Wednesday, October 31, 2012
FOOTNOTE is the autobiography of Boff Whalley, who was one of the founding members of the anarchist pop group, Chumbawamba. Like his band, which broke up earlier this year after 30 years of playing together, FOOTNOTE is unconventional and unique. It's also straight forward and unpretentious. The book takes its title from the notion that Chumbawamba were but a footnote in the annals of pop culture, breaking through to mainstream success after the release of "Tubthumping" in late 1997, leaving 15 years of indie obscurity behind them and selling millions of records.* The massive success of "Tubthumping" overshadowed (and outsold) everything the band had done up to that point. FOOTNOTE is a first-person account of Chumbawamba's early years, from forming in a squat in Leeds in the early 1980's, to playing countless benefits, releasing noisy punk records, and making the decision to move in a more pop-oriented direction in the early-1990's. Whalley writes about his own life, and the lives of his band mates, in the years before and during Chumbawamba in a mostly linear fashion, with occasional forays into related subjects (the music industry, politics, etc.). It's not the typical rock&roll memoir, which is what makes it so great.
I first read this book in 2008. My old copy was lost in a bizarre gardening accident so I asked the librarians at the UCPL to buy one for the collection. As soon as it was cataloged I read it again. I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time around.
* It's also an acknowledgment of the book's numerous digressive footnotes. Whalley weaves much of his narrative between the main body of text and a series of footnotes much like this one.