After over six weeks of providing a rundown of 65 albums that I believe everyone should own we come to the final 10. In the days between now and Xmas I will give a run down of my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released. Hopefully I have given you some thoughts as to new albums to check out and I hope that the final 10 will have you rewriting your Christmas lists and picking up a few of these brilliant albums.
The Levellers – Levelling The Land
Levelling the Land was released in 1991 and is the second full-length album by the Brighton folk-punk group The Levellers. The album reached number 14 in the British album charts and has since gained platinum status through ongoing sales. The original album pressing contained ten tracks (lacking Fifteen Years); but following the success of the single Fifteen Years, the song was added as track three to later pressings.
This was the first Levellers album to feature the input of Simon Friend as songwriter, vocalist and musician. Simon replaced Alan Miles, who had sung and played guitar and mandolin on the previous album, A Weapon Called the Word and co-write The “Liberty Song”.
The Levellers music is a quintessentially British blend of folk rock and punk music, often driven along by John Sevink’s fiddle playing. The bands occupation of a space between genre’s, their Englishness and their rise out of the Brighton squat scene probably accounts for their comparative lack of success outside the UK but the band have a huge, dedicated and fiercely loyal army of fans in the UK and in parts of Europe. Many levellers fans would point to ‘Levelling The Land’ as the bands seminal album. On the 11 track version the album there are eight tracks that fans would include in any ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation.
In a 2007 review for the BBC Paul Sullivan said that the Levellers are “lauded by millions for their song-writing skills and blistering live performances” whilst Sputnik music say Levelling The Land is a solid and forceful album that delivers classic track after classic track. Unsurprisingly all of the songs are still in rotation of in the bands live set.
Once again in my list of top ten albums ‘Levelling The Land’ is a genre defining album. It has its roots in the alternative lifestyles that were taking place in the UK in the late 1980’s as a response to Thatcherism. It is a cry for freedom a clarion call for civil disobedience, encouragement to do your ‘own thing’ whether the authorities liked it or not. “One Way’ contains the lines that arguably define everything the Levellers stood for “There’s only one way of life and thats your own”, a line that encapsulates the feelings of their fans perfectly.
Fifteen years is a harrowing story of abusive relationships and alcohol abuse, Liberty Song, The Boatman and Battle of the Beanfield are about state oppression of individual liberty and ‘Another Mans Cause’ is a moving story if lives lost in senseless conflict. Depressingly all of these songs are just as relevant in 2014 as they were in 1991 when Levelling The Land was released.
If you are not familiar with the Levellers Music this is undoubtably the pace to start. It is a very powerful social and political commentary, full of great tracks and deserving of a place in any music collection.
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