English Rebel Songs 1381–1984

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English Rebel Songs 1381-1984
Studio album by Chumbawamba
Released 1988/1994/2003
Recorded 1988/2003
Genre Folk, a cappella
Length 33:35
Label Agit-Prop Records/MUTT
Chumbawamba chronology
Never Mind the Ballots
(1987)
English Rebel Songs 1381-1984
(1988)
Slap!
(1990)

English Rebel Songs 1381–1984 is the third studio album by anarchist punk band Chumbawamba. It was originally released in 1988 with a slightly different tracklist under the title English Rebel Songs 1381–1914, then re-recorded in 2003. Composed mostly of traditional English protest songs, the recording was a stark contrast to the group's previous punk recordings, pointing towards their future integration of choral and a cappella music, as well as a greater focus on harmony in their musical sound. The 2003 recording added some light instrumentation on some tracks.

Some of the songs come from Stand Together by Hackney and Islington music group, 100 Songs Of Toil by Karl Dallas, A Touch On The Times, and A Ballad History of England by Roy Palmer. Many of the songs are still performed by modern English folk bands such as The Houghton Weavers and Coope, Boys & Simpson.

The original LP recording (1988) was released on CD in 1994 by One Little Indian Records. Chumbawamba re-recorded the album (and modified the title) in 2003, adding two extra tracks, releasing it under their newly formed MUTT Records label.

Track listing (2003 version)[edit]

# Song Name Length Year Notes
1 "The Cutty Wren" 1:55 1381? Said to have been written during the Peasants' Revolt, but not recorded before 1776
2 "The Diggers' Song" 2:31 17th century Written by Gerrard Winstanley, leader of the Diggers
3 "Colliers' March" 2:28 1782 Written by John Freeth; Refers to a march of workers in Birmingham protesting at the price of bread
4 "The Triumph of General Ludd" 3:02 1812 Refers to the Luddite Rebellion
5 "Chartist Anthem" 1:34 1847 Written by Ben Boucher. Refers to the People's Charter drawn up by the Chartists in 1838 demanding universal suffrage
6 "The Bad Squire" 3:54 1847 Adaptation of a poem by Charles Kingsley written in defence of poachers. The original text can be found here.
7 "Song on the Times" 2:35 1840s Written after the repeal of the Corn Laws
8 "Smashing of the Van" 2:09 1867 Refers to the Manchester Martyrs who were hanged in Manchester for shooting a policeman while rescuing two Irish republicans from jail
9 "The World Turned Upside Down" 1:22 1647 The title comes from a Diggers pamphlet
10 "Poverty Knock" 3:14 1890s Written by factory workers
11 "Idris Strike Song" 2:49 1911 Written in 1911 about a strike at the Idris soft drink factory in Wales; the Idris brand is now owned by Britvic
12 "Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire" 2:02 1918 Written by soldiers during World War I; refers to incompetent leaders sending legions of young to their deaths
13 "Coal Not Dole" 2:00 1984 Written by Kay Sutcliffe & Mat Fox about the UK miners' strike (1984-1985)

From the 2003 re-release: "Now, fifteen years later, we felt we'd learned enough about our voices to try again, updating and rearranging the songs against a backdrop of US/British warmongering. The songs were discovered in songbooks and in folk clubs and on cassette tapes, chopped and changed and bludgeoned into shape with utmost respect for the original tunes."

Track listing (1988/1994 versions)[edit]

  1. "The Cutty Wren (Part 1)"
  2. "The Diggers Song"
  3. "Colliers March"
  4. "The Triumph of General Ludd"
  5. "Chartist Anthem"
  6. "Song on the Times"
  7. "Smashing of the Van"
  8. "The World Turned Upside Down"
  9. "Poverty Knock"
  10. "Idris Strike Song"
  11. "Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire"
  12. "The Cutty Wren (Part 2)"

According to the 1994 CD notes: "The words are sung, with a couple of exceptions. exactly how we found them written. To start chopping and changing them all to fit in with modern language and ideas would have destroyed the reason why we wanted to do them like this (Which isn't to say that folk music isn't to be changed, edited and modernised.) Consequently the language and meaning seem a bit peculiar at times."

Personnel[edit]

2003 re-recording

1988 recording

  • Harry
  • Simon Commonknowledge
  • Lou
  • Boff
  • Mavis Dillon
  • Cobie Laan
  • Danbert Nobacon
  • Alice Nutter was otherwise engaged
  • Dunst was reading football fanzine