The Levellers: A Curious Life

Stirring stuff from the folk-punk front line.

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Like ’em or not, The Levellers are one of the great motive forces in British rock. Formed in Brighton’s traveller scene in the late 80s, their rousing folk-punk rumpus not only spoke for a crushed crusty counterculture but captured the imagination of the mainstream too.

Their unlikely rise and appeal is examined here, chiefly through Jeremy Cunningham, their crimson-locked bassist and creative controller, as he gathers the threads of the band’s scattered archive.

With his nervous cackle echoing throughout, Cunningham and co – including his proud, scene-stealing parents – begin as Waterboys wannabes. Or, more specifically, McDermott’s Two Hours wannabes, who needle the British music press just by their very existence and lead to Cunningham sending the NME a turd in a box after another particularly snide review.

With the zeitgeist on their side, they achieved a consecutive run of seven gold albums and a Glasto headline – all despite the usual band tensions, desperate addictions and calling Michael Eavis a cunt. A good story, well told – respect is due all round./o:p

Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.