Levellers on limited edition coloured vinyl

Levellers

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, the Levellers have announced the release of a series of limited edition coloured vinyl albums, including the never before released headline set at Glastonbury 1994.

The announcement comes ahead of the band’s very own Beautiful Days festival, which starts Friday 17th August in Escort Park Devon and sees the Levellers being joined by the likes of the Manic Street Preachers, The Hives, Suzanne Vega, Calexico, Gogol Bordello and many more. The full line-up can be found here.

The anniversary celebrations continue after the release of their Top 20 album We The Collective earlier this year, which saw the band transform classic tracks into new acoustic arrangements, resulting in their highest chart position in twenty years and widespread critical acclaim.

Now the band will be releasing eight albums on vinyl via the band’s own label, On The Fiddle Recordings, from September 2018 to June 2019 with release dates to follow.

The albums have been remastered by the band’s Jon Sevink from the original 1/2” analogue tapes, who says of the project:

“One of the biggest disappointments in Levellers history has been the assumption that none of our original master tapes had survived. Following a meeting with Warner Records, I received an email listing the whereabouts of our entire recorded output since 1991. Analogue 2” multitrack tapes, 1/2” masters! So we can now repress the albums from the original mix masters. On coloured vinyl… Yesss!”

These limited-edition releases will only be available from independent stores and via the band’s website.

Some of the albums have never been released on vinyl and each of the band’s original studio albums from the 90s will contain a previously unreleased live album recorded on tour at the time of release.

While the Levellers are big fans of Record Store Day, they feel it has been hijacked by the majors in recent years, pushing smaller labels to the back of the queue and so wanted to do something special for the fans and to celebrate this milestone in their career.

“Independent shops can’t afford to stock everything for Record Store Day – it’s ridiculous,” says singer Mark Chadwick. “We did it for a couple of years but avoid it now – we can’t compete with a new Led Zeppelin or Beatles record! It’s a shame because who doesn’t love putting out great records in beautiful packaging?”

To kick off the campaign, their two most recent studio albums, Letters From The Underground and Static On The Airwaves will be released on pink and purple vinyl respectively.

Top 5 albums, Levellers (#2, 1993) and Zeitgeist (#1, 1995) will be issued as limited edition 2LP orange / yellow vinyl sets in December.

Spring 2019 sees the band’s next three albums released on vinyl for the first time ever. Recorded at the peak of their career, the double live album, Headlights, White Lines, Black Tar Rivers (#13, 1996), along with Mouth To Mouth (#5, 1997) and Hello Pig (#28, 2000) also get the coloured vinyl treatment.

Finally, in June 2019, for the first time ever, Levellers’ stunning headline set from Glastonbury ‘94 will be released on 2LP gold vinyl, completing the band’s year of “indies only” albums.

You can pre-order all vinyl from Monday 20th August at 9am from your local independent record store or at:
https://www.levellers.co.uk/shop & https://levellers.tmstor.es/

Just a teaser:

LEVELLERS – We The Collective (On The Fiddle Recordings, OTFCD029P)

We The CollectiveTo celebrate their 30th anniversary, We The Collective finds the Levellers’ reaffirming their mission statement, renewing their vows. Recorded at Abbey Road, with renowned producer John Leckie, the album re-imagines eight of their classic songs – from a vast back catalogue – including some singles, plus two new tracks.

Played acoustically, with an added string section, the rather gentler-sounding song arrangements might be seen as some sort of acknowledgement of the passage of time. After all, these once passionate young men are now passionate middle-aged men. Greyer now, they nonetheless stand proudly by their body of work, still enraged by injustice and hypocrisy. As well they might be, since it’s all too horribly apparent how relevant these songs continue to be.

Where opening track ‘Exodus’ ploughs straight in with some punchy late-Beatles strings, the punky ‘Subvert’ remains a quick-fire stomp, set off with scraping strings and a militaristic drum. Generally, though, the pace here feels marginally slower, the songs have a bit more room and now seem designed for listening rather than moshing. This allows greater reflection and depth to emerge, such as in ‘England My Home’, which is suitably thoughtful, angry and disappointed. ‘Liberty Song’ and ‘Dance Before The Storm’ also smooth out the melody lines, deepen the groove and allow space for the lyrics to shine.

‘Hope Street’ replaces the sawing guitar of the original with heavy strings, adding a vaguely distant-sounding vocal, almost like catching the sound of a busker playing just around the corner. ‘Elation’ features Celtic-flavoured backing vocals and a bombastic climax, in place of its original electro/bass fuzz-out. Its ‘House Of The Rising Sun’-style vocal is delivered over a discombobulating harpsichord loop.

The brace of new songs – both highly topical and political, naturally – stand up well in the ensemble. ‘The Shame’ is a withering indictment both of the situations that create refugees and the pointlessness of well-intentioned, but ultimately ineffectual, sympathy.

The Phil Spector-ish burst of drums and tambourines that open ‘Drug Bust McGee’ lead, not to a wall of sound, but to the alarming first line “I stole my name from a dead baby”. A bitter tale of an undercover cop sting unfolds: the women duped into relationships – and creating families – built on lies and deception in the name of infiltrating activist groups. It’s a dark and woeful song, all the more so for the appalling truth of it. (As a small grumble, the review copy of the CD doesn’t credit the female singers or other musicians. Hopefully this is remedied on the full sleeve notes).

The album closes with the anthemic ‘One Way’. This classic crowd singalong has been strangely stripped back so that when the chorus arrives it doesn’t boom out assertively, it sort of shuffles in with its head down. Perhaps it’s meant to make the listener pause and reassess: the internet age allows us to be too quick to judge others, as traditional assumptions about faith, gender and lifestyle dissolve. A bit more “live and let live” would be nice. Or, might it be an awkward nod to the notion that unfettered individualism has eroded our social conscience? Nonetheless, it sadly dulls the impact of what’s arguably the band’s most famous call to self-determination and ends the CD on a rather downbeat note.

Postscript: It would be disingenuous not to mention the dreadful personal circumstances that have delayed the release of this album and tour (now postponed to the summer) – but without wishing to dwell on them, either. It’s too easy to find things, retrospectively, in the music that couldn’t possibly have been there when it was recorded: too easy to be misdirected. Time will give the fairest hearing and be the better reviewer in the end. All condolences to Charlie Heather and family, and to the band.

Su O’Brien

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist website: www.levellers.co.uk

‘Drug Bust McGee’ – official video:

Levellers reveal brand new video for ‘McGee’

Levellers

Levellers have revealed the video for their latest single ‘McGee’, which was filmed at Abbey Road Studios while the band were recording their upcoming album ‘We The Collective’, out on March 9th.

The second of two new tracks on the album, following the first single ‘Shame’, it tackles the subject of undercover police, something the band themselves have experienced. While the track itself is a scathing attack on deceit and lack of trust, the video captures the band in a purely creative state in the impressive setting of Abbey Road’s Studio Two.

Featuring a string section and the talents of legendary producer John Leckie (Radiohead, Stone Roses), the album contains new acoustic arrangements for eight of their previous singles including ‘Liberty’, ‘Hope Street’ and ‘One Way’ which they recorded straight to tape at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, alongside the two afore-mentioned new tracks.

As part of the band’s 30th anniversary celebrations, Levellers are already well in to their full Acoustic Tour, which started at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections, followed by an appearance at the Roundhouse in London as part of the “In The Round festival” season. The tour picks up again in March where they will be playing the new arrangements with guest musicians at a number of theatres and concert halls around the country. Support on the tour comes from Ginger Wildheart.

Celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2018, Brighton folk-punk band Levellers will be releasing We The Collective on March 9th via the band’s own label, On The Fiddle Recordings.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.levellers.co.uk

Levellers – new acoustic album

Levellers

Celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2018, Brighton folk-punk band Levellers will be releasing We The Collective on March 9th via the band’s own label, On The Fiddle Recordings.

Emerging victorious through the ups and downs of label deals, spats with the music press and the wear and tear of touring, the Levellers have long been, and still are, one of the best live bands around but their impressive back catalogue of recorded music is often overlooked.

The band had more platinum, gold, and silver albums in the UK in the 1990s than any other British act. They’ve had seven Top 40 albums, including the number 1 album Zeitgeist and their platinum-selling 1991 album Levelling The Land, along with a string of Top 40 singles including ‘This Garden’, ‘Hope St’, ‘One Way Of Life’ and ‘What A Beautiful Day’.

Wanting to do something a bit different with their back catalogue, they brought in a string section and enlisted legendary producer John Leckie (Radiohead, Stone Roses) to help develop new acoustic arrangements for eight of their previous singles including ‘Liberty’, ‘Hope Street’ and ‘One Way’ which they recorded straight to tape at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios.

They also recorded two brand new songs ‘Shame’ and ‘Drug Bust McGee’ and the result is the ten track album We The Collective. Lead singer Mark Chadwick says “The different musicians, producer and the studio combined to make something really special”.

As part of the celebrations, Levellers will head out on a full Acoustic Tour in the Spring where they will be playing the new arrangements with guest musicians, starting at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival. They will play at the Roundhouse in London as part of the In The Round festival as well as a number of theatres and concert halls around the country. Support on the tour comes from Ginger Wildheart on all dates except Glasgow and London.

Despite only just being announced, the tickets for Preston, Milton Keynes and Winchester have already sold out.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.levellers.co.uk

The “Making Of” video:

Wickham Festival 2017 Interview

Wickham Festival site

Darren Beech caught up with Peter Chegwyn just before the festival and had a chat about what we could expect from Wickham this year.

Many of the UK’s finest traditional singers and musicians appeared at the Wickham Festival near Fareham which took place between Thursday 3rd and Sunday 6th August.

They included Seth Lakeman; Show of Hands; Oysterband: Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band; Kathryn Tickell; The Peatbog Faeries; The Fisherman’s Friends; Lau; Edward II; Boo Hewerdine; The Dhol Foundation; The Spooky Mens Chorale; Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe; Wizz Jones; Talisk; Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party; Les Barker; TradArr plus many more.

Also appearing at Wickham 2017 were the 70s chart-toppers 10cc; top Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall; Festival favourites The Levellers; plus Andy Fairweather-Low & The Low Riders; John Otway; The Selecter plus many more well-known names.

The Wickham Festival was voted the UK’s Best Small Festival at the Live UK Music Awards in 2015 and has also been described as one of Britain’s top boutique and family-friendly festivals by The Guardian newspaper.

The festival featured live music on four stages plus a host of other attractions including storytelling, street theatre, dance displays, childrens entertainers, a digital funfair, laser arena, traditional crafts fayre, exotic foods fayre, real ale & cider festival and a late night festival club.

Festival organiser Peter Chegwyn says it’s “a real coup for a small village festival like Wickham to attract so many top artistes who have performed at major music festivals throughout the world.

“The Wickham Festival is known for its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and the high quality of the music on offer. People travel from all over the UK and abroad to attend. This year’s ticket sales are running at a record level and we are confident that our 10th birthday festival at Wickham will be our best yet.”

I couldn’t finish without putting up one of Peters favourite videos from the Gosport and Fareham Easter festival back in 2010 when Alan Burke dedicating “I will go” to the man himself.

Wickham Podcast link: https://www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/gallery/audio/

Festival website: www.wickhamfestival.co.uk

Plans for new archive of Shropshire folk tunes revealed

archive of Shropshire folk tunes
John Kirkpatrick

Plans to create a unique archive of traditional music from Shropshire have been revealed by Shrewsbury Folk Festival.

Organisers of the annual music event have commissioned county folk musician John Kirkpatrick to pull together the first ever collection of music that has its origins in the county as part of its All Together Now project.

All Together Now is the festival’s two-year programme of activities for musicians, dancers, schoolchildren and communities to introduce a new audience to folk and world music.

The project received an £86,410 investment from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, a £5,000 Arts Development award from Shropshire Council, and £2,000 from Shrewsbury Town Council. The festival will meet the remaining cost. 

John, who lives near Bishops Castle, will put together a collection of tunes that are specific to Shropshire. It will form an online teaching resource pack including music, notes and short video demonstrations that will be available to Shropshire schools and others and he will perform some of the music at the 2017 festival.

John is one of the most prolific and respected figures on the English folk show, known for performing solo and with groups including The Albion Band, Steeleye Span and Brass Monkey. He also formed one of the county’s leading morris sides, the Shropshire Bedlams.

John said: “I am honoured to have been asked to take on this important project that will preserve and share the music from our amazing county with future generations.

“Part of the appeal of folk music is its ability to give us an insight into how times have changed. Some of this music has been played for dances and social events for many years. Having lived in the county since 1973, I consider myself a Salopian and I am delighted that the festival is making history with the first ever formal collection of Shropshire dance music.”

All Together Now Project Manager Joy Lamont added: “The archive will be a wonderful legacy of this project. As well as commissioning new pieces of work, we felt it was important to make sure that tunes that originated in our county were not forgotten and could be permanently recorded in an archive so they didn’t disappear from our history.”

The All Together Now project has already included new music and dance commissions performed at the 2015 festival, music workshops and mentoring opportunities and the launch of the Shropshire Youth Folk Ensemble for gifted and skilled young musicians.

Future initiatives will see percussive dance workshops in Shropshire schools and dance schools, with a premiere showcase at the festival in August 2016. There will also be a two-week music residency in two Shropshire primary and two secondary schools that will result in a short performance piece to be shown at the festival.

For more information about the festival, go to www.shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk. Tickets are on sale now for the 2016 event that will be held at the West Mid Showground, Berwick Road, Shrewsbury, from August 26 to 29.

Headliners including Grammy Award winning American singer songwriter Rosanne Cash, folk rockers The Levellers, Eliza Carthy And The Wayward Band, Tom Robinson, and world music star Raghu Dixit.