Levellers – Together all the Way Album review
Levellers – Together all the Way
Label: On The Fiddle Recordings
Release date: March 10th
Genre: Folk Rock
There’s nothing more interesting than hearing a musician or band unplugged. The deconstruction of a song that’s been layered with production and various other instruments, gives way to something pure and as close to the original conception as you will hear outside demos. The 90’s heyday of MTV Unplugged, delivered many great shows, of artists playing their songs acoustically. Nirvana arguably being the standout performance, demonstrated the subtlety and musicianship of a band famed for loud, energetic grunge.
In Together All The Way, we hear The Levellers stripped back and playing their back catalogue of songs acoustically.
My initial reaction after listening to this album was how different The Levellers sounded, in comparison to previous studio albums and live performances. The Levellers are like a raucous band of brothers, all energetically playing for the same cause. To hear the energy of the tracks subdued, was astonishing, to say the least.
My first acknowledgement of the band was from listening to a cassette tape of their second album. Said album, ‘Levelling the Land’ was handed down to me from an older friend. At the time, this was the first time I had heard a band sing with so much passion about their beliefs, the planet, consumerism, and war to mention just a few themes of the album’s songs. From there I followed the band throughout the ’90s. A career landmark Glastonbury performance seemed to capture the Zeitgeist of that moment in time.
The new album sees a bit more elegance and delivery of old favourites. The production feels sharp, yet the songs don’t feel as powerful as the originals. The songs still have character and power, just more subdued, partly due to the acoustic performance and partly due to the delivery. You always feel like there is another gear that they could shift into. In reflection though, they work well. With The Leveller’s music, you are almost summoned to dance, tap your feet, or move your body. Hence as a listener, you want the track to explode into a higher gear and forget that it is meant to be a toned-down interpretation.
I felt this was a celebration of the band’s back catalogue, something that the band enjoyed recording and fans will certainly enjoy listening to. The previous album, ‘We are the Collective’ was the predecessor of reworked Levellers tracks. That feeling of rebellion isn’t as loud as on the studio albums. However, lyrics such as, “Do I belong to some ancient race, I like to walk in ancient places’ and ‘I don’t believe in your modern way, don’t care about the things you say” still evoke the anti-modernist spirit band.
Overall, this is an interesting album and very different to what I expected. Together all the Way is definitely growing on me with each listen. I approached this album with foolish expectations of familiar tracks, simply acoustically performed. However, they presented much more than that, they were fresh, haunting, and spirited.
What it lacked in the energy of the studio and of fully plugged-in live performances, it matches with brave new renditions and interpretations of old classics. Overall, a truly worthy acoustic album that deserves a few listens. After which, I’m sure you will love it.
UK HEADLINE ACOUSTIC TOUR UNDERWAY
INCLUDING LONDON HACKNEY EMPIRE ON THURS 9TH MARCH
REMAINING DATES BELOW – TICKETS AT MYTICKET.CO.UK
Acclaimed British band the Levellers release their brand-new acoustic album Together All The Way this Friday, under the name Levellers Collective. The sequel to their 2018 Top 20 acoustic album We The Collective, the album will be available on limited edition Red Vinyl and CD and can be pre-ordered here.
Opening with a beautifully re-worked version of their classic hit ‘The Game’, Together All The Way finds the band stripping everything right back and taking a traditional folk approach as they reimagine various songs from their past.
In addition to new versions of tracks from the Levellers’ back catalogue, including the iconic ‘Battle Of The Beanfield’, the ten-track album features brand new songs ‘Man O War’ and ‘Sitting In The Social’, alongside the recent single ‘Down by the River ‘O’ which was written by friend and collaborator Rev Hammer about the Great Flood of 1968 in Buntingford.
The last ‘Collective’ album was recorded at Abbey Road with the legendary John Leckie five years ago and resulted in their highest chart position in twenty years. For this new collection the band reconvened the Collective – this time with Sean Lakeman producing and Al Scott mixing – at their own Metway Studios in Brighton. The band were joined again by Hannah and Ollie from the Moulettes on cello, vocals and percussion plus the mighty Dan Donnelly on his first official Levellers recording.
Of the album and recording, Levellers Collective say, “It was truly a fun record to make, under the rigorous guidance of Sean. Sean’s a musician himself, always bringing ideas and get out of jail free suggestions when we got stuck. It’s a stripped back, raw iteration of the collective with deep folk leanings. As energetic as the first one but definitely different.”
TOGETHER ALL THE WAY – TRACKLISTING
Down By The River ‘O’
The Cholera Well
Together All The Way
Wake The World
Battle Of The Beanfield
Man O War
Sitting In The Social
Together All The Way is released on 10th March 2023, coinciding with the band’s current acoustic tour of theatres and venues around the country, featuring special guests Moulettes (Duo), Wilswood Buoys and Jess Silk. Tickets are available from myticket.co.uk.
And 2023 is an extra special year for the Levellers as not only do they celebrate 35 years of being a band, but it will also be the 20th Anniversary of their hugely acclaimed Beautiful Days Festival, one of the biggest independent music festivals in the UK.
Mon 6 CAMBRIDGE Corn Exchange
Tue 7 NORTHAMPTON Derngate
Wed 8 READING Hexagon
Thu 9 LONDON Hackney Empire
Fri 10 POOLE Lighthouse
Sat 11 TRURO Hall For Cornwall
Mon 13 BARNSTAPLE Queen’s Theatre
Tue 14 YEOVIL Westlands
Wed 15 HARROGATE Royal Hall
Thu 16 HULL City Hall
Fri 17 NEWCASTLE Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Sat 18 BUXTON Opera House
2023 is a landmark year for Levellers. They are celebrating 35 years of being a band and also the 20th Anniversary of their hugely acclaimed Beautiful Days Festival (August 18th – 20th), one of the biggest independent music festivals in the UK, which they will headline as well as Suede and Primal Scream. You can find the full line up here – https://www.beautifuldays.org/