As a Dr Martens-wearing teenager within the 90s, I loathed the anarchist indie band Chumbawamba and their chart-topping anthem Tubthumping. (What a bunch of jokers, I assumed.) Properly, I take all of it again after watching this humorous and surprisingly candy documentary co-directed by frontman Dunstan Bruce and Sophie Robinson. It begins with Bruce, now in his late 50s, overwhelmed by emotions of powerlessness as he thinks about the way forward for the planet, questioning what he can do (“I’m a washed up, rinsed out retired radical”). As a film-maker he indulges in a little bit of wallowing right here: taking the damaging voice in his head and bringing it to life, performed by an actor sporting a papier-mache head, who sarkily takes the piss out of him.
However from right here the movie settles properly into an pleasurable blast of pop historical past. Chumbawamba began out as an anarchist collective in Leeds in 1982: dwelling collectively in a squat, they went vegan (“I’m from Burnley! I didn’t like greens”), shared cash equally and took it in turns to do the cooking. They’d been going for years when Tubthumping topped the charts. With a worldwide smash hit on their palms, the band determined that right here was a possibility to do one thing optimistic – to be a political band contained in the stomach of fashionable tradition. They gave numerous the cash they made away, and in 1998 on the Brit awards, singer Danbert Nobacon poured a bucket of chilly water over deputy prime minister John Prescott, livid on the Labour authorities’s therapy of Liverpool dockers.
Chumbawamba had been huge in America, and did the talkshow circuit. (“When you can’t afford our music, steal it,” stated bandmate Alice Nutter on late night time TV.) Within the current day, Bruce interviews their massive time American document label boss from that interval, who says none of it modified a factor. Nobody was listening to the political message. “It went largely over everybody’s head.” That’s what’s so uncommon about I Get Knocked Down: it has a streak of humility completely international to most music documentaries. Bruce places within the bits each different band on the planet would go away out. That features a montage from the 90s of music critics slagging off Chumbawamba. (“They’re not superb pop stars and so they’re not superb political activists both,” is the damning verdict of a younger Caitlin Moran.)
Chumbawamba break up up in 2012. They’re nonetheless mates and are available throughout right here as extraordinarily likable, not taking themselves in any respect too severely. Scenes of them nattering collectively, having a giggle now, are pretty. So too are the tip credit that includes clips from YouTube of atypical individuals singing Tubthumping – everybody discovering energy and defiance within the tune, from Christian choirs to heavy metallic bands and small children.
I Get Knocked Down is launched on 4 February in UK cinemas.