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The Levellers: A Curious Life

Stirring stuff from the folk-punk front line.

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

Embracing weird, wild and wonderful sounds, Prog's Associate Editor Jo's also a Classic Rock columnist, an avid tea-drinker and cupcake fancier.