- Guest Editors
The Levellers burst onto the music scene in the late eighties at the height of Thatchers reign, 'Folk-Punk' grabbed the zeitgeist as punk had done in the seventies, it identified a whole dissafected slice of society that was at odds with the governments repressive stance on anyone who didn't fit into their mould. Just listen to 'Battle of the Beanfield' to get an idea of what was going on. Perhaps their key to success is the way they can marry biting lyrics to decidedly upbeat music. Thatcher may be gone but the world we live in now is no safer - The Levellers are more relevant than ever.
A band that can play the main stage at Glastonbury and still play acoustic sets to a pub full of fans, the Levellers have never lost the things that made them special; storming live performances, superb songwriting and a conscience. To date they have sold over 6 million records and performed to over 10 million people worldwide.
The Levellers have stayed close to their Brighton roots (they met there in a pub apparently), by buying their own studio and business premises at the Metway - Free studio time and access to professional production facilities has given a variety of bands their chance to record and go on to further success.
Back in the early noughties they band realised thet the festival scene had become another victim of the corporate sponsorship machine, so rather than rolling over in submission they instigated their own festival that would recapture the laid back vibe of the free festivals that the government stamped on. Beautiful Days was born as a showcase of old and new acts that could capture the hearts of a festival crowd, combined with family friendly facilities and events it has become one of the highlights of the year.
Letters From The Underground
Letters From The Underground delivers a knockout punch, lyrically it is their most in your face album ever. Each song confronts or despairs at the issues we face today from the madness of American society to suicide bombings and the plight of Darfur. Weighty and serious themes, it's good job that the album is their most ballsy and enjoyable for a very long time.
Read full review...
Truth And Lies
Stylistically falling somewhere between 'Hello Pig' and 'Mouth To Mouth'. Multilayered vocals and Matt Savage's keyboards lend it an emotional depth, the whole thing driven by Charlie Heathers drums well up in the mix. 'Truth & Lies' brings together all the things that make the Levellers unique, from fiddle and guitar driven songs that make you want to up sticks and ramble off across the land, right to songs composed of poignant lyrics married to upbeat music that make you look at the world a little differently.
Green Blade Rising
A more straight ahead album than 'Hello Pig'. This marked the integration of the sixth leveller that wasn't quite a leveller, Matt Savage. Savage had been playing keyboards in the studio and live with them for some time, gradually he was having more to do with the writing as well.
This took everyone by surprise. Probably their most experimental and creative album, in every sense, from writing to production. Described variously as a psychedelic or stoner album, mainly I suspect because the songs blend dreamily into one another. Critically a huge success, Q Magazine had it as one of the albums of the year. Strangely the fans didn't seem to take to it so warmly, perhaps it's because it's the furthest away from the punk ethic? Listening to it now reveals some of the most intimate songs they've ever penned; 'Edge Of The World' and 'Walk Lightly' give you that tingling feeling of tapping into a deep well of emotion.
Re-released with three bonus tracks. The fanclub only release 'Hello Pig - The Offal' is well worth tracking down too.
Mouth To Mouth
This album found the band cresting the wave of Brit Pop, the single 'Beautiful Day' was the first feel good summer single to celebrate blowing up parliament! (re-released to celebrate the re-issue of all these albums). A great cover of Pentangle's 'Rain And Snow' kept faith with their folk influences whilst they once again demonstrated the sheer range of styles and quality they could pack into one album.
Re-mastered with four bonus tracks
Marked the maturing of their sound into a near perfect mix of folk/rock/punk, the rage of protest had evolved into a conscientious observation of the failings of society and those in power. This album has everything that makes the Levellers great, from the National Lottery bashing 'Hope Street' to the mystical delight of 'Men-An-Tol'
Re-mastered and packaged with four bonus tracks of B-sides
Difficult third album syndrome, hampered by a tight schedule and muddy production. The band sounded pissed off and angry. Nonetheless it harboured songs that have become firm favourites, This Garden, Belarus, Julie and Dirty Davey are well loved features of their live act to this day.
The re-release has four extra tracks and has benefited from a welcome re-mastering and sounds great for it.
Levelling The Land
The seminal album of the alternative folk-punk scene, blending folk, punk and rock into eleven songs that defined the anti-establishment world of the traveller. It touched a chord with so many that it transcended its fanbase and made several chart hits, One Way Of Life being the most well known. 'The Battle of The Beanfield's power to move is undiminished with time.
Re-released with five extra tracks and a twelve track CD of their epic performance at the Glastonbury festival in 1992. This could have been released in it's own right, including it on this mid-price release is a gift!
A Weapon Called The Word
Their first commercial album after a couple of ep's. Songs with folk roots played with the energy of punk. Strident protest allied with a compassionate humanity missing from much of their contemporaries marked them out as a band to watch.
Live - Cambridge Junction 25.04.10
Following on from the Levellers being our guest editors in April we went to see them play at the Junction in Cambridge. Their first tour of 2010 is in smaller club venues, the Cambdidge Junction is a venue they have played many times in the past twenty years, and it's a fair bet that many in the sell out crowd have been to all of the gigs.
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Live - Norwich UEA 07.12.08
The Levellers have always been so individual and unique that their songs don't seem to date, their new material is perfectly in tune with their strongest songwriting from the last twenty years. Their fanbase are notoriously loyal, looking around the UEA tonight one can see young and old faces, it's good to think they are attracting new fans all the time.
Read full live review...
Letters From The Underground
Letters From The Underground delivers a knockout punch, lyrically it is their most in your face album ever. Each song confronts or despairs at the issues we face today from the madness of American society to suicide bombings and the plight of Darfur. Weighty and serious themes, it's good job that the album is their most ballsy and enjoyable for a very long time...
Read full Letters From the Underground review
Twenty years in the making: Levellers live at the Albert Hall
An iconic band in an iconic venue, on saturday 27th September everyone's favourite folk-punk band The Levellers played at the Royal Albert Hall, and what an elating night it was. Being their twentieth anniversary year seems to have given this band a shot in the arm, the songwriting and performance is better than ever. The gig was a celebration of everything that makes them unique, and was a wonderful journey through their back catalogue...
Read full Albert Hall live review
Levellers live at Norwich UEA 07/12/08
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Interview with Jeremy, December 2008...
What's this year been like? How would you sum up the 20th year of The Levellers?
It's been pretty hectic, same as most years really! We did a few special shows earlier in the year, one at Brixton Academy and then we did one at the Royal Albert Hall in September, an accoustic show. But apart from doing those, which were kind of a celebration, we haven't really thought about it that much.
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Simon Friend - vocals, guitar, mandolin, harmonica
Jon Sevink - violin
Jeremy Cunningham - bass, artwork
Charlie Heather - drums
Matt Savage - keyboards, backing vocals
Steven Boakes - didgeridoo, dancing, kilt