompanying text from the band stating, "It's all true."

The band's official FAQ has the following to say on the subject: "We signed to EMI/Universal not because we'd been co-opted into the 'If you can't beat capitalism ... join it' school of thought, but because experience had taught us that in a capitalist environment almost every record company operates on capitalist principles. Our previous record label One Little Indian didn't have the evil symbolic significance of EMI BUT they were completely motivated by profit. Our [Chumbawamba's] position was that whoever we signed with would want us not for our ideas but for the potential profit, so we'd battle for a contract where we still had autonomy."[9]

Singles and commercial performance

Tubthumper was Chumbawamba's most successful album in several respects. It spawned the worldwide hit "Tubthumping", which was a top 10 hit in the US,[10] the UK,[11] Sweden,[12] Norway,[13] and Belgium,[14] and a number 1 hit in Canada,[15] Italy,[16] Ireland,[17] and Australia.[18] The follow-up single, "Amnesia", also proved a commercial success, managing to reach the top 10 in the UK[11] and Canada. The album spawned a third single, "Drip Drip Drip",[19] which failed to make an impression on any international chart but was met with positive critical reception.[20]

The album sold extremely well, particularly in the US, where it hit number 3 on the Billboard 200[21] and sold more than 3,200,000 copies, thanks in large part to the success of "Tubthumping;"[22] Canada, where the album reached number 2;[23] and the UK, where the album reached number 19.[7] The album also placed at number 17 on the American tally of top-selling albums of 1997.[24] Tubthumper remains the group's highest-charting album in all three territories; its sales in the US stand at 3,200,000.[22]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[26]
Christgau's Consumer Guide[27]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[28]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[29]
Los Angeles Times[30]
Rolling Stone[1]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[31]

Tubthumper garnered praise from critics upon its release. Writing for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it a "distinctive" album, concluding that "there's a handful of cuts scattered throughout the record that make the album worthwhile."[25] Entertainment Weekly's Tom Lanham wrote that "social commentary never tasted so sweet" and awarded the album a "B+".[29] Greg Kot, writing for the Chicago Tribune, praised the album and commented that the group "sounds way too smart to be so easily dismissed." He went on to call the album "twice as catchy... and four times as riotously subversive" as the Spice Girls' music.

Some critics were more lukewarm in their assessments of the album, however: Rolling Stone's Elisabeth Vincentelli awarded the album 3 stars and opined that the album's lyrics "have traded the brusque directness of yore for oblique pathos", though she did go on to praise "Smalltown" as being "coolly collected" and "Tubthumping" as having "a fist-in-the-air quality that would work equally well at a union rally and in an arena." She concluded that the album "may not enlighten the masses, but it'll make them dance."[1] Music critic Robert Christgau awarded the album 3 honourable mention stars and noted "Tubthumping" and "Amnesia" as choice cuts, with the note "Tub as platform, tub as cornucopia, tub as slop bucket".[27]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Chumbawamba.

3."Drip, Drip, Drip"5:08
4."The Big Issue"4:38
5."The Good Ship Lifestyle"5:13
6."One by One"4:45
8."Creepy Crawling"4:04
9."Mary, Mary"4:59
11."I Want More"4:02


Adapted from album booklet[32] and Allmusic.[33]

The track "The Good Ship Lifestyle" samples from the BBC Radio 4 Shipping Forecast. The interlude at the end of "Amnesia" was taken from a government-produced public service announcement on mad cow disease.[9]



  1. Vincentelli, Elisabeth (31 October 1997). "Chumbawamba: Tubthumper". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 27 January 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  2. Dahlen, Chris. "The Chumbawamba Factor". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  3. "Building great products and brands since 1991 – Michel Calleia". Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  4. "Building great products and brands since 1991 – Michel Calleia". Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  5. "Chumbawamba – Tubthumper". Discogs. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  6. "Chumbawamba – Tubthumper (cass.)". Discogs. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  7. "UK Albums Chart history". Official Singles. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  8. TubThumping as the subject of an episode of the Podcast Surprisingly Awesome
  9. "Chumbawamba FAQ's... Sort of Thing". Archived from the original on 2 December 1998. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  10. "Chumbawamba Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  11. "Chumbawamba Singles Chart History". Official Singles. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  12. "CHUMBAWAMBA – TUBTHUMPING (SONG)". Swedish Charts. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  13. "CHUMBAWAMBA – TUBTHUMPING (SONG)". NorwegianCharts.com. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  14. "CHUMBAWAMBA – TUBTHUMPING (language: Dutch)". Ultratop. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  15. "Image : RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  16. "The best-selling singles of 1997 (Language: Italian)". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  17. Gogan, Larry. ""Tubthumping" search results". The Irish Charts. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  18. "CHUMBAWAMBA – TUBTHUMPING (SONG)". Australian Charts.com. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  19. "Chumbawamba – Drip Drip Drip". Discogs. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  20. Flick, Larry. "Singles". Billboard. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  21. "Cumbawamba Billboard 200 Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  22. Chumbawamba Get Knocked Down, Break Up After 30 Years
  23. "Chumbawamba chart history Billboard Canadian Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  24. "Chumbawamba chart history Billboard 200 albums (year-end)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  25. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Tubthumper – Chumbawamba". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  26. Kot, Greg (2 January 1998). "Chumbawamba: Tubthumper (Republic/Universal)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  27. Christgau, Robert (2000). "Chumbawamba: Tubthumper". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  28. Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857125958.
  29. Lanham, Tom (31 October 1997). "Tubthumper". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  30. Scribner, Sara (20 November 1997). "You're making your list and we've made ours: tons of ideas for presents--even for those hardest to please". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  31. Wolk, Douglas (2004). "Chumbawamba". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 163. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  32. "Tubthumper" album booklet
  33. ""Tubthumper" credits". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
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